In the country of colour, chaos and glamour, there is a scenic hill station with the aroma of tea in the air on the foot of the Himalayas. Darjeeling is much more than just a hill station. It is the heaven for mountain climbers, with a beautiful climate for the seekers of natural splendid.
History, UNESCO sites and a mix of different religions all on the foot of the world’s largest mountain range is one of the sought-after destinations that attracts over 45,0000 tourists per year. Here is my Top 27 Places to visit in & from Darjeeling: a travel guide to India for the first timer.
Places to visit in & from Darjeeling
1. Soak in the Beauty of Tiger Hill
To start, this is probably the one on every Darjeeling visitor’s list. Situated 11km away from Darjeeling, it offers a clear view of sunrise on the Kanchenjunga. The heavenly feeling of feeling the sun rays on your face in the chilly morning with the snow-covered range of mountains standing with pride in your sight is simply enthralling.
You can rent cars or taxis to reach. But, if you are booking a self-driving zoom car, you have to get a permit. If you go to tiger hill on peak season, taxi drivers will insist you reach the summit by 4:15 AM to avoid a long queue of people.
Entry Fee: INR-60 per person
Timing: Sunrise (4:15-4:45 depending on the season)
2. Viewpoints for The Sleeping Buddha
Kanchenjunga often referred to as the sleeping Buddha is best observed from Tiger Hill. From the uppermost tier of Tiger Hill, you get a clear view of sunrise which will mesmerize you.
Kanchenjunga can be seen from all over Darjeeling including all of its four peaks: the Kanchenjunga central, Kanchenjunga west, Kanchenjunga main, Kanchenjunga south. The best views of both the Kanchenjunga and Mt. Everest is visible clearly in the Sandakphu to Phalut trek.
3. Exploring the Amazing Animals of Darjeeling Zoo
The Darjeeling Zoo, named after Padmaja Naidu, is a unique attraction being an excellent location for alpine animals. It specializes in rescuing and breeding snow leopard, red panda, Himalayan wolves.
You will find different species of snakes in this Zoological Park as well. Did you know that this is also the centre for India’s Red Panda program that has been successfully keeping this threatened species alive? The park has a naturally good spot as a high-altitude habitat for animals on an elevation of 7000ft.
Entry Fee: The park will charge you 20 INR as an entry fee.
Timings: 8:30 AM-4:30 PM
Main attractions: Red Panda, Goral, Tahr, Black Leopard, Snow Leopard, Markhor, Blue Sheep
4. Unlock the Wonders at The Rock Garden
The ride to Darjeeling Rock Garden will captivate your senses and will be carved into your memory for a long time. The Rock Garden has located 10 km from the main Hill Cart Road on Bloomfield Road and is also named Barbotey Park.
The road consists of sharp turns and hairpin bends as the road goes down from the elevated surface. The rock garden is named so because of its natural roads made of rock, and there is Chunnu Summer Falls to add to that beauty. You will find yourself in a treat as you get 3km further down in the Ganga Maiya Valley.
Entry Fee: Separately, each park will charge INR 60 per person
Timings: 10:00 AM to 4:00 AM (Ganga Maya Park) 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Rock Garden)
Main Attractions: Chunnu waterfall, traditional dance by the tribals during peak season, the rock covered roads
5. Ganga Maiya Park Darjeeling
Ganga Maiya Park is one of the best places to visit in Darjeeling which is a new addition to the already scenic valley. It is three kilometres further down below the Rock Garden. The main points of attracts in the park in the beautiful waterfall, its crystal-clear water and the panoramic view attract a lot of tourists.
The Ganga Maiya Park is mostly dedicated to creating a space for the locals to showcase the traditional dances and entertain the visitors. It is open to tourists from 10 AM to 4 PM. It will take you around 45 minutes to an hour to roam around this park and the peak time for visiting is 12 PM to 2 PM.
Opening Hours: 10 AM to 4 PM
Entry Fee: 10 INR for Indians and 50 INR for foreigners
6. Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI)
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is a legacy of its own. It was one of the first and elegant mountaineering institutes established in 1954 after Tenzing Norgay’s ascent to Mt. Everest with Edmund Hillary.
It is funded by India’s state and central government and is one of the best places to learn mountaineering. Along with the Zoological Park, it is located in the western part of Birch Hill. Swiss-style architecture, a museum filled with mountaineering artefacts, small souvenir shops, and tea parlours will make you feel enchanted.
