I planned my visit to Darjeeling last summer because I have always been fascinated by the picturesque mountain town, known for its tea gardens, colonial architecture and beautiful views of the Himalayas. I had heard so much about the famous Darjeeling tea and wanted to experience it for myself. I also wanted to explore the town’s rich cultural heritage and learn more about the history and lifestyle of the local people. Additionally, I was looking for a peaceful and scenic getaway, and I knew that Darjeeling would provide the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Furthermore, I had heard a lot about the toy train journey, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and I wanted to experience that too. All in all, I was excited to experience a new culture and see a new place, and Darjeeling seemed like the perfect destination.
Sealdah to NJP to Darjeeling by Train and Bus
My train journey from Sealdah station in Kolkata to NJP (New Jalpaiguri) and thereafter a bus journey to Darjeeling was an incredible experience. The train ride was smooth, and I got to see some beautiful scenery along the way. As we left Kolkata and headed towards NJP, I got to see the lush green countryside and the small towns that dot the region.
My bus journey from NJP to Darjeeling was a scenic one. The bus ride was winding and hilly, and the views were simply breathtaking. I saw tea gardens, terraced fields, small villages and picturesque towns along the way. After about 3 hours I reached Darjeeling bus stand.
Hotel – Accommodation
I checked into a hotel called “The Himalayan Retreat” during my visit to Darjeeling. The hotel was located in a peaceful and secluded area, surrounded by lush green tea gardens and beautiful mountain views. The hotel was quite affordable, with the price per night being INR 4,000.
The hotel room was spacious and clean, with a comfortable bed and a balcony that offered spectacular views of the Himalayas. The room was equipped with all the necessary amenities such as a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, and a private bathroom with hot water. The hotel staff were friendly and helpful, and they were always available to assist me with any needs I had.
The hotel also had a restaurant that served delicious local and international cuisine, as well as a bar that offered a wide range of beverages. It had a spa and a small gym, which was a nice addition for those who wanted to relax and stay active during their stay.
Overall, I was very satisfied with my stay at The Himalayan Retreat. The hotel was comfortable, affordable, and had all the amenities that I needed. It was also in a great location, surrounded by beautiful scenery and close to the main attractions of the town. I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Darjeeling.
Itinerary – 7 Days
My itinerary for my visit to Darjeeling included the following activities:
Day 1: Arrival in Darjeeling, check-in at the hotel and rest for the evening.
Day 2: Visit to the famous Tiger Hill to catch the beautiful sunrise over the Himalayas. Then, visit to Ghoom Monastery and Batasia Loop.
Day 3: Visit to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also known as the “Toy Train.” Then, visit to the famous Darjeeling Tea Estate and learn about the history and process of tea making.
Day 4: Visit to the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, which is home to a wide variety of animals and birds found in the Himalayas. Then, visit to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, which is a museum dedicated to the history of mountaineering in the region.
Day 5: Visit to the Peace Pagoda and Japanese Temple, which offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere. Then, visit to the Darjeeling Mall, which is the main shopping area in the town.
Day 6: Visit to the Rock Garden and Ganga Maya Park, which are popular tourist spots. Then, time to relax and pack for departure.
Day 7: Departure from Darjeeling.
The itinerary was well planned to cover the major tourist attractions of Darjeeling and also to give me time to relax and take in the beautiful scenery. It balanced visiting famous landmarks and cultural sites with leisure time and opportunities to explore the local culture and lifestyle. It simultaneously allowed me to experience the nature, tea gardens and the Himalayan views, which were the highlights of the trip.
Tiger Hill, Ghoom Monastery, Batasia Loop
On Day 2 of my itinerary, I planned to visit the famous Tiger Hill to catch the beautiful sunrise over the Himalayas. Tiger Hill is located at an altitude of 2,590 meters and is one of the most popular tourist spots in Darjeeling. It offers a panoramic view of the Himalayan range, including the world’s third highest peak, Kanchenjunga.
After taking in the breathtaking views at Tiger Hill, I planned to visit the Ghoom Monastery, which is one of the oldest and most famous Buddhist monasteries in the region. The monastery is known for its beautiful architecture and serene atmosphere. It also houses a 15 ft tall statue of the Maitreya Buddha, which is said to be the largest in the world.
Next on my itinerary was the Batasia Loop, which is an engineering marvel and a popular tourist spot. It is a spiral railway created to reduce the gradient of the tracks as it descends from Ghoom. The location offers a panoramic view of the hills and the toy train as it goes around the loop. It’s also a popular spot for photography enthusiasts.
Overall, Day 2 of my itinerary was designed to take me to some of the most beautiful and iconic places in Darjeeling, with an early start to catch the sunrise, and a mix of natural and cultural experiences. This day was planned to be an unforgettable one in terms of the views and the experiences.
