Darjeeling Blog


The Queen of Hills

For Darjeeling GUIDE section, please click HERE.

DAY 01: I had planned Darjeeling at a much later stage, so getting tickets in train from Kolkata to Siliguri seemed very difficlut. Still I searched online and got a confirmed seat in 22309 HWH-NJP AC Express in chair car. The train was supposed to leave at Howrah at 23:05, but it’s seats were very uncomfortable(no pushback, no leg space, 3X3 narrow seats) to be able to sleep for the night. When the TTE came to check for the tickets, the passengers complained about the seats. The old TTE seemed much amused and called it “punishment seats”. There was a clip on back of the seats from where a small desk-like came out. I somehow kept my head on the desk and passed the night trying to sleep. The train arrived at NJP 2 hours late of schedule at 11 am. I rushed out of the station and took a rickshaw to Tenzing Norgay Bus Stand. I always prefer govt. buses over everything else. Upon asking in the Enquiry, they told there’s a NBSTC bus for Darjeeling at 12 pm, but no reserved booking available. The bus arrived, I kept my backpack on bunker and got a seat in front of the door. Soon after the bus left, a young girl boarded the crowded bus looking sick and wasn’t able to stand, so she sat on a luggage kept on the floor. The owner of the luggage started shouting as to why she sat on it. So, she sat on the floor in a clumsy way which made me feel uncomfortable. So, I left my seat to her and stood behind the driver to get good views and it was worth it. At Kurseong, many passengers got down and I got to seat on the bonnet.

Hill Cart Road in Darjeeling
Hill Cart Road in Darjeeling

Upon reaching after 4 hrs. journey, I opened Google Maps to track down my hostel(Hideout Backpackers Hostel) which I’d prebooked online for 5 nights.

Darjeeling Clock Tower
Darjeeling Clock Tower

They put me in a room which had 5 beds, all empty. The rooms and beds were very clean and I’d highly recommend it for solo travellers. The terrace is a good place to just sit and enjoy the view or hangout and listen to stories from other travellers and enjoy view of Mt. Kanchanjunga and other surrounding mountains.

View from the hostel
View from the hostel
Tea at the hostel
Tea at the hostel

Most of the guests here were foreigners travelling solo as Indians are still not much into solo travelling. I kept my backpack on my bed and went to Mall Market area to hangout.

Darjeeling Mall Sunset
Mall Chowrasta

By the time, it was evening, I had my dinner at Shang’s Restaurant run by a old lady near Mall Chowrasta and returned to hostel. The room had another 3 people checked in. I had introduction with all of them. The guy next bed came from Japan and was on a trip to India and Malaysia. He had travelled the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Jaipur, Agra) before coming to Darjeeling and will continue to Malaysia after staying here for 2 nights. We decided to go out together the next day for sightseeing. Though, he basically had come to Darjeeling to see only Tea Estate and Toy Train.

For Darjeeling GUIDE section, please click HERE.

DAY 02: The breakfast starts at 8am in the hostel, so after we had our breakfast, we headed to Darjeeling Railway Station(DJ). I wanted to go for the joyride tour and even took a reservation form to book, but it seemed expensive to my new friend from Japan, so he decided to skipped it and instead booked for the NJP bound train next day. Next, we headed to the Happy Valley Tea Estate which is a huge tea estate with busy workers plucking leaves from the tea plants. The tea workers looked irritated as many tourists interfered in their work to take selfies with them. We took the factory tour for Rs. 100 each which showed us the machines and step-by-step process the tea leaves go through from plucking to packing. At last, they gave us five types of tea(White Tea, Green Tea, Black Tea, Rose Tea, Tulsi Tea) to taste in a spoon. You can also buy them from their counter. But the factory tour doesn’t take place everyday, so it’s better to enquire before heading to the tea estate. We were lucky enough to be able to have the factory tour.

