Situated in northern most part of West Bengal, Darjeeling is surrounded by Bhutan in the East, Sikkim in the north and Nepal on its west. Standing on a narrow ridge, you get the best view of the grand Himalayan snow peaks from a vantage point in Darjeeling.
Darjeeling is a home to a different variety of races. It has adopted people from Sikkim, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and even Europe. It is considered to be the queen of hill stations as well as “Dream-land of the East”, and is the most famous for clean fresh air, natural beauty and year-around pleasant weather. However, above all, it is internationally popular for its famous tea leaves.
The hill station was popularized at the time of British Raj, when every year at the start of the summer, the Viceroys of India would move to Darjeeling.
The culture of Darjeeling, India is quite unique and diverse. The two predominant religions practiced in the area are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Dashain, Buddha Jayanti, Tihar, Holi, Ram Navami, Christmas and Holi are the main festivals celebrated here. Never minding the diverse ethnic population, the town also celebrates several local festivals.
Hindi, Nepali, Bengali and English are the prevailing languages spoken here. While Bengali is the language of the plains, Tibetan is the language used by the refugees and some other tribal people.
Indulge your taste buds with exotic but homely cuisine which is a mosaic of cultures. This will guaranteed satiate your gastronomical needs. Whether it is thukpas or momos, whose fabled flavors has transcended across the Himalayas alongside with Tibetan migrants or the lemon grass menu from the south-east Asia.
Some of the must try recipes in Darjeeling are as follows –
- Momos - These are steamed meat dumplings which are served in clear soup and achaar (pickle). One can also order for vegetable momos where the meat is replaced with veggies like grated cabbage, carrots and more.
- Thukpas - This is a scrumptious dish is Tibetan noodles served with egg/ meat, vegetables with a predominant soup base.
- Aludum - Typical Indian potato preparation, originating from Kashmir. It is a recipe where aloo (potatoes) are cooked with spices under pressure.
- Shaphalay -Tibetan bread stuffed with meat.
- Tibetan tea - Tibetan tea has a very unique way of preparation. It is a salt tea which is mixed with butter and therefore has its own distinct taste.
- Tongba Thetongbabrew is made from millet. It is traditionally sipped through a bamboo straw. It can be typically found in the local Sunday haat(fair) in the proximity to Rock Garden.
Shopping in Darjeeling
Some of the items that must be in your list to shop in Darjeeling include –Tea
Darjeeling is globally famous for its variety of tea flavors.Tibetan Artifacts
Many local shops sell Tibetan artifacts which you can keep as a souvenir like the Tibetan scroll paintings, laughing masks, prayer wheel or laughing Buddha.Local Knick knacks
Locally made items like Tibetan carpets, bags, woolen garments and organic honeyare too tempting to ignore.Postcards
One of the best and cheaper way of taking something to remember Darjeeling are professional photos / postcards of the mountains and valleys
Darjeeling Point of attractionsTiger Hill
11 km from the Darjeeling, at an elevated height of 2590 meters, lies the renowned Tiger Hill. The view of sunrise from the top of the hills an unforgettable scene. It is also situated at a vantage point where you can view the mighty Kanchenjunga and Everest peaks.Zoological Park
More famously known as the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological park. It was established with the aim of conserving the flora and fauna of the Himalayas. The zoo houses some rare species which includes the Red panda, Siberian tigers, Tibetan wolves as well as Himalayan black bears and yaks.Badamtam tea estate
The estate was once managed by an English company, presently owned by Goodricke Group, is known for their Darjeeling first flush trees.Shrubbery Park
Located behind Raj Bahawan, this park only came in to existence only recently, surprising the visitors with the perfect view of the Singalila ridge and third highest mountain Kanchenjunga.Observatory Hills
The hill over the mall on mall road concludingat Chawrasta is observatory hill, which is well known for the Mahakal Temple ( which is dedicated to Lord Shiva). Bhutia Busty Gompa used to be located here before it was relocated to its current location. The other two important hills, jalapahar and katapahar are also situated nearby it, arranged in a shape of “Y”.GhoomMonastry
Also known as the Yogachoeling Gompa, it is located 8 km outside of town. It also has an image of Maitreya Buddha. It is one of the few monasteries were photography is allowed inside.Tibetan Refugee Center
It is the place where a large number of Tibetan refuges migrated in 1959 due to the annexation of Tibet in China. There are many craft workshops that produce pure Ladakhi wool items, carpets and interesting woodcarving items.