Travelogue: Darjeeling

Last week we planned a vacation trip to North East India and it was the ‘bestest’ trip I ever had. I have had been to Kerala, Goa, Pondi and Ooty in South India but North East India is heaven. Special thanks to India Travel forum for all the info so that I could plan the trip wisely and economically. I would be writing a detailed blogpost on every major place we visited. Keep reading 🙂

Note: All photos are hosted in Flickr. Click on the fullscreen button on the right bottom corner to enjoy a better and bigger view.

Day 1. Started off from the Bengaluru International Airport to Kolkata. Caught a connecting flight to Bagdogra. Our driver Jyoti Gaureng picked us up and we left to Darjeeling. The road was horrible till Kuersong and we connected to the Main Highway. The narrow guage railway track runs parallel along the road which is just amazing. The rails cross the road often and you find the famous Himalayan Railway plying there. Just as we were about to reach Darjeeling dense fog started to form. Visibility was nearly zero. Its amazes me as to how these drivers are able to cruise through with such ease. Airport to Darjeeling is 95kms. We then got accomodation at the Canara Bank Holiday Home in Darjeeling. A transition from 30 degree C to 2 degree C in 12 hours made our Day 1. Awesome beginning 🙂

Day 2. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

We had tickets booked in the All famous 100 year old Darjeeling Himalayan Railway from Darjeeling upto Ghum. We reached in the Railway Station and found our wagons parked there. The Engines were being prepared for the ride. It takes about 10 personnel to get the engine up and running. Mind you these engines are environment friendly steam engines and literally needs a *lot* of manpower. The train journey started and I had a lots of expectation from it, but this was a real dissapointment. The train travels at a speed of 15kmph and covers 14kms in 3 hours with a 30 min break. Now, thats what we call *speed* 🙂 The train runs parallel to the road and there is nothing much you can see. Its the same natural scenic beauty which is seen from the roads. For all those people who say Darjeeling train is a must, you must be mad. My sincere request to all of you – when in Darjeeling skip the train ride and you will save a lot of money. The ticket for 14kms is a whopping Rs. 240 and the booking agent takes Rs. 100 commission per ticket. So, its Rs. 340 which is a complete waste. There is nothing more you can get other than the credit that you travelled in a century old train which might be discontinued anytime. There is another train that plies from New Jalpaiguri (NJP) to Darjeeling which takes 8 hrs for 80kms. This journey can get as uncomfortable as you can imagine. For those who are coming by rail – NJP is the nearest Railway Station, air – Bhagdora is the nearest Airport and road – Siliguri has the best connectivity to Kolkata. I repeat do *not* go in the toy train. If you are still interested, go to the Darjeeling railway station at 10 30 am and take a few snaps along side it. Disgusted with the train journey we called our driver to come be car to Ghum and pick us up.

Photos – Click Here

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

Next in list was the all famous Darjeeling Zoo which is the home for rare wildlife found only in this region. Expect to see the Siberian tigers (the only ones in India), red pandas, Himalayan black bears and the Tibetan wolves. This zoo also has a Snow Leopard Breeding Centre. Himalayan Mountaineerin Institute is situated above the zoo which is worth a visit. Rare collections of the mountaineering gear used by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary to climb the Mount Everest can be found. Its just ashtonishing as to how they managed to carry a load of 25kgs on their backs in such extreme conditions and climb. All mountaineers – take a bow. Newer mountaineering gear is also displayed which are of lighter weight. Take a guide alongside who would explain the animals’ details. Since he would be knowing where each species would be it would save a lot of time for you. Without him, the HMI would seem vague.

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Tenzing Rock Climbing

Rock climbing has been setup nearby where you can experience the thrill in the chill. its a small rock and a helper would instruct you. Its a nice little scary experience. Try once.

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Tea Garden

Darjeeling Tea is supposed to be the world’s finest tea. There is a view point from where miles and miles of tea estates can be seen. A treat to the eyes. Sip a cup of tea alongside and make some Tea Leaves shopping. You can also view a football stadium constructed on the slope which is a great achievement. Afterall North East Indians love football 🙂

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Peace Pagoda

An old monastery where you can find very good idols on Lord Buddha and also have a superb scenic view. It gets really cold at this place – thanks to the winds that blow. Monasteries symbolize peace and you feel the power of God at these places. Nice place to spend some time.

Dhirdham temple

Situated right below the Darjeeling railway Station this temple was built on the lines of the Pashupathi temple of Nepal. Lord Shiva and Godess Durga are worshipped here. Constant chanting of mantras make the mood devotional. There is a tree at the rear of this temple which has absolutely no leaves but is blooming with flowers.

Ava Art Gallery

About 2km from the town enroute to Ghoom, houses the unique art and embroidery works of Mrs. Ava Devi. I tell you, they are really good. After the demise of Ava Devi sale of the painting has been stopped.

Finally with some market roaming, we ended Day 2. The days end very quickly in these areas. By 5 pm all shops are closed and by 7 pm everyone is asleep. Something which cannot be thought of in city life.

Tiger Hills

Extremely beautiful scenes of Kanchendzonga can be seen from this view point. We got up early by around 4 am and reached Tiger Hill base by 5 am. The wind was blowing at about 60kmph and the chill was nearly unbareable. Within minutes a huge tourist crowd accumulated and we all sat waiting for the sunrise. Fate was not on our side that day. It was extremely cloudy and not even a glimpse of Kanchendzonga could be seen. Nevertheless we enjoyed sunrise and returned. Oct-Nov is the best time to expect the dangerously beautiful view. 4 out of 10 people are lucky enough they say.

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Ghoom Monastery

Very popular Monastery in the small town of Ghum also known as Sampten Choling Monastery. The monastery follows the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. There is a 15-feet high statue of “Coming Buddha” (Maitreya Buddha) in the monastery. This can be covered while returning from Tiger Hills.

Photos – Click Here

Thats it in Darjeeling. Off to Pelling.

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9 thoughts on “Travelogue: Darjeeling

  1. Hi Aditya,

    I read your travel blog.. Are you Can Bank employee by any chance?
    I would like to stay there when I’ll go to Darjeeling. My father works in Can bank.
    I have another option to stay in YHAI hostels…

    Your blog is very helpful for me to plan my journey.
    would like to get some more help from your side as I believe you must had gone to other places after Darjeeling… like Gangtok, Kolkata … ?

    1. Hi there,

      My dad is an ex-employee in Can Bank. I strongly suggest you pre-book the holiday home in Darjeeling and stay there. You have a wonderful accommodation and food facilities there. Do refer to my posts on Pelling and Gangtok as well. I strongly suggest you visit indiamike.com. Get back if you need any information.

  2. Hi. Mr.Aditya.. Could you please suggest some decent and reasonable hotels or lodges in darjeeling.

    Thank you.

  3. thanks for ur experience.it is helpful in planning mine. any other place apart from wht u have mentioned, as i am going with family for three days.also any pointers to descent affordable hotel in the main town itself would be helpful.pls reply to my mail id.

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