Here are the top places to visit in Darjeeling. If you are visiting Darjeeling for a short vacation, then you should target to visit some of these places listed in this section.
- Tiger Hill
- Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) and the amazing Darjeeling Zoo
- Batasia Loop
- Darjeeling Ropeway
- Darjeeling Mall (Chowrasta)
- Rock Garden & Ganga Maya Park
- Japanese Temple & Peace Pagoda
- Happy Valley Tea Estate
- Observatory Hill and Mahakal Temple
- Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center
- Jamuni Bridge
1. Tiger Hill
Located at the highest point in Darjeeling area, Tiger Hill is best known for the dazzling sunrise view of the Kanchenjunga and the snow covered peaks of the entire eastern Himalayan range. On a clear day you can even see the mount Everest from here. Tiger Hill is located 11kms from the Darjeeling Town and takes about 40 minutes to reach by car.
2. Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) and the amazing Darjeeling Zoo
HMI is a destination by itself and a said to be a pilgrimage for all climbing enthusiasts of the world. It was established in honor of Tenzing Norgay after he and Sir Edmund Hillary climbed the Everest in 1953. It has a well stocked museum with mountaineering displays and many expedition artifacts, a boarding school for mountaineering students, houses for the trainers, a restaurant, a souvenir shop and more. HMI is located on Jawahar Road or the Birch Hill that can be accessed from the Mall Road and Lebong Cart Road. One can actually walk down Mall road & then Jawahar road to reach HMI. The main entrance to Zoo and HMI are the same and both should be covered at the same time. The unique feature of this zoo is, it houses animals of high altitude and mostly from upper Himalayas. You can see some rare animals here like Red Pandas, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and lot more.
In 2018 the Bengal Natural History Museum has been moved to the compound of HMI and Zoo. It started as a modest effort in 1903 to display butterflies and birds of Darjeeling district, but had eventually grown to house a large collections of mammals, birds & nests with eggs, reptiles & fishes and even insects of wide varieties. The displays are actually specimens of real creatures that had been captured, stuffed and preserved.
So now you can visit three attractions in one go. It's an excellent museum to know about flora and fauna of Bengal along with animals and birds specific to north-eastern part of the state.
3. Batasia Loop
Located 5km from Darjeeling Town and just below Ghoom, Batasia Loop as the name suggests, is a loop or a spiral of a narrow gauge railway track where the Toy Train negotiates a sudden sharp descent from Ghoom. It's a wonderful viewing place with manicured gardens, streams and falls, from where you can get a wide range view of the Darjeeling's landscape, Kanchenjunga snow peaks and the other Eastern Himalayan peaks. While you can take a taxi