One Day Trip to Ghum

Ghum - The Gateway of Darjeeling

The Importance of Ghum

Ghum can easily be termed as the gateway of Darjeeling. It is located at a height of 2,258 meters, which is roughly 7,407 ft. Darjeeling Himalayan Railways that runs from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling stops here for few minutes before it takes its downward journey to the town. 

Apart from that, the Hill Cart Road, which connects Darjeeling with Siliguri, runs through Kurseong, Sonada and then Ghoom. We also have Pankhabari Road, the first road to be built by the British connecting the hills with the plains ending at Ghum. Another important road that runs from Ghum is the Sukiapokhri Road. If you want to undertake a day’s trip to Mirik or a trek to Sandakphu and Phalut, you will have to go through Ghum.

Tourist Spots in and around Ghum

However, this does not mean Ghum is important only for its location. There are also quite a few places of tourists’ interest in and around the town. Hence, a trip to Darjeeling will never be complete without a trip to Ghum. Since the distance between these two towns is barely six km, one may visit all those places and come back to Darjeeling for early tea at Glenary’s , the iconic restaurant that was established more than a hundred years ago.

Tiger Hill

Tiger Hill is one of the most visited places in Ghum. We will start our journey from here only. It is the highest point in this area and on a clear day, it offers a grand view of the premier peaks such as the Everest, the Makalu and the Kanchenjunga. Chumal Rhi, located in Tibet, is also visible from here. It is said to be the most beautiful peak in the world.

One day trip to Darjeeling

More than that, the sunrise from the Tiger Hill is indeed a spectacular sight. However, the con side is this, to be able to watch the sunrise one has to start as early as 3:30 AM.  It is advisable to book a taxi the day before; they will be at your doorstep just in time. If there are too many visitors, one may have to walk a little uphill to reach the peak.

Watching the sun rise from Tiger Hill is actually an awe-inspiring experience. As you stand in the darkness facing the vastness in front of you, you feel captivated.  Soon the first rays of sun fall on the snow-clad Kanchenjunga turning it into pink. By and by all other peaks are lighted up and soon the area becomes flooded with sunlight. This is the time to take stalk of the whole scenario. From top of the view tower, one can get see almost 360 degrees. Towards the north will be the Darjeeling town and Kurseong will lie towards the south. Beside these, one can also see great rivers such as Teesta, Mahananda, and Mechi meandering their way down to the plains. However, it is best not to waste too much time over there because there are many other spectacular sights waiting for us.

Senchel Lake Wild Life Sanctuary

The Senchel Lake is very close to Tiger Hill. As you go down, you will find the road to the lake on your right.  It is located at an elevation of 8,160ft (roughly 2,490 meters) and supplies potable water to Darjeeling town. It is a part of Senchel Lake Wild Life Sanctuary, one of the oldest sanctuaries in India. Apart from trees such as birch, pine and oak, the sanctuary also houses more than 350 different types of flowering plants. If you are lucky, you can also see wild life like Himalayan black bear, barking deer, leopard, monkeys, flying squirrels etc. However, to visit the sanctuary, one has to take a permit from the ranger’s office at Jorebunglow.

Batasia Loop and War Memorial

Batasia Loop With War Memorial

Next on the line, is the Batasia Loop. It was commissioned in 1919 to enable the toy trains to negotiate the steep curves of the mountains. The place offers a magnificent view of the Darjeeling town. Moreover, there is also an Eco Park at the Batasia. Therefore, if you are interested in organic farming or about plantations of this area you can visit it.

The War Memorial is located at the centre of the Batasia garden. It has been erected to honor those Gorkha soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in war against India’s enemies. It can be approached through a foot bridge located 16 feet over the railway track.  The thirty-foot high granite cenotaph has been erected on a raised platform.  By its side stands a nine feet high bronze model of a Gorkha soldier.

Ghum Monastery

Ghum Monastery

It is more popularly known as the Ghum Monastery. Built in 1850, this monastery belongs to the Yellow-Hat sect called Gelupka. The key attraction here is the 15 feet statue of Maitreya Buddha. He is also known as the Gyalwa  Shampa. Loosely translated, it means Coming Buddha or Buddha of the future. Apart from this, there are images and replicas of other Buddha as well as huge collection of original Buddhist manuscripts.

Samten Choling Buddhist Monastery

Although many people refer to it as the Ghum Monastery, it is not the original Ghum Monastery. This one has been built recently and belongs to the Yellow-Hat Sect. It is located right on the Hill Cart Road near the railway station. The main attraction here is a 26 feet statue of Lord Buddha. This monastery too owns a great collection of rare Tibetan books.

DHR Museum

Next in the line is DHR Museum. This museum showcases the heritages of the Darjeeling Himalayan Museum. It is located right across the platform inside the Ghum rail station.  Baby Sivok, the first engine to provide the rail link between the hills and the plains  stands proudly inside the garden. Other than that, there are many old artifacts as well as  photographs housed in the room above the station platforms.
Baby Sivok at Darjeeling Railway Museum

On the Way Back To Darjeeling

With a visit to the DHR museum we have seen all that are to be seen inside Ghum. However, while going back to Darjeeling, if you still have time and energy, you can stop at the Barbotey Rock Garden and Ganga Maya Park. The road to parks offers a magnificent view.

Of the two, the rock garden comes first. It has been created by cutting rocks at different levels. Waterfalls, shrubs and trees add to the beauty of the place. The Ganga Maya Park is located about 3 km away from the Rock Garden. This park is actually a valley with a natural stream flowing through it. One can sit on one of the many big rocks and enjoy the sound of the falling water as well as the views all round.

The Dali Monastery is located on the Hill Cart Road 5 Km away from Darjeeling town and therefore you can stop here on your way back to the town. The official name of the monastery is Druk Sangag Choling Monastery. It belongs to the Kargyupa sect and was built in 1971. Today the monastery has more than two hundred monks living under its roof. His Holiness Dalai Lama Too came to spend a few days with them at one point of time. 

Aloobari Monastery on the other hand is located on a much higher plane almost near Jalaphar in Darjeeling. It was built at the start of world War I and hence it was named Yolmowa Mak Dhog Monastery; a monastery that ward off wars. Apart from the replica of Lord Buddha, there is also one of Padmasambhava. The later was an eighth century sage who actively spread Buddhism in Tibet and Bhutan.
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