Toy Train – The Joy Ride, Darjeeling Tea Estate
On Day 3 of my itinerary, I planned to visit the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the “Toy Train.” The Toy Train is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its narrow-gauge railway that runs through some of the most picturesque landscapes in the region. I took a ride on the toy train, which offered breathtaking views of the tea gardens, small villages and scenic mountains. The journey was slow, but it was worth it as it gave me plenty of time to take in the stunning views.
After the toy train journey, I planned to visit a Darjeeling Tea Estate, which is one of the most famous attractions in the region. The tea gardens in Darjeeling are known for their picturesque beauty and the high-quality tea they produce. I had the opportunity to learn about the history and process of tea making, from plucking the leaves to the final product. I also got to taste different types of tea and take some home as souvenirs.
Overall, Day 3 was designed to be an immersive experience, which would allow me to learn more about the culture, history, and lifestyle of the region. The toy train journey and the visit to the tea estate were planned to be highlights of the day, offering beautiful views and an opportunity to learn about one of the most important industries in the area.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
On day 4 of my itinerary, I planned to visit the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, which is home to a wide variety of animals and birds found in the Himalayas. The park is also known for its research and conservation efforts for the endangered species of the region. I had the opportunity to see some of the rare and exotic animals from the Himalayas such as the Snow Leopard, the Himalayan black bear and the red panda, which are native to the region.
After visiting the zoological park, I planned to visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, which is a museum dedicated to the history of mountaineering in the region. The institute was founded to encourage mountaineering in India and to promote the study of the Himalayas. The museum has a collection of equipment, photographs, and other memorabilia that tell the story of the many expeditions that have taken place in the region.
Overall, Day 4 of my itinerary was designed to offer an opportunity to learn more about the natural history of the region and its conservation efforts. The zoological park and the mountaineering institute were planned to be an educational experience, with a chance to see the rare Himalayan animals and learn about the history of mountaineering in the region.
Peace Pagoda, Japanese Temple, Darjeeling Mall
On Day 5 of my itinerary, I planned to visit the Peace Pagoda and the Japanese Temple, which are popular tourist spots in Darjeeling. The Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist temple that was built to promote world peace and to serve as a place of meditation and prayer. It offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere and is known for its beautiful architecture and landscaping.
After visiting the Peace Pagoda, I planned to visit the Japanese Temple, which is a beautiful temple that was built by the Japanese monks. The temple is known for its intricate carvings and sculptures and offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere. It’s a great place to relax, meditate, and learn about the Japanese culture.
Later in the day, I planned to visit the Darjeeling Mall, which is the main shopping area in the town. There, I could find a variety of shops selling traditional souvenirs, handicrafts, textiles, and other items that are unique to the region.
Overall, Day 5 of my itinerary was designed to offer a mix of cultural and leisure activities, with the opportunity to see some of the most iconic landmarks of Darjeeling and also to explore the local culture and lifestyle. The visit to the Peace Pagoda and the Japanese Temple were planned to be a spiritual and cultural experience, and the visit to the Darjeeling Mall was planned to be an opportunity to explore the local shops and find souvenirs to bring back home.
Local Food and Restaurants
During my visit to Darjeeling, I had the opportunity to try some delicious local food. The cuisine in Darjeeling is a mix of Nepali, Tibetan, and Bengali influences, and it’s known for its use of local ingredients and spices. Some of the local dishes that I tried included:
Momos: These are steamed dumplings filled with meat or vegetables and are a popular street food in Darjeeling. They are often served with a spicy dipping sauce and are a must-try for anyone visiting the region.
Thukpa: is a Tibetan noodle soup that is a staple of the Darjeeling cuisine. It’s a hearty and comforting dish that is perfect for a cold day in the mountains. It’s usually made with vegetables, meat or eggs and is seasoned with local spices.
Darjeeling tea: is famous worldwide, and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to try it in the place where it comes from. The tea is known for its unique flavor and aroma, and I enjoyed trying different types of tea from different tea estates.
I also visited some local restaurants during my trip. One of the restaurants I visited was “The Mount Everest” which is located in the heart of Darjeeling and is known for its traditional and authentic local cuisine. The restaurant had a cozy atmosphere and the staff was friendly and helpful.
Another restaurant that I visited was “The Sherpa Kitchen,” which is known for its Tibetan and Nepalese cuisine. The restaurant had a rustic and authentic atmosphere and the food was delicious. I especially enjoyed the momos and thukpa that I had there.
Overall, I had an excellent experience trying the local food and visiting the local restaurants in Darjeeling. The food was delicious and authentic, and it was a great way to learn more about the local culture and lifestyle. The restaurants I visited were cozy and well-priced, and the staff was friendly and helpful, I highly recommend trying the local food and visiting the local restaurants if you ever visit Darjeeling.