Darjeeling Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by anilpradhanshillong
  • Things to Do
    by anilpradhanshillong
  • Things to Do
    by anilpradhanshillong

Most Recent Things to Do in Darjeeling

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    The Chaurastha

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 19, 2014

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    The correct spot to start your perambulations in Darjeeling is the Chaurasta, the main junction of five roads, one coming up from the market, one going towards the pony stand, one running downhill past ‘Step Aside’, one returning from the Mahakal Temple on Observatory Hill, one going past Windermere Hotel and St. Andrew’s Church towards the Governor’s Summer residence.

    You’ll find tourists as well as locals lolling around, exchanging gossip, sipping endless cups of tea, ponies with tourists ambling along, children chasing flocks of pigeons, Romeos and Juliets strutting around. A life-size statue of the famous Nepali National poet, Bhanu Bhakta Acharya stands against the wall while behind the statue the beautification work by the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, goes on to give the entire promenade a complete overhaul.

    You park yourself there for a while, see and be seen, click a few photos, sip tea if you like and then start your leisurely walk.

    First Written: May 17, 2012

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    Himalayan Mountaineering Institute

    by davidjo Written Jul 11, 2012

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    Tenzing Statue

    You will find this within the grounds of the zoo but it's worth a visit as the Everest Museum is interesting as it goes into detail about the 1922 and 1924 climbs that started from Darjiling. There is also a statue of Tenzing Norgay nearby the place where he was cremated.

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    Yiga Choeling Monastery At Ghoom

    by anilpradhanshillong Written May 23, 2012

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    The road to the famous Yiga Choeling Monastery is adjacent to the Ghoom Railway Station and is only a 10-minutes walk. It is a walk through rows of small shops on both sides of the road till a sharp turning unveils the venerable monastery before you. You may find the monastery locked but there will be monks around who will oblige you if you request them to open it. Established in 1850, this monastery of the Yellow sect Buddhism, worships the 15-foot high Maitreya Buddha (Future Buddha). It was built by Lama Sherab Gyatso and houses some very rare Buddhist texts. It also houses Chenrezi and Chongapa, Buddha’s disciples.

    Take the trouble of going round the monastery first, turning the prayer wheels in a clock-wise direction with your right hand. Once you enter the verandah, you will find a huge prayer wheel on the left hand side. Once inside the monastery, a huge statue of the future Buddha greets you. To your left are the rare manuscripts of the ancient Buddhist religion. All four walls have riveting frescoes. You may either take a ‘khada’ (cream-coloured light-weight scarf) and offer it to the statue or you may buy it from the monk who opened the monastery doors for you. You are allowed to take photographs. Once you return to face the huge statue again, you may make a donation in the box provided for this purpose.

    First Written: May 23, 2012

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    Journey's End - The Ghoom Railway Station

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated May 23, 2012

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    The Ghoom Railway Station is where your joyride ends. It comes all too soon, barely an hour after flag off. You have hardly had time to acknowledge your co-passengers, so engrossed you have been in your own enjoyment. As you shuffle reluctantly towards the door, you realise how short-lived your happiness has been till you look at your camera or video recorder and remember that your memory, aided by these external devices, will constantly re-live the magical moments of this joyous joyride.

    First Written: May 23, 2012

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    The Ghoom Railway Museum

    by anilpradhanshillong Written May 23, 2012

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    The Ghoom Railway Museum, a UNESCO heritage site, is worth a visit where you may see the origins of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR). You will learn that the DHR started functioning in 1881; that until 1878, the route from Calcutta to Darjeeling was tortuous in the extreme and that it took 5/6 days; that the engineers invented the Loops and Z-Reverses for the train to gain height; and, that it went under the Coronation Bridge to reach Siliguri. Rare black-and-white photos adorn the walls.

    First Written: May 23, 2012

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    In Memorium - The Batasia Loop

    by anilpradhanshillong Written May 23, 2012

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    On your final day in Darjeeling, you can afford to take it easy as your Toy Train ride will only start at 10.40 am. The preparations of the train engine as well as the two carriages are a treat to watch.

    It takes three uniformed engine drivers to get the Beauty Queen primed. There’s a lot of hooting (book only for the steam engine and NOT for the diesel engine) and shuttling of the carriages. The lady ticket examiner in uniform looks equally fetching while the Train Master himself struts up and down the platform. Each seat in the carriage is draped with a white cloth and the car sure looks squeaky clean. It hardly matters if you’re in the first row or the middle or the last – the scenery is the same for everyone. With some more last-minute hooting, the Guard blows the whistle and the Toy Train is off.

    All too soon you’ll be performing a loop at the Batasia Loop, a tourist sight. Here, the train tops for 10 minutes for you to take in the scenery of the picturesque town, the plains below as well as pay homage to the brave soldiers from Darjeeling who have laid down their lives since 1947 in the service of the motherland. A fitting monument is at the centre of the park. Another hoot and you are off towards Ghoom Railway Station.

