Darjeeling is a Himalayan city located in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is popularly known as the ‘’ Queen of the hills’’ and produces the famous Darjeeling Tea, one of the world’s finest and recognized teas. It is also home to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Getting to Darjeeling from Kolkata finally was a little bit complicated because we wanted to enjoy other places between the two cities instead of going directly there. So, after boarding on a night train to Siliguri, we took a shared-jeep to Kurseong and from there the famous ‘’Toy Train’’ to our final destination Darjeeling! I must admit that the whole route to the mountains included really picturesque images that for sure we will never forget!
Reaching Darjeeling the first thing we had to do is searching for a hotel. Needless to say we bargained a lot in a couple hotels to pay as few money as possible! Finally we ended up in a central place sharing a room (we were 5 people) and paying 1 euro per night each one,hehe! Bargaining was one of my favorites activities in India!
Following always the advices of Lonely Planet travel guide, the first place we should visit was the Happy Valley Tea Estate. Although I rarely drink tea, being in one of the most famous tea plantations of the world made me want to learn the procedure of collecting and making the Darjeeling Tea. A very friendly old lady explained us all the procedure and offered us a cup of good quality Darjeeling Tea which was really tasty! I couldn’t leave without buying tea for some friends of course!
Next stop in our sightseeing in that beautiful Himalayan city was the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, the largest high altitude zoo in India. Some of the endangered animals that we were lucky to see were Tibetan wolfs, Siberian tigers, Asian black bear, etc. But the top attractions of the zoo are the cute Red Pandas and the majestic Snow Leopards that captivate even the most demanding animal lovers!
Another thing to do in Darjeeling, is to wake up at 4 o clock in the morning and go to Tiger hill to see a beautiful sunrise, but unfortunately the days we were in Darjeeling the scenery was foggy so there was no point for us to go as we wouldn’t be able to see anything.
So, we spent our time walking around the city, as there are many beautiful paths leading to beautiful points, one of them is the Observatory hill from where you can have magnificent views of snow-clad peaks. Chowrasta and The Mall around Observatory Hill are some of the main centres of tourist attraction in Darjeeling as well.
Having one more day to explore the region, we decided to go a day-trip to Mirik, a place 50 km from Darjeeling. Honestly, I didn’t want this route to finish, the verdant landscapes we were passing by were amazingly beautiful! Mirik has great natural beauty, full of green areas and an exquisite lake in the middle. It is a great point for walking, cycling, horse-riding and picnic!
I couldn’t finish this article without saying something about the friendly people of that place! Generally people in India are very kind and always willing to help you but in Darjeeling they made me feel like native! Additionally, I must mention that their appearance is completely different that the Indians in the south, they more look like Nepalese and Tibetan people!
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