Nestled on a hilltop in India’s West Bengal, the former British hill station of Darjeeling is a fascinating place to explore. Travellers and locals come to Darjeeling, mostly in the pleasant autumn and spring seasons to experience the hustle and bustle of a hill station and to get an insight into the British history of the town that was discovered as respite from the heat of steamy Kolkata. When the skies are clear you’ll have magnificent views of the sacred Kanchenjunga in north Sikkim and the verdant valleys and tea plantations that surround the town. You can explore Buddhist monasteries in the surrounding area (unique when in festival season!), poke through wares at the bustling bazaars and try Tibetan and Nepali delicacies on Chowrasta. The Sandakphu area on the border with Nepal is a prime trekking destination as is the border with Sikkim deep in the lower valleys.
Black tea reigns in the Darjeeling region, mostly thanks to the British colonial influence and commercial development in the middle of the 19th century. Darjeeling tea plantations are world renowned, and contribute significantly to both the area’s economy and tourism.
One of the most striking viewing points in Darjeeling (subject to the weather!) is the Observatory Hill at the back of Chowrasta close to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, and various optimal standpoints in the labyrinth of winding streets, where you can admire the Himalayas facing Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, or Sikkim. The view from Darjeeling Station, the start of the toy train journey to Ghum is a real favourite.
Whether you’re a tea lover or a hiking enthusiast, Darjeeling is a lovely, cool, and pleasant destination in the Himalayas. ETG really do advocate time in Glenburn Tea Estate an hour or so outside of the town - tranquillity, incredible views and luxury await. For those wanting a truly British experience, why not stay in the Windamere Hotel – the centre of British Darjeeling and a Raj Institute… high tea and relaxing in your room with a hearty fire blazing are real highlights.