Darjeeling hill town itself is small (about 10 square kilometers), Darjeeling is also a district and spans over a large area of about 2,100 square kilometers. The district has subdivisions like Kurseong, Siliguri etc as well as the hill resort town of Mirik. So there are many lovely places to visit within Darjeeling hills itself.
While we always talk about the sweeping views of sunrise from Tiger Hill and the view of the colossal Kanchenjunga with many other snow clad eastern Himalayan peaks from here, but we hardly talk about the summit of Tiger Hill itself. True that the blaze of rapidly changing colors of the snow peaks as the sun strikes is an awesome view, but Tiger Hill is great even otherwise. It’s a destination by itself offering not just great views during sunrise, it’s a place where you can soak yourself with Himalayan beauty anytime during the day.
Tiger Hill is located 11kms (6.8 miles) from Darjeeling town and above Ghum. It’s the highest point in Darjeeling hills at an altitude of 8482 feet (or 2590 meters). The best season to see the dazzling snow covered peaks as the sun rises is between Mid October to December. March to April is also a good time. For sunrise, you will need to start by 3:30am in the morning so that you reach by 4.15am. In winter you can start around 4:15am. Some taxi drivers will insist that you start even earlier. There is a reason why. As you reach close to the summit, particularly during the high season there would be a long queue of cars. Hundreds of tourists come here everyday for the sunrise view during the high season. As a result, you may have to walk uphill quite a bit as your vehicle may be parked much below the top.
At a distance of 4 km from Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Batasia Loop is a railway loop in Darjeeling of West Bengal. Situated below the Ghoom station, it is one of the mesmerizing places to visit in Darjeeling.
Batasia Loop was built in 1919 as an engineering requirement to lower the gradient of ascent of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. At this point, the track spirals around over itself through a tunnel and over a hilltop. After Ghoom (the highest railway station), there is a sharp fall as the toy train moves towards Darjeeling. There was no way a narrow gauge toy train could navigate the drastic fall of about 100 feet to the gradient of the slope. So, a large circular area was built for the loop to make the slope gentle.
Batasia means airy space. The Loop serves a vital purpose for the toy train but is also an attraction in itself. The loop goes around a garden. The mountain garden is beautified with fresh green grass, seasonal and perennial flowers and shrubs. There are seating areas where one can view the train chugging down the slope. There is a War Memorial at the center of the Batasia Loop. This memorial was constructed in 1995 by the District Sainik Board, Darjeeling in commemoration of the brave Gorkha Soldiers, who sacrificed their life to protect the sovereignty of the Nation. There is a Cenotaph and a statue of a soldier paying homage at an elevated platform.
Darjeeling is renowned across the world as one of the most picturesque hill stations, where one can witness a myriad of exquisite landscapes, from the glorious snow-capped mountains to the charming valley replete with verdant tea estates. For this reason, the Darjeeling Ropeway finds itself as a prime attraction of Darjeeling, giving its passengers an array of divine panoramic views as they travel across the magical valley.
Established in 1968, the Darjeeling Ropeway is India’s first cable car system, set up to cater to the tea gardens in the valleys which did not have easy access. Today, it serves as a coveted tourist hotspot, attracting scores of tourists all year round to experience the beauty of Darjeeling’s scenery in the best way possible. With 16 cable cars, each car accommodates 6 people as it travels from the North Point in Singamari to the Singla Bazaar, situated by the banks of the enchanting Ramman river, transporting passengers at an altitude of 7000 feet. The view of the numerous tea estates of Darjeeling, the cascading waterfalls, and the majestic Kanchenjunga makes this experience an essential to every tourist in Darjeeling. The gondola moves at a moderate speed, allowing travellers some good opportunities for some brilliant photo opportunities. At the bottom end of the trip, the cable car halts for a while, where travellers may explore the lovely tea gardens, or relax at the small mountain cafe, before proceeding back to the Singamari base station.
At a distance of 2.5 km from Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Shrubbery Nightingale Park is a beautiful public park situated at Richmond Hill area of Darjeeling in the state of West Bengal. Lies between Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Chowrasta, it is one of the beautiful places to visit in Darjeeling.
Formerly known as ‘The Shrubbery’, this park was the private courtyard of Sir Thomas Tartan’s Bungalow and a meeting place for English women during the British Raj. The park was destroyed during a devastating earthquake in the year 1934. It was rebuilt and began to be used as a famous Bollywood movie shooting spot during 1950’s and 60’s. However, with passing time the park was neglected due to the growing tension in Darjeeling hills.
It was opened for the public again in 2011 after re-designing of the park with walkways and sitting benches. The park is said to be in oval shape and is slightly at an elevated level. The park is adorned with pine and many other tall trees. It is an ideal place for relaxing and enjoying the picturesque views of snow peaks of Eastern Himalayas. There is a giant statue of Lord Shiva with an associated temple at the right end of the park. There is also a waterfall that comes from the top of the Lord Shiva’s statue all the way to a small artificial lake at the bottom. A musical fountain here is also a great attraction.
Sandakphu Peak (11,941 Feet) is the highest peak in West Bengal. The highest peak of Singalila Ridge in Darjeeling district, almost near the border of Nepal, it is located very close to Singalila National Park.Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal, gives you a spectacular view of four out of five highest peaks in the world. The best view possible is of mountain Kanchendzonga. You can reach the peak either by car or trekking. The trek is a beautiful 51 km long way up the hill, starting from Manebhanjan. Sandakphu is also known as the “mountain of poisonous plants” because of the abundance of Himalayan Cobra Lilies here. Since this is an arduous trek, it is advisable to undertake it only after ensuring your complete fitness.The trek to the summit is quite exhilarating passing through several distinct terrains, from challenging valleys to the lush green of the lands dotted with rhododendrons, magnolias, primulas and vibrant wild flowers. The place is a paradise for nature lover with about 600 varieties of orchids alone.
Darjeeling Peace Pagoda
Located on the slopes of Jalapahar hills in Darjeeling, the Peace Pagoda, or the Japanese Peace Pagoda is one of the peace pagodas designed to establish unity, harmony and goodwill amongst people belonging to different sects of society. Famous for its tranquillity, it offers stunning views of snow-clad peaks including the Kanchenjunga peak making it an ideal place for peace and nature lovers.
The Peace Pagoda was built under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fujii, a Buddhist monk from Japan. The foundation stone was laid on 3 November 1972 and was inaugurated on 1 November 1992. Designed by M. Ohka, it took 36 months to complete the construction. The pagoda houses the four avatars of Buddha including Maitreya Buddha and was designed to bring together people of different caste in search of peace