Entry Fee: INR 60
Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM
Main Attractions: Museum with mountaineering artefacts
7. Discover the Unique and Exciting Shopping Experience at Darjeeling Mall
The chowrasta of the main Darjeeling will give you a glance at the lifestyle of the locals. It’s an open area used by the English for the promenade. The four streets, Dr Zakir Hussain Road, Nehru Road, Mall Road east and west, meet up here.
You can find a market of small local shops on Nehru market, old and heritage shops in the mall area for antique and modern unique items.
Main attractions: Eating places like Keventar’s, Dekevas, shopping centres, century-old antique shops, local street markets
8. Observatory hill:
Observatory hill is the endpoint for your walk in the Chowrasta Mall. Observatory Hill is known for snow-clad mountains and as a viewpoint for Kanchenjunga on clear days. Previously, Bhutia Busti Monastery is located in this place. The path to the main viewpoint or summit starts at the eastern mall road.
Colourful prayer flags and chiming bells will welcome you along the way. Co-existence of Hindu priests and Buddhist lamas is a sight to praise. There is a Mahakal Temple (temple of the Hindu god Shiva) at the end of the summit. The panoramic view at the end and the beautiful road makes this spot perfect for viewing Kanchenjunga and evening walks.
Timing: 7 A.M to 7 PM.
No entry fees
9. Dali Monastery:
Drukpa Kagyupa Monastery is at an altitude of 7000ft. Between Darjeeling and Ghoom. It’s a must-visit place in Darjeeling. Visit the Dali Gompa built by Kyabje Thuksey Rimpoche in 1971. More than 200 Tibetan Buddhists of the Drukchen sect stay at Dali Gompa.
At the entrance of the Prayer Hall, you will see a giant Buddha statue. The chanting of monks and the use of Tibetan drums with the chanting will make you feel tranquillity and peace. Dali Monastery is definitely one of the places to visit in Darjeeling on the way to Batasia loop.
Timing: 7 AM to 5 PM
10. Ghoom Monastery and Batasia Loop
On the track of the toy train from Darjeeling to Ghoom, the train stops at these two places. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit the Monastery; the Buddist Monastery, the colourful bunting banners beside the road reflecting the red and orange rays of sunshine will mesmerize you beyond your imagination.
Along the train track on the way back, you can visit the wonder of mechanical engineering meeting the natural splendour. Batasia means a beautified garden that surrounds airy space and the loop just below the Ghoom Station. This location’s beauty will transport you to a peaceful place.
Ghoom Monastery timings: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Charges: INR 60 for carrying cameras, otherwise free entry
11. Darjeeling Ropeway:
Darjeeling Cable car is India’s first cable car service. It was started its journey in 1968; currently, the cable car runs from Singamari to Tukvar. The starting station Singamari with an altitude of 7,000ft.
It is 3kms away from Darjeeling Chowkbazar. The whole ropeway course is further spread than Tukvar, and the last station is Sigla Bazar, with an altitude of 800ft.
Cable Car fare: INR 190 per adult and 100 for child
Main attractions: Visiting the scenic view of the Himalayas from a birds view at an elevated altitude.
12. Mirik Lake:
The Sumendu Lake at Mirik, Darjeeling or Mirik Lake, has crystal blue Coloured water. If there is a clear sky and the sun is out, you can see the Kanchenjunga from here. The breezy lakeside in the hill station is a prominent place for taking walks.
The lake itself is 16.19 ha or 1.25 km long. And the maximum depth of the water is 7.92m. There is a beautiful arched white footbridge 24.38 m long and is a perfect place to do photoshoots. There are no entry fees for this, but the horse rides are charged.
13. Peace Pagoda, Darjeeling
Darjeeling Peace Pagoda is one of the Peace Pagodas built to serve as a focal point for people of all races and creeds in their quest for world peace. It is in the Indian state of West Bengal, in the town of Darjeeling.
It, like the majority of the other Peace Pagodas, was built under the supervision of Nichidatsu Fujii, a Japanese Buddhist monk and the founder of the Nipponzan-Myhji Buddhist Order.
Address: 27H5+2HQ, West Point, Darjeeling, West Bengal
14. Singalila National Park:
Located along the Singalila ridge, Singalila National Park is home to endangered red pandas and one of the most beautiful Himalayan forests. The trek route to Sandakphu runs within Singalila National Park and the park is well known for it.
