Darjeeling originally consisted of a cluster of villages, administered by the beautiful Nepal and Sikkim territories. However, towards the end of the 19th century, the hill-station began growing in prominence. One of the main reasons why it caught the attention of the British back then was due to its pleasant climate.
The British can be recognized as the first ones to establish a hill station in Darjeeling. They were notably, also the first ones to realize that Darjeeling was well-suited for tea plantations. Earlier in 1849, the British even annexed the region to make Darjeeling a part of their reign. It is quite obvious why the rulers decided to scour Darjeeling under their banner.
It was not until 1881 that the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway opened up for visitors to travel. The region is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a famous tourist destination with a number of places to visit in Darjeeling. The town in no time has become the de-facto summer capital of India.
The history that lies within
Since British was highly fond of the hill station, they decided to construct a lovely Victorian town along the foothills of Himalayan. The remnants of their architecture can still be observed to date. Regions around Chowrasta and Darjeeling remain popular especially because of these lovely structures that can be found around them.
Foreign tourists are primarily attracted to the cultural diversity that Darjeeling has to offer. For example, the Tibetans moved into Darjeeling and other regions of India after China’s annexation. They co-exist with other Indians but due to their discordance from the Nepali culture, they bring in a twist of taste within Darjeeling. The same folks work in tea plantations. The place is filled with a wonderful vista view of Kanchenjunga, a variety of trekking options and a golden chance to cool down after a stint in the plains.
7 Offbeat Places to visit in Darjeeling
Namthing Pokhari (Lake)
Namthing Pokhari is located at Shelpu Hills of Darjeeling Dist at an altitude of 4500 ft above sea level. The lake is the natural habitat for a number of rare species and especially Salamander (Tylototriton verrucosus exclusive to India found during July, August, and September). This lonely place is also a habitat of beautiful birds, butterflies, and some wild animals
Birdwatching at Latpanchar
It is one of the famous places to visit in Darjeeling for birdwatchers. The Rufous-necked Hornbill nests in this area under the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in the month of March & April. There are many species of Thrush, Babbler, Wabbler, Fly-catchers, Sunbirds which makes this region a hotspot for bird watchers and photographers
Another one of the top tourist places to visit in Darjeeling is Ahaldara, a hilltop with an exotic 360 degree and breathtaking view of sunrise and snow-capped Kanchenjunga peaks. On a clear-sunny day, Gangtok, Kalimpong, Algara, Bagora, Tinchuley hills are visible.
Once a British residence is now a Forest Department bungalow, surrounded by the vast stretch of Cinchona plantation that the British set up in 1920. The old bungalow has been replaced by a new bungalow
The town of Mungpoo earned its name for Cinchona plantation and the 1st Government Quinine factory was set up here in 1864. The place became famous when the Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore visited the place four times between 1938 and 1940
Baghgora is an ideal place for a trek to Senchal Lake and bird watchers. Chatakpur is a pristine village is bounded by the Kachenjunga Mountain Range in the North and the river gorge Relly Khola in the south. Located at an altitude of 7,887 feet, it is a paradise for nature lovers.
Things to do in Darjeeling
Visit the waterfall near Mongpoo: Visit the magnificent waterfall situated near Mongpoo. This is especially a fruitful experience during the monsoon and winter months. The region is not crowded and one can surely enjoy themselves in the process.
Pluck oranges at Sittong Orange Orchard: Apart from being the prime location for yielding of tea plants, the region also has an abundance of orange fruit cultivations. Be sure to visit the popular Sittong Orange Orchad to pluck oranges.
Gain spirituality at the 18th Century Pemarik Jingling Buddhist Monastery: It’s the truest journey that you may set your path on. Make sure to visit the monastery at least once while you are in Darjeeling. It will take you on an experience that will stay in your heart for a lifetime.
Go tea-shopping: As we are already aware, Darjeeling is known all over the world for the variety of aromatic and delicate-tasting tea that gets sold within the market. There are many shops around the Mall and Chowrasta regions, wherein you can go and shop for tea from. However, visitors are advised to avoid indulging in shops wherein they sell tea for considerably higher than it actually is.
Visit Dorjee, the artifacts shop-dealer: Ask anyone within Darjeeling, the address to Dorjee and they will lead you to it because it is that popular. It is a unique shop that deals in the most fascinating and exotic collection of local oriental and Buddhist artifacts. It is situated right opposite the General Post Office, right at the heart of Darjeeling. Make sure you visit it, just for the sake of viewing items, if not purchasing them.
These are some of the offbeat places to visit in Darjeeling
While you are in the northeast you might want to visit the tranquil Chandubi lake. Also, do check out some weekend getaways from Kolkata. If you have any questions regarding Darjeeling, come over to our the Community Forums and just ask away. We also have a road trip package for Darjeeling which covers most of the places. You can also get a customised itinerary for you. Just go ahead and send an enquiry.