Happy Valley Tea Estate
Happy Valley Tea Estate
Happy Valley Tea Estate
Happy Valley Tea Estate
Happy Valley Tea Estate
Happy Valley Tea Estate
Happy Valley Tea Estate Factory
Happy Valley Tea Estate Factory

After having lunch at a restaurant in mall area, we boarded a local bus to Batasia loop. It is a place where the toy train takes a 360 degree turn in order to avoid a steep climb. It also has a War Memorial dedicated to the Gorkhas who had laid their lives in wars. The surrounding views from this place were amazing, though the Kanchanjunga peak wasn’t visible due to cloud covering it. Many photographers wait here to capture a snap of this place with the toy train. The whistle can be heard from far giving you enough time to get ready with your camera to capture this perfect shot. With well maintained garden, beautiful views of the surrounding, toy train and the War Memorial, it is a good place to hangout.

Batasia Loop
Batasia Loop
Batasia Loop
Batasia Loop
Toy Train in Batasia Loop
Toy Train in Batasia Loop
Toy Train in Batasia Loop
Toy Train in Batasia Loop
Batasia Loop
Batasia Loop

Next we walked down to the Ghoom Monastery(Samten Choeling Monastery). It is an active monastery with a big Buddha Statue, with benches and chairs laid like a classroom for monks, also souvenir shop if you want to buy something.

Ghoom Monastery
Ghoom Monastery

It started raining, my friend didn’t had umbrella(though I had), he decided to return back to hostel. It was 2 in afternoon and I was in no mood to return. So, I had him board a Darjeeling bound bus and I boarded a bus(Darjeeling – Dhajae route bus) to Biodiversity Conservation Park. The park gate was locked and no one nearby to enquire. So, I took a shared sumo back to Darjeeling. Near the Clock Tower, I had heard of the Kunga Restaurant, so I went there and grabbed a plate of momos. The momos were really good but expensive(Rs 250 for 10 pieces). I returned to the Mall Chowrasta where it’s a pleasant sight to see so many people hanging around, romancing, having fun, children playing. I sat on an amphitheatre like place from where you can see the whole area and was observing people. I had a Garlic Fried Rice dinner at The Park Restaurant near Mall and returned to hostel.

Darjeeling Mall
Mall Chowrsata

For Darjeeling GUIDE section, please click HERE.

DAY 03: I wanted to go for the joyride today, so I filled up the form I took from the counter beforehand for the 10:10 train as it was cheap(diesel engine). The counter opens at 08:00, and his NJP bound train was also at 08:00. So, we both left at 07:30 for the railway station. My prefilled form helped me to get my joyride tickets quickly. I bid goodbye to my friend and wished him luck for his second half of his trip,i.e. Malaysia trip. I had 2 hrs to spare, so I decided to go to the Bhutia Busty Monastery, so I had to come all way back to Chowrasta and a steep downhill road offering good views took me to the monastery. There was surprisingly no one around the monastery, so I got into trouble when two healthy dogs started barking at me and blocked my way to the monastery. I somehow took a picture and ran away.

Bhutia Busty Monastery
Bhutia Busty Monastery

After climbing uphill to the Chowrasta, I had another 1 hr to spare before the joy ride, so I decided to walk to the Peace Pagoda. I opened Google Maps and took a long walk up to the Pagoda. There is a Japanese Buddhist Temple just before the Pagoda. The place is surrounded by pine forest on one side and its alternate side gave the view of the town. The white Pagoda looked beautiful with pine forest behind it and had Golden coloured Buddha statue.

Peace Pagoda
Peace Pagoda
Japanese Buddhist Temple
Japanese Buddhist Temple
Buddha Statue in Peace Pagoda
Buddha Statue in Peace Pagoda

I walked back to the Railway Station for the joyride. The coach no. seemed difficult to figure out, as a result someone was already sitting on my seat and it took time for him to understand that he was on the wrong coach. It was a nice experience, as I had never travelled in a narrow gauge toy train before and which runs parellel to the motorable road. It gave a 10 mins. stop at the Batasia Loop to go around and another 30 mins. stop at the Ghum station to go around the Ghum Railway Museum.

