Darjeeling is a town in the Indian state of West Bengal. The breathtaking views, soothing environment and aesthetic appeal of the place attracts hordes of tourists, adventure and nature lovers from all over the world. The name of this town has become iconic with the Darjeeling tea that is produced in the native tea estates of Darjeeling.
Location of Darjeeling
The town and hill station of Darjeeling is situated in northern West Bengal. The Darjeeling district lies between 26Â° 31` and 27Â° 13` north latitude and between 87Â° 59` and 88Â° 53` east longitude. Darjeeling rises to a height of 2134m (7053 ft) on a mountain ridge. Darjeeling town mainly comprises of mountainous topography. Darjeeling town covers an approximate area of 11.44 sq. kms.
Climate of Darjeeling
The climate of Darjeeling is a temperate one and has five distinct seasons, namely spring, summer, autumn, winter, and the monsoons. Summers start from May and continue till June. Summers are mild, with maximum temperatures rarely crossing 25 Â°C (77 Â°F). The monsoon season is from June to September is characterised by intense torrential rains often causing landslides that block Darjeeling`s land access to the rest of the country. Umbrellas and rainwears should be carried always in Darjeeling. In winter temperature averages 5-7 Â°C (41-44 Â°F), with lows around ?5 Â°C (23.0 Â°F). Occasionally the temperatures drop below freezing; snowfalls are fairly common. During the monsoon and winter seasons, Darjeeling is often enveloped in mist and fog. The annual mean temperature is 12 Â°C and the lowest-ever temperature recorded was 5 Â°C.
Tourist Places of Darjeeling:
Some notable places to visit in Darjeeling include the Tiger Hill, the zoo, monasteries and the tea gardens. The panoramic town attracts trekkers and sportsmen seeking to explore the Himalayas, serving as the starting point for climbing attempts on some Indian and Nepali peaks. Tibetan crafts like carpets, wood and leather work are displayed in the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center. Several monasteries like Ghum Monastery (8 km or 5 miles (8.0 km) from the town), Bhutia Busty monastery, Mag-Dhog Yolmowa preserve ancient Buddhist scripts.
Chowrasta in Darjeeling is lined with shops and restaurants; Mall Road, starting and finishing at Chowrasta is best for a leisurely stroll amidst peaceful surroundings and splendid views. Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is home to the Siberian tiger, Himalayan black bear, red panda, snow leopard and many other animal and bird species. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, a training center for mountaineers also houses the Everest museum; Natural History Museum, with its excellent display of Himalayan wildlife. Observatory Hill has Hindu and Buddhist shrines; while Dhirdham is a pagoda style Hindu temple. Tiger Hill is renowned for the sunrise view over Kanchenjunga and the eastern Himalayas; and Lloyd`s Botanical Garden has a varied collection of Himalayan flora.
Darjeeling, Indian Hill Station Economy of Darjeeling
The two most significant contributors to Darjeeling`s economy are tourism and the tea industry. Darjeeling tea is regarded as one of the best of black teas and is widely popular all across the globe. More than 60% of workers in the tea gardens are women. The remuneration of workers is often benefited with cash and other necessities like accommodation, subsidised rations, free medical benefits and so on. An ever-growing population of the region has harmfully affected the district`s forests and other natural resources. The years since independence have seen considerable advances in the area`s education, communication and agriculture.
Keeping many of Darjeeling`s residents employed directly and indirectly, tourism has contributed greatly to the economy of Darjeeling. Many people earn a living working for tourism companies and as guides. Darjeeling is a popular filming destination for Bollywood and Bengali cinema. Contributions to the economy also come from the sale of traditional arts and crafts of Sikkim and Tibet.
Transport of Darjeeling
The town of Darjeeling can be reached by the 50 miles (80 km) long Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. This railway is also called the "Toy Train" that commences its journey from Siliguri along the Hill Cart Road (National Highway 55) that follows the railway line. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a 60 cm narrow-gauge railway and was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.
Regular bus services and hired vehicles connect Darjeeling with Siliguri and the other important neighbouring towns of Kurseong, Kalimpong and Gangtok. Four wheel drives, including Land Rovers can easily navigate the steep slopes in the region. However, road and railway communications often get discontinued in the monsoons due to landslides. The nearest airport is in Bagdogra near Siliguri, located about 93 km (58 miles) from Darjeeling. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Air Deccan are the three prime airlines that connect the area to Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati. The closest major railway station is in New Jalpaiguri, which is connected with almost all the important Indian cities. Within the town, people usually travel from one place to another by walking. Residents also use bicycle, two-wheelers and hired taxis for traversing short distances. The Darjeeling Ropeway that worked from 1968 to 2003 was stopped after an accident.
How to reach there:
The nearest airport to Darjeeling is Bagdogra, which is connected to important cities of India by domestic airlines. Bagdogra is about 90 kms from Darjeeling and 10kms from Siliguri.From Bagdogra one can reach Darjeeling by taxi or jeep.
Darjeeling has a railway station but only the toy train from Jalpaiguri and New Jalpaiguri comes to this station. The railhead for all other trains is New Jalpaiguri (88 kms from Darjeeling) or Siliguri (80 kms from Darjeeling). From these stations there are direct trains to Kolkata, Delhi, Guwahati, Varanasi and other major cities in India.