Himalayan Mounteneering Institute
This is a must visit place while in Darjeeling. Situated near Darjeeling Zoo,this is one of the most visited spot in Darjeeling. This institute was created by the late Tenzing Norgay. He was a Sherpa who climbed the Mount Everest on 29th of may 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary. All the equipments used in that climb are still a highlight in that institute.
They also impart training by highly qualified climbers on Rock Climbing ( I did that too!), mountain climbing, trekking but their main specialty is climbing very high and difficult mountains.
- Family Travel
Ghoom Monastry at Ghoom.
After visiting Ghoom Rail Loop, please walk down to Ghoom Monastry. It is said Buddha's eyes are made of very large size Diamond. The Monk in the picture also confirmed this fact.
Ghum Monastery or Ghoom Monastery is the popular name of the Sampten Choling Monastery or Yiga Choeling Monastery located at Ghum at an elevation of 8,000 feet, 8 km from Darjeeling in the state of West Bengal, India.
The monastery follows the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. There is a 15-feet high statue of "Maitreya Buddha" (Coming Buddha) in the monastery. It contains images of Buddha’s disciples, Chenrezi and Chongapa.
It was built in 1875 by Lama Sherab Gyatso and is the largest of the three monasteries in Ghum.
Amongst the Buddhist texts available are the Kangyur, the Tibetan Buddhist canon, running into 108 volumes. The monks fly prayer flags in the Tibetan tradition
- Family Travel
Himalayan Mountain Railway Darjeeling-Ghoom
There are several services for the local people, which now runs on Diesel Engine. But there is special service for the tourists, which starts at 2.00 PM and takes you from Darjeeling to Ghoom at 8000+ feet to Gorkha Memorial and back. it takes Rs.200/- per person. But the journey is guaranteed to give you the feeling of Raj days as the train is run by British Built Steam engine.
- Family Travel
Himalayan Mountain Railway
Visiting Darjeeling? The first thing comes in mind to board in the Toy Train, now an Unesco Heritage Site. I have boarded this Toy train at least 20 times since childhood. The first time I traveled with my father from Siliguri to Darjeeling in 1973 perhaps, since then several time. Many Indian movies were also shot with this train, the most famous being Aradhana and Jhuk Gaya Asman in 1969! Those were the glory days!
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, nicknamed the "Toy Train", is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling in West Bengal, run by the Indian Railways.
It was built between 1879 and 1881 and is about 86 kilometres (53 mi) long. The elevation level is from about 100 m (328 ft) at New Jalpaiguri to about 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) at Darjeeling. Four modern diesel locomotives handle most of the scheduled services: however the daily Kurseong-Darjeeling return service and the daily tourist trains from Darjeeling to Ghum (India's highest railway station) are handled by vintage British-built B Class steam locomotives.Since 1999 the train has been a World Heritage Site as listed by UNESCO.
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
As its famous with all hill stations,the Mall-which starts and finishes in Chowrasta, is quite famous ,you can just take a stroll if you are bored of sitting in chowrasta,you can have an awesome view through the way or you can enjoy the pony ride if you do not like to walk.
You'll love the sunrise if you are an early riser mostly people prefer to walk the Mall in the morning you'll find lots of people who will come for morning walks .
Enjoy the Rangeet valley roapway.
At North Point about 3-km from the town, this is the first passenger ropeway in India. For reservation of ropeway seats please contact - Officer in-charge, Darjeeling Rangeet Valley Ropeway Station, North Point, Darjeeling.
You can have the awesome view of the Tukvar valley tea garden.
Regular share taxi service is available from Market Motor and Taxi Stand is to the Ropeway Station.
In north point you get to see the St Joseph school also known as north point school estb in 1888.
Sandakphu and Phalut
I have not visited this place but I am planning to do so when i visit home,mostly people who enjoy trekking visit this place as told by those who visited this place its awesone .I cannot write about it but i found something interesting about it check the website.
The Mall (Chowrasta)
This place is the heart of Darjeeling. It is the meeting point of 4 main roads, and is closed to vehicles. There is a permanent stage built at the center - when we were here, they were celebrating world AIDS day, so there were various performances from traditional dances to Jazz bands. Several restaurants and tea lounges are also located here. You'll find lots of street side vendors selling traditional crafts, street food, warm clothing, and colorful pashmina shawls. You can also rent horses to ride around the town.
Well there wasn't anything much to see here except some Hindu temples and one Buddhist shrine.
But it gives you that sense of sacredness up here surrounded by so many temples, charms and those tibetan style flags.
Anyway the walk way below and around this hill is very interesting, I think it's called Observatory Road.
It has 3 outlook points with some cozy benches to watch Himalaya mountain ranges.
The most prominent one is Mt. Kanchanjunga which can be seen on a clear day.
During sunrise and sunset the peak will be glowing red-orange color.
Take the road just beside the stage as seen in one of my photos.
The zoo (Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park) is quite small but it exhibit some interesting animals such as: Red Pandas, Black Bears, Leopards, Bengali and Siberian Tigers.
