5 Reasons to Go to Darjeeling Now
May 8, 2014
This charming town in India's Himalayas has natural beauty, amazing teas and historical cachet in spades. Leslie Patrick lays out the five top reasons to visit.
Published on May 8, 2014
1. Magical mornings
Make the early morning trek to Tiger Hill to watch the sun rise over India's highest mountain, Kanchenjunga. Keep warm with a piping hot chai for Rs10 as the first rays light the jagged, snowy landscape. Look on a clear day and you might see the top of Mt. Everest. Arrange your taxi in advance for around Rs500 per person, roundtrip.
The snow-capped Himalayas
2. Riding the rails
One of only two lines in the world named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is affectionately known as the "Toy Train." This narrowgauge railway runs daily from Darjeeling up to Ghum—India's highest in elevation station—but it doesn't make the hour-long journey for less than 10 passengers. dhrs.org; tickets Rs360.
All aboard the Toy Train
3. High tea
Darjeeling is best known for its strong, aromatic tea, and the picturesque plantations dotting its misty hills. Oldest and best known of these is Happy Valley Tea Estate—it's been supplying Harrods of London for more than a century. Take a tour, enjoy a tasting and you'll know why this fragrant tea is considered black gold. 18 Lebong Cart Rd.; darjeeling.gov.in/darj-tour.html; free.
Happy Valley Tea Estate
4. Classic cocktails
Navigate the labyrinth of alleys clinging to the mountainside to find Joey's Pub—a relic reminiscent of an English country cottage. The bar staff serve up a mean gin and tonic, while regaling patrons with colorful local stories. If you're lucky, you'll hear Joey strumming a tune on his guitar between slinging cocktails. 2 S.M. Das Rd.; +91 354 225 8216; drinks for two Rs300.
5. The royal treatment
Fit for a Raja, the Glenburn Tea Estate and Boutique Hotel is a colonial gem on the outskirts of Darjeeling. Relax in elaborately decorated rooms and enjoy elegant touches like made-to-order picnic lunches or locally harvested tea served on the veranda as the rising sun strikes distant mountain peaks. Kambal Tea Garden; glenburnteaestate.com; doubles from Rs26,500.
A sunny afternoon at Glenburn Tea Estate