Straddling a ridge at 2134m
and surrounded by a tea plantations, Darjeeling has been a
popular hill station since the British established it as an
R&R centre for their troops in mid-1800s. People come
here now, as they did then, to escape the heat, humidity and
hassle of the north Indian plain. You get an indication of
how popular Darjeeling is from the 70 or so hotels recognised
by the tourist office and the scores of others which don't
come up to its requirements. Here you will find yourself surrounded
by mountain people from all over the eastern Himalaya who
have come to work, to trade or - in the case of the Tibetans
- as refugees.
Outside of the monsoon season (June to September), the views
over the mountains to the snowy peaks of Kanchenjunga and
down to the swollen rivers in the valleys are magnificent.
Darjeeling is a fascinating place where you can see Buddhist
monasteries, visit a tea plantation and see how the tea is
processed, go for a ride on the chairlift, spend days hunting
for bargains in colourful markets and handicrafts shops, or
go trekking to high-altitude spots for closer views of Kanchenjunga.
Like many places in the Himalaya, half the fun is in getting
there and Darjeeling has the unique attraction of its famous
toy train . This miniature train loops and switchbacks its
way up the steep mountainsides from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling.