Darjeeling is a serene hill station that has been a refuge for peace seekers, nature lovers and creative souls since the 19th century. A retreat with abundant natural beauty, Darjeeling is where you can experience the joys of simple living while enjoying breathtaking sunsets and the local cuisine. The locals are warm and a friendly face is never too far away. Whether you choose to spend your time in a tea plantation or head out on a journey on the popular toy train – you can expect a memorable trip.
There are numerous places to visit in Darjeeling and you can hope for an action-packed itinerary. If you want to include tourist attractions nearby in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary, you will have to plan your trip keeping in mind your trip duration.
Tiger Hill should be at the top of your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary for the panoramic views it offers. The highest point in Darjeeling, Tiger Hill is one of the few viewpoints in India from where you can admire uninterrupted views of Mount Everest, Kanchendzonga, Kokhtang and Rathong. Most travellers prefer heading here early in the morning to catch a glimpse of the sunrise.
Owing to its popularity in places to visit in Darjeeling itineraries, Tiger Hill might not be as quiet as one would hope. If you want to admire the spellbinding sunrise from the summit, you will have to start your day as early as 3 am. Located 13 kilometres from the main city, it takes anywhere between 30 and 40 minutes to reach the summit.
It’s important to remember that the weather can turn anytime in Darjeeling. You may expect to see clear skies but can be greeted with torrential rainfall at the summit. But when you are in Darjeeling, everything is beautiful – whether it's clear blue skies or lush greenery after rainfall. During peak season, the road to the car park is jam packed and one needs to walk till the summit. We recommend wearing a sturdy pair of walking shoes as well as warm clothes.
Most tour operators charge anywhere between Rs.200 and Rs.2000 depending on whether you book a shared taxi or a private taxi for your journey.
Cost: Including Tiger Hill in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary can cost you between Rs.500 and Rs.3000 depending on the season and the number of people.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Without a journey on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, your trip to Darjeeling is incomplete. Among the top Darjeeling tourist attractions, the Darjeeling Toy Train is a narrow-gauge train that primarily covers the distance between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. If you are not travelling by train, you can include a two-hour joy ride in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary.
The joy ride begins at Darjeeling and takes one up to and fro Ghoom, which is the highest railway station in India. The total distance covered on this journey is 14 kilometres. The journey includes a stop at one of the most gorgeous places to visit in Darjeeling – the Batasia Loop. On a clear day, you can expect to see views of the snow-covered Kanchenjunga. The train journey also includes a tour of DHR Museum. Located at the Ghoom Railway Station, the DHR Museum should be included in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary if you are a history buff.
For a more authentic experience, we recommend choosing a ride on the steam engine train. While the tickets are more expensive than the diesel engine train, it’s definitely worth the extra buck. If you want to include this experience in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary, we suggest booking your tickets in advance. During the peak season, tickets sell out fast and you will have to wait endlessly for a journey on this locomotive beauty.
With spellbinding views of rolling tea plantations, idyllic villages and countless lush fields, a journey on this UNESCO World Heritage Site will stay with you for a long time.
Along with offering travellers an unforgettable experience, the Darjeeling Toy Train is also an engineering marvel for science enthusiasts. The route is one of its kind in the country and the train holds immense value as a heritage transport system.
Cost: Including a journey on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary will set you back by Rs.1500.
Counted among the most popular places to visit in Darjeeling, Batasia Loop is known for its breathtaking views and the extraordinary engineering feat that the loop helped accomplish. This is the point where the famous toy train makes a complete loop and effortlessly descends 140 feet. Without the Batasia Loop, the train journey to Darjeeling wouldn’t be what it is.
This gorgeous tourist destination in Darjeeling should feature in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary if you want to spend a few hours amidst vibrant gardens and lush greenery. The 50,000 square feet area is dotted with countless seasonal flowers and is also home to the Gorkha War Memorial, numerous cafes and an eco garden. The Batasia Loop is an ideal family tourist spot and you can cover tourist attractions nearby in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary while planning a visit here.
The Batasia Loop was built in 1919 to tackle the sharp drop after Ghoom Railway Station. The large circular area helped tackle this problem and also gave Darjeeling a breathtaking natural haven. The garden is home to numerous viewing points where you can enjoy a sunny day and of course watch the toy train in its glory.
Located 5 kilometres away from the main city, there are two ways to reach this popular attraction – one is by hiring a taxi and the second is by hopping on the toy train. Most travellers prefer the latter since the joy ride around Darjeeling is one of the most memorable experiences in a places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary.
Cost: Including a visit to Batasia Loop in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary will cost you between Rs.200 and Rs.1000 depending on the number of people.
Singalila National Park
If you are a wildlife enthusiast or are curious about the local wildlife in this beautiful hill station then you must add Singalila National Park to your list of places to visit in Darjeeling. The national park is home to virgin rhododendron forests, alpine valleys and numerous unique species of flora and fauna.
The national park is a highlight in places to visit in Darjeeling itineraries and offers travellers mesmerising views of the Himalayas. Another reason why the national park stands out is that it’s home to the red panda and Himalayan black bear. In fact, it’s one of the few national parks in the country where you can catch a glimpse of these rare animals.
The efforts of the government to protect and conserve the national park have gone a long way in ensuring that the park remains one of the most visited tourist places in Darjeeling.
