Darjeeling, a small hill town in Himalayan foothills, situated in North East India, around 61 kms from siliguri, west Bengal. Once a summer resort for the British Raj elite, it remains the terminus of the narrow-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, or “Toy Train", completed in 1881.
It's a mesmerizing destination, as it seems in photos and travel blogs. The heritage "Toy Train" ride, glimpse of Mt Kangchenjunga, buddhiest culture and monuments, tea gardens, street shopping etc.
But little anyone know that it's streets are so crowded that it takes hours to clear traffic jams and reach the tourist spots. The beautiful views we expect while riding in "toy train" like in the song "mere sapno ki rani kab aayegi tu" is far from the reality. The views are filthy, pathetic and top of that the pollution from the coal engines of toy trains let the excitement down. Though now most of the Train engines are electrical, but coal engines run twice a day.
Happy valley tea estate is a good place to visit, but be ready for the tourist crowd, there are many many like us who wants to get clicked in the traditional wear chaubandi choli and gunui cholo, holding the basket.
Japanese Buddhist Temple and peace pagoda, located in same premises have awesome views and ergo a must visit place. I will recommend to take a walk until there as vehicles get stuck in traffic.
Padmaja naidu Zoological park is another tourist attraction to visit, especially for Himalayan Red panda.
There are many getaways near Darjeeling and in west Bengal which are good, less crowded and have awesome views, ergo gives a peaceful vacation. Some of them are Shrikhola, Rimbik. You can trek to Sandakphu for some awesome views of Mt kangchenjunga along with 4 other major peaks, Mt Everest, Makalu, Lohotse. They also have good home stays with basic facilities.
Overall, I felt that Darjeeling is an overrated destination and one can skip Darjeeling and visit other places mentioned above.
Below are some photographs to give readers an insight to vacay in Darjeeling.