Toy Train

Darjeeling is one of the most famous hill stations in India, having served as the most sought after summer retreat by the English during the colonial rule. It is situated at a height of 7001 feet (3.134 meters) and is flanked by some of the world’s tallest mountains, including the famous Kanchenjunga (the K2 peak).

The views are exquisite, offering an image that your eyes will never tire of. One of the best ways to fully experience the magic of this wondrous place is to take a trek in the surrounding country side.

How to get there

The best and the most story-book like way to get to Darjeeling is to take the famous ‘Toy Train’, which is the narrow gauge train that has been part of the Darjeeling-Himalayan railway since 1881. The train starts at Siliguri from the New Jalaipaguri station, then after just six and a half hours through the Indian landscape you are in Darjeeling. It is possible to reach Siliguri from any of the major international airports such as Mumbai and Delhi, though it is recommended to book rides in advance. Other ways to get to Darjeeling are by bus, taxis and Share-jeeps (which frequent the tourist towns like Darjeeling and Siliguri).

Getting Around

Most of the lower sections of Darjeeling are navigable by foot, while elevations can be explored through the cheap and comfortable share-jeeps or slightly more expensive (but private) taxis.
Major Attractions

The journey to Darjeeling itself is a marvel. Riding the Toy Train is a chance to take in one of the world’s most beautiful and scenic routes. Once in Darjeeling, one can look into the process of tea-making, at the Makaibari Tea Estates, who also offer tours, lodging and mountain and jungle treks. Tea to be taken home can be purchased at Nathmulls Tea Cosy, selling a wide variety of tastefully packaged products.

About eight miles south of Darjeeling you can find Tiger Hill, which offers breathtakingly beautiful views of the surrounding mountains including the Kanchenjunga. It is even possible to catch a distant glimpse of the famed Mount Everest. The best time to visit Tiger Hill is at the crack of the dawn, since the sunrises here are almost perfect and feel absolutely magical.

In the vicinities of Darjeeling, one finds some notable 19th Cenury Buddhist monasteries that hold some very beautiful murals.

One of the most sought after experiences is the white water rafting expeditions. These last from a couple of hours to two days, with prime rafting seasons from September to November and March to June. It is advisable to make advance bookings in order not to miss this one.

Places to Eat

There are some excellent places to eat, with local restaurants offering a wide variety of International cuisine from Mexican and Italian to Tibetan. However one of the things to note is that most of the restaurants here close early, at around 8 pm. So make sure to not dawdle when looking for dinner.

Places to stay

From April to June and October to December, the prices are unbelievably high, so it is advisable to come at other times if you are looking to save money. There are some very good hotels available, such as the Historical Colonial Elgin, with its open fire places and rustic charm and the beautiful and elegant Mayfair Hill resort. There are great options in mid priced range such as the Bellevue, offering great views of the Kanchenjunga.