Darjeeling Memories & Travel Experiences

This section is dedicated to memories of Darjeeling. If you remember Darjeeling as a visitor or a resident, have some special memories or experiences, do share that here. I can lock that in forever rather than letting it fade away with time. I have myself shared many of my own memories and experiences of Darjeeling throughout this site. It's your turn now. 
Hello Raj, 
What a wonderful surprise!! I am able to contact with someone from Darj. I can most certainly share with you about my beautiful childhood spent at Darj. We WALKED a LOT!!! The years from 1948-1960, we did not have a car, so we walked everywhere. 
Whenever we went to Siliguri, Sikkim or Mirik to see our families, we went on a Jeep. Returning home from the market, my mother used to rent a pony for me from the Chowrasta to go down to Bhutia Busti where we lived. It would be a special treat for me. 
As for the market, we used to go to a famous bookstore (can't remember the name). We used to buy loose white plain paper for our arithmetic classes, and brown paper to cover all our books. I used to buy wooden "Bhara Kutta" (wooden pots) to pretend to set up a kitchen. My mother used to buy "Lachha" for her long hair. Along with these, we would also buy some "fermented" leaves to make "Jad" or white fermented rice sake. We also went to eat "Momo" and "Thuka" in a popular store. I wish I could remember its name. 
Each year, during Diwali and Dushera, we ordered brand new shoes from the Chinese Stores called "Nice" and "OK". I hope the stores are still there. During summers, we bought gym shoes with pretty designs from Bata, which was close to my grand-uncle's Dairy store, almost adjacent below the Mt. Everest Hotel. 
We often passed the famous Das Studio, and I would collect B/W post cards of Kanchanjunga to be sent to my pen pals in Australia, USA and England through our school. During Christmas and New Years, my mother along with her semi-English friends used to go to the famous Glenary's Bakery to buy Christmas cakes and dance in their high heel shoes. Everytime I walked by this bakery to and from school, I used to get a wonderful aroma of items being baked! It was simply heaven. 
My school was Nepali Girls H.S. in the Missoun Compound,, It was a very bright turmeric color building. It was close to Trumbul H.S. We had English Principals, named Ms. Eady and Ms. Horm. We learned many Bible stories and songs from them. I do not remember the teachers' names. I do remember my two good friends, namely Sungmeet Lepcha and Purna Kumari Rai. Sungmeet was a teacher's daughter. The teacher taught needle works. Sungmeet came first in the class, Purna came second and I came third in almost every class. I often wonder where my friends are. 
Going home from the school, I used to pass beautiful cottages, book store of one of my grand uncles, and of course the Rink Cinema Hall. áAfter passing the Bank, Lloyd Bank, and Capital Cinema, I used to head back home through many English built homes, and also many Tibetan sayings on the stone walls. I used to offer flowers and pray on each Budha, especially during my exams!! áI guess they were listening to me. 
When I got home, I used to watch and enjoy the view of Kanchanjunga from our small patio garden. We could easily see the horse race (Lebong) through the binocular from my home. Of ácourse, we used to see the back of the famous Tibetan Gumba (you have taken picture). We used to go there when they used costumes and danced. We used to eat "Kabseo" and "butter rice". They were the most desired food of the ceremony for me. I loved them all.  
We, being Tamang, went to a Tamang Gumba, which was somewhere below the railway station. My mother used to teach there, and she was very active in many of the Budhist religious ceremonies. In fact, that is where her "Ghewa" was celebrated in November, 1961. 
I left Darjeeling in the December of 1961 to study in Bombay with my eldest sister. áI was to return to NGHS and stay in the boarding school. áAlas, that never happened. I MISSED Darjeeling SO MUCH. I am 64 years old, and have been staying here at the USA since 1969. Now I am retired, and enjoying my life with volunteer in teaching English to many of the foreign immigrants, I do Yoga, Reformer Pilate (good for my lower back), weight and meditation. á 
I have seen the Hindi film shooting of "Hariali Aur Rasta" and waved to Dilip Kumar in Darjeeling. It would be exciting and of course, my parents were against all these filmiwalas. á 
I hope I was able to enlighten you with bit about my life in Darjeeling. áAs you know with each passing time, memories of the past seem to disappear also. Thank you very much for giving me time to share with you my short childhood memories I had in my beautiful Darjeeling, which shaped me the person I have become today. 
