The small town of Darjeeling in Northern India is an ideal place to explore the beautiful Himalayan mountain range and green countryside filled with tea plantations, forested valleys, and glacier fed lakes. One of the most exciting trips to take in the area is a ride on the old Himalayan railway which is well over a hundred years old, and a World Heritage site. You can be carried on the rattling old steam train, down the narrow precarious tracks to Kurseong, while enjoying the fantastic mountain and country views. It’s one of the few remaining hill railways operating in India and a must see for anyone visiting Darjeeling.
The town itself is a charismatic old colonial hill station with cobbled streets, delightful markets and delicious local restaurants. Spend a morning enjoying the exotic animals of the zoo, sample some street food from the markets for lunch and then maybe take a relaxing walk around the botanical gardens in the afternoon. There are also many exquisite places of worship to explore, including Buddhist and Hindu temples, a Japanese pagoda, and several colonial churches and Buddhist monasteries. There are plenty of hotels to choose from and most will accept a credit card. However, to be sure that your money is safe, choose one of the best credit cards in India and you will have a stress free vacation. Whatever your budget, there are cheap and cheerful options, as well as boutique guest houses and large hotels.
For outdoor adventurers, the areas surrounding Darjeeling are any hiker’s paradise. A pleasant one day hike up to Tigers Hill gives trekkers the chance to appreciate views over the town, as well as all the way to Mount Everest. Another popular hike is the approximately ten day journey from Mane Bhanjyang to Sandakphu and on to Phalut and Rimbik which provides more fantastic views of beautiful blossoming rhododendrons and peaks such as Kanchenjuna, Makalu and Everest.
Obviously a visit to Darjeeling would not be complete without paying attention to its namesake, the aromatic tea variety. A tour can be arranged from your hotel or one of the tour operators around town. You will be able to visit the tea plantations, see the leaves being plucked, and then visit the factory for a full lowdown of the process involved. Of course there will be a tasting session too. There is much more than just tea to Darjeeling but it is still one of the town’s most treasured traditions.