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Darjeeling, also known as the “Queen of Hills,” is one of India’s most popular tourist destinations. Perched at 2050 meters above sea level, this extraordinary hill station is blessed with nature’s bounty. While on the one hand, Kanchenjunga towers high; on the other, the emerald-hued terraced tea plantations are among the most iconic images that touch your soul.
A monastery built-in 1765 named “Dorje Ling” or “the place of the thunderbolt” was the basis of its name. As you transcend upward from the plains, the overflowing array of emerald greenery will be striking. In all, Darjeeling is one of the prettiest hill stations one can fathom. Quaint, scenic, and breathtakingly beautiful, this little town has love in the air.
As the peak of Kanchenjunga stretches out in front, one can fully comprehend why the British found it to be a summer resort while they ruled India. The European aura that emanates from this beauty is alluring even today. Spread over 3000 square kilometers, this district is situated in the state of West Bengal. It was gifted to the British by the king of Sikkim and developed by Dr. Campbell to serve as an oasis for the Imperial Regime. Thus, Darjeeling soon became a hustling township and a hermitage for tourists and naturalists.
Darjeeling tea is synonymous with what elixir must taste like and has become India’s pride in a cup of tea. Thus, visiting a tea estate is a magical experience. As you wind your way to a terraced slope of uniformly lush green tea gardens, a fresh aroma fills your senses. Tea tourism is another must-do, with a stay in the tea estate in all its grandeur being a big attraction. The greenery is interrupted only by the vibrant clothes of women harvesting the tender shoots of the plants. A sense of tranquility and the untouched beauty of these vistas make the estates exceedingly alluring.
If you thought a sunrise is an everyday ritual, a visit to Tiger Hill would change your view. Witnessing the sunrise above the snow-capped Kanchenjunga peak with a crowd cheering it all the way up is a spectacle to watch. As the peak turns from a slightly pink hue to gleaming gold, you will for sure make a memory to last a lifetime. Yet another spectacle is the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. It is a treasure trove of mountain marvels with displays and artifacts that draws tourists.
The Darjeeling Toy Train is one of the major attractions of Darjeeling. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways is an exhilarating experience. Hence, it is no wonder that it has been accorded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. You can take the train ride from Darjeeling to Ghum, and it will be one of the unique travel experiences one can have. Finally, the Batasia Loop that comes along the way is a gigantic loop where the Darjeeling toy train makes a 360-degree turn just after Ghum, and it gives a panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga. Yet another major attraction that is located at the center of Batasia Loop is War Memorial. The War Memorial was opened in 1995 to pay homage to the Gorkha soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the nation.
Darjeeling Mall is the center of the town and is a pedestrian-only zone where traffic is not allowed. A stroll along the mall with a cup of steaming Darjeeling tea is a perfect way to soak in the ambiance. Darjeeling also has the highest altitude zoo at 7000 feet above sea level and spreads over 67.5 acres. It is home to red pandas, snow leopards, Tibetan wolves, Himalayan Black Bear, and other endangered species. Similarly, the Rock Garden and Ganga Maya Park are also worth a visit.
The Japanese Temple and Peace Pagoda are situated in the Jalapahar Hills. Built-in 1972 under a Japanese monk, this two-storeyed pagoda brings together people from all over. Furthermore, the view of the Kanchenjunga in front mixed with the Buddhist chants is an experience to remember. Also, the Mahakal temple is yet another place of worship. Mahakal is a Hindu temple dedicated to spiritual amalgamation. Indeed, the chants of Hindu mantras come in unison with Buddhist chants make it truly a unique experience.
Darjeeling is an experience just like a sip of the tea it is renowned for. With the golden sun-kissed valleys and green luscious hilltops, the warmth of the people, and the exquisite views of the Kanchenjunga, it is a traveler’s trip to nature’s bounty.
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