Those who love tea probably don’t need much reason to visit Darjeeling, one of the top tea regions in India that gave its name to the fragrant black tea that people drink all over the world. But Darjeeling is a place that will interest more than tea drinkers, because there is far more going on in this province than the cultivation of tea (which, granted, yielded some very scenic tea gardens). Darjeeling is a multifaceted region where you can find things to do regardless whether you are a hardened adventurer or if you prefer quiet sightseeing. If you happen to visit this amazing province of India, here are the top 5 things to do in Darjeeling.
A ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
The Himalayan Railway is nicknamed the toy train, and while this 2 ft narrow gauge train certainly looks tiny, it is more than capable of transporting you from New Jaipalguri to Darjeeling city. The train is a world heritage site not because it harks back to earlier times when this was the only way to explore the region, but also because a train ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway will show you the best of Darjeeling, no matter where you hop on or off.
Climb the Tiger Hill
If you take a trip on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, you should absolute stop and spend some time on Tiger Hill, the the highest station on the railway. The station is quite close to Darjeeling city and you can get there by jeep or on foot as well. Since the climb is not difficult, you can get there in time for the sunrise and watch the twin peaks of Kangchenjunga basked in pink light.
Darjeeling is home to scores of old and beautiful monasteries and temples, and even if you don’t manage to visit all of them, it would be a pity not to see at least a few of them. Sakya Monastery in Ghoom is not far from Darjeeling, and although it is not particularly old (it was built at the beginning of the 20th century), it has huge historical and religious significance. Other interesting monasteries include Dali Monastery, Bhutia Busty Monastery, Yiga-Choling Buddhist Monastery and Makdhog Monastery.
Visit Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary
Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary has an incredible variety of flora and fauna, but what it is most famous for is the large population of elephants. Another interesting animal that can be sighted here is the Indian Bison, and even the famed Bengal Tiger can be encountered in the sanctuary in small numbers (although you wouldn’t want that to happen).
Visit a tea plantation
No visit to Darjeeling could be complete without taking a stroll through a tea plantation. The tea grown in Darjeeling is one of the most prized types of Indian tea, and you can see how the leaves are harvested, sorted and prepared. Happy Valley Tea Estate, one of the highest tea gardens in India, and has some amazingly old tea bushes that yield exquisite tea.