“Travel brings power and love back into your life.”
As for me, it makes me fall in love with my life. It rejuvenates and in most cases works better than spa. There is something so mystical about the mountains that make me want to go back time and again and wrap myself in the greenery of the Alpine forests and get lost amidst the clouds. My love for the Queen of Hills is not unknown and off I went for a much needed break to my love. My six years in Sikkim has made me acquainted with the common language here, Nepali. Therefore one of the things I love doing here, besides basking in the beauty is conversing in Nepali to my heart’s content.
What makes Darjeeling the best weekend getaway?
If you belong to Eastern India, Darjeeling is sure to account for the best weekend getaway. A day spent here simply walking around aimlessly, occasionally sipping onto Darjeeling Tea is enough to clear your brains and de-stress your mind and soul. To add to the beauty, the monasteries around can magically calm you down and has a better effect than a Thai Spa. In case you are a foodie, the place is a mix of the Tibetan culture and the Vintage English culture. So you get to eat everything, right from Momos and Thukpa to Ham and pancakes.
How to reach Darjeeling?
Take a train to New Jalpaiguri or a flight to Bagdogra, followed by a 3 hour road journey to Darjeeling. In case you are visiting during Monsoons, it is more advisable to take a train as the flights get cancelled frequently due to insufficient fog landing mechanism at Bagdogra.
Our den in Darjeeling:
We lived in a quaint resort called Little Tibet, right opposite Raj Bhawan. Darjeeling has hotels catering to all budgets. Though the charges are higher drink season (April to June and October -November), the charges go down considerably during off season.
Places to visit in and around:
I am usually not much of a “sight-seeing” person, I would rather walk around aimlessly, exploring places, meeting people. If you fall under this category, you would love the following:
The Toy Train ride (the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a part of UNICEF’s heritage)
The walk to the Japanese Peace Pagoda
Ghoom Monastery (My favorite part of the monastery would be striking up conversations with the young little Monks)
The Happy Valley Tea Estate (Exclusive post on this coming up)
What to eat and where?
Darjeeling is an absolute delight to your taste buds with all its Tibetan and Western influences. My picks would be:
Thukpa and Momos from any of the roadside food stalls (Especially with the rains outside, it is bliss). For a more hygienic pick, try Hot Simulating Cafe, near the Himalayan Zoo. Infact, this place has the best Momos and Thukpa in town and is extremely rewarding after a long walk to the place.
Darjeeling Tea at Nathmull’s. They have the best Darjeeling tea stocked.
Anything and Everything at Glenary’s. You could just sit there all day staring at the mountains.
Anything and Everything at Keventers (Remember the place from the movie Barfi overlooking the Clock Tower?) Many say they serve the best Ham, though I haven’t tried that yet.
I could just assume most of us suffer from it. Darjeeling could be a shopper’s paradise, given an eye for fashion.
Here are my top picks:
Habeeb Mullick and Son for antique curios and jewelry. This 150 year old store would remind you of Alladin’s treasure cave, only the doors are open for all.
Darjeeling Mall Road has everything from printed leggings and ponchos to slippers and umbrellas.
Other Curio stores on the Darjeeling Mall Road also store Tibetan jewelry but I would advise to try out H. Mullick first.
Basic Pocket Pinch for the Traveller:
Train/Flight: As applicable
Car to Darjeeling (A fully reserved 8 seater Innova): 3000 INR approx
4 star Hotel (say Little Tibet Resort): 5000 INR approx per night, mostly including breakfast
So, take your bags out and head out for the mountains. You might be lucky enough to have the Kanchenjungha greet you like it did to us.
Photographs of me by Anjan Dasgupta