Darjeeling – A Taste of Old-World Charm

A little escape once in a while is what makes life a good one. On one such short luxury adventure, I arrived at Darjeeling, aptly called the Queen of Hills. Crowned by the snow-capped peaks of the Kanchenjunga, it served as the summer escape for the elite during the British Raj.

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And the flavor of the erstwhile days is palpable once you set foot on this noisy yet charming hill station of West Bengal. I have visited the serene environs of Rishyap or the tricky mountains of Kedar, but Darjeeling is a different experience altogether.

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Day one didn’t have a good beginning though. The luxury bus we took was delayed due to fog and we reached Darjeeling in the late afternoon. There wasn’t time to do much; had a quick lunch, unpacked my things, and strolled to the Mall (Nehru Road).

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Our first stop was at the Khukuri House, a great place if you are in the mood to shop for a souvenir related to the Gorkhas. We bought an amazing specimen with a super sharp inward blade and a beautiful handle carved from yak bone.

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Next stop was Keventer’s. A yummy cup of hot chocolate and sizzling sausages and eggs felt just right in the chilly evening. Darjeeling sleeps early, and wakes up early too. So we got back and went for a good snooze.

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It was quite an early morning when we started for Tiger Hill the next day (actually it was still night)! Once we got out, the cold was biting. But all of it was so worth the agony – with sunrise, the peaks of the Kanchenjunga range bathed in golden light. It was magnificent.

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We gulped down two cups of hot coffee, and started for Batasia Loop, a scenic circle surrounding the Darjeeling War Memorial.

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It is also one of the stops of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

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After return, we grabbed a quick breakfast and started for the next two attractions – the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (home to the elusive snow leopard and the cute red panda) and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (with a great museum).

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On the third day, we discovered that Darjeeling Chowrasta was quite close by and went and sat for hours just gazing at the snow-covered peaks. Next, it was time for the fun toy train ride – from Darjeeling station to Ghum station.

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From Ghum, we took a car, and headed to the tea gardens. On our way, orange orchards with fruit laden trees were quite a sight! The Teesta-Rangit Tribeni was remarkable; you can actually perceive the difference in the hues of the two rivers.

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Circling the mountains, we headed towards the Teesta bed – a slice of white sand and pebbles against the jade green waters of the beautiful river. You can rent a boat and go for a tour or even go rafting from here.

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My little trip was on its way to an end. The only thing reserved for the day was a last trip to Glenary’s – a lovely bakery perfect for delicious pastries, doughnuts, chocolates, cookies, and more.

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On our way back, we visited the Japanese Peace Pagoda. And soon, it was time to head home, with my head full of memories of the good times I spent in Darjeeling. It will always be a favorite, and I will sure be back soon!

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Mahasweta Bhattacharyya

Mahasweta Bhattacharyya is a contributing writer as well as Social Media Storyteller for LuxeInACity. After completing her Masters in English, she took up content creation as a career. An interest in haute horlogerie and fine jewelry led her to discover the diverse aspects of the luxury industry. Based in India, she is an avid traveler and writer whose posts have been published in various esteemed luxury blogs.