Singalila National Park is also home to mammals and birds like the black panther, leopard, barking deer, yellow-throated marten, and blood pheasant. The place is a paradise for bird watching having more than 300 species of birds.
15. Nightingale Shrubbery:
The private courtyard of Sir Thomas Tartan’s bungalow was redesigned after the 1934’s earthquake and made public as Nightingale Shrubbery. The public spot for visiting snow clas mountains along the beautiful walkway is a memorable place to visit in Darjeeling.
The crisscrossed paths of the park look lovely at the outset, and you can also see the range of Himalayas as snow covers the park in Winter. It’s a great place to enjoy snow battle for kids in the winter.
Timing: 9AM to 5 PM
16. Happy Valley Tea Estate:
The Happy Valley tea estate is very close to the mall road, and it takes about 20 minutes on foot. Going on a trip to Darjeeling and not visiting a tea estate is not imaginable. Happy Valley is one of the biggest tea gardens and also showcases the whole process of use of equipment and retailing.
The retail outlet also gives you the option to purchase a variety of tea leaves. It’s a must-visit place in Darjeeling which will help you experience sensory and olfactory experiences.
Timing: Open from 9 AM to 4:30 PM
Fee for Factory Visit: INR 150 per person
Things to Do in Darjeeling:
There are plenty of amazing and adventurous things to do in Darjeeling. The area is very close to Sandakphu, the Teesta River, and home to old architectural places, natural adventurous roads offering a lot of activities to the tourists.
17. River Rafting in Teesta:
River Rafting is one of the most fun activities to enjoy with friends. Teesta has various rapids, pumping your adrenaline and there are experiences for grade 1 to grade 4 offering one of the best river rafting experiences in India. River rafting in.
Experience 4-5 rapids along the 7km of the rafting stretch. Along with offering thrill to adrenaline junkies the risk level is a little high. Grade 4 is only for trained rafters and previous ones are enjoyable with a rafter on board.
18. Sandakphu Trek:
Sandakphu trek is a moderately difficult trek to climb 12,000ft but the external weather can make it challenging. Sandakphu is considered a mesmerizing wonderland for trekkers. The trek enthusiasts, explorers and hikers will find this trek easy-going while beginners may take a little time to acclimatize to the change.
Offers the best panoramic view of Mt. Everest and Kanchenjunga. Sandakphu trek is life-changing and should be experienced once in a lifetime. Make a checklist of trek poles, warm clothing, and medications prior to the trek. Also, don’t forget to exercise regularly to have a fit body for the trek.
Best time to Trek: April to May, October to November
19. Mountaineering at HMI:
The mountaineering Institute at Darjeeling offers courses learn mountaineering basic courses, advanced courses and adventure courses. Anybody can enrol for the basic course where all basics of rock, snow and ice climbing are taught.
There is short 3 to 5-day special courses offered for tourists as well. There are final treks to complete the curses. Both the basic and advanced courses are of 28 days. If you want to escape to the mountains while learning something fruitful, try enrolling on the courses at HMI.
Time of the Courses: March, April, May, September
20. Exploring Dooars Tea Garden:
One of the things never to miss in Darjeeling is taking a tour of the Dooars tea garden. You have to rent a car from Darjeeling and move south towards Latagiri, Jalpaiguri to see the sprawling beauty of the tea gardens. Buy some Darjeeling tea as a souvenir and smell the aroma as you drive down green blossoming tea gardens.
21. Buy Woolens at Bhutia Market:
Walk down to Chowk Bazar, Nehru Road where you will visit a lot of stores for woollen goods. Bhutia markets are temporary stalls set up next to Nathmull. Go on a shopping spree to find sweaters, gloves, woollen caps, and jackets at reasonable and high-quality wool. In the Bhutia market, you can also find other goods like seasonal tea leves, Churpi and small souvenir shops.
22. Relish Thupka & Momos:
Mountain and momos are a combination of love.Thupka and momos these two dishes from Tibetan descent are a must-try for Darjeeling goers. Momos are an Indian variation of dumplings made from chicken, or beef or pork and vegetables.
Some of the best places to try momos in Darjeeling are Kunga Restaurant, Nepali Everest Momo, Dekevas, and Hasty-Tasty. Th