The emerald green hill station of Darjeeling is nestled in the far north-eastern corner of India, sitting 2,590 metres above sea level in the lower Himalayas. Bordering Bhutan, Sikkim and Tibet, and with Nepal just over across the mountain ranges, the culture here is a magical blend of all these places. Not just famous for its cup of steaming hot Darjeeling tea, in fact the region has much to offer the curious traveller. Here are five reasons to visit Darjeeling.

5 Reasons to visit Darjeeling - Himalayas | Travelettes.net

1. The Views of the Himalayas

Darjeeling offers some breath taking panoramas from almost any guesthouse or hotel in town that has a roof terrace. Try Magnolia Residency for a hearty breakfast and amazing sunrise views, or follow the pilgrims out to Tiger Hill for stunning vistas of the snow-capped mountain Khangchendzonga. Like a guard that towers over the town and standing at 8,598 metres, it is India’s highest peak and the third highest in the word. If you are lucky on a clear day you might even catch a glimpse of Mount Everest glinting in the distance as Tibetan prayer flags flutter around you in the breeze.

5 Reasons to visit Darjeeling - Tea Pickers | Travelettes.net

2. Tea, Tea and More Tea

A visit to Darjeeling would not be complete without sampling a steaming hot cup of the internationally acclaimed Darjeeling tea. With a distinct flavour like no other tea it is best served black, with no milk or sugar to distract from the delicate flavours said to have notes of apricot and toasted nuts. And when you have had enough of drinking the tea, head down to Happy Valley Tea Estate, (an organic farm and member of the ethical tea board) for a guided tour of their tea factory. By the time you leave you will know the difference between whole leaf, first blush and oxidisation like a seasoned pro. After the tour be sure to take a long walk through the tea terraces for spectacular views and a glimpse of the tea pickers in action. The Happy Valley Factory tour is free, running from 8am-4pm every day except Sunday. If you can, try to arrive before 11.30am to see the pickers at work in the fields.

5 Reasons to visit Darjeeling - Colourful Houses | Travelettes.net

3. Colourful Houses

Nothing sums up Darjeeling’s character and atmosphere quite like its collection of pastel-hued houses stacked up almost on top of each other – clinging to the hillside in a type of ramble shackle beauty. Walks around town and further afield will throw up houses in all shades of the rainbow – the perfect setting for the vibrant culture of the people who live here.

5 Reasons to visit Darjeeling - Colonial House | Travelettes.net

4. A Taste of Britain

If you are feeling nostalgic for good ol’ British cucumber sandwiches and cream scones then Darjeeling will satisfy all your cravings. Formally a military hill station set up by the British armed forces in the mid 19th century, they left their imprint on the place in the form of Afternoon Tea. Darjeeling is still home to a few colonial style hotels that serve up traditional British fare like cheese and pickle sandwiches, Victoria sponge and of course lashing of locally grown Darjeeling tea. Try the Windamere Hotel for a step back in time and have high tea served to you while warming your bones in front of their open coal fire. Afternoon tea is served every afternoon from 4-6pm and we paid 600 rupees per person.

5 Reasons to visit Darjeeling - Tibetan Food | Travelettes.net

5. The Food

Being a border town with so many fascinating neighbouring cuisines it is no wonder Darjeeling has so much to offer for your taste buds. For truly Indian flavours you can sample crispy Dosas served with hot samba and coconut chutney at the tourist hot spot Hasty Tasty. This place also has spectacular views over the mountains. For more international tastes warm up with a hearty bowl of Tibetan Thukpa (soup made with noodles, meat and broth) and deliciously plump Momos (dumplings filled with meat or vegetables) and wash it all down with a cup of sweet and salty Yak Butter Tea. Visit the family run restaurant Kunga – a favourite among the locals and known for truly authentic Tibetan flavours.

When to Go

The best time to visit Darjeeling is in autumn between October and November for clear skies and to catch the last of the tea picking which will cease in late November. Remember temperatures get as low as 10 degrees Celsius at night, so pack a jacket and some warm socks. Oh, and don’t forget your hiking boots for those long walks through the emerald green tea terraces. Spring is also a nice time to visit, but avoid June to September when heavy rain begins to fall on Darjeeling.

 

Have you been to Darjeeling before? Or have we sparked your wanderlust?

 


This is a guest post by Joanna Mason.

Joanna Mason1 Joanna was born and raised in London, England and lived in Hong Kong for a while. Right now she is on a nomadic adventure across Asia. With a professional background in jewellery design, a personal passion for all things colourful and creative, she has an adventurous determination to drag her own two feet to as many corners of the globe as possible!