Darjeeling Railway Station
Darjeeling Railway Station
Inside DHR train
Inside DHR train
Ghum Railway Station
Ghum Railway Station
Goods carriage used earlier displayed in Ghoom Goods Yard
Goods carriage used earlier displayed in Ghoom Goods Yard
Hill Cart Road From DHR
Hill Cart Road From DHR
Dali Monastery
Dali Monastery

The museum had very old photographs of the DHR trains, engines and tracks, model engines, and lots and lots of information on the history of the DHR. Again it’d be back to the Darjeeling station. It was around 12:30 at noon, so I had lunch at Scarna’s Restaurant near Rink Mall where I liked their Fried Rice. I decided to go to the Rock Garden. It was a bit far but seemed walkable in Google Maps, so I boarded a bus to Dali and started walking. It turned out to be a very very long and lonely walk steep downhill or rather a small trek. The road passes through Orange Valley Tea Estate which was another huge tea garden with stunning views.

Orange Valley Tea Estate
Orange Valley Tea Estate
Orange Valley Tea Estate
Orange Valley Tea Estate

It took 90 mins. walking to reach that place(If you’re travelling solo, you can hire a bicycle from many rentals available). The park doesn’t allow any plastic items to be carried inside. There’s a small waterfall in steps where stairs are made from side to view different steps of the falls. Tourists were going upto the top platform upto which the falls can be seen and returning back. But there was another stairway which started from that top platform which can be climbed but I found nobody going that way. I decided to climb more stairs and was delighted with the rock formations and surrounding views where nobody was actually going. Those stairs again returned to that top platform(circular stairs). There are benches to sit and enjoy the falls.

Barbotey Rock Garden
Barbotey Rock Garden
Barbotey Rock Garden
Barbotey Rock Garden
Barbotey Rock Garden
Barbotey Rock Garden
Barbotey Rock Garden
Barbotey Rock Garden
Barbotey Rock Garden
Barbotey Rock Garden

After spending some time there, and having momos at a street side shop, I started my return journey. It was steep walk for around 2 hrs upto Dali, from where I took a bus to Darjeeling. The uphill walk was extremely exhausting and I seemed to be in trouble when I took a stair thinking it to be a shortcut and went far from the road and ended up at a village where few villagers gathered me, looked at me with suspicion and started asking me questions. I explained to them how I thought it was a shortcut and wanted to go to the motorable road. They’re kind enough to show me the way back.

I had heard of Glenery’s in Mall area which is a bakery and decided to go there and try out something. I took an Apple Pie for Rs. 65 which was great and returned to Chowrasta which is a popular hangout spot for locals and tourists specially in evening.

Apple Pie at The Glenery's
Apple Pie at the Glenery’s

After spending the evening there and having dinner at the Shang’s Restaurant which falls on the way to the hostel, I walked back to the hostel. I saw a backpack on my next bed. A guy was coming from outside, and seeing me get out of the room asked me if I was the one next bed. He was from Odisha and we chatted for a while on the terrace and planned for the places to visit together next day.

For Darjeeling GUIDE section, please click HERE.

DAY 04: The hostel kitchen was not operational for some works, so we went to Sonam’s Kitchen for breakfast and it was a great place with good food. Our first destination was the Ropeway. I’d heard of the heavy crowd that pours in taking hours to get tickets, so we decided to get out by 09:00 so that we can reach the ropeway ticket counter by 10:00 from when the tickets started giving. But there were two long lines, one for tickets and one for the ride that were moving extremely slowly and the whole area was covered with fog. So, getting to a ropeway and watching fog didn’t make sense and it seemed it’ll take hours to get the ride. So, we skipped it. Next was the Zoo which was walking distance. You’ll find tiger, snow leopard, red panda, etc. etc.

