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15 Things to do in Darjeeling

Fondly known as the Queen of the Himalayas, Darjeeling has a lot to offer to anyone visiting the Himalayan abode.

Spread over a steep mountain ridge, filled with green tea plantations, Darjeeling stands at the height of 2,050 meters above sea level, thus boasting of a chilly climate all year round.

The lush green slopes dotted with women plucking tea leaves is a sight as mesmerising as no other. There are numerous tea estates in Darjeeling that are responsible for producing the worldwide famous ‘Darjeeling Tea’.

There is no ideal Darjeeling itinerary. You can cover it in a day, or can spend weeks. Considering time is a luxury most of us don’t have, a fastest visit to Darjeeling should be just One day long excluding the travel days. I have provided a sample itinerary at the end of this post as well, which you can refer to for a fast darjeeling visit.

I have also listed out if a particular place if accessible to differently abled people and if a place is skip-able if time constraints are there. Hope it helps.

Table of Contents:

How to Reach
Where to stay
Places of Interest in Darjeeling
   Watch the sun rise at Tiger Hill
   Visit the Batasia loop
   Go Wild in the Barbotey Rock Garden
   Riding the Toy Train
   The Japanese Peace Pagoda
   Ghoom Monastery
   Stroll the Mall Road
   Visiting a Tea Estate
   Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park
Places of Interest a little outside of Darjeeling
   River Rafting at Teesta
   Visit the Lamahatta Eco Park
   Take breaskfast in Nepal (Simana Viewpoint)
   Take a stroll on the open border (Simana)
   Take a Photo Stop at Gopaldhara Tea Estate
   Go Boating in Mirik

Fastest Darjeeling Itinerary


How To Reach

The gateway to Darjeeling is Siliguri, West Bengal which is 60 KM away from Darjeeling. Whatever your mode of transport, you have to reach Siliguri to go to Darjeeling.

Pro Tip: try to ensure reaching Siliguri by noon thereby making sure you don’t have to have a night stopover in Siliguri. Vehicles don’t go to Darjeeling in the evening or night.

Reaching Siliguri By Train:

The major station of Siliguri is New Jalpaiguri Jn(NJP). Don’t be confused by the name, its the same place. It is well connected to all the major Indian cities. If you dont get a train, then plan a stopover in Kolkata, from there you will get numerous options.

Reaching Siliguri By Bus:

Overnight buses ply between Kolkata and Siliguri everyday. You can book one easily from redbus.in. They reach early in the morningim in Siliguri.

Reaching Siliguri By Flight:

The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport (IXB). Almost all local carriers have direct flights from Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata to Bagdogra.

Siliguri to Darjeeling:

Taxis are available at both NJP station and Siliguri bus stop which can take you to Darjeeling.

Most such taxis are 6 to 8 seaters, so if you are travelling in a smaller group then you can either share the ride or book the taxi entirely for yourself (costs around Rs.300 per head).

The best way however is to ask your hotel to provide a pick and drop service. They can arrange a car as per your need.

If you are a solo traveller or are tight on the budget, then you can take an auto rickshaw to Siliguri bus stop (N.B.S.T.C), which will cost around Rs.20 (per head on sharing basis) and from there board a Bus to Ghoom Monastery which costed Rs.90 in 2019. From Ghoom monastery you can board a sharing jeep and reach Darjeeling in Rs.20.

If you are not in a hurry, then you can take the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Toy Train as well which takes 7 hours to reach Darjeeling. Tickets can be booked from IRCTC.

Pro Tip: Taking the toy train from Siliguri to Darjeeling has two downsides. One, it takes around 7 hours to reach where a taxi will typically take 4 hours. Two, you will miss out one a few spots on route.


Where to stay in Darjeeling

Best area to stay in Darjeeling are Mall Road and Gandhi road. That way you wont have to spend of rides to the mall road. There are lots of hotels and lodges cost can range from as low as 1000 rupees a night to 7000 rupees a night. Try to book one in advance either by directly calling the hotel or through Make my trip.


Places of Interest in Darjeeling

Watch the sun rise at Tiger Hill:

Accessible for differently able people:No.
People who are not comfortable trekking avoid the place.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:No.
The experience is unlike anything else.