God bless you and your endeavor to connect with people from Darjeeling. Always remember, breath is the bridge within your soul and your spirit. Keep on building and expanding your friendship bridges. 
Bimala Tamang (December, 2012) 
We had last gone to Darjeeling in December 2007 during X-mas time. We stayed in Sinclaires then. This time we went for 4 days from 24th December to 28th December,2012 and stayed in Shangrila Hotel attached with the restaurant near the mall. 
I must admit that we had an amazing experience this time because of our stay in this hotel and the overall improvement in the upkeep of Darjeeling. I found even the taxi drivers are part of the change, they are more eager to impress the tourists. 
The road up to Kurseong is excellent. There was Tea and Tourism festival going on and we had a great time at the Mall near the giant stage. The experience of seeing Kanchanjungha any time of the time was the highlight of our stay. While driving back to Bagdogra our taxi driver Tenzeeng informed us that initiative has been taken about Eco Tourism, I will very much like to know more about it. we will definitely come back to Darjeeling as this is our favorite hill station. 
S N Roy (January 2013) 
Mesmerizing Darjeeling: An experience shared by a first time visitor - what he liked, what he didn't and some tips for others planning a visit to Darjeeling. 
I have visited Darjeeling several times and have experienced its old world charm thoroughly. The walk along Chowrasta Mall to the sightseeing points around Mahakal Hill never fails to enthrall me. Even the trees by the side of the walk seem ancient and whisper stories of the Raj days. The silence there, broken only by the hooves of ponies taking children for a ride is something to be experienced. 
Although Darjeeling has changed through the years it has still retained some nooks and corners which take you back in time. Try and explore the town on foot as much as possible. That's a suggestion. Must haves are Hot Chocolate at Keventer's, Breakfast at Glenary's, Momos at small Tibetan joints. Darjeeling Zoo is awesome. You may buy fine Darjeeling jewelry at antic shops and take a toy train ride to Ghoom. You will never forget this visit. 
P Sengupta (March 2013) 
Hi, This is a token in return of all the valued information I got from this website. Me and My husband went for our long awaited Darjeeling Trip. Though this was my 3rd trip to Darj but I was fascinated to see the excitement of my Husband's 1st trip to Darj and I indeed got amazed to find Darj in its new clean and organised look. I could not believe my eye to see Darj Mall and all other area so clean. 
We felt that there is no need to book a car for Local sightseeing but only for Tiger Hill (Need a hard luck to see the sunrise) and Rock garden. Otherwise, Zoo, HMI, Ropeway, ava art gallery, Peace Pagoda can be visited by walking (If you are not accompanied with kids or old persons). We had taken a package for mix points which covers all the sight seeing of Darj including Tiger Hill and we customized it in 2days. 1st day all points including Rock Garden and 2nd day Tiger hill, Ghum Monastery and Batasia loop. Ganga Maya Park is closed now. 
For eateries, no experiment is suggested. The eating option mention in this website are absolutely fine and trusted. Nothing more to be added. But would like to mention about Glenary's. It is indeed too good in terms of food quality and variety and one can't get away after having the aroma while walking through the famous Neheru Road. Another eateries we found just beside the taxi stand on the road parallel to Neheru Road. It is Mahakal restaurant. Quantity and quality of the food is good. They may not have very big seating area but you can have variety of cuisine. Authentic Bengali food served here e.g. alu vate, dal, rohu fish, fried papad etc. We tried Luchi, begun vaja in the break fast as well. They serve all varieties of fried momo and coffee. 
Try out the market at the Mall. Bargaining is must. Few of fixed rate shops are also available. We like the market beside the Zoo as well. Even shopping at Mirik is also a good option if you forget to pick up a gift for your family and friends but nothing can beat the market at Pashupathinath. Please see the date of expiry if you are buying cosmetics. Jackets and shoes are must buy option here. On your return journey from Darj to NJP, Pashupathinath Market at Nepal Border is a must visit. The drive through Lepacha Jagat in this journey will add the star on your total trip. 
