Astonishing locations, eye-catching sunrises, the pristine beauty of the hills, the vintage charm of the past, and the ever-smiling local people all add up to make Darjeeling one of the most beautiful hill stations in India. In this post, we will be looking at some must-visit tourist spots in Darjeeling to be visited 2020!
Must-Visit Tourist Spots in Darjeeling
Once posed as a summer resort to the British, Darjeeling still keeps the old world colonialist charm intact with its 19th-century Victorian-Gothic style architecture, sprawling tea-estates and heritage eateries.
“You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you.”
I explored the nooks and crannies of this small hill station armed with nothing but a backpack. Keeping in mind that it was essentially planned as a budget trip, the upper limit to the money was 5000 INR for 8 days(not even remotely joking, please continue reading).
Darjeeling, of course, has fantastic trekking places, but I gave more importance to attaining sensory experiences this time.
(Since the cost of air/train transport varies from different parts of the country, I will be starting the trip-itinerary from the New Jalpaiguri itself)
The Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway
The toy train or the Himalayan railway affords a view of the hills as the small train huffs its way from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling station and is an important part of the entire Darjeeling Himalayan tourism scenario.
It is one of the best experience to travel in this ingenious piece of the 18th-century locomotive. Soak in the beautiful sun-drenched views of the tea gardens or the Batasia Loop while this UNESCO acclaimed train takes you for its joyride.
I would personally suggest booking the tickets beforehand for discounts (the on-spot tickets tend to be a bit pricey).
Book yours from the Indian Railway official website. Just sign in or create an account. I would suggest going for this instead of www.irctctourism.com where the ticket cost is higher.
Places to stay in Darjeeling
If you’re a solo backpacker on a budget trip, you might want to live it out in the hostels. The hotels in Darjeeling offers beautiful views but tend to a little high in cost.
I stayed at the Hideout Backpackers Hostels which is a safe space for female travellers (and it provides a wonderful continental style breakfast too) and owing to its proximity to the Darjeeling Mall Road, transportation problems are a myth here.
Don’t hesitate to choose your hostel here. Just make sure that your preferred place stays is not far than 2kms away from Darjeeling Mall Road.
How to travel cheap in Darjeeling?
I would suggest going with a small group or forming friendships close enough so that 8 people may share a cab, as hiring a cab for a day may go as high as 7000 INR (calm down, bargaining helps!), but ceased being much of a pocket pincher, if they’re shared. Book a cab for a day and you’re set!
Places to visit in Darjeeling:
Set out at 3 am to experience the first rays of sunlight hitting the earth. Trust me when I say this – heaven on earth will not be a fable.
Within 2km vicinity to Tiger Hills, the Darjeeling Rope-way is a wonderful treat for your photography hunger pangs (if you are not afraid of heights though). Tickets cost 260 INR per head.
Darjeeling Peace Pagoda
The sense of nirvana comes naturally once you set footsteps within the White Buddhist pagoda. Take a picture amongst the rattlers or talk to the monastery care-takers or just revel in the calmness.
Don’t forget to check out the roadside tea stalls. Darjeeling tea is well renowned for its fantastic healing effects on the human body. (Oh, did I mention the cuddle-worthy shelter dogs who take their refuge here?)
River Rafting in the Teesta
I have never been an adventure junkie, but the rafting seemed too exciting to boldly try. The local clubs take good precautions for the safety of the tourists.
Shopping in Darjeeling Mall
Considering it was a budget trip, I cannot put emphasis enough on how much it pained my soul for not being able to shop for the locally made artefacts and souvenirs(😭).
The best quality wooden artefacts, rings, woollen items etc are available here for just 300 to 800 INR. (Shop till you drop, sis).
Bengal Natural History Museum
A magnificent surplus of flora and fauna.
If flora and fauna are what excites you, please do check out their amazing collection of preserved butterflies and birds. Walking museum tours by local guides is also an excellent way to know about this once British observatory.
It usually takes one good long day to cover each place as there is so much more to this city than just the frequently visited tourist attractions.
Seek refuge within one of the hundred small monasteries for a feeling of belonging or sip a warm cup of coffee in the small roadside cafes (most cafes have a wonderful collection of books) or taste the locally made and freshly sourced hot Tibetan momos/dumplings on the streets or go for a tea tasting tour to a tea estate.
If you’re into trekking, the Batasia Loop, the Singalila National Park are fabulous places to make your day start. Local travel agencies offer tour/trekking packages at a nominal rate, you don’t have to worry about the detail intricacies.
The trekking operators usually charge packages which start from Rs. 3,800 to Rs. 4,200 per day per person for Sandakphu/Phalut trek which includes transportation, accommodations, food, permits for speciality trails, trekking equipment and gear, mountain guides, etc.
Coming to the financing part of this trip, here’s a short budget report for the 8 days of travelling.
Book a shared cab and the cost per person would come around to 800-1200 INR. Allot a total of about 1500 bucks for food budgeting and you’re set to dine like a king (almost).
Tea tasting at Darjeeling
(Ever since childhood, our ears banged with the speciality of Darjeeling, how can one forget that?)
If Chai is what you breathe for, then mall has all the tea tasting amenities you would ever wish for.
With the gently rolling hills and ideal weather, Darjeeling produces the world-famous aromatic tea to take your taste buds on a splendid tour.
With an average entry of around 400 INR, customise your ideal cup of tea with varying sorts of tea leaves.
Most places allow you to relish the sunsets while sitting on deck chairs.
There is a reason why Darjeeling tea is also known as the “Champagne of Tea” and it does not matter whether you are a beginner or a connoisseur of tea taster.
Most tea tasting institutes and estates offer cookies and biscuits as accompaniments to the tea and you get to taste around 15 different types of teas from different estates and cultivated through various seasons.
The first flush(first plucking of tea leaves) Darjeeling tea is often recognized by two leaves and a bud. The first flush tea has a light, floral, refreshing tone to it. It is one of the most prized and expensive in global markets. This is the Champagne of teas. Make sure you don’t miss out on this one.
The caffeine parlours also pack up some loose tea leaves in small dry sachets so stock up on some to bring home s souvenirs.
Whether your goal is to adventure or tea-tasting, something is humbling among the towering grandiose of the mountains. Within a seemingly vast universe, Darjeeling is awaiting for you.
Happy Travelling. 😊