Tiger hill is the highest point in the Darjeeling and watching the sun rise from the top is the most sought after activity in Darjeeling. Since you need to catch the sun rise, you will have to leave or this early in the morning around 4 AM. The place gets crowded and traffic on the route gets dense as the time of the sun rise approaches. So the earlier you can leave the better it is. You will not only get better spots on the hill, but your car will also be able to reach further near the top, thereby ensuring you don’t have to trek a lot.

Read More: Blog post detailing my Tiger Hill trip.

Visit the Batasia loop:

Accessible for differently able people:Yes.
Mild walk is required. Ramps are available as well.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:No.

Batasia loop is a park cum tribute ground. The himalayan train also does a stop inside the park. You get a clear view of the Kunchenjunga Mountain range from the place. There are plenty of shops around this place, so if you are craving for some shoping or good food, you can get those in near the entrance of Batasia Loop.

Go Wild in the Barbotey Rock Garden:

Accessible for differently able people:Yes.
People who are not comfortable trekking can still enjoy it. They can stay near the first few levels. Ramps are also available.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:No.
It’s a great place, don’t even think about skipping it.

The rock garden is a recent addition to Darjeeling. It’s a place carved out of an existing Waterfall. Rocks at the place are arranged and terraced in a way to provide for great picnic option. It is a kind of multilevel park. I however don’t think many people come here for picnic. Its a place where you can enjoy the surroundings and the waterfall provides for some amazing photographs. There are some food stalls around this place where you can grab decent snacks.

Read More: Blog post detailing my rock garden visit.

Riding the Toy Train:

Accessible for differently able people:Yes.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:Yes.

It’s an unique experience to ride the Toy Train, which chugs along in its own pace around the picturesque hills of Darjeeling. Board one from Darjeeling and go till Ghoom just for the experience. It will cost you around Rs.30. From Ghoom you may come back using the train or board a shared jeep. You can also ask your driver, if you have booked a cab, to pick you up at Ghoom.

They do run from Siliguri to Darjeeling, and the tickets are a bit harder to get on an aD-Hoc basis. You can book them in advance from IRCTC. they cost around Rs. 600.

The Japanese Peace Pagoda:

Accessible for differently able people:Yes.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:Yes.
If time doesn’t permit, you may skip the place.

Ghoom Monastery:

Accessible for differently able people:Yes.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:No.

Ghoom monastery is one of the most sought after attractions in Darjeeling. The monastery houses a large Buddha statue and is an excellent place to go spiritual. Usually tourists come here directly after visiting the Tiger Hill as this place falls on route. There is a big flea market outside the monastery, where you can shop for winter wears and souvenirs.

Stroll the Mall Road:

Accessible for differently able people:Yes.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:No.

Mall road is the main market area of Darjeeling. Any kind of shops ranging from Tea to Telescope is available in this market. There are some really amazing restaurants and antique shops also present in this area. Only downside being that the market is only accessible by walking, so people with difficulties walking may not be able to fully explore it.

Visiting a Tea Estate:

Accessible for differently able people:Yes.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:Yes.

If you are in the land of tea plantation, it does make sense to at least stand within the plants and click a few picture. Many people visit some famous tea estates, who can charge up to Rs.100 as an entry fee. There are plenty of tea gardens around Darjeeling, and you can easily find one with no entry fee. One such garden is located on route to Rock Garden. Just tell your driver, and he will stop at this spot. The picture taken above is from that same tea garden. It’s absolutely free.

Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park:

Accessible for differently able people:No. You need to walk a lot in this place.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:Yes. If you are not into Zoo you an totally skip this place

The zoo does contain some rare fauna, so if you are travelling with kids you can give the zoo a visit. If a zoo doesn’t interest you much, you can give it a miss.

Places of Interest on Route to Darjeeling

River Rafting at Teesta:

Accessible for differently able people:No.
People who are not comfortable walking on uneven rocks, avoid it.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:Yes.
The experience is unlike anything else, but if you don’t have a couple of hours to space, you can give it a miss.

Teesta river flows between West Bengal and Sikkim and provides for some good river rafting experience. If you are travelling with kids or elderly, or if you happen to have some physical condition then please avoid this place. The authorities here won’t even allow you to board a boat if you don’t seem fit for the activity. There are both challenging and non challenging routes to the river, so choose according to your skill level as a swimmer as the chances of you falling the waters are much higher in the challenging course. The non challenging course is relatively simpler, so even if you don’t know swimming, you can give it a shot. The authorities here are very attentive and careful. Life jackets are a must and are provided to every participant.