Parna Sarker (April 2013) 
Dear Raj 
Congratulations on an excellent website! áI wish I would have found it before travelling to Darjeeling just over 1year ago.áMy daughter and I travelled to India from our home in Canada and spent just over 2 weeks of our time there in Darjeeling. We stayed in the Dekeling Hotel-a lovely hotel with delightfully friendly owners. In our first few days in Darjeeling we were exploring the many narrow streets looking for a tailor where my daughter could get a saree made. áA very nice woman asked if she could help us find something. 
She 'took us under her wing' so to speak, and took us for samosas and gulub jamen and chai, and then accompanied us to a tailor that she knew of, and not only that, but negotiated the price for us!!!!! As foreigners, and only speaking English, we were extremely grateful to her. Well, it turns out this lovely lady was none other than Kusum Rai from the Happy Valley tea plantation cafe! Because we had to leave Darjeeling very early the next day we never did get back to her to express our thanks but would love her to know what an important part of our holiday she was and how our memories of Darjeeling are happy because of her! 
Jackie Neufeld (December 2013) 
It was a great vacation and information from this site helped a lot towards planning. 
NJP to Darjeeling: Shared Taxi : Rs. 200pp 
When we reached Darjeeling, the weather was too cold. An elderly man helped us 
finding hotel in return took tip from us and hotel. Hotel's Delux room @800+25(S.T) per night. 
Darjeeling to Gangtok: Shared Taxi: Rs. 200pp 
Though the site, intimates us to take a taxi with Sikkim registration, but with shared taxi I don't think we get the option. We were dropped at bus stand from where we had to pay Rs. 150 to MG Marg (at a distance of about 2km). But later on came to know, 150 is for reserved taxi, for shared taxi its just Rs. 20pp. No charge for luggage. 
Unfortunate to miss out on Kanchenjunga due to fog in Gangtok. Driver arranged for trip through shared taxi @450 pp to Tsongo lake and Baba Mandir. Driver again charged Rs. 150 for dropping at boarding place (Chandmari). Better to take shared taxi @ 20pp. if on budget. Enjoyed snowfall at Baba mandir and Tsango lake. Overall a gr8 vacation. 
Pranabjyoti Choudhury (March 2014) 
Dear Raj, 
I have just come back from a wonderful trip thanks to you. The first 3 days in Ghoom the weather was excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed the serenity and the Puja in ghoom Monastry on Buddha purnima. We also went for a day trip to Kalimpong and 10 points in Darjeeling from Ghoom only as there was shortage of time in darjeeling. Again in darjeeling we had a great time. Being the foodie that all of us are we tried all your suggestions-Keventars, Glenarys ,Shangrila and Park but ambience wise and also food i like Shangrila the best. Of course there was Sizzlers in Glenarys. We soaked up the spirit of darjeeling-my son enjoyed the Toy train Ride, Zoo and Kalimpong science museum the best and me and my husband liked Japanese Temple very much. Thank you very much for your guidance and hope I will be visiting again. 
Sraboni Dutta Sarkar (May 2014) 
A lady from Kochi (South India) visited Darjeeling. She came back and shared a sweet experience in Darjeeling. Here is her story
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) June 2014 
Unfortunately not all experiences and memories of Darjeeling are sweet, particularly when you are looking for basic public facilities like public toilets. Either you don't find one or they are unusable. Darjeeling has been suffering from acute water scarcity and lack of basic sanitation since many years, and virtually nothing has been done to solve the problem. Here is a bitter experience of a visitor
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) June 2014 
Recently, I with my wife &ádaughter visited Darjeeling. I was very sad to see conditions of mall &áthe surroundings. The serenity of the place is gone with new constructions on the mall. The Mahakal market complex has miserably narrowed down the beautifully romantic path it has been for so many years. Looking at the chaos, I was remembering of Kanchenjunga- the film. The uniqueness of the "Batasia loop" is gone long ago with its so called beautification. Leaving the main township areas, Darjeeling remains as shabby, lusterless as before. 
Your website is an amazing one - so informative, so responsive to all probable queries &áall that against all the odds happening to Darjeeling whom we can't help loving still. Thanking you for the noble effort. 
