Top things to do in Darjeeling and the surrounding area
From spectacular mountain views to rich colonial heritage and historic temples and monasteries, Darjeeling has something for everyone. Below are just some of our recommendations for things you could do in addition to a visit to the Hannah Memorial Academy.
Take in the stunning mountain scenery with an early morning visit to Tiger Hill
Set your alarm for an early morning (3am) start to watch dawn break over a spectacular stretch of the Himalayas. From the viewing platform at Tiger Hill you can see the sun rise over India’s highest five-peak mountain range, Kanchenjunga. On a clear day you can even see the tip of Everest. It’s well worth the early start! The best months for mountain views are September to November when the skies are generally the clearest.
See where the world famous Darjeeling tea comes from with a tour of a tea-estate
Darjeeling is famous world over for its tea but visiting a tea plantation offers a unique insight into what happens before it makes its way to our supermarkets. Tours of the emerald-green tea plantations are plentiful and usually include a look at the factory and the tea picking process, ending with a tasting session of freshly made tea. Tea plantations remain the lifeblood of many communities and villages in the region and are also an important part of the area’s history.
Explore Darjeeling with a ride on one of the world’s highest railways – The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, otherwise known affectionately as the ‘Toy Train,’ is one of the few hill railways still operating in India and was made a Unesco World Heritage site in 1999. As the train makes its way along the main road and past local shop-fronts, it offers a great way to explore the town and surrounding area. A recommended journey is the Darjeeling-Ghum loop, which includes a stop at the Gorkha war memorial and the town of Ghum where you can find out more about the history of the railway at the small railway museum.
Visit some of the regions impressive religious temples and monasteries
Darjeeling and its surrounding towns are home to an array of fascinationg religious sites and buildings. Observatory Hill is sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus and is well worth a visit for the panoramic views over Darjeeling and the Mahakal Temple. You can also follow in the footsteps of the Dalai Lama by visiting some of his most frequented Buddhist monasteries such as the Ghum Monastery.
Step back in time to Darjeeling’s colonial past with a spot of afternoon tea at the Windamere Hotel
Once described by a famous colonial travel writer as one of the “three jewels of the Raj” the Windamere Hotel is probably one of Darjeeling’s most atmospheric hotels. Situated on Observatory Hill, the Windamere Hotel has retained much of its colonial charm and offers an experience that can simply be described as – like stepping back in time. Worth a visit for afternoon tea (4-6pm) on the lawn or a candle lit dinner in the quaint dining room.
Learn about Darjeeling’s explorers at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Museum
Founded in 1954, this prestigious mountaineering institute has provided training and support for some of India’s leading mountaineers. Within its complex is the Mountaineering Museum, which offers fascinating details of Everest expeditions (past and present) and the connection with Darjeeling. A tremendous museum, which can be combined with a visit to the nearby Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park.
For more suggestions on places to visit in Darjeeling in the surrounding area, you can visit:
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