Royal Bengal Tiger at Darjeeling Zoo
Tiger at the Zoo

Inside was the HMI Museum where they had this indoor rock climbing for Rs. 30 or 50 probably per climb. It’s worth a try though I didn’t.

Indoor Rock climbing at HMI
Indoor Rock climbing at HMI

Next was the museum where there are several items used by Tenzing Norgay while climbing Mt Everest and other mountaineers’ stories and belongings used while climbing. Also, the preparations and tools required to climb at peaks, and many other information and things to see.

Statue of Tenzing Norgay in Himalayan Mounteering Institute
Statue of Tenzing Norgay in Himalayan Mounteering Institute
HMI Museum
HMI Museum

Inside the zoo campus was the Bengal Natural History Museum which had animal skins, huge elephant teeth, animal skulls, small insect fossil preserved by chemicals and many other things were on display.

My other friend wanted to visit the Happy Valley Tea Estate, so I’d to visit there again, but this time the factory tour was closed for some reason. We found a place for lunch at the Bus Stand area. Next we headed to the Nightangle Park, which was once the courtyard of Sir Thomas Tartan’s bunglow and is now a popular hangout place for young crowd and there are benches hidden in shrubs which makes it one of the best romantic places in Darjeeling. You can also go there alone and smell the romance.

Nightangle Park in Darjeeling
Nightangle Park in Darjeeling
Nightangle Park in Darjeeling
Nightangle Park in Darjeeling
Nightangle Park in Darjeeling
Nightangle Park in Darjeeling
Nightangle Park in Darjeeling
Nightangle Park in Darjeeling

My friend went back to hostel while I checked out books at the Oxford Book Store located in Chowrasta before returning hostel. The bookstore has a huge collection of local books on Sikkim, Darjeeling, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, etc., so worth a visit.

For Darjeeling GUIDE section, please click HERE.

DAY 05: Meanwhile I’d extended my stay by one more night and decided to visit the Chatakpur Cycling Trail arranged by the hostel itself. I’d also booked a ticket in toy train for an expensive ride upto Siliguri Jn. which was on Waiting List 1. Today we decided to go to Lamahatta Eco Park. We also wanted to visit the Teesta Triveni and Peshok Tea Garden along with it, but due to lack of adequate public transportation and expensive reserved cars, we had to skip the later two. We went to the bus stand where we enquired at the Kalimpong counter as it went through Lamahatta, but sadly the man at counter told that there aren’t any Sumos now, but there was a long queue, so our turn would come after 6-7 Sumos and would take hours. So, we boarded a Takdah bound bus and got down at 6th Mile stop. From there, we had to reserve a car upto Lamahatta. The park looked beautiful with specially the pine forest behind and watch towers and small trails leading to the inside of the forest. There was however a trail many were going which will take you to a pond at the top of the hill. A pond surrounded by pine forest looked beautiful, another small trail took us to a rock formation where no one was going. There were many such small paths leading to the inside of the forest.

Lamahatta Park
Lamahatta Park
Lamahatta Park
Lamahatta Park
Pond after hike to the top of the hill in Lamahatta Park
Pond after hike to the top of the hill in Lamahatta Park
Lamahatta Park
Lamahatta Park

After exploring this beautiful park, we had our lunch at an eatery in front of it. We got a shared sumo upto Ghum and another to Darjeeling. Ata walking distance from the Mall was the Observatory Hill View Point. But it was foggy and nothing could be seen.

Observatory View Point
Observatory View Point

We had some momos and my friend went back to hostel while I roamed around the Mall area. After having an early dinner, I returned to hostel to find some new guys at the hostel and chatted at the terrace late night.

For Darjeeling GUIDE section, please click HERE.

