( General Information )
Straddling a ridge at 2134m and surrounded by a tea plantations,
Darjeeling has been a popular hill station since the British
established it as an R&R centre for their troops in mid-1800s.
People come here now, as they did then, to escape the heat, humidity
and hassle of the north Indian plain. You get an indication of how
popular Darjeeling is from the 70 or so hotels recognised
by the tourist office and the scores of others which don't come
up to its requirements. Here you will find yourself surrounded by
mountain people from all over the eastern Himalaya who have come
to work, to trade or - in the case of the Tibetans - as refugees.
Outside of the monsoon season (June to September), the views over
the mountains to the snowy peaks of Kanchenjungaand down
to the swollen rivers in the valleys are magnificent. Darjeeling
is a fascinating place where you can see Buddhist monasteries, visit
a tea plantation and see how the tea is processed, go for a ride
on the chairlift, spend days hunting for bargains in colourful markets
and handicrafts shops, or go trekking to high-altitude spots for
closer views of Kanchenjunga.
Like many places in the Himalaya, half the fun is in getting there
and Darjeeling has the unique attraction of its famous toy
train . This miniature train loops and switchbacks its way up the
steep mountainsides from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling.
Until the beginning of the 18th century the whole of the area
between the present borders of Sikkim and the plains of Bengal,
including Darjeeling and Kalimpong,
belonged to the rajas of Sikkim.
In 1706 they lost Kalimpong to the Bhutanese, and control of the
remainder was wrested from them by the Gurkhas who invaded Sikkim
in 1780, following consolidation of the latter's rule in Nepal.
These annexations by the Gurkhas, however, brought them into conflict
with the British East India Company. A series of wars were fought
between the two parties, eventually leading to the defeat of the
Gurkhas and the ceding of all the land they had taken from the Sikkimese
to the East India Company. Part of this territory was restored to
the rajas of Sikkim and the country's sovereignty guaranteed by
the British in return for British control over any disputes which
arose with neighbouring states.
One such dispute in 1828 led to the dispatch of two British officers
to this area, and it was during their fact-finding tour that they
spent some time at Darjeeling (then called Dorje Ling - Place
of the Thunderbolt - after the lama who founded the monastery which
once stood on Observatory Hill). The officers were quick to appreciate
Darjeeling's value as a site for a sanatorium and hill station,
and as the key to a pass into Nepal and Tibet. The officers' observations
were reported to the authorities in Kolkata and a pretext was eventually
found to pressure the raja into granting the site to the British
in return for an annual stipend of Rs3000 (raised to Rs6000 in 1846).
Altitude : 2,134 meters.
Clothing : Light woolen in summer and heavy woolens in winter.
Best Season : April to mid June and mid September to November
are the best months to visit this hill resort.
Foreign Tourists : Foreign tourists, if they desire to visit
Sikkim as well, must obtain a special permit for it in advance.
Temperature : Winter :- 03-19 °C, Summer :-11-20 °C