HOTELS & STAY
VISIT & EXPLORE
STAY IN TOUCH
Darjeeling Tours and Sightseeing
If you are planning to experience some of the lovely tourist places and vistas in and around Darjeeling, you will need to plan a tour, preferably a guided or a conducted tour. Depending on what you want to see and how much time you have, there are several options to go around Darjeeling.
Most tourists who come here for short vacations, take the local half day sightseeing tours that are known as 3-point, 5-point, 7-point and mixed-point tours covering preset points or tourist places in and around the hill town. These local sightseeing packages offered by taxi drivers and local tour operators are most popular amongst tourists. And another ride which is seldom missed is a toy train joy ride.
But, if you want to get deeper into the magical attractions of Darjeeling hills, then your next step would be to take a scenic drive to one of the many amazing places close to Darjeeling, enjoy the bounty of nature like wonderful mountain landscapes, driving by the tea gardens & villages, watch waterfalls & lakes etc and come back after spending a day of great joy & fulfillment. These are known as day trips from Darjeeling.
However, if you intend to explore Darjeeling and the surrounding areas at greater depth, like to know about the heritage and historical background of the place that originated from the British colonial times, or want to feel the nature and its flora & fauna more intimately, then you will need to take a special tour. There are tours & safaris to take you to national park & sanctuaries which are habitats of amazing and rare Himalayan animals, you can take a heritage walk of the town to visit many historical places that reflect the life & culture of British Raj days, and there are lovely tea garden tours that includes many tea garden activities including stay at the garden.
While you can self organize most standard tours by hiring a taxi or a shared jeep from the stand, you will need to go through a tour operator for the special tours. I shall discuss all these options in the following section from all our personal experiences.
These are short half-day tours covering sunrise views, monasteries & temples, art & craft, museums, zoo, tea gardens, parks, rides and more. These are the most popular sightseeing tours with the common tourists and provide a quick flavor of Darjeeling. There are several preset packages offered with various combinations of the sights and attractions. You can choose the ones you like.
There are regular 2-hour joy rides offered by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways on its toy trains from Darjeeling. The narrow gauge train with steam engine makes a round trip to Ghoom via Batasia and back. This is a scenic ride offering great views of Darjeeling landscapes and the Eastern Himalayan snow peaks. This tour by Toy Train is extremely popular with tourists. You will need to book well in advance as the capacity is limited and demand is high. Many visitors who can't take the 7-hours long toy train ride from New Jalpaiguri to reach Darjeeling, take this short ride.
Kanchenjunga & the Toy Train, Darjeeling
Although Darjeeling town is small, the district of Darjeeling spans over more than 1,200 square miles of area that includes majestic mountains & valleys, beautiful tea gardens, lakes, waterfalls, forests, villages and more. So you have great opportunities to take lovely scenic drives to some amazing places where you can spend the day and even stay back if you like.
Very few people know that there is a guided walking tour offered to explore the rich heritage and history of Darjeeling. During the colonial days of 1800s and early 1900s, the British have left behind many heritage landmarks. They built schools, parks, museums & monuments as they converted miles of raw forests in Darjeeling hills into a natural holiday sanitarium and laid thousands of acres of tea plantations to make it a place for Champagne of Tea. All these along with the people, flora and fauna, the landscapes & majestic mountains have all been integral part of Darjeeling's heritage.
Spread across the Singalila range, this high altitude national park can be accessed from Manebhanjan which is located 26kms from Darjeeling town. This is one of the stunningly beautiful parks that offers plethora of flora & fauna, and breathtaking view of the Himalayan snow peaks. There are numerous types of orchids, rhododendrons, magnolia, primula and many other flowers that bloom in abundance during the season.
You will pass through forests of thick bamboo, oaks and silver firs. The reserved forest area has many exotic and rare high altitude animals like Red Panda and Pangolins that you see only in the books. The park has over 120 species of birds. And you will get rare opportunity to view some of highest peaks of the world including Everest and Kanchenjunga family. However this tour will take 2-3 days to complete. Know about the complete description of the park, how to reach, best time to go, where to stay and many other details.
Not many can trek and that too along the steep routes of Sandakphu and Phalut. But anybody who loves mountains and the snow peaks, will love to make it to these places once in a lifetime. Where else can you view four of the five highest peaks of the world? A great way to do that is to take a jeep safari.
Tea tourism is increasingly becoming popular in Darjeeling area. It's about spending a few days in a sprawling tea estate, staying in original planter's bungalows that offer British colonial ambience, walking through the tea gardens to experience garden life, visiting the factory to watch tea processing, and tasting some of the greatest teas the garden offers to the world. And all these can be combined with nature & village walks, day trips to nearby attractions and view points, witnessing ethnic cultural dance & musical performances by the local villagers, and enjoying many other nature activities including even wildlife safaris and white water rafting. Sounds interesting?
Is it possible to take a car from Bagdogra Airport or NJP Station and cover all the thee places - Darjeeling, Sandakphu and Gangtok and get dropped back to the airport or the railway station. Well, nothing is impossible when you have the will to do it, particularly when in search of the best of the mountain nature.
3) If you need further information, check out Tourist Information Centers and contact the GTA or West Bengal state Government run centers that provide information and booking assistance for Darjeeling tours.
By Raj Bhattacharya
@Copyright Darjeeling-Tourism.com - All Rights Reserved