Darjeeling is a picturesque town and headquarters of the Darjeeling district in the state of West Bengal. It is an iconic hill station in the country and arguably West Bengal’s premier attraction. Situated at an elevation of 6700 ft, Darjeeling offers a majestic view of Mount Kanchenjunga – the 3rd highest peak in the world. The town is also known for its world-famous tea plantations and the vintage presence of Toy Train which is formally known as ‘Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) and is a UNESCO world heritage site. Spread over a steep mountain ridge Darjeeling’s natural beauty is unparallel. The present-day Darjeeling is an urban town with every feature of modernization distinct but the town still retains its colonial charm of yore.

A brief history of darjeeling

The name Darjeeling means ‘the land of Thunderbolt’. Darjeeling originally belonged to the King of Sikkim. They are known as the Chogyals. But Sikkim was often invaded by its neighbours. In 1706 the present Kalimpong district was captured by the Bhutanese. Also, the Gurkhas of Nepal consistently invaded this area of Sikkim and in 1780 they captured Sikkim and started spreading their territory further east and also to the plains. The British intervened and war broke out which the British East India Company won. What followed is known as the Treaty of Titalia in 1817 followed by the Sugauli Treaty of 1875. Nepal returned all the captured land of Sikkim and the plains to the British East India Company and the company returned the land to the Chogyals and reinstated the king of Sikkim.

As per the treaty, all disputes had to be referred to the British for arbitration by Sikkim, the British became an important controlling factor in the region. During one such dispute, two officers of East India Company were sent to Sikkim to settle the issues. They were Captain Lloyd and Mr Grant. Lloyd spent a few days in Darjeeling in February 1829 and was struck by the potential of this uninhabited mountain and recommended it for a Sanatorium. Eventually, in the year 1835, the king of Sikkim agreed to transfer Darjeeling to the British against an annual allowance to the King.

So in the year 1835, the hill station of Darjeeling was born and gradually started developing. The tea plantations began and other development works were initiated. Development in the agricultural sector happened. After the independence of India, Darjeeling became part of the state of West Bengal.

Places of Interest in darjeeling

Darjeeling Mall – This is the main downtown of Darjeeling. The Chowrasta and the adjacent mall are one of the major attractions of the town. It is free from Vehicular traffic. The area is bustling with shops, Restaurants etc. This is also an ideal place to experience the scenic beauty of the surrounding Himalayan ranges including Kanchenjunga.

Mahakal Temple and Observatory Hill – The Mahakal temple is situated at the top of the observatory hill which is situated at the highest ridge of the town. The place offers a serene and mystic environment. The temple is considered very holy by the locals.

Tiger Hill – This place has earned its reputation for offering an unforgettable sight of sunrise in the backdrop of the Himalayan range which includes the mighty Everest and Kanchenjunga, Mount Kabru, Pandim, Makalu etc. The first ray of Sunlight touching these peaks is a truly mesmerizing sight. Tiger Hill is situated at an altitude of 8482 ft and 21 km from the town.

Ghoom Monastery – There are 2 monasteries in Ghoom. The original monastery is called Yoga Choeling Monastery or the old Ghoom Monastery. This is one of the oldest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Darjeeling, built in the year 1850. This monastery belongs to the yellow hat sect known as Gelupka. Inside the Monastery, there is a 15 ft model of Lord Buddha which is known as Maitreya Buddha. The monastery also houses valuable manuscripts, bells drums and images of other deities. The monastery offers a stunning view of the snow-capped mountains. This is less than 10 km from the town. It is located at an altitude of nearly 7500ft. There is another monastery in Ghoom called Samten Choling Buddhist Monastery. This monastery became part of the 3-point tour because it is located on the hill cart road on the way to Tiger Hill. This monastery also offers a wonderful view of the surroundings and is famous for its serene environment. This monastery houses a 26 ft tall model of Lord Buddha.

Batasia Loop and War Memorial – It is a big railway loop where the Toy Train, the pride of Darjeeling, takes a 360-degree turn. Batasia Loop offers a Magnificent view of the Himalayan range including Kanchenjunga. A war memorial was also erected here to pay homage to our brave sons who sacrificed their lives in different wars since independence.

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) – Established in the year 1953 immediately after the first ascent of Mt Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hilary, this is the oldest mountaineering institute in the country. HMI has a boarding school for mountaineering students. It offers different mountaineering courses for interested candidates and houses a renowned mountaineering museum, a souvenir shop and even houses for trainers.

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park – Established in the year 1958, this zoo is regarded as one of the best in the country. The zoo houses species like Red Panda, Clouded Leopards, Asiatic Black Bear, Snow Leopard, Tibetan wolves etc. The Zoo carries the breeding programme for the endangered Snow Leopard and the Siberian Tiger. The zoo remains closed on Thursday and all national holidays.

Bengal Natural History Museum – Presently located at the compound of HMI and Zoo. This is the best place to know about the fauna of Darjeeling. There are 2 sections of the museum, one is at ground level and another one in the basement. The museum displays an extraordinary collection of birds and animals.

Lloyd Botanical Garden – Situated below the bus stand and an ideal place to learn about the Himalayan flowers and plants.
Ava Art Gallery – It was established in the year 1965 by the late Ava Devi (an excellent artist of Embroidery art) and Bhopal Rao Sett. This is one of the famous art galleries in this region. The gallery houses an exquisite collection of outstanding artwork by Ava Devi including oil, water and thread paintings.

Japanese Temple and Peace Pagoda – The Japanese temple was built in 1972 following the traditional style of Japanese temple architecture. This is known as the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist temple. The peace pagoda is very close to the temple. The pagoda was opened in 1992. The Peace Pagoda showcases four different avatars (incarnations) of Lord Buddha. These four avatars are four statues of Lord Buddha polished in golden colour.

People and Culture

The predominant religion here is Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Christianity. The major languages spoken are Nepali, Hindi, Bengali, and English. The majority of the population is Nepali also indigenous groups like Lepchas and Bhutias form a major part of the population. There are other ethnic groups like Sherpa, Limbu, Tamang, Rai etc. Together they are considered an Indian Gurkha group. Also, people from other states have migrated here so a section of Marwaris and Biharis exist along with a Bengali population. Darjeeling has a small Tibetan population too. 


Darjeeling is well connected to NJP and Bagdogra Airport. From NJP it is 71km and from Bagdogra, it is 68 km away.


December to February is winter.  The temperature in December normally ranges from 3 -9 C whereas in January and February witnesses chilling cold often temperature goes below freezing point. March and April are spring and offer pleasant weather. May is the summer here. Temperature ranges from 15C to 25C. June to August are monsoon months and witness very heavy rainfall including occasional landslides.