ABOUT DARJEELING

Darjeeling also known as the “Queen of the Hills”  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.

For travellers all over the world. Darjeeling provides a ‘welcome relief’ and a delightful experience around every corner From Cultural to Adventurous Trip. It is situated at an average height of 7000 ft (2130m) above sea level. Darjeeling has more to offer Adventurous and memorable trips with Rafting, Paragliding, Short Trek and Camping, Motor Bike Tour, Cycling, Kayaking, Rock Climbing, Trekking.


Location 27 Deg. 13 Min. N to 26 Deg. 27 Min. N Latitude / 88 Deg. 53 Min. E to 87 Deg. 59 Min. E Longitude

Area 3,149 Square Km.

Altitude 6710 Feet.Temperature (Darjeeling Town)

Annual Max. Temperature 14.9 Degree Celsius.

Annual Min. Temperature 8.9 Degree CelsiusRainfall (Darjeeling Town)

Average Annual Rainfall 3092 mm.

Best Season for Visit March to mid June & October to December.

Important Roads Siliguri-Mirik -Ghum -60 kms.

Sevak-Tista bridge –Kalimpong -60 kms.

Tista Bazar to Darjeeling -25 kms.

Sukna- Pankhabari-Kurseong -25 kms.

Siliguri Darjeeling NH 55 -76 kms.

Clothing required Light woollens and tropicals in summer (umbrellas and raincoats are useful) and heavy woollens in winter.

Language spoken Hindi, Nepali / Gorkha, Bengali, Tibetan and English.

Travel Information

Air :- The nearest airport (Bagdogra) is 90km away.

Bus :- Most of the buses from Darjeeling leave from the Darjeeling Bust Stand (Hill Cart Rd). Darjeeling is connected by road with Silliguri, Sikkim and Nepal.

Rail :- New Jalpaiguri/Silliguri is the railhead for all trains other than the narrow-gauge toy train. Computerised Reservation for major trains out of New Jalpaiguri can be made at the Darjeeling railway station (the toy train terminus).

Maghe Sankrati It is the Nepali’s winter festival celebrated during Makhar Shankranti which falls on the first day Magh of Bikrama Sambat (mid of January). This is considered to be the coldest day of the year so people look forward to the coming of warmer weather, better health and prosperity. It is celebrated by eating yam and the elders blessing the younger ones by putting a small piece of yam on their foreheads.

Losar or Lhosar It is the Tibetan New Year. It is celebrated for 15 days with the main celebrations happening within the first three days. Tibetans celebrate it with new clothes and good food. The eve of Losar is marked by the Chaam (Tibetan Costume and Mask Dance) in most monasteries to ward off the negativity of the Old Year. On this day, the Dali Monastery performs a special Chakrasambhara (Mandala) prayer with a colorful Mandala. The 15th day of Losar sees special religious ceremony called the Cho-Nga Cho-pa where monks create large butter sculptures and light hundreds of butter lamps to dispel darkness in the world. The next Losar falls between January 27 and 29, 2009

Chaite Dasain This festival is considered to be the original dasain of the Nepalis. However, this festival has lost its relevance in present times.

Ram Nawami This Hindu festival marks the birth of Lord Rama who was the son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Rama is revered by the Hindus and is considered to be an incarnation of Vishnu.

Shrawan Sankranti This is the first day of the Nepali month Sawan or Shrawan. People pray to the ‘devi’ (young goddess) to eradicate scabies and other skin diseases.

Chokhor Duchen This festival commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon and the teaching of the Four Noble Truths.

Naag Panchami The literal translation is Naag meaning ’serpent’ and ‘Panchami’ can be traced to the word ‘paanch’ meaning ‘five’. It falls on the 5th day after the full moon. On this day, priests visit Hindu households offering a special prayer and sticking a picture of snakes with Lord Vishnu at the door as a symbol of protection.

Teez or Teej The festival of Teez or Teej is celebrated by Chettri and Brahmin castes of Nepali women. The married women fast to honor of Lord Shiva for health and vitality of their husbands. Unmarried women fast to get a good husband in the future.

Pamper your taste buds with the exotic but homely food and discover a mosaic of culture while satiating your gastronomical needs.

Whether it is the ubiquitous momos or thupkas whose fabled taste has transcended across the Himalayas along with the migrant Tibetans or the lemon grass menu from south-east Asia, Darjeeling offers you the best.

Momo  Meat dumplings and vegetables which are steamed and accompanied by a bowl of clear soup and achaar. One can also order for vegetable momos in which the meat is ideally replaced by cabbage and other vegetables.

Thupkas Tibetan noodles mixed with egg/meat, vegetables with a predominant soup base.

Shaphalay  Tibetan bread stuffed with meat.

Aludum Typical indian potato preparation which the hill people cannot do without.

Tibetan Tea  Salt tea which is mixed with butter which has its own distinct taste.

Tongba Local brew made from millet and has to be sipped through a bamboo straw. Usually found in the local haat (fair) held on sunday near the Rock Garden.

