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It is true that Darjeeling, nestled among the sprawling tea gardens and evergreen forests of oak and sal, is a popular hill Station. However, unlike many other towns of this genre it is also a centre of culture and education. More importantly, the town is also the headquarter for the Darjeeling district as well as for the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration or GTA. Therefore, if we refer to it just as the Queen of Hill Stations, we may undermine its importance.
Darjeeling at a Glance
At the same time, one can never exaggerate the town’s attractions and overstate its natural beauty. Located at an altitude of 6,710 ft, which is roughly 2,045.2 m, the town represents the best of what Mother Nature has to offer.
One can spend days just gazing at the mighty Kanchenjunga that looms over the town protecting its inhabitants from cold droughts and perpetual snow. Or else, one can walk around the town watching the clouds sailing over the clear blue sky, birds and butterflies flying here and there, merry children with school bags on their back laughing and jumping around.
Flora and Fauna in Darjeeling
Located in the lap of Lesser Himalayas, Darjeeling has a lot to offer to those who are interested in regional flora and fauna. While the town is surrounded by tea gardens, evergreen forests of sal and oak are not uncommon sights either. A trek through such forests is made even more interesting by different species of orchids that grow wild all over the place.
If the season is right, one can also find wild flowers in bloom in all directions. Indeed, trekking in the Darjeeling hills is fun for a number of reasons. There are quite a few trek routes that visitors can easily explore. One route that needs special mention is Darjeeling-Maneybhanjyang-Tonglu-Sandakphu-Phalut-Ramman-Rimbik-Bijanbari-Drajeeling.
HMI in Darjeeling
It must be noted that India’s first mountaineering institute is located in Darjeeling only and consequently, the town is home to many renowned Sherpas including world famous Tenzing Norgay and Nawang Gombu. The institute, known as the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, not only organizes mountaineering as well as adventure courses throughout the year, but also lends all kinds of help if one wants to arrange an expedition of any scale.
Places of Tourist Interest In and Around Darjeeling
Apart from that, the town itself hosts many places of tourists’ interest and that include Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the Zoological Garden, the Lloyds Botanical Garden, Tibetan Refugee Handicraft Centre, Mahakal Temple etc. There are also quite a few Buddhist Monasteries that will definitely enthrall visitors.
However, the Mall is the focal point of every visit and few will want to go away from there without a pony ride. Besides all these, watching the sun rise from the Tiger Hill observatory at Ghoom is a must for every tourist. So is visiting the Batasia Loop, Senchal Lake and the Ghoom Monastery. Tea gardens and the cinchona plantation at Mongpo too are worth consideration. The Race Course at Lebong may also interest many.
Other Aspects Of Darjeeling
Darjeeling is also home to many renowned educational institutes established in the pre-independent era. Consequently, students from all over India and even abroad come here to study. Since it is the district headquarters, Darjeeling also holds many governmental offices. One can also find different categories of hotels in Darjeeling and therefore, lodging is not a problem at all.
How To Reach Darjeeling
Reaching Darjeeling is also very easy. The nearest airport is Bagdogra while the nearest broad-gauge railhead is New Jalpaiguri. From there, one has to travel either by road or by narrow gauze train, more popularly known as Toy Train. Although the later mode of travelling is more interesting, the former is much faster and hence is preferred by many. Although Lebong has a helipad, it is not generally meant for civilians.