Tapan K. Majumdar (July 2014) 
Hi Raj, 
Thank you so much for your site and for your wonderful advice. My daughter and I have just spent sometime closer to heaven than usual. We stayed first at Snowlion - it felt a little rundown at the moment. Then we stayed at Revolver and understand why you liked the place so much - Vikash was most helpful - an amazing person. 
We also ate at places you recommended and found them as you said we would - Kunga was probably our favourite. I was distressed to see the condition of the rail system á- I was hoping to see some passion in maintaining the rolling stock and facilities. Nevertheless thank you for the job you have done and are obviously continuing to do. 
Robert Fatchen (July 2014) 
Me and my husband visited Kurseong, Darjeeling and Gangtok between 18 and 25 April 2015. All your reviews were very useful. We resided at Singell Homestay kurseong for two nights. It was a truly homely atmosphere. Cleanliness very good. Aruna Pradhan and her entire family were very courteous. She took special care to see our smallest need fulfilled. Her husband helped us to be lodged at Alice Villa in Darjeeling. It was also a good choice. Location, cleanliness was good. But we suffered for want of good vegetarian food. Someone suggested hasty tasty. But that was horrible. We tried Sunflower restaurant at the end of mall market. The food was good, ambience right, and price reasonable. With a hood hope from this experience we booked Sayong hotel at Gangtok. But it doesn't stand anywhere near Sunflower Darjeeling. Tap water was dirty rooms dirty. Totally disgusting. Then we pushed off to Bagdogra and stayed at Marinas. Every rupee spent was worth. Thanks a lot Mr. Bhattacharya for a very fair and descriptive analysis. 
V G Kulkarni (April 2015) 
You may be surprised why some unknown person suddenly will like to share his story. I am going to visit Darjeeling this December and in past 10 years this is going to be my 10th time. Though I like to read about Darjeeling for long time but I have never met anybody, who is literally in love with Darjeeling, before you. My story is almost same like you - son of a successful father, IT engineer, still working there and I had to travel to Argentina. Right now, I am staying in Argentina and planning to visit India after a year. Darjeeling came into my mind as the first place - it's now so congested but still I envy my Darjeeling friends for their city. Before few days, I had gone for a extreme trek in Andes mountain - anyway I love winter trekkings. And sitting on the icy caps of Andes I was thinking of my first ever trek to Sandakphu before 7 years. I was discussing with my friends on December outing - and from another mountain peak possibly I was able to see the beloved Kanchendzonga.  
Each and every Darjeeling trips were more beautiful than the last one always. Whether it's Pelling, Lachen, Lachung, Namchi, Gangtok, Yumthang or anywhere in Sikkim - I had a bad practice that after reaching Shiliguri/NJP, I always searched for a car to Darjeeling and after staying a single night in there - I used go for my actual destination. Most of the times I joined my travel team after 1 day because of this. Somebody will tell you crazy but who was in love with Darjeeling, he will be "Ashiqui" forever and ever. 
I have trekked in most of North Indian Trails, in Andes and other Argentine trails, In Amazon (which was my dream) but finally ended up with convincing me once again - "You have the most beautiful place of the world just in 400 Kms from your home". Now why did I write all these in mid night? Because I have never seen someone so much in love with Darjeeling. I just needed information on current Toy Train service and possibly I have found someone who is no way less than that violet Rhododendron of spring days. Thanks for this website. I do not have any query - I just needed to share my feeling on Darjeeling to someone who can understand. This website does not show me only "Information" - it shows a lover's dedication to his love. 
Susmit Sarkar (June 2015) 
I am visiting Darjeeling in October / November to celebrate my 70th birthday, and the reason we are visiting Darjeeling is it is my birth place. I was born during World War 2, my British parents both serving in the Allied forces, and after the war they migrated to Southern Africa [ then Rhodesia ] and we now live in South Africa. My father worked for 7 years pre war for the Bishnauth Tea Company, Pertabghur, Sootea P O. as an engineer. 
