Darjeeling

Darjeeling is a town in India's West Bengal state, in the Himalayan foothills. Once a summer resort for the British Raj elite, it remains the terminus of the narrow-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, or “Toy Train,” completed in 1881. It's famed for the distinctive black tea grown on plantations that dot its surrounding slopes. Its backdrop is Mt. Kanchenjunga, among the world’s highest peaks.

Geography

Darjeeling is the main town of the Sadar subdivision and also the headquarters of the district. It is located at an elevation of 6,700 ft (2,000 m) in the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region on the Darjeeling-Jalapahar range that originates in the south from Ghum. The range is Y-shaped with the base resting at Katapahar and Jalapahar and two arms diverging north of the Observatory Hill. The north-eastern arm dips suddenly and ends in the Lebong spur, while the north-western arm passes through North Point and ends in the valley near Tukver Tea Estate.The hills are nestled within higher peaks and the snow-clad Himalayan ranges tower over the town in the distance. Kanchenjunga, the world's third-highest peak, 8,598 m (28,209 ft) high, is the most prominent mountain visible.The hills of Darjeeling are part of the Lesser Himalaya. The soil is chiefly composed of sandstone and conglomerate formations, which are the solidified and upheaved detritus of the great range of Himalaya..

TOURISM OF DARJEELING

Tourist inflow into Darjeeling had been affected by the political instability in the region, and agitations in the 1980s and 2000s hit the tourism industry hard.However, since 2012, Darjeeling has once again witnessed a steady inflow of both domestic and international tourists. Presently, around 50,000 foreign and 500,000 domestic tourists visit Darjeeling each year, and its repute as the "Queen of the Hills" remains unaltered. According to an India Today survey published on 23 December 2015, Darjeeling is the third most Googled travel destination among all the tourist destinations in India. Even though there are political instabilities in Darjeeling, its tourism rate is increasing year by year. Many visit this place for food specialities like momos, steamed stick rice, and mostly steamed foods are famous in this region. Many tourist visit this place for seeing the natural beauty of nature .

CULTURE OF DARJEELING

The culture of Darjeeling is diverse and includes a variety of indigenous practices and festivals as mentioned above. Many of the Nepali Hindus, as well as the various Buddhist and other ethnic groups such as the Lepchas, Bhutias, Kiranti Limbus, Tibetans, Yolmos, Gurungs and Tamangs, have their own distinct languages and cultures and yet share a largely harmonious co-existence.Colonial architecture characterizes many buildings in Darjeeling, exemplified by several mock Tudorresidences, Gothic churches, the Raj BhawanPlanters' Club and various educational institutions. Buddhist monasteries showcase the pagoda style architecture. Darjeeling is regarded as a centre of music and a niche for musicians and music admirers. Singing and playing musical instruments are common pastimes among the resident population, who take pride in the traditions and role of music in cultural life.

RELIGION OF DARJEELING

The predominant religions of Darjeeling are Shaivite Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism, followed by Christianity Indigenous communities such as the Lepchas, the Limbus, and many others, also practice Animism and Shamanism which is very often, but not always, intermixed with the more mainstream Hinduism and Buddhism,,

BEST TIME TO VISIT

While summer months from April to June are the ideal time to travel to Darjeeling, some travellers including couples also prefer to visit the beautiful town during winter months from October to December.

TOURIST PLACES TO VISIT

Tiger Hill - Tiger Hill (2,590 m) is located in Darjeeling, in the Indian State of West Bengal, and is the summit of Ghoom, the highest railway station in the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a panoramic view of Mount Everest and Mt. Kangchenjunga together. It is 11 km from the town of Darjeeling and can be reached either by jeep or by foot through Chowrasta, Alubari or Jorebangla and then climbing up the incline to the summit. At sunrise, the peaks of Kangchenjunga are illuminated before the sun is seen at lower elevations. From Tiger Hill, Mount Everest (8848m) is just visible. Makalu (8481m) looks higher than Mt. Everest, owing to the curvature of the Earth, as it is several miles closer than Everest. The distance in a straight line from Tiger Hill to Everest is 107 miles (172 km).

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) - HMI is a destination by itself and a said to be a pilgrimage for all climbing enthusiasts of the world. It was established in honor of Tenzing Norgay after he and Sir Edmund Hillary climbed the Everest in 1953. It has a well stocked museum with mountaineering displays and many expedition artifacts, a boarding school for mountaineering students, houses for the trainers, a restaurant, a souvenir shop and more. HMI is located on Jawahar Road or the Birch Hill that can be accessed from the Mall Road and Lebong Cart Road. One can actually walk down Mall road & then Jawahar road to reach HMI. The main entrance to Zoo and HMI are the same and both should be covered at the same time. The unique feature of this zoo is, it houses animals of high altitude and mostly from upper Himalayas. You can see some rare animals here like Red Pandas, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and lot more.

Batasia Loop - Located 5km from Darjeeling Town and just below Ghoom, Batasia Loop as the name suggests, is a loop or a spiral of a narrow gauge railway track where the Toy Train negotiates a sudden sharp descent from Ghoom. It's a wonderful viewing place with manicured gardens, streams and falls, from where you can get a wide range view of the Darjeeling's landscape, Kanchenjunga and the other Eastern Himalayan peaks.

Japanese Temple & Peace Pagoda - About 10 minutes by car, you will reach a wonderful area that is symbolic of peace and tranquility. Located in the Jalapahar hill, the Japanese Temple is built in traditional Japanese style where you can join the prayers and feel the spiritual peace amongst humming and chants. Close to it is the Peace Pagoda where there are four large avatars of Lord Buddha. The view from the top is magnificent. You can see the snow peak range from here including the Kanchenjunga.

Ghoom Monastery - Ghoom Monastery is also known as Yogachoeling Gompa. It is located in a place called Ghoom in Darjeeling, hence the name Ghoom Gompa. It was in the year 1875 that a Mongolian astrologer cum monk established the Ghoom Gompa.At the entry of the monastery, there is a huge giant size image of seated 'Maitreya Buddha' (prospective Buddha) inside. There are bells, ornate thanka scrolls and drums inside the monastery. Like many other monasteries in and around Darjeeling, this gompa is also a storehouse of some rare Buddhist manuscripts.

Mirik - Mirik is a tourist spot located in the hills of Darjeeling district in West Bengal, India. It is the headquarters of Mirik subdivision. The name Mirik comes from the Lepcha words Mir-Yok meaning "place burnt by fire". Mirik has become a tourist destination for its climate, natural environment and easy accessibility.

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