Visit the Lamahatta Eco Park:

Accessible for differently able people:No.
Treking is a requirement here, so if you are not comfortable with the same, skip this place.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:Yes.

This eco park is located on route to Darjeeling, so if time permits then do stop over and trek in this park. It will be a worthwhile experience. However don’t stop here if you are coming back from Darjeeling as the trek of Rock Garden or Tiger Hill will make this place seem lack lusture and underwhelming.

Take breakfast in Nepal (Simana View Point):

Accessible for differently able people:Yes.
This is on the road, not much walking required.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:Yes.
It’s just another viewpoint.

Simana viewpoint is a cliffside where a few small eateries have set shop. There are a few others selling woollens, souvenirs and locally made chocolates. The road here falls on the Indian side of the border and the shops on the Nepal side. So technically you will be crossing over to Nepal to have breakfast! Doesn’t really matter as it is an open border, but still you get to brag about it.

When standing on the cliff, one can see an uninterrupted view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, its surrounding mountains and distant towns. On a clear day you can even see the famous Sandakphu trail and Maneybhanjan.

Take a stroll on the Open Border (Simana):

Accessible for differently able people:Yes.
This is on the road, not much walking required.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:Yes.
It’s just a border, you can skip it if time doesn’t permit.

This is the open border between India and Nepal. Indians can cross over to the other side by just showing any govt issues ID card. There isn’t much here unless you want to visit the Pashupatinath Temple and market which is a good 1 hour drive into Nepal.

Take a photo stop at Gopaldhara Tea Estate:

Accessible for differently able people:Yes.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:Yes.

This is strictly a photo stop. The Gopaldhara tea estate is huge, covering a few hills. The round green hillocks formed by dense tea plantation present a beautiful landscape. Visitors can go some distance and click pictures is they want. There is a small cafe in front of this estate that sells tea and snacks. If you are on the road travelling between Mirik and Simana, stopping for a few pictures here would be a good idea.

Go Boating in Mirik:

Accessible for differently able people:No.
Walking some distance is needed, so if you are not comfortable with the same, skip this place.
Skip-able if time doesn’t permit:Yes.

This is also a park is located near a natural lake much lower in altitude than Darjeeling, This is on a different route then the usual Darjeeling NJP road. Go here only if you have spare time in hand. The place might not be the greatest, but the route is much more scenic than the regular road, so that sort of makes up for it.

Pro Tip: club Simana View point, Simana and Mirik on your return trip to NJP or while going to Darjeeling, as these fall on the route. Do make sure you have 7 hours to spare though.


Fastest Darjeeling Itinerary

There is no ideal Darjeeling itinerary. You can cover it in a day, or can spend weeks. Considering time is a luxury most of us don’t have, a fastest visit to Darjeeling should be just One day long excluding the travel days.

Day-1 :


Arrive before noon in Siliguri or NJP and take a car to Darjeeling. On route you can go for River Raftin in Teesta, followed by a trip to the Lamahatta Eco Park. It will be dark by the time you reach Darjeeling. So consider it your shopping evening.
After checking in to your hotel and freshening up, come up to Chowrasta Mall, sit on a peripheral bench for a while, relax & enjoy the ambience and watch the activities.
Later visit old heritage shops like Habib Mullick (on the mall), Jolly Arts (on the Mall) and few others and buy some curios or souvenirs. Have your dinner in one of the restaurants here (like Glenary’s or Shangri-La).

Day-2


This is your touring day. Start off early in the morning for a 3-point tour which covers famous sunrise from Tiger Hill, Old Ghoom Monastery and Batasia Loop where the toy train takes a dramatic loop and negotiates an altitude of 140ft.
You will be back to your hotel by 7:30am.

Relax for a while and later take the 7-point local tour which includes Happy Valley Tea Estate, Japanese Peace Pagoda and Barbotey Rock Garden. This tour will take about 4 hours.

Day-3

Leave from Darjeeling and ask the driver to take you via Mirik. On route visit the Simana and the stop over at Mirik. The detour would take an extra 2 hours so do it only if you have time in hand. Else push directly to Siliguri or NJP.


Darjeeling and the surrounding hills are abundant with nature’s bounty, its all about what you can give to Darjeeling in form of time, and Darjeeling will enhance your experience multi-folds and give it back to you.

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