Darjeeling is one of the most popular and favourite tourist destinations cradled in the foothills of the Himalayas. The history of this Himalayan hill station dates back to the era of the British Raj when it was the summer resort for the elite sahebs . Of tea gardens, the joyous toy train of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the splendid Mall road, hot momos, chilling air and the view of the magnificent Mt. Kanchenjunga makes Darjeeling one of the most sought after tourist town in Eastern India. Let’s look into 30 tourist places in Darjeeling you must visit at least once.
A brief history behind Darjeeling as a hill station
The word Darjeeling comes from the words Dorje that means thunderbolt and ling that means land or place and for this Darjeeling is also called “Land of the Thunderbolt“. Darjeeling was a part of Sikkim before it was acquired by the British East India Company in the year 1816. During the British Raj due to its temperate climate, the hill station served as the best resort to escape from the summer heat in the plains.
It was thus established as a sanatorium by Arthur Campbell, a Surgeon and Lieutenant Robert Napier from the East India Company. As Campbell made efforts to develop the hill station it attracted immigrants and also increased the population.
Later with the establishment of the Himalayan Railway in 1881 Darjeeling emerged as a developed region. Darjeeling is inhabited by people from diverse ethnic groups and culture. Darjeeling is home to the Lepchas, Bhutias, Sherpas, Yolmos, Gurungs, and Tamangs are some of the popular tribes.
The tea industry of Darjeeling is credited to Dr Campbell who planted tea bushes cultivated from seeds brought from China. Gradually there was a rapid production of tea in Darjeeling.
The cool and damp climate and the high elevation combine to produce an aromatic tea that is quite refreshing and full of flavour. Presently Darjeeling has around 87 tea gardens and is a major source of economy of the region.
ALSO READ MY PREVIOUS POSTS ON DARJEELING
How to Visit Darjeeling
The nearest airport is Bagdogra and it is well connected by flights from all the major cities of our country. The nearest train station is New Jalpaiguri. Volvo or other Bus services are available from Kolkata and Guwahati. Siliguri is well connected by the night bus service from Guwahati.
From Siliguri or New Jalpaiguri, you can take shared sumo or taxi or book one and it takes around three hours to reach Darjeeling in case there is no traffic congestion. Some of the roads are quite congested with trains running on one side creating traffic jams.
20 best tourist places to visit in Darjeeling
Often called the Queen of Hills, Darjeeling is quite popular among travel lovers. Here are 30 best tourist places to visit in Darjeeling.
Lying at an altitude of 2590 meter and around 13 km from Darjeeling, Tiger Hills is one of the best tourist places in Darjeeling. It is a popular viewpoint for a panoramic view of Mount Kanchenjunga. It is famous for watching the sunrise and looks spectacular when there is a clear sky as the morning rays of the sun falls on the peak of Mt Kanchenjunga.
People start flocking in as early as 4;30 am in the morning. You can book a cab or hire a shared taxi from the Mall road. But you need to be lucky enough to get that clear sky. Avoid monsoons as most of the time the sky remains cloudy, the best time is in Winter when there is no rain but still much depends on your luck.
2. Batasia Loop
A toy train will take you through a magnificent loop known as the Batasia loop. Or you can book a cab and visit there and spend some quality time. Located on Hill Cart road it takes around 20 minutes to reach Darjeeling town.
You can also get a full view of Darjeeling town and also snow-covered Mt Kanchenjunga on a clear sunny day. The toy train makes a complete loop blowing its whistle around the garden.
There are seating arrangements and you can also go for the telescopic view around the town. On payment of Rs 50 per head, the boys with a huge telescope will show you around some of the popular and heritage buildings of Darjeeling. The centre part of the Batasia Loop is dedicated as a War Memorial.
It was opened in the year 1995 in commemoration of the Gorkha soldiers of Darjeeling who sacrificed their lives in various wars after India’s Independence. There is a statue of a soldier near the National Flag paying homage.
3. Japanese Peace Pagoda
Situated among lush green coniferous trees on the slopes of Jalapahar hills of Darjeeling the Japanese Peace Pagoda was inaugurated on 1st November 1992. It is designed to unite people of all races and creeds in their search for world peace.
The place has a beautiful charm and you can spend some peaceful time up there. The pagoda was designed by M. Okha and has the four avatars of Buddha including Maitreya Buddha. It is also one of the best tourist places in Darjeeling.
4. The Old Ghoom Monastery
One of the oldest monasteries in Darjeeling is the Yiga Choeling Monastery of Ghoom. Built in 1850 by Sherab Gyatso is also referred to as the old Ghoom Monastery. Ghoom is 7km from Darjeeling located at an altitude of 7,407feet. The monastery worships one of the oldest statues of Buddha in the Darjeeling area.
The monastery has some of the rare handwritten Buddhist manuscripts You can read in details about this monastery at this link HERE. The entry time is from 10 am to 6 pm and entry is free.
5. Darjeeling Himalayan Railways or The Toy train ride
One of the special attention of Darjeeling is the toy train. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a 2 feet gauge railway that runs between Darjeeling to New Jalpaiguri. Currently, this service is closed due to Covid-19 pandemic. But you can take a toy train ride from Darjeeling to Ghoom station which is also the highest railway station.