Charles Morgan (August 2015) 
Hi, Pertabghur is in Sonitpur district of Assam and not part of Darjeeling (West Bengal), although not too far away. Bishnauth Tea Company was amalgamated with Eveready Industries (also owned by the Khaitans) in 2001 and ceased to have a separate existence. They are now mainly tea traders based in Kolkata (Mango Lane). 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) August 2015 
Hello Raj: I hope you are well. I am enjoying exploring your excellent website. I am writing because my grandfather, Walter Boileau, was manager of Selimbong Tea Estate from 1924 to 1941, when he died in Darjeeling. His burial was at Singtom Cemetery. My mother, Daphne Boileau (one of four children) was born in 1925 and baptised at St George's Church, Nagri Valley. The family lived at Selimbong till earthquake of 1934, then moved to a bungalow after the house was destroyed. I have pictures of these places. 
Do you know if any of these places still exist? Is it possible to visit or contact the new owners of Selimbong Tea Estate? We are coming to Darjeeling about Oct 5 to Oct 10 this year and I would like to pay homage to my family history. Any help you can give is much appreciated. 
Rupert Saunders (August 2015) 
Singtom Cemetery is located about 20 minutes from the lower town market (Chowk Bazaar). Take Lebong Cart road and reach Singamari. A narrow downhill lane right after the Singmari taxi stand and just before St. Joseph's College (North Point) on the left side leads down to the cemetery. You can see a picture of Singtom cemetery by clicking this link (scroll down to the end once you click the link): 
Nagri Valley you mentioned is likely to be Nagri Farm which is actually a tea estate owned by the Chamong Group and located at Rongbong Valley. It's a different story why it was named a farm. It can be reached via Sukhiapokhri and about 25kms from Darjeeling town. You can contact Chamong Tea group and find out more details. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) August 2015 
Hi Raj 
I grew up in Kurseong and used to frequent Darjeeling as usual. It has a very special place in my heart. Unfortunately I had left Kurseong in 1997 and the country since 2001 (studied in Jalapiguri Govt College and then IIM Joka) - and never had a chance to come back there as family got relocated to Calcutta (Dad was an Sub-assistant Engineer in PWD and he expired - so mom got relocated). 
Your site made me really nostalgic. After staying in multiple countries, US is now my home-country, and my 10 year old daughter had been in India hardly 4 times, not sure whether I can ever take her to my child hood place. But if I do, I promise to let you know. I can not express how much I am touched with your site....wish you all the success and a very happy life. Take Care. 
Sudip (September 2015) 
Dear Raj 
I visited Darjeeling for a week in 1964 more than 50 years ago After staying in Darjeeling town for 2 days my friend and I trekked and jeeped down through tea gardens to a one roomed dakkbungalow on stilts. From the room you could look down on a river and also see a bridge in the near distance From the description above can you help me locate the place. I am 75 years old and that is all i can recollect of that beautiful place. Best Regards 
Pratap Mamik (September 2015) 
Good day, 
One possibility is the cottage down below Glenburn Tea Estate. Take a look at the green cottage by the riverside in this page. There is a suspension bridge that joins the other side of the forested area. But note that Glenburn is a private tea estate and entry is allowed only to guests staying at their tea resort. 
The river Rangeet also flows through the lower stretch of Singtom Tea Estate and there is a bridge. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) September 2015 
I would like to share my first visit to beloved Darjeeling with my friend. At the end of our engineering final exam., we availed of the 'hill concession' in the railways and paid approx. Rs. 38/- each for up &ádown journey by Darjeeling mail including toy train. 
Reached in the afternoon of April,1969 and boarded at 'Hindu boarding' run by my friend's friend the 'Mustafi family'. It was very cosy and cheap with their mother's care. We stayed for 4 days and enjoyed local sightseeing once by jeep and another time on hose back. Could not view the Kanchenjunga for the mist all the day. We purchased some semi-precious stones including gold stone also called Darjeeling stone which I put in a ring in later days. 
We enjoyed in full and returned home with sweet memories. Some may be surprised to hear that the total cost we had each was Rs. 135/- only. Now, when we visited in December 2019, lot of changes have taken place and spots like Keventer's dairy firm &áSinchal lake are no more in the list of visiting spots. Still the attraction is unavoidable. 
Dilip Kumar Datta (November 2021)