Darjeeling is the name of a town as well as a district in West Bengal state of India. Both the town and the district is famous as one of the most important tourist destinations in the country. Darjeeling is famous throughout the world for the tea it grows and the great view of Kanchenjunga range of mountains that it offers. It is also known for its richness in cultural & natural heritage and the famous toy train that has been declared an UN heritage. The district covering about 1144 sq km, attracts millions of tourists every year for the variety of attractions it offers.

The hills rise from the `Terai` and `Dooars` plains of Bengal and reaches an altitude of more than 12,000 feet. Three divisions of the district, namely Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong constitute the hilly areas and the Siliguri subdivision is in the plains.

To the north of the region is the Indian state of Sikkim, it borders Nepal on the West, and Bengal plains in the South and East. In Darjeeling, those who grow up in the mountains identify themselves according to their ancestry: Nepalese, Bhutanese, Tibetan or Lepcha. The region also contends with a religious mix - Although Hindus represent the majority, there is strong presence of Tibetan Buddhism and other religions.

Darjeeling Himalaya is famous for its richness of flora and fauna. There are two national parks (Neora Valley NP and Singalila NP) and one wild life sanctuary (Mahananda WLS) in the area. Singalila national park is famous for red panda, a very rare and endangered species. Neora valley - a beautiful tropical forest, large part of which is still virgin - offers great attraction to the tourists.

When the British first arrived here, the place was almost completely forested and virtually uninhabited, though it had once been a sizeable village. Rapid development work by the British resulted in construction of a road in 1840, numerous houses and a sanatorium was built and a hotel opened.

By 1857 Darjeeling had a population of some 10,000. The population increase was due mainly to the recruitment of Nepalese laborers to work in the tea plantations established in the early 1840s by the British. Even today, the vast majority of people speak Nepali as a first language.

Occupation: The regions economy is dependent on three `T`s; Tea, Tourism and Timber. With greater concern for the environment trade in Timber has fallen sharply over the years. Apart from these the region produces large amount of oranges, cardamom, flowers etc.

Darjeeling Town

The 'Queen of Hills', Darjeeling is arguably the most popular tourist destination in northeast India. Situated at an altitude of 2134m, this hill town, with its exquisite scenic beauty, attracts travelers of varied interest.
It is the Abode of Lord Shiva and offers spectacular views of Kanchenjunga and the hospitality of colorful Himalayan people. Darjeeling and all her tea plantations lie under the shadow of this snowy Himalayan giant. The town is just 78 km from Siliguri (the major rail and road head) and is well connected by Bus and jeep.

If you are planning a tour to Darjeeling, we recommend spending two to three nights in the town to capture all its beauty. Many tourists like to combine Sikkim with a tour to Darjeeling town. The most common tourist destinations around are Kalimpong, Mirik, Kurseong in the Darjeeling hills and Gangtok, Pelling or North Sikkim area.

You can check the different hotel options available at Darjeeling or also take one of our leisure packages or you can simply fill the form at the bottom of this page for any specific requirement that you might have.

Sight seeing

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR):A visit to the region is incomplete without a ride in the toy-train of DHR. The miniature train, given heritage status by UNESCO, covers the distance of 88 km between New Jalpaiguri station and Darjeeling. more about the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Tiger hill: Standing at a height of 2590m, Tiger Hill is 11 km from the main town. The place is famous for its magnificent view of Kanchenjunga, Mt. Everest and other eastern Himalayan peaks especially at the time of sunrise.

Zoological Park : About 2 km. from the town, this zoo houses a wide collection of high-altitude birds and animals, India's only collection of Siberian tigers and some rare species such as the red panda. The padmaja naidu himalayan zoological park is famous for its success in the snow leopard breeding program.

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) & Museum : Adjacent to the Zoological Park, HMI runs courses on mountaineering. It has a mountaineering museum containing mountaineering gears and the specimens of Himalayan flora & fauna. The Everest Museum at HMI exhibits the history of attempts on the great peak. The museum also exhibits equipments used by Tenzing Norgay (who lived most of his life here) and Edmund Hillary on their way to Mt. Everest and a letter written by George Mallory, the British climber who was lost while climbing Mt. Everest and whose body was found just a few years back.

Lloyd Botanical Garden: The garden, located below the bus stand, is worth a dekko for its representative collection of Himalayan plants, flowers and orchids. The serenity of the sylvan atmosphere that the garden offers is another reason for its attraction.

Ghoom Monastery: The most famous monastery around, also known as Yogachoeling Gompa, enshrines an image of Maitrey Buddha (the coming Buddha), it is about 10 km from town.

