Darjeeling: Sipping Tea In The Himalayan Foothills

The trip into the mountains is always interesting. The old Hill Cart road, the hustle bustle, students coming home from school, small towns packed with both vehicles and peoples and yes, there is a railway track on the right hand. The train just passed through here. I am going up to around 7000ft. to see the town of Darjeeling made famous as a British hill station. Thus, I am ascending through the clouds, imagining those bygone days which seems not so difficult. It’s June, a good time of the year for the clear skies. But, it’s raining up here. So, my hopes will go higher than the clouds for better views.

darjeeling_trainstation_-_india_2012

As I move higher into the hills and another train passes by, it does seem to be clearing a little. Now that I have reached the town through the scenic route which constitutes small towns of Kurseong and Ghum, I’m encouraged to see blue skies and bit of sunshine. There is certainly an air of anticipation and expectancy. Darjeeling conjures visions of snow peaks, the serenity of vibrant green hills steeped in splendour, a land of breathtaking beauty crowned by the majestic Himalayas. It is one of the most magnificent hill resorts in the world. This heavenly retreat is bathed in hues of every shade. Flaming red rhododendrons, sparkling white magnolias, miles of undulating hillsides covered with emerald green tea bushes, the exotic forests of silver fir – all under the blanket of a brilliant azure sky dappled with specks of clouds, compellingly confounds Darjeeling as the Queen Of Hill Stations. The crest of Khangchendzonga shining in the first dawn light truly supports the title. Darjeeling beckons thousands today for a leisurely respite from the bustle of the madding crowd. The traveller – whether a tourist or a trekker, an ornithologist or a photographer, a botanist or an artist – will find in Darjeeling an experience which will remain etched in one’s memory – forever.

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Next morning, I look out of the balcony and see the familiar views that one sees in the guidebooks and on the internet, a town on the hills with majestic snow clad mountains in the distance. Khangchendzonga, world’s 3rd highest peak is the most prominent mountain visible here. I see it standing in its full galore and reflecting back the morning rays of the sun and creating an aura of purple high at the peaks.

tiger-hillThe view of Kangchendzonga from Tiger Hill.

What comes to your mind when you hear the name “Darjeeling”, a cup of tea, I guess. A hill-top station surrounded by snow capped the Himalayas, perhaps the sight of the quaint Victorian town thrown like a multi-coloured quilt over the foothills of Himalayas. But for me, it’s just all of the above. The crowning glory of this place is Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a narrow gauge railway that runs spectacularly alongside and across the main road, clanking, screeching, and loudly announcing its presence. But more than anything else it reminds us of the bygone era. The engines are over 100 years old or even more. It is a World Heritage site declared by UNESCO in 1999.

darjeeling_himalayan_railwayDarjeeling Himalayan Railway “Toy Train” making its way through the bustling town.

Let’s move around this beautiful town through its scaling up and down roads and check out the majestic sights that it has in its pocket. First of all, head to Tiger Hill early in the morning before the sunrise. Right after that, warm yourself by sipping the famous Darjeeling tea in a Tea House and get yourself submerged into its aroma. Visit Ghoom Monastery, Japanese Peace Pagoda, Himalayan Zoological Park, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Dhirdham Temple.

darjeeling_mahakaltempleDhirdham Temple fully covered up with the beautiful prayer flags.

In my next article, I will discuss in detail about all the famous places in and around Darjeeling and take you along a Sightseeing Tour. I will also make you aware of all different kind of adventure activities that you can hop onto.So, Here I am signing off and will meet you in Darjeeling Part Two.

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(All Photographs have been taken from different sources.)

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kundan says:

    Beautifully written but thats one side of the story b I believe the writer has made his visit to Darjeeling several decades back that he has missed the concrete jungles the perennial traffic congestion the frequent political disturbances the severe water crisis…. I m not a pessimist n I definitely love my place but the writings seem contorted and paint a wrong picture if one misses the flip side of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know about all the recent happenings in and around Darjeeling and also about the political turmoils. I recently visited this place in June 2016, felt all the above stated problems.I was not trying to paint a wrong picture but my honest observations as a “Traveller”. Every place has its own problems but we need to focus on the beautiful part of it.

      Like

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