    First Written: May 23, 2012

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    Relive Your Childhood - Darjeeling Ropeway

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated May 22, 2012

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    After that sumptuous lunch and before you begin feeling soporific, try out the Darjeeling Ropeway. It earlier consisted of 16 cars and plied between 'North Point' and Singla on the banks of the Ramman River. The journey on the ropeway offered beautiful views of the hills and the valleys around Darjeeling.

    Started in 1968 it had to stop operations in Oct. 2003 after the cable snapped and two cars plummeted 100 feet down the hill killing 4 tourists. It was reopened on Feb. 2, 2012 with lesser number of cars and a truncated journey. From 7,100 ft (2,134 m) in Darjeeling’s North Point (Singamari), this bi-cable ropeway descends for about 15 minutes to Puttabong Tea Estate in Tukvar village. It passes over dense forests, green valleys and tea gardens offering unmatched scenic vistas.

    It is now operated as a joint venture by the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation and Conveyor & Ropeway Services Pvt. Ltd. (CRS). It operates between 10 am to 2 pm and the rates are Rs. 120/- per adult and Rs. 60/- per child (above 3 years to 8 years old). On the 14th of each month, the ropeway is closed for maintenance but if the day happens to be a Sunday, then the maintenance is done the next day. Each car carries 6 passengers only; try to grab the seat facing the downhill journey. The scene is far better this way. While returning also, grab the same seat for the best views.

    On your way back to the hotel, you could check up the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the Tenzing Rock, the Zoo and the Nightingale Park. Kids will love to try out their mountaineering skills at the Tenzing rock.

    First Written: May 22, 2012

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    Japanese Peace Pagoda

    by anilpradhanshillong Written May 21, 2012

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    If you are into art, you may try out the Ava Art Gallery close by. Else you may take a transport to the Japanese Peace Pagoda (4 kms away). The moment you climb the last step up, three sights await you: the long stone-inscribed pillar in front, the Nipponzan Myohoji Temple with its two lions at the entrance to your off-left and the peace pagoda in the distant off-right with its wide, sweeping steps.

    Standing at a lofty 90 ft (28 m) with a girth of 75 ft (23 m), the Japanese Peace Pagoda is a snow-white (symbol of peace and of unity) icon of world peace reaching out to all the people regardless of race, religion or country. Designed by M. Ohka and built under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fujii, it reportedly took 3 years to complete after the foundation laying ceremony in 1992. The pagoda itself is further away from the two-storied prayer hall. You can enter the upper floor of the Nipponjan Myohoji Temple and beat a hand-held cymbal-like drum to the accompaniment of a Buddhist chant. The puja timings are 4.30 am-6 am and 4.30 pm to 6 pm.

    You may then try out some ‘momos’ and ‘thukpas’, ethnic Buddhist food for lunch. Thereafter, wend you way down to the Happy Valley Tea Estate for a crash-course into the intricate art of growing, plucking, manufacturing, tasting and selling tea leaves. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, an experience enriched by the subtleties of first flush, second flush and third flush.

    First Written: May 22, 2012

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    Dhirdham Temple

    by anilpradhanshillong Written May 18, 2012

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    Once you return to the Darjeeling Railway Station, walk over to the Dhirdham Temple next door. Designed by Beg Raj Sakya and built by Rai Saheb Purna Bahadur Pradhan in 1939, this temple was inspired by the famous Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal. The roof of the temple is, however, reminiscent of a Tibetan monastery.

    A huge statue of Lord Shiva greets you at the entrance. It opens only in the mornings and evenings for ‘aarti’. It miraculously survived the Aug. 1950 landslide which took away a large chunk of land just beneath the temple.

    First Written: May 19, 2012

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    Relive Your Childhood - Darjeeling Toy Train

    by anilpradhanshillong Written May 18, 2012

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    From there, you could roll down to the Darjeeling Railway Station and book your ticket for the next day’s joy ride till Ghoom. This can also be done online (Train Number 52548; Darjeeling to Darjeeling; 10.40 am and 12.50 pm) and I would strongly suggest doing so as tickets are hard to get on the two First Class Chair Car compartments.

    You can’t buy single journey ticket in the Toy train; the ticket is Darjeeling to Ghoom and back, a total of roughly Rs. 200/- for almost 2 hours. The distance till Ghoom is barely 7 kms but it takes a pleasant 50 minutes to reach there after the 10 minutes stop at Batasia Loop. The War Cemetery there is a sombre reminder of the supreme sacrifice made by the fearsome Gorkha soldiers of Darjeeling with their ‘khukris’.

    At Ghoom Station itself, the Toy Train stops for 30 minutes to enable you to check out the Ghoom Railway Museum – a veritable treasure house.