Senchal Lake: - The source of domestic water of the town, located near the Tiger Hill.
Passenger Ropeway: - At North Point, it is ready to offer you a joy ride. About 4 km from darjeeling town. There was an accident in this ropeway and because of this the ropeway remained closed for several years.
Dhirdham Temple /Mahakal : - A Hindu temple, it is modeled on the famous Pashupati Temple of Katmandu.
Nehru Park: - Offers you the most unperturbed view of the mountain ranges of this region.
Ava Art Gallery
darjeeling Gymkhana Club
Observatory Hill
Bengal Natural History Museum
Rock Garden
Batasia Loop

Climate: Average temperature varies between 20C and 25C near the foothills and goes down sharply as the altitude increases. In the town of Darjeeling or Kalimpong temperature may range from 8C to 15C centigrade in summer and from 1C to 6C centigrade in winter. It can get very cold in winter.

An umbrella is a must throughout the year since rain in the area is quite unpredictable; however the same is available cheaply in the local markets.

N.B. Light woolen clothes in summer & warm clothes in winter, a foldable handy umbrella may be useful.

The best time to visit Darjeeling is from mid-September to mid-December, although it gets quite cold by December. The season resumes around mid-March and continues till mid-June but as the haze builds up the views become less clear. During the monsoon months (June to September), clouds obscure the mountains and the rain is often so heavy that whole sections of the road from the plains are washed away, though the major towns are rarely cut off for more than a few days at a time.

History of Darjeeling

Until the beginning of the 18th century, the area between the present borders of Sikkim and the plains of Bengal, including Darjeeling and Kalimpong, belonged to the kings of Sikkim. In 1706 the king lost Kalimpong to the Bhutanese.

And control of the remainder was wrested from them by the Gurkhas who invaded Sikkim in 1780, following consolidation of the latter's rule in Nepal.

These annexations by the Gurkhas, however, brought them into conflict with the British. A series of wars followed, eventually leading to the defeat of the Gurkhas and the ceding of all the land they had taken from the Sikkimese to the British. Part of this territory was restored to the king of Sikkim and the country's sovereignty guaranteed by the British in return for British control over any disputes which arose with neighboring states.

One such dispute in 1828 led to the dispatch of two British officers to this area, and it was during their fact-finding tour that they spent some time at Darjeeling. The officers were quick to appreciate Darjeeling's value as a site for a sanatorium and hill station, and as the key to a pass into Nepal and Tibet. The officers' observations were reported to the authorities in Calcutta and a pretext was eventually found to pressure the king into granting the site to the British.
The transfer, however, rankled with the Tibetans who regarded Sikkim as a vassal state. Darjeeling's rapid development as a trading centre and tea-growing area in a key position along the trade route leading from Sikkim to the plains of India began to make a considerable impact on the fortunes of the lamas and leading merchants of Sikkim. Tensions arose and eventually the British annexed the whole of the land between the present borders of Sikkim and the Bengal plains, and withdrew the Raja's annual stipend.
These annexations brought about a significant change in Darjeeling's status. Previously it had been an enclave within Sikkimese territory, and to reach it the British had to pass through a country ruled by an independent king. After the takeover, Darjeeling became contiguous with British territory further south and Sikkim was cut off from access to the plains except through British territory. This eventually led to the invasion of Sikkim by the Tibetans and the British military expedition to Lhasa.

When the British first arrived in Darjeeling it was almost completely forested and virtually uninhabited, though it had once been a sizeable village before the wars with Bhutan and Nepal.

Development was rapid and by 1840 a road had been constructed, numerous houses and a sanatorium built and a hotel opened. By 1857 Darjeeling had a population of some 10,000.

The population increase was due mainly to the recruitment of Nepalese laborers to work the tea plantations established in the early 1840s by the British. Even today, the vast majority of people speak Nepali as a first language and the name Darjeeling continues to be synonymous with tea.
The immigration of Nepali-speaking peoples, mainly Gurkhas, into the mountainous areas of West Bengal, eventually led to political problems in the mid-1980s. Resentment had been growing among the Gurkhas over what they felt was discrimination against them by the government of West Bengal. Their language was not recognized by the Indian constitution and government jobs were thus only open to those who could speak Bengali.

The tensions finally came to a head in widespread riots throughout the hill country which continued for several years, and in which hundreds of people lost their lives and thousands were mode homeless. Tourism came to a grinding halt. The movement was lead by the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), led by Subash Ghising, which demanded a separate state to be known as Gorkhaland.
A compromise was eventually hammered out in late 1988 whereby the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) was given a large measure of autonomy from the state government and fresh elections to the council were held. Darjeeling remains part of West Bengal but now has greater control over its own affairs.

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