It goes without saying that Darjeeling is the ‘Queen of Hills’. There are incredible experiences that only this beautiful town nestled in the lap of hills can offer. While there are many other hill stations in the country, this one, in particular, can steal your heart every time you visit. If you are visiting Darjeeling for the first time then there are a few places that you must not miss for the world. These places range from temples to shopping areas and from food joints to tea estates.
Here are 8 such experiences that will you will have lasting memories of.
Food: One of The Best Things to do in Darjeeling
Darjeeling will spoil you for choice when it comes to food options. There are these amazing food joints that not only serve the typical delicacies of Darjeeling but are also heritage points in Darjeeling. While one of them might be a more recent addition, it is highly popular nonetheless.
The cuisine of Darjeeling is unique. It is neither typically hill-like nor a plain-like cuisine. There is a certain mix of cuisines and that is an interesting part of the food culture of this hill station. The reason behind this uniqueness is the fact that Darjeeling once belonged to the Gorkhas. No wonder, it is still sometimes referred to as ‘Gorkhaland’. However, it was colonized by the British in the 19th century and had served as a military hill station for all those years.
There is also the fact that Darjeeling lies close to the Indo-Tibet and Indo-Nepal border. All these factors added up and made the cuisine of Darjeeling look like what it looks today. It is an interesting mix of Nepali, Tibetan, Indian and British cuisines.
The weather of Darjeeling is well-suited for foodies. Walking up and uphill roads and the comfortable chill in the air helps you digest food better. This is precisely why Darjeeling food joints never really run empty be it peak seasons or otherwise.
# 1. Keventers in Darjeeling: Where breakfast meets nostalgia
Keventers is your first whiff of Darjeeling. What makes this place so special is the kind of food that it offers. This joint was founded in the year 1911 by Edward Keventers. This place finds a fond remembrance in the memory of people who have visited Darjeeling in the past.
Along with lip-smacking food, Keventers also offers stunning surroundings. The restaurant has a closed area as well as an open terrace for seating arrangements. If you are a meat-lover then there is nothing like eating an English breakfast platter in Keventers. What’s more, you can also relish a freshly brewed cup of Darjeeling tea or a steaming mug of hot chocolate!
The platter will typically consist of meatloaves, sausages, ham, bacon and fried eggs. The surroundings are dream-like. The air is often misty and sipping hot tea in the midst of clouds floating by is an enthralling experience. On a clear day, you can see Kanchenjunga from the open space in Keventers Darjeeling.
Apart from breakfast platters and regular meals, Keventers also sells Chhurpi. Chhurpis are tiny Nepali cheese cubes made from the milk of yaks. They have a sharp pungent taste and will crumble if not eaten right away. Chhurpis are known to have heating properties and are thus perfect for the winter months.
#2. Glenary’s in Darjeeling: For the foodie within
Glenary’s can be located from a distance even while you are still going downhill from your hotel. The aroma of freshly baked goodness pulls at your heartstrings when you are around this bakery. The environment inside Glenary’s is like a leaf out of a Victorian novel where high teas were important.
The built of Glenary’s is typical of the eras gone by. There are beautifully crafted large French windows through which you could take a look at the English classics like muffins, scones and tarts sitting pretty on shelves.
Glenary’s also makes their own in-house jams and pickles that are delicious, to say the least. The restaurant on the top floor is also worth a mention. While you can cherish homemade bakes on the ground floor, the top floor will offer lunch and dinner scenes of various other cuisines.
The top floor restaurant and bar in Glenary’s is probably the most happening place in the evening, with great food, friendship and drinks along with awesome live music.
#3. Momos And Thukpas
Your gastronomic experiences in Darjeeling will continue to be a long list since the hill station is all about good food and great company. What lies at the heart of this town is its love for chillies. The prime ingredient in many of Darjeeling’s staples is the fiery hot chilli called ‘Dallay Khursani’. The paste made out of these chillies and mustard oil is the sauce that is served along with steaming hot momos in Darjeeling.
You cannot help but salivate at the sight of lightly steamed, translucent dumplings filled with minced meat and vegetables, with the overpowering aroma of garlic. There are also the fried and the pan-fried versions that are equally saliva-inducing.