People

The original inhabitants of the Darjeeling Hills were Lepchas or Rongpa (the ravine folks) as they prefer themselves to be known as. Though their origin is obscure, they are decidedly Mongolian in feature. The Khampas, another branch of the Lepchas, are warrior-like and more dashing than their docile cousins. The Khampas are recent immigrants from Tibet. The greater bulk of the people in the Hills are Gorkhas . They are industrious and enterprising as a race and speak various dialects. The short Mongolian type Nepalese, the Gorkhas, renowned for their military prowess the world over, and the first to be decorated with the coveted Victoria Cross, finds jobs and security both in the British and Indian armies. They carry the traditional weapon, the Khukri-a curved ornamental knife. Among the population are also the Newars or best known, the world over as the Sherpas. They are well known for their courage, stamina and surefootedness and for their immeasurable contributions to Mountaineering. Also much in evidence in the Hills are the Bhutias and they are divided into Tibetan, Bhutan, Dharma and Sikkimese Bhutias and a greater bulk of Bengalee from Siliguri subdivision.Nepali Folk Dances

Culture

The Nepalese are rich in folk culture. The hills and dales are the treasure house of songs and dances of the hill folk. There is not a moment in their lives, possessed as they are of a lyrical mind and heart that does not turn into singing and dancing.The panorama of the Majestic Himalayan mountains, its lush green hills and forests seem to have played a significant role in influencing the religion and culture including the folk songs and dances of the Nepalese people, inhabiting in and around the Himalayan regions with its serene, romantic and poetic shades of different hues. Even the two major religions. viz., Hinduism and Buddhism, seem to have influenced the Nepali culture full of its rich folks songs and dances, co-existing side by side.The earlier cave paintings, religious rites and temple songs and dances have also played another significant role in influencing Nepalese Folks songs and dances. The earlier form of dances and folk songs attributed to the Gods and goddesses of both the Hindu and Buddhist pantheon, are also inspirational in creating Nepalese folk songs and dances, impressions of religious dances performed either to appease Gods and goddesses or ward-off the evil spirits can also be seen distinctly in performing arts of the Nepalese people.The following are some of the most popular and worth mentioning forms of Nepali folk dances.1. Maruni Nach. 2. Dhan Naach. 3. Jhankri Naach. 4. Jatra Naach. 5. Damphu Naach. 6. Khukuri Naach. 7. Deora Naach. 8. Panchay Naach. 9. Dhimay Naach. 10. Sanginy Naach. 11. Balan Naach. 12. Jhyauray Naach. 13. Paschimay Chutki. 14. Rodhighar Naach. 15. Baton Naach. 16. Jhumara Naach. 17. Sakhia Naach.ArchitectureDeveloped by the British, many buildings of British style architecture can be found here. Apart from these, the Tibetan influence is very noticeable in the buildings of the monasteries.

Darjeeling hills are the natural home for countless orchid species like Cymbidiums, Vandas, Dendrobiums, Paphiopedilums, Lycaste, Odontoglossum, Phaius, Arundina etc.the list being endless.

In the past several decades the nurseries of Kalimpong area was very much involved and buzzing with floricultural activities and developed their own techniques in tissue culture propagation of orchids and other related floricultural plants. In Kalimpong itself we have about four nurseries propagation. Exports from these hills also started 5-6 decade back. For the unlimited scope in the present multi-million dollar floriculture industry, these hills are the natural habitat for innumerable plant species and thus much has been achieved till date by our floriculturists. However, this region still has enormous potential. With the global floricultural trend these hills have limitless scope for production of Gladioli cut flowers to cater to the demand of both the domestic as well as the export market. Cut flower started trade over three decades back. Today other cut flowers, besides Gladioli are anthuriums, Orchids particularly Cymbidiums, bulbous flowers of lilies, ornithogalum and other flowers like gerberas, carnations and greens like ferns are under production.

The forests in and around Darjeeling have delightful flora and fauna. It is a plantlover’s paradise. Four thousand species of flowering plants, three hundred varieties of ferns, including tree fern and countless types of flowerless plants, mosses, algae, fungi, birches, and of course, the prize orchids, wild and cultivated. There are oaks, chestnuts, cherry, maple, birch, alder-all fine and large trees of excellent growth. In the upper hills areas and the alpine zone are the magnolias, buck-landias, pyrus and conifers such as webb, Himalayan firs, English yews, Sikkim spruces, larch, which is the only deciduous conifer, weeping tsuga brunoniana and junipers lvy is common.

The fauna is similarly varied-monkeys, wild cats, tigers, leopards, civets, jackals and foxes, wild dogs, bears, otters, martons, weasels, squirrels(including the Himalayan flying and Assam giant varieties), porcupines, hares, barking deer,sambhurs, chitals and the very rare pangolin. In the foothills and the teria forests, in the sanctuaries (Jaldhapara and Gorumara in the neighbouring Jalpaiguri) can be seen the gaur or Bison, elephants and the single horned rhinoceros.

Darjeeling is the home of six hundred varieties of beautiful birds like flycatchers, fairy bluebirds, orioles, finches, sunbirds, long-tailed broadbills, woodpeckers, rufous piculets, emerald cuckoos, three-toed kingfishers, long-legged falcons, Hoogson’s imperial pigeons, emerald doves, besides a large number of seasonal migratory birds on their way to the plains.