    First Written: May 18, 2012

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    St. Columba’s Church

    by anilpradhanshillong Written May 18, 2012

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    St. Columba’s Church was established in 1894 and belongs to the Eastern Himalayan Church Council, a Presbyterian Church Council affiliated to the United Church of North India. It is situated just above the Ghoom Railway Station.

    First Written: May 18, 2010

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    To Glennary's - A well-deserved lunch

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated May 18, 2012

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    This entire itinerary should take you about 4 to 4.5 hours, from the Chaurastha back into the town. You could then repair to Glennary for a well-deserved spot of late lunch. After lunch you may like to unwind and ruminate at the nearby Lloyd’s Botanical Gardens before heading back to your hotel.

    First Written: May 18, 2012

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    Fiery Orb Over Tiger Hill

    by anilpradhanshillong Written May 18, 2012

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    Ideally, the next day should find you very bright and very, very early on your way to Tiger Hill, some 12 kms from the town centre. Owing to the road condition, it will take you about 45 minutes to reach the 8,530 ft (2,600 m) hilltop.

    Go early, get your ticket, march upstairs to the viewing gallery and try to get a seat in the front row, right-most corner, the corner from where the sun will rise. If you prefer to be with the hoi polloi, you may remain on the ground floor, sipping your ‘chai’. Upstairs, they serve you a complimentary cup of tea or coffee and some biscuits.

    The view as the sun tentatively peeps from the horizon, inching its way up till it becomes a fiery orb, all the while bathing the mighty Himalayas from a pale pink to a reddish glare giving way finally to a white sheet of snow, is best left to your own experience. Sunsets the world over are normally romantic: this sunrise is highly vibrant and vigorous.

    Filled with renewed energy, return to your hotel for a scrumptious breakfast and thereafter, head towards St. Columba’s Church.

    First Written: May 18, 2012

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    Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre

    by anilpradhanshillong Written May 18, 2012

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    The Bhutia Bustee Monastery has an off-shoot in the form of the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre located about less than a kilometre downstream. Ask the monk at the monastery and he’ll take you to the back of the monastery and point in a vague direction. As you walk along, ask the locals and they’ll guide you on. It should not take you more than 15 minutes to hoof your way down.

    The Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre building is a two-storied structure with another set of buildings further down. In the ground floor you will find a row of carpet-weaving looms and Tibetan women furiously at work. The dexterity they display in counting the threads and in making the patterns come alive is fascinating, all the while smiling and chatting with their neighbours. Upstairs, the left corner room houses all the brightly-coloured woollen balls used for making the carpets and a make-shift office. In the next room some more looms are kept.

    Walk further down from this building and you will come across the Tibetan shop where all the manufactured produce is sold. You’ll find it thronging with tourists, some souvenir hunting, some placing orders for carpets, others merely browsing around. Make a purchase or two: its dirt cheap and all the revenue goes towards the residents of the Tibetan Self-Help Centre only. Opposite to this is a small room where old photographs are exhibited. A peek won’t do you any harm.

    The Manager of the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre is Mr. Dorjee Tseten. He is a very knowledgeable person who escaped from Tibet when the Chinese first occupied it way back in 1959. His email id is thondup@cal.vsnl.net.in. The factory telephone numbers are +91-354-2252552 and the Office numbers are +91-354-2255938 and +91-354-2254406. The Fax number is +91-354-2254237 while his mobile number is +91-94343 80346.

    Once you’ve had your fill of this, you may take your vehicle back into town (roughly 8 kms away) or you may walk down to the main road and enjoy the glorious view of the valleys and plains from Happy Valley View Point.

    First Written: May 18, 2012

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    Bhutia Busty Monastery

    by anilpradhanshillong Written May 17, 2012

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    Once you come out of the ‘Step Aside’ bungalow, don’t return to the Chaurastha. Instead continue your meanderings downwards on the cemented walkway towards the Bhutia Busty Monastery, the monastery that was uprooted from the Observatory Hill years ago and the monastery from which Darjeeling got its name.

    The Bhutia Bustee (Karma Dorjee Chyoling Monastery), built by Lama Dorje-Rinzing in 1765 atop Observatory Hill, near the Chaurastha, belongs to the Red Sect of Buddhist monks and is a branch of Nygmapa Sect’s Phodang Monastery located in Sikkim. After it’s ransacking by the Nepali populace in the 19th century, it was re-located at Bhutia Bustee. Here, it was again destroyed in 1934 during an earthquake but was rebuilt with ample funds from the Chogyal (Ruler) of Sikkim.

    Set against the backdrop of the mighty Kanchanjunga, this monastery has rare books and manuscripts on Buddhism and Tibetan culture on its first floor which acts as its library. It is the oldest monastery in Darjeeling.

    Photography is not allowed inside the monastery.

    First Written: May 17, 2012

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