With the majestic Kanchenjunga towering over it, Darjeeling is a beautiful hill station dating back to the times of the British Empire and is also known as the Queen of the Hills. The steep and bustling streets of Darjeeling are dotted with colonial era buildings, Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples which make it an interesting exploration for curious travelers.
Tea is the most famous produce of Darjeeling. Its vicinity is covered with lush emerald green tea plantations. These mist blown slopes yield the finest quality of teas which is referred to as the “Champagne of teas”.
Another interesting attraction in Darjeeling is “The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway” or DHR. Designated as a world Heritage Site by UNESCO, this train is remarkable as it was started in 1881 and continues to operate in the same manner as it did then. Most of its original features are still intact and anyone who sees it cannot but applaud it as an engineering marvel.
The Ghoom Railway station at a height of 7407 feet is the highest railway station in India. A Joy Ride on the toy train from Darjeeling to Ghoom, an hour long ride, is something that any traveler to Darjeeling should not miss.
Darjeeling is a land of splendorous flora and fauna. lt is a nature lover’s delight dotted with dense vegetation mostly comprising alder, birch, maple, cherry chestnuts and oaks.
The name ‘Darjeeling’ came from the Tibetan words, ‘Dorje’ meaning thunderbolt (originally the scepter of Indra) and ‘ling’ a place or land, hence ‘the land of the thunderbolt’. At an altitude of 2150 m, it borders with Sikkim on the north and Nepal towards its west. Darjeeling experiences heavy rainfall between June and August and visitors are advised to bring water proof clothes and umbrellas. Darjeeling hill area is also unique from environmental eco-perception.
The relief varies from 100 metres, above sea level to the mighty Kanchanjungha. There are different climatic zones with distinctive attributes and there are endangered animals like red panda etc along with rare orchids and medicinal plants.
The Darjeeling hill area is formed of comparatively recent rock structure that has a direct bearing on landslides. The causes of the landslides vary from one locality to another. Heavy monsoon precipitation is however a very common cause of these disasters. The area is bounded by the Sikkim Himalaya in the north, the Bhutan Himalaya in the east and Nepal Himalaya in the west.
The people of Darjeeling are rich in folk culture. The hills are a treasure house of songs and dances of the simple folk. There is not a moment in their lives, possessed as they are of a lyrical mind and heart, that does not turn into singing and dancing. The panorama of the majestic Himalayan mountains, its lush green hills and forests seem to have played a significant role in influencing the religion and culture including the folk songs and dances of the Gorkha people, inhabiting in and around the Himalayan regions.