Tiger Hill

Situated at an altitude of 2590 metres (8,482 ft) and 14 kms. From the town, this spot has earned international fame for the magnificent view of the sunrise over Kanchenjunga and the great eastern Himalayan mountains. Even Mount Everest, the worlds highest peak is visible form here.

Ghoom Monastery

About 7kms. Away from Darjeeling town, one can visit the monastery on the Ghoom spur. It is one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in India. There is a 2ft high statue of maitrey Buddha.

Batasia Loop and War Memorial

About 5 kms. from Darjeeling this railway loop is a marvelous feat of engineering. It is fascinating to watch the toy train wind its way round the loop. The war memorial is in honour of those Gorkhas who laid down their lives in the service of the nation.

Japanese Temple and Peace Pagoda

This monumental pagoda is situated about 2 kms from Chowrasta. The sparkling white pagoda rise 28.5 metres from the ground level and has a diameter of 23mts. Embedded in the wall of the pagoda are four statues of Buddha is gold polish and eight carvings on sandstone depicting different stages of Gautam Buddha’s life.

Ava Art Gallery

The art gallery is about 2 kms. form Chowrasta on the way to Ghoom. Displayed in the gallery are the fine art and embroidery works of Mrs. Ava Devi.

Dhirdham Temple

Situated just below the railway station, is built on the style of the famous Pashupatinath Temple of Katmandu (Nepal)

Shrubberry Nightingale Park

It is situated on the Jawahar Parbhat near Governor’s House. One can find the peace and tranquility in this beautiful garden. Also a giant statue of Lord Shiva is nested. Moreover the best sight of this garden can be seen in the night with the glittering of lights and dance and songs.

Bengal Natural History Museum

A few minutes walk form Chowrasta is the natural history museum which has a wide range collection of preserved reptiles, birds, butterflies and other insects. A visit to the museum is a must especially for scholars of natural sciences.

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

The Zoo exhibits some rare Himalayan fauna including the snow leopard. The collection includes the Himalayan black bear, the red panda, tigers and colorful Himalayan birds.

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute

This is one of the premier schools of mountaineering in the world and imparts mountain climbing training to enthusiasts. The museum of the institute portrays a range of mountaineering equipments that were used by various expedition as well as photographs concerning them.

Tenzing Rock and Gombu Rock

Situated at Lebong Cart Road, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute conducts preliminary course on rock climbing on these rocks and often demonstration are held. One can also try their skill in the climbing with the help of professional.

Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre

The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre was established on 1st October 1959 to Rehabilitates displaced Tibetans who had followed his holiness the Dalai Lama to India. The Centre produce excellent carpets, Woolen goods, wood work, leather work etc. the Tibetan craftsmen can be seen at work at the Centre.

Darjeeling Tea Garden

Of about seventy tea gardens in this hill region, one can visit any gardens and factory and see the plucking and processing of the world class Darjeeling Tea. Rangeet Tea Estate and Happy Valley Tea Garden are the nearest from the town.

Observatory Hill (Mahakal Temple)

The hill feature above Chowrasta and a few minutes from it is called Observatory Hill, on which is nested the Mahakal temple. MAHAKAL is considered as the incarnation of lord Shiva. Adjacent to the Mahakal temple is also a Buddhist shrine, manifesting the complete harmony that exists between Hinduism and Buddhism.

Chowrasta

All roads converge at the Chowrasta. The “Charring Cross” of Darjeeling the Chowrasta, meeting place of all the tourist, and men about town, who lounge around taking in the sight and the fresh air from the mountain. Here connecting the two main arteries of the town, Nehru Road and the Bhanu Bhakta Sarani, popularly known as the Mall.

Rock Garden and GangaMaya Park

This garden (or Park) is situated below Dali (outskirt of Town), nearly 11 kms from the main town. Rock garden is built with the patch of solid rock. Whereas the Gangamaya Park is filled with the greeneries, boating and fountain water, along with the tune to Nepali Dance.

Mirik Lake & Pasupati Foreign Goods Market in Nepal Border

Mirik-a nest in the hills is West Bengal’s one of the hill resort at an altitude of 1767 metres with its own special charms – 49 km. From Darjeeling and 52 km. Long lake is fed by perennial streams. A floating fountain in the middle of the lake is a joy for ever and very often you may find the glory of Kanchenjungha reflected in the lake waters. A rich forest with thousands of Cryptomaria-Japanica trees clothe the slopes on the west. A 3.5 km. zig-zag footwalk takes you along the lake – a sleek foot bridge connects the garden on the east with the woods on the west. Alone or in company, you are sure to enjoy a boat-ride in the lake.

Toy Train Joy ride

Toy Train Joy ride from Darjeeling Railway Stn. to Ghoom Railway Stn. & Back – 18 Km. Timing – 10.00 hrs & 13.15 hrs daily and duration of ride is 2 Hrs & 20 Mins (15 Mins halt at Batasia Loop).