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Darjeeling, best known for its tea, is the centre of India's most celebrated tea growing district. It is also a very popular as well as beautiful hill resort in West Bengal. The snow-covered peak of Kanchenjunga mountain and the rivers in the valley provide a breathtaking view. There is a lot to see as there are Buddhist monasteries, numerous tea plantations, and markets to buy local things from. It is ideal for trekking as one can go on trails in the numerous hills in Darjeeling near the border with Sikkim. There is also a toy train which goes to Jalpaiguri.
Places to see
It is the highest hill in the area. It is 11 kms from Darjeeling. The sunrise, and the view of Kanchenjunga peak from here is breathtaking. There is a lake close by called Senchal Lake.
It is 5 kms from Darjeeling and is on the route the toy train takes while going to Jalpaiguri. It is also the highest railway station in the world.
Ghoom Buddhist Monastery
It is a famous monastery 8 kms from Darjeeling.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
It is a trainning centre for those wanting to learn mountain climbing. It is 2 kms from Chowrasta, on Jawahar Parbat. There is also a museum here.
The mountainous terrain and cascading rivers in Darjeeling offers ample opportunities for adventure sports like trekking, mountaineering and river rafting.
Singalila Range Trek
This trek begins in Darjeeling and ends at Phalut and is one of the oldest trekking trails in India. There are bungalows built by the British in Jorepokhari, Tanglu, Sandakphu and Phalut.
Rangit River Rafting
River Rangit flows swiftly over a rocky terrain and is ideal for river rafting. It is flanked by steep cliffs and lush green forests and is a must for those adventure sports lovers who enjoy white water rafting.
Sonada and Bhutia Busty Monastery are other monasteries worth visiting. There is a Kali temple on the Observatory hill nearby. Other places to visit near the area are Dhirdham Temple, Lebong Race Course, Natural History Museum, Ropeway, Llyods Botanical Gardens and the Padmaja Naidu Himalaya Zoological Park.
Kalimpong (51km) is a quiet hill resort. Another retreat is Kurseong (36km). A newly developed hill resort with a lake is Mirik. Sandakphu (58km) and nearly Phalut for high altitude treks.
From Siliguri to Kalimpong by bus, to Kurseong by bus or the toy train, to Mirik by bus. Also from Darjeeling to all these places by bus and to Kurseong by train. From Darjeeling to Sandakphu
and phalut on foot. Trekking in Darjiling is a unique experience, which no lover of nature should miss. Sandakphu is 59 km from Darjeeling. With 8 hours walk a day, it can be reached in 2 days from Manaybhanjang.
On a clear day, the view from Sandakphu is unforgettable. From this rare vantage point one can see 4 of the world’s 5 highest peaks—Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Lhotse at a glance. Mount Everest is 144 km and Kanchenjunga is 38 km as the crow flies. The region abounds in magnolias, rhododendrons, primulas and other alpine flowers.
Another spot is Phalut, 3600 mts. The view from Phalut is similar to that from Sandakphu. Phalut is a trijunction of Sikkim, Nepal and West Bengal. The best months to trek in this region are April-May and October –November.
By Air - The nearest airport is Bagdogra, 90 kms from Darjeeling.
By Train - The nearest railway stations are New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri. Calcutta is 665 kms from Darjeeling. From Jalpaiguri one can also take the toy train, which is almost a 7 hours journey through a very scenic route.
By Road - It is well connected by road to Siliguri, Bagdogra, Gangtok, Kurseong and Kathmandu
The best time to visit West Bengal is October to March
October-March is relatively less humid and is the time of the 10 day Durga puja festival. Sunderbans is also opened at this time for visitors. In summers the temp goes to 38 degrees, and the humidity levels are very high. In winters the temperatures may fall to 10 degrees. Teesta Tea and Tourism Festival is held in November.
The hilly areas of Darjeeling and Kalimpong is best visited from March to June. June to August is the rainy season here.