Trip to Darjeeling West Bengal

We've probably all enjoyed a steaming cup of Darjeeling tea at some point, but few know the colonial hilltop town where tea is grown, not many visitors take the time to visit one of the most scenic destinations from East India.

Before Scottish doctor Archibald Campbell planted a handful of Chinese tea trees in the fertile soil surrounding the city of Darjeeling, there wasn't much to see there, but when the tea industry took off, everything changed.

Enjoy the ride:

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

The original Glasgow steam train that once carried British troops, tea planters and Indian civil servants from the Himalayan foothills to Darjeeling and Siliguri in the high mountains is still going strong. The whistle and roar of the train echoing through the air, thick clouds of white smoke and large locomotives making their way through the narrow, winding streets is a real sight to behold.

Make your way to Darjeeling Station with plenty of time to purchase your return ticket to Ghum and look for the train that appears behind wooden buildings perched on the edge of sheer cliffs. Find a seat on the left side of the train for the trip to Ghum and on the right for the return trip and enjoy the spectacular views of green tea bushes cascading over the rugged hills of Darjeeling and locals waving and taking selfie as the train passes in front of their house.


Tibetan Buddhist Monastery

You can not really miss the impressive Buddhist monastery, the largest Western Bengal, located on winding roads and tea plantations in Hilly City.

Plan your visit for the evening prayer session, where Buddhist monks of all ages sit in a row in front of a giant statue of Buddha singing, playing drums, playing horn and trumpet, ringing bells and bells. cymbals.

The entire experience is a bit of assault on the senses, not knowing where to look or what to listen to, not understanding exactly what exactly is going on and savouring the taste of a drink that looks like sweetened milk tea, but a salted butter tea called po cha.

Hear the sound of seashells echo in the air as young monks signal the beginning and end of prayer time.


Tea Factory

Tukvar, Puttabong Tea Estate
Tukvar, Puttabong Tea Estate

You simply cannot visit the tea house without stopping by a working tea factory. There is no shortage of factories to visit, with dozens if not hundreds scattered across the hills, separated by neat rows of green tea plants and plantation houses, each processing, packing and selling tea to all corners of the world.

The most famous tea factory is called Happy Valley Tea Estate, which although accessible and open to the public, is not as authentic as Tukvar, Puttabong Tea Estate. The factory opened in 1852 in the northernmost district of Darjeeling, located in the center of the city's largest estate. You can observe how the tea leaves are processed, rolled and heated, cleaned and dried, sorted and packed.

Have fun discovering the different variations of Darjeeling tea. Springtime Bloom - the first whiff of green tea notes, summer solstice muscatel - a vibrant scented tea, darjoolong - a semi-fermented tea, whole leaf black tea, broken black leaf tea, whole leaf green tea, and green fannings tea.

The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Mountain Zoo

To commemorate the conquest of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, the Indian state created the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) in the memory of Hillary's companion, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Visit the Mountaineering Museum, with countless artifacts dedicated to mountaineers throughout history, many of whom have long resided in Darjeeling. Check out the handpicked list of people who made it to the top of Everest, photos on the walls of famous explorers, and flags depicting the nations that funded the explorations.

The HMI building is surrounded by a mountain zoo. Walk among the cages and enclosures of some of the world's rarest and lesser-known animals. Observe the Royal Bengal tiger, snow leopards, various species of deer, fox, wolf, red pandas and birds - you could easily spend a whole day here if you wish.

Shop for tea

Being the homeland of Indian tea, there are countless family tea stalls and wooden shops selling, you guessed it, Darjeeling tea. It is an art to find the best variety of tea, and even more impressive to successfully haggle the prices against astute Indian traders trying to support their families.

You can choose to buy pre-packaged teas in the standard varieties we recognize in the West, or find a store that sells loose teas and try to create your own flavor. Wherever and whatever you buy, you can rest assured that the prices and quality are much better than those sold in Western supermarkets.

Let's go for dinner!

There are few places left in India that try to preserve the feeling of being in the Raj. The Windamere hotel restaurant does just that. The 5-course silver-service dinner menu is an unforgettable experience, with dim lighting, 1930s music playing softly in the background, and a hearty continental menu meets Indian menu. The menu changes daily, but you might find a Sunday roast with chicken korma and rice, roly poly jam with custard and a refreshing cup of Darjeeling tea to accompany it.

How to travel?

  • By flight: To get to Darjeeling, you need to fly from Kolkata (Calcutta) or Delhi to Bagdogra Airport.

  • Drive: After landing at Bagdogra Airport, you need to drive around 3 hours over the hills towards Darjeeling. There are countless car and driver rental companies that can do this.

  • Stay: The historic Colonial Hotel Windamere is one of India's most renowned hotels, with a warm atmosphere, real charcoal fires in every room, 5-course silver catering and a prime location in the heart of this hilltop town. Prices start at INR 11,000 (+ GST) per night with two meals included (around £ 118).

Been to this lovely place? Want to share some amazing photos ?

If yes post in your favorite images and don't forget to tag #pinakinsbroadway and #travelwithpinakin

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