It runs a special basis for tourists. On 2nd December 1999, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways is declared as UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE.
Both trains run on diesel engines and steam engines are available for joy rides and the train moves so slowly that you can hop in and out while it’s in motion. You can book your train tickets here https://www.irctc.co.in/nget/train-search or you can reach Darjeeling station before 7 am and get the tickets from the counter itself. The total joyride is for two hours and it will be the most memorable ride of your life.
Siddhartha, my husband posing as the train stopped for few minutes inside Batashia Loop and I clicked his photos
6. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Museum
Located in Ghoom the Darjeeling Railway Museum houses various photographs, articles and documents that date back to the British Raj and the time when the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was started. While enjoying the toy train ride the train halts at Ghoom for some time so that tourists can visit the museum before it commences the return journey to Darjeeling station.
7. Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is one of the best tourist places in Darjeeling
One of the most popular tourist places in Darjeeling the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park was established on 14th August 1958. It is internationally acclaimed for the conservation breeding programmes of Red Panda, Snow Leopard and many other endangered species. It has a wide variety of birds, reptiles and other mammals. It takes around one and half hour to walk around the zoo.
8. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
Located with the Himalayan zoo is the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute which aims at promoting mountaineering as an organized sport. It aims to encourage youths to take up mountaineering like any other sport. The institute was established on 4th November 1954 by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay successfully climbed the Mount Everest in 1953.
It also has a museum that houses various gears, jackets, artefacts, instruments related to mountain life and used by mountaineers while climbing Mount Everest or other higher peaks of the Himalayan range. The visiting hours are from 09:00 am – 01:00 pm and 02:00 pm – 05:00 pm
Open all days, except Tuesday. The institute also organizes courses on mountain/rock climbing for children and youth.
9. Tenzing and Gombu Rock Darjeeling
Tenzing rock is a gigantic naturally occurring rock named after Tenzing Norgay the man who created history by conquering Mount Everest along with Edmund Hillary in 1953. Opposite to this is Gombu Rock named after Nawang Gombu the nephew of Tenzing Norgay who climbed Mount Everest twice. Both these two rocks are used for rock climbing training by the HMI.
10. Happy Valley Tea Garden
Established in 1954 and spread over 440 acres of land the Happy Valley Tea garden is the second largest tea garden in Darjeeling. Situated at a height of 2100 metres, it is a popular tourist place in Darjeeling. The Darjeeling tea industry is a part of Indian heritage that was started during British rule. The tea bushes are as old as 80 years and the tea garden is nearest to Darjeeling town.
11. Darjeeling Ropeway
The Darjeeling ropeway also popularly known as Ranjeet Valley Passenger Cable car is famous for getting a panoramic view of the Darjeeling town. The cable car ride is for 45 min that takes you from 7000ft to 800 ft where the station Singla Bazar is located.
The cable car was established in 1968 initially to cater to the needs of the tea gardens located in the valley below. From the cable car, you can see a lush green tea garden, valleys and on a clear day, the sight of Mt Kanchenjunga is sure to feel your heart with joy. The visiting hours are from 10 am to 4 pm and on entry fees of Rs.200 per adult and Rs.100 for children within 3-8 years old.
12. Rock Garden
One of the most spectacular places in Darjeeling is the Rock Garden at Chunnu Summer Falls and should not be missed at any cost. Though it looks more beautiful during the monsoons with the waterfalls in their most beautiful form.
The way to the rock garden is also stunning with sharp hairpin bends through the beautiful valley with clouds passing now and then. You will find some of the most scenic spots while on way itself. Don’t forget to ask the driver to stop the car and click some breathtaking shots. Inside the rock garden, you will see a beautiful waterfall that comes from the top.
There are sitting arrangements made inside the park to sit back and relax. There are tea stalls and small souvenir shops at the entrance of the rock garden, enjoy the food and feel the beauty of the place. The Park is usually open from 10 am to 4 pm and entry fees are Rs 10 per person.
13. Lamahatta Eco Park
Located at a distance of 23 km from Darjeeling and at an altitude of 5700 feet. Lamahatta comes from the word Lama which means a Buddhist monk and Hatta means hut which together means a monk’s heritage. The place has been gaining a lot of popularity among nature lovers lately. A small village but now turned into an eco-tourism park by the Bengal government. The place is easily accessible from both Darjeeling and Kalimpong.
With the beautiful, calm and pleasant surrounding, with tall trees and a view of the mountains this place is quite popular as a honeymoon destination. A few homestays too have come up with proper accommodation facilities. A day tour from Darjeeling would be a good idea to spend some quality time at Lamahata. You can get more information on Lamahata HERE
14. Glenary’s Bakery and Cafe, Darjeeling
A visit to Darjeeling would be incomplete without spending some wonderful time at Glenary’s. Glenary’s not just a name but a sentiment and has been a prominent landmark in Darjeeling since the time of the British rule. The entire building has been divided into a restaurant, a bar and a bakery. The restaurant cum bar can be assessed from outside where there is a staircase that leads to it.