DAY 06: My day was free as the Chatakpur Cycling Trail was cancelled as “the guide couldn’t be contacted” as told to me by the hostel. Meanwhile, my toy train ticket to Siliguri got confirmed. We started a bit late at 11 in morning and decided to visit the Tiger Hill. Two of us took a shared jeep upto Jorbunglow, from where the road to the Tiger Hill started. We reserved a small car for Rs. 400 and went there. We were quiet disappointed after we reached with nothing much to see or do compared to the buzz for that place, though people usually visit there for the Sunrise, which may look beautiful, but nothing there if you’re visiting after morning. Many tourists tried to make worth they spent coming up here reserving a car by clicking pictures in different poses and endless selfies. Some were trying to find something interesting. The views didn’t quiet impress me, I got better views from our hostel terrace in morning than this place. My friend was disappointed enough and went back to the hostel.

I decided to visit the Biodiversity Conservation Park which I found closed at my first day visit. Failing to find any transportation, I walked upto the park to find it closed again. I walked upto Ghoom and took a bus towards Darjeeling and decided to visit the Lloyd Botanical Garden as my last destination to visit before I left Darjeeling the next day morning. But there was a long traffic jam from Batasia Loop to Darjeeling which took me more than 1 hr to reach and it was time to close the Garden. So, I had some momos at the mall area and sat at the Mall Chowrasta watching people hangout as it was my last evening in Darjeeling. I returned to hostel and went up to terrace expecting some people to chat with, but there were no one. I called off for the day as I had to catch the train at 8 in morning.

DAY 07: I got up at 6:30 and got ready by 7. I bid goodbye to my hostel friends, with whom I had a great time at the hostel. I again found it difficult to figure out the coach number which was not clearly visible. The train started and I got excited for a long slow journey through the hills and forests in a narrow gauge train all the way upto Siliguri Jn.

Darjeeling Railway Station
Darjeeling Railway Station

Few seats were empty which the coach attendent told us that as many tourists go to Tiger Hill in the morning and couldn’t return as per their plan due to traffic jams in morning, they miss their train. So, don’t do this mistake. I started enjoying even more after Ghoom after which the concrete structures decreased and greenery increased. At Kurseong, the train almost got empty and lunch orders were taken. In Tindharia, lunch packets were collected by passengers and started having them on train. But the worst part, after having lunch, they threw their packets along with their leftovers outside the windows at the street, some threw at the lush green forests, some even threw beside the adjoining homes. That was quiet annoying for me as I only throw garbage in dustbins, not random leftovers just outside windows making surroundings dirty and unhygienic.

Things were going quiet well until at a reverse, the last coach of the train derailed. Few men came from local station to put it back on track and within 30 mins. it was fixed. But the brakes on the wheels probably came out or something. So, it was again stopped at a place where one can go down and fix it, but they couldn’t. So, it came down upto Siliguri Jn. slowly.

Derailed DHR train
Derailed DHR train

It entered Siliguri Jn. 2:30 hrs behind schedule at 5pm. People who had tickets done upto NJP were advised by train crews to get down at Siliguri Jn. as they said, it’s a busy line, so all other passenger trains will be passed first and at last the toy train and can take a lot of time and there would be problem carrying luggage in NJP station where the narrow gauge train stops. I had tickets upto Siliguri Jn. from where I went to the NBSTC counter to luckily get a seat at the Siliguri – Kolkata AC Rocket which leaves Siliguri at 7pm. The bus drove extremely well and reached Esplanade Bus Stand at 7:15am.

DHR entering Siliguri Jn.
DHR entering Siliguri Jn. marking my end to the Darjeeling trip

For Darjeeling GUIDE section, please click HERE.

Other Images

View from Darjeeling
View from Darjeeling
View from Darjeeling
View from Darjeeling
View from Darjeeling
View from Darjeeling
View on way to Nightangle Park in  Darjeeling
View from Darjeeling
View from Darjeeling

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One thought on “Darjeeling Blog

  1. ভালোই লাগলো । আমার নিজের সোলো ট্রীপের কথা মনে পড়ে গেলো।

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