I am a girl from the hills and that makes me proud of the heritage I carry around. Born between cultural diversities ranging from Bengalis, Nepalis, Tibetans and underlying British roots that the air in Darjeeling carries, it all just adds up to the person I am today, us people from the hills we can adjust in hustle bustle and yet appreciate every bit of our quite times with close people whom we love and cherish and carry in our lives throughout.
I will not go about describing the history my quaint town, Darjeeling, but the place was built by the British as one of their summer retreats, infamous for tea plantations, steamed dimsums, lovely people and dotted with tourists all around the year, the place never fails to charm me during my every visit.
The nearest airport to this place is Bagdogra, which is around 2 and a half hours away and one can avail taxis from there. NJP (New Jalpaiguri) is the closest railway station and taxis are available there too. On your way to my beautiful town, do make it a point to stop at Tourist inn, Kurseong and have their momos (steamed dimsum) along with a hot cuppa coffee!
Once you reach there, the place is flocked with budget hotels, you can pick your choice or pre-book, I would say go and choose a place because pre-booking leads to disasters a number of times!
Hang around the place, walk to the mall, look at the thrift shops, go buy tea, visit the oxford bookstore and interact with the lovely locals, they will charm you with their smiles and hospitality.
Without numerous drop ins at Glenary’s your stay will be incomplete and you will find yourself visiting the small coffee shop with a restaurant upstairs unknowingly to pick up simple things that you must have forgotten on your last visit. For example an extra apple pie, liquor chocolates, cheese croissants, muffins, tarts or well just to sit there and enjoy the view from the windows while sipping on your cappuccino (do not expect the starbucks or costa types).
Your days MUST start with a breakfast at Keventer’s, a cafe run since British times serving the best colonial breakfast and then you can fill it up with a number of activities, like shopping (you get good knock offs), hiking, trekking, visit to tea plantations, rope way, white water rafting, horse back riding or simply sit at the mall and watch the world pass by.
In the evenings go and sit with your friends in some pub, you will find plenty, the best is Joey’s pub, drink beer, laugh loud and discuss your day, head back to your hotel room slightly tipsy and wake up to another new day!
No trip to Darjeeling is ever complete without sightseeing, wake up really early, pack yourself some breakfast and carry your coffee flasks and go to Tiger Hill. Visit the Japanese peace pagoda, the lovely monasteries, the ZOO!!! yes! The zoo! and once you are there, go to my favorite place, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, take a look around the museum and all of Tenzin Norgay’s and Hilary’s mountaineering gears! Lloyd’s botanical gardens, Bengal Natural History Museum and take a joy ride around the town and its nearby areas in a jolly good toy train!!
What’s the point of traveling, if you haven’t tried out their local food. Apart from momos, Darjeeling gives an array of options to both vegetarians and non vegetarians. You can start your day with lovely Nepali aloo dum and poori, steaming hot thukpa, steamed rice and nepalese chicken curry, phagshapa, sael roti, churpi (a chew-able made of yak milk), chang (local beer), beef dishes, noodles, wai wai and other variety of cuisines are available too. On my last visit I even spotted a place selling waffles!
If you are there, make it a point to travel to other nearby places too, don’t miss Sikkim, Kalimpong, Kurseong and a small eco village named Chatakpur, situated in the middle of pine forests, where you can just laze around the entire day and read your favorite book!
Such is the eternal beauty of the place, even if its reeking of political turmoil due to the demands for a separate state called Gorkhaland, the place doesn’t cease to be amazing. The place does have a rich history of Gorkha uprisings and behold ! They are living up to it!
This post is rather too long but well I just got a little nostalgic typing it down!
For information related to bookings, travel etc, contact- Help Tourism, they do a fantastic job!