The ambience is just perfect to spend a nice evening with a glass of wine and delicious food. You must try the fish and chips which is one of my personal favourites. Also, Glenary’s is a perfect place to enjoy a delicious breakfast, the bakery and cafe open at 7 am in the morning.
15. Darjeeling Mall (Chowrasta)
I simply love to spend the evening time at Darjeeling Mall which is located at Chowrasta. All the prominent restaurant including Keventer’s, Glenary’s are situated at a stone throw distance. If interested you can also enjoy horse riding in the Mall.
There are numerous shops where you can buy woollens, gift items, Darjeeling tea, etc. I love to hang around in the Mall sipping my hot cup of coffee and relishing on hot momos. You can also find some street vendor selling woollens at a great price.
16. Mahakal Temple
Situated atop Darjeeling Observatory Hill, the Mahakal temple in Darjeeling has quite an interesting history. The temple is located at a place where once a Buddhist monastery named “Dorje Ling” stood. It will take an hour to go around the temple. The temple presents a spectacular view of Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the air and Hindu temple bells creating a divine atmosphere.
Tourist visits to enjoy the beauty of the place and also to offer prayers in the temple. There is no entry fee and visiting hours are from 7 am to 7 pm. To reach the temple you need to trek for around half an hour amidst one of the most scenic routes.
17. Dali Monastery
Located at a distance of 5 km from Darjeeling town the Dali Monastery is also popularly known as Druk Sangag Cholin Monastery. Built-in a typical Tibetan style this is one of the largest monasteries. Due to Covid-19 pandemic, the monastery is currently closed but as I heard from locals arrangements are going on to open it for tourists.
Dali Monastery belongs to the Kagyupa sect and like any other Buddhist monastery it has its unique charm and appeal. There is a school inside and also a cafe called Kunga Paljor Coffee Shop. I personally love monasteries a lot and so this place is one of the best tourist places in Darjeeling.
18. Enjoying hot momos in The Mall
As I am writing this post which is about the best tourist places in Darjeeling one touristy thing to do is enjoy steaming hot momos while taking a stroll in Mall road. In that way, you can get the best feel of the mountains. There are many small outlets or restaurants around Mall road that serve some of the best momos.
One of my favourites is a small restaurant situated on the road that goes straight on the left-hand side behind Keventer’s also where Hotel Mahakal and restaurant is situated. Just walk a few steps and you will be there, also you can enjoy pork rice there.
19. Ghoom Monastery
The Old Ghoom Monastery also known as Yiga Choelin is famous for its 15 feet high statue of the Maitreya Buddha. The monastery was established in 1850 by a Mongolian astrologer and monk Sokpo Sherab Gyatso. A visit to the monastery comes with the local sightseeing or you can go by cab.
When we visited the monastery it was raining quite a lot and most of it was covered with thick fog. We waited for some time and later when the fog cleared we clicked a few photos.
Mirik is actually 49 km away from Darjeeling. But when we are talking about popular tourist spots of Darjeeling, Mirik must be mentioned. The best way to visit Mirik is towards the end of the trip when you return Siliguri/New Jalpaiguri for your train. Mirik is famous for the Mirik lake and also there are acres and acres of hills all covered with lush green tea gardens while on way from Darjeeling towards Mirik.
It’s the alternative route and Mirik lies in between NJP and Darjeeling. The journey is quite enjoyable and you will find a lot of picturesque spots. Shared jeeps are also available to visit Mirik. Lots of Bengali movies are shot in these tea gardens of Mirik. It is highly recommended and you cannot miss this visit when you are in Darjeeling.
Where to stay in Darjeeling
Almost the whole Darjeeling town is full of hotels and homestays. The most popular ones are located near The Mall. Some of these are Ramada Hotel, Hotel Seven seas where we stayed and you can get an amazing view of
Mt Kanchenjunga, The Elgin, Hotel Sumit, Villa Everest. I have received great reviews of these hotels so I mentioned the names. There are a lot more budget-friendly options you can check on various hotel booking websites.
Gift Items that you can buy from Darjeeling
Well, one of my favourite thing to do when I visit any new place is to collect mementoes. For gifts and also for my home I love to take back memories. As small gifting items from Darjeeling, you can buy pretty woollen stoles, hand gloves, stylish caps/hats, shawls.
Also, magnets are my favourite things to buy. There is a small shop near the Ramada Hotel where you can buy magnets, handmade soaps, Buddhist Prayer flags, handmade purses, mobile covers, etc. Some shops in The Mall offer discounts so don’t forget to plunge into some shopping there.
Fengshui items are also quite popular in Darjeeling and I love to collect some of these for my home. You can buy Darjeeling tea from Mall road. There are so many shops selling Tibetan jewellery you can buy some trinkets from there but don’t forget to bargain as some of these shops are very expensive especially for tourists.
Besides visit to the tourist places in Darjeeling you must have a hot cup of tea while in Darjeeling
Hope this post will help you to plan a trip to Darjeeling, the Queen of Hills. Feel free to drop an email if you have any confusion or you need some guidance. Also, I shall love it if you share this post with your friends and drop in your valuable comments.
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