There are a couple of places where you could have the best momos in town. These include Kunga’s and Dekevas. While you might overfill yourself at Kunga’s with several plates of momos, Dekevas will delight you with their steaming bowls of Thukpa.
There is nothing like a restaurant that ladles out hot noodle soup in bowls and serves steaming momos along. The crisp chill outside seems to agree with the food type whole-heartedly.
#4. Shopping in Darjeeling
Shopping is a huge attraction in Darjeeling for shoppers. Most of the people who love shopping shops and window shops through the evening in various local shops.
The two prime locations from where you could shop for yourself are The Mall Road and the Bhutia Market. Mall Road has everything that you need for a tourist shopping hub. It has small shops for trinkets and souvenirs. There are high-end shops selling handcrafted shawls, sweaters and carpets. There are also a number of local jewellery shops. You will have to do a whole lot of bargaining to buy something off Mall Road.
However, shoppers believe that woollen items are pretty cheap over here compared to Indian standards.
Bhutia Market is the place for those who have a budget in mind. This market is set up by local Bhutia people who sell everything from jackets to shawls, woollen scarves, caps and gloves. Denim is also available at cheaper costs.
If you are not going towards shopping in Darjeeling even for once, you are certainly leaving out a great experience.
#5. Sunrise from Tiger hill
If you want a panoramic view of the entire Himalayan range as the sun rises, then a visit to Tiger Hill should be on your bucket list. However, not everyone is lucky and it is said that even Rabindranath Tagore had missed the sunrise at Tiger Hill. Sunrise at Tiger Hill can only be seen when the skies are absolutely clear and there is no fog or mist blocking or clouding the view.
It is indeed an incredible experience to view the stunning mountain ranges in their full glory as the sun rises and lights up the whole horizon. All the mountains that are more than 8000 metres above sea level can be viewed from this hilltop effortlessly. There is a breathtaking play of colours as the foliage unique to each mountain range is lit up with the rays of the sun.
You got to wake up at 3 am in the morning and leave for Tiger Hill to position itself for. The cold, the journey, the preparation and finally the climax of watching the sunrise is an experience which no one can really explain in words. It is awesome. Do not Miss.
#6. Peace Pagoda: Unity In Diversity
Surrounded by the mighty peaks of the Himalayan range and a drive of 10 minutes from the town centre of Darjeeling, Peace Pagoda stands tall and towering. It is a symbol of peace that strives to unite people from all castes and creed to look for one end and that is world peace.
This pristine white temple with gold borders is a beautiful spectacle in the midst of the green lush backdrop. Entry is free of cost but the serenity of the temple is worth millions.
#7. Darjeeling Toy Train: Upholding Colonial Heritage
If there is an icon that upholds the continuity of colonial heritage, then it is our very own Darjeeling Himalayan Railways that is fondly referred to as ‘Darjeeling Toy Train’. It is not only an experience of a lifetime to ride inside the train but is also quite a pretty sight from outside as the engines chug away through lush meadows, sprawling tea gardens and through sleepy hamlets.
The toy train is not only meant for recreational purposes but is also a regular mode of transport for several people living in the hills. Although it was initially run by steam engines, diesel engines are also a part of the railway system now so as to help pace up the trains. However, the framework still remains the same.
The train ride through the city, the train, the view all adds up to its fame.
#8. Sandakphu Trek
Sandakphu is the tallest peak in West Bengal and is a popular tourist site for trekking. While trekking on this route, you will frequently move in and out of the Nepal border. In April, which is apparently the best month of the year to do the trek, the rhododendrons are in full bloom and they could captivate you with their colours.
You will also spot other forms of wildlife while looking around or while doing the trek. You might be in for a huge surprise if you happen to spot the red panda which is a rare sighting.
The trek falls under the category of easy to moderate. However, if it rains, it could be an adrenaline-boosting challenge. The trek combines steep climbs, gradual steps and walking through muddy paths and meadows. Always remember to carry enough water with yourself while doing the trek because you might feel dehydrated with the gradual climb and the lack of rest.
Visit the Link To know in details about Sandakphu Trek
So, hopefully, you got everything that wanted to know about things to do in Darjeeling. 🙂
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