The best way to explore the national park is on a safari. The most commonly used vehicle in the safari is a jeep. Taking you through vast stretches of lush greenery, thick forests and pink-hued rhododendrons fields, the safari is a rejuvenating experience. Of course, it has its fair share of bumpy stretches and you will have to be careful while tackling tricky stretches. Typically the safari begins at Manebhanjan and takes you through Gorkha villages and some of the highest peaks of West Bengal and Phalut. If it’s a clear day, you may be lucky enough to enjoy uninterrupted views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu. The safari can take anywhere between four and five hours.
Since the safari is a popular activity here, the Land Rover Association has fixed charges which change according to the season. It’s important to be mindful of other vendors who might try to fleece you.
At the same time, if you are a trekking enthusiast, you will have a wonderful time in the national park. A part of the trekking route runs through the national park and takes one through the foothills of Kanchenjunga and the northern fringe of the Gangetic Plains.
If you are including the park in your places to see in Darjeeling itinerary, then it’s mandatory to take a permit from the forest department. You will not be allowed to enter without a permit and will have to contact the Forest Department for mandatory permissions.
Cost: A tour of Singalila National Park in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary will cost you between Rs.1000 and Rs.4000 depending on the number of people.
Barbotey Rock Garden
The Rock Garden offers the perfect break from sightseeing sprees. If you want to spend time amidst natural beauty and enjoy the serenity that only gardens can offer, then this spot should be included in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary.
The Rock Garden is also known as Barbotey Rock Garden and is a popular tourist attraction for locals as well. Carry a picnic basket so you can enjoy a quiet picnic along the scenic lake. The route to the rock garden is an attraction in itself since it offers views of tea gardens and lush fields. You can also include a visit to the Chunnu Summer Waterfall in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary. Located a short distance from the Rock Garden, you can enjoy a leisurely picnic here, complete with vibrant greenery and the melodious sound of the waterfall.
Cost: If you want to include a visit to Darjeeling Rock Garden in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary, you must keep aside between Rs.500 and Rs.1500.
Ghoom Monastery is the largest monastery in Darjeeling and was built in 1875. Belonging to the Gelug Sect, the monastery is a major tourist spot which should feature in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary.
The best time to plan a trip to Ghoom Monastery in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary is in the morning. Exploring the whole area can take an hour or two since you wouldn’t want to miss the gorgeous architecture. The monastery is home to a prayer hall, a 15-feet high statue of the Buddha known as Maitreya Buddha. The statue was created with clay brought from Tibet.
The monastery is also known as Yiga Choeling Monastery. It is the oldest monastery in the region and is a delight for history lovers to explore. By virtue of being the oldest and most beautiful places to visit in Darjeeling, it should be on your itinerary.
The monastery is located close to Ghoom Railway Station which is the highest railway station in the country. If your schedule allows, you must spend an hour exploring the station and the museum here.
Cost: Including Ghoom Monastery in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary will cost you between Rs.500 and Rs.1000.
Peace Pagoda and Japanese Temple
Add history and architecture to your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary with the Japanese Temple and the Peace Pagoda. A large complex in white, the temple is home to a prayer hall, a large beating drum which is essential to all Japanese rituals and a Peace Pagoda.
The pagoda took three years to build and is designed by Dr M Ohka of Japan. The Peace Pagoda promises a relaxing experience since it’s among the hidden gems of Darjeeling. To explore the Japanese Temple and the Peace Pagoda, you will need to set aside between two and three hours in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary.
The Peace Pagoda is home to four avatars of Lord Buddha as well as two lions which are placed on either side of the entrance staircase. The walls are adorned with numerous Buddhist carvings that depict Lord Buddha in many positions including standing, meditating and sleeping. Art lovers can admire the artwork which depicts the life of the Buddha on sandstones. There are a few notable depictions on the walls which are from the Buddha’s life and are also mentioned in mythological texts.
While photography is allowed in the complex, we recommend asking the priests for permission before clicking pictures inside the prayer hall.
Cost: Exploring the Peace Pagoda and Japanese Temple will cost you around Rs.500. The amount will depend on the kind of transport you choose.
No trip to the hilly hamlet is complete without including a visit to Darjeeling Mall and Chowrasta in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary. Situated in the heart of the city, the local market offers travellers a plethora of shopping options. If you aren’t in the mood to shop, you can sit in one of the comfortable cafes and enjoy Tibetan delicacies.
The market is home to several shops and boutiques and depending on your budget, you can expect a fulfilling shopping trip. The shops on the street are open to bargaining, however, the boutiques are expensive and you can’t expect too much reduction in price. Some of the notable shops in Darjeeling are Jolly Art and Bhutan Tibet Art Shop, Curio Corner and Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre.
For those who enjoy shopping and have a long shopping list to get through, there are numerous other markets in town that should be part of your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary. You can include a visit to Nehru Road that is dotted with several boutiques and emporiums, Batasia Loop Market that offers numerous street shopping options and Ghoom Monastery Market that offers beautiful Tibetan artefacts that you can take home. From prayer wheels, incense sticks, prayer flags to message scrolls, singing bowls, bags for women and apparel, the colourful market at Ghoom Monastery is a delight to explore.
Cost: Including a visit to the local markets in your places to visit in Darjeeling itinerary will cost you between Rs.200 and Rs.3500, depending on how much you like what the shops have to offer.
Written by Kirat Sodhi. She is a proud mom of three cats and lives for lemon tea, a good book and spontaneous travel plans.
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