The entrance fee for foreigner is Rs. 100 which includes entrance to HMI (Himalayan Mountaineering Institute) museum which is also inside the park itself.
We managed to cover both the zoo and HMI museum in about 3+ hours.
Take a Ride on the Darjeeling Toy Train
The Darjeeling Toy Train, officially known as the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and even if you take a short trip, it's a must do in Darjeeling.
The engines run on coal and the tiny tracks are only 2 feet wide. The full journey from Darjeeling to New Japaiguri takes about nine hours but you can take the shorter trip (only an hour) to Ghoom, which is what we did. At 7,410 feet Ghoom is one of the highest railway stations in the world.
Our 2 car train chugged along spewing smoke and steam. It travels so slowly that you can jump on and off easily while it's moving (we did that too!). To give you an idea how slow - that 9 hour Darjeeling to New Japaiguri trip covers only 50 miles!
The train makes a 10 minute stop at Batasia Loop where it makes a figure eight. At Batasia Loop you can get out and visit the war memorial and take some photos of of the surrounding garden and Mt. Kanchenjunga.
Check the schedule because timings and frequencies change depending on the season. If it is high tourist season, it's a good idea to buy your tickets in advance as the train fills up quickly. Sit on the right side of the train up to Ghoom for the best views. Your ticket also covers entry into the railway museum at Ghoom.
Memories of Druk Sangag Choeling Monastery
This was one of my 2 favorite experiences in Darjeeling.
This huge, colorful Buddhist monastery sits high on a hill about 4 kms. outside of Darjeeling. It was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama and is the seat of H.H. Gyalwan Druken Rinpoche, the supreme head of the Kargyupa sect.
After taking a couple of photos outside, we removed our shoes and were welcomed inside. Unbelievably there was a service going on. There were hundreds of monks on benches in two sections facing each other. They were chanting to the rhythmic drums. We made our way to the back of one of the sections and sat down on the hard floor. I was absolutely entranced.
Alongside me about 8-10 feet away was a small group of young boys (monks) fidgeting through the service. A short while into our stay one of the elder monks went and brought us 2 mats. At one point several monks came in carrying pots and started pouring hot tea for the monks on the benches. The chanting and drums continued. It was so easy to get lost in it. We stayed a little longer before (unfortunately) making our way back outside.
This was such an amazing experience. If you are lucky enough to go at a similar time, remove your shoes, be respectful (and quiet) and no photos inside!
This Buddhist stupa (Peace Pagoda) was designed by Dr. M. Okha, who also designed the Japanese Temple nearby. Under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fujii founder of the Nipponzan-Myôhôji Buddhist Order, it took 3 years to construct. The Peace Pagoda is all white and is 94 feet high and 75 feet in diameter. There are sculptures all around the Pagoda that portray the four incarnations of the life of Buddha.
There are 70 Peace Pagodas around the world - built with the intention of uniting people of all races and religions in their search for world peace.
Both the Peace Pagoda and Japanese Temple are very calm places. Spend some time visiting both and enjoying the wonderful views.
See my Darjeeling travelogues for additional photos of the Peace Pagoda.
Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Center
This was one of my 2 favorite places/experiences in Darjeeling.
Thousands of Tibetan refugees - including the Dalai Lama - settled in Darjeeling after the Chinese invasion. The center was established in 1959 which gave the refugees the opportunity to continue practicing (or learning) their skills (woodwork, carpet weaving, etc.) and provided a sales outlet.
The complex today, consists of an orphange, school, clinic, home for the elderly, the crafts workshops and showroom, and a gompa (Buddhist temple), and there are over 750 people living there.
We spent time walking around the center and visiting the workshops. The people were so friendly, especially the children, who were absolutely delightful. I spent time photographing two little children (I just fell in love with them!) while Sandy played basketball with some older kids.
We made some purchases in the showroom (a beautiful wallhanging, among other things). The prices are similar to stores outside of the center but all of the money goes back into the Tibetan community (one of the reasons I wanted to visit in the first place) as the center is self-funded.
The center also takes donations and has opportunities for volunteers (teachers, medical staff, childcare and geriatric workers). Those interested in volunteering should contact the head office at the center or call 91 354 225 5938.
The center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Only the stores are open on Sunday.
I would not miss an opportunity to visit the center while in Darjeeling!
See my Darjeeling travelogues for additional photos from the center.
Also known as the Nipponjan Myohoji Buddhist Temple, the Japanese Temple is located near the Peace Pagoda. The temple, built in 1972, was designed in traditional Japanese architectural style by Dr. M. Okha. The inside is not very large but it is very colorful with several smallish statues of Buddha, flowers, and a large prayer book.
The philosophy of the temple is peace and spirituality. And you definitely feel that both inside the temple and outside where it is beautifully situated with a spectacular view of Mount Kanchenjunga and the Darjeeling city line.
Spend some time enjoying the garden and the view before heading to the Peace Pagoda.
The temple is open from 4:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. You may enter and take photographs except fduring prayertime. Shoes must be removed and left outside.
See my Darjeeling travelogues for additional photos of the temple.
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