Fujiyama, Japan

Friday, 17 June 2016

Darjeeling

Google Maps: Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
  • You need to walk a lot given the traffic situation in Darjeeling. Tea estate will take a good half day. Toy train will take another half. Carry an umbrella for sure.
  • Glenary's is a complete food destination. A restaurant at the top and a bar at the bottom complement the bakery at the ground floor. Sit at the balcony and enjoy a pastry.
  • Avoid Tiger Hill. The itinerary is too tiresome - waking up at 3 and counting on a clear sky is too much for a cloudy Darjeeling.
Darjeeling was once the queen of hill stations. The world heritage toy train was a marvel. The tea estates were part of many a travel wishlists. No more. Old buildings, dirty narrow walkways and congested roads support a crowd of tourist who come to see the glorious town of old but leave disappointed.

Happy Valley Tea Estate

We reached Darjeeling on a rainy evening through a tortuous, deteriorated road via Jorethang. It took us half hour of walk and a samosa tea break to figure out that we couldn't reach our hotel without a cab. Our hotel was thankfully warm and efficient. In no time we were fresh and ready for a light dinner. Next morning we woke up late, had a sumptuous complementary breakfast and took a walk down to the station.


Darjeeling boasts of a heritage train line that is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The toy train is a crowd puller. We bought couple of costly tickets and took a round. The second half of day went into exploring the heart of Darjeeling - Keventers & Glenary's are the hundred years old establishments standing proud among a crop of new chains like Pizza Hut and Subway.


Evening comes quickly during rainy season and we settled back in our spacious room. Next morning we started early and climbed uphill to Japanese Stupa. Massive crowd was thronging the monument at 8 AM. It was foggy and our thought was more into enjoying the cold morning with a healthy walk.


We came back at 9 and settled for breakfast. In another hour we packed our bags and checked out. We wanted to see the famous tea estate before departing. It was a good mile long walk that took us to the opening of Happy Valley Tea Estate and we were pleasantly surprised. The view opens up a landscape which has cloudy hills, green estate and the entire Darjeeling on the left.


We had bought snacks from Glenary's and we settled at the edge of the valley for a quick lunch. I was envious of the small homes built at the roadside looking at this view perennially. A helpful cab took us back to the bus stand where we took our ride to Siliguri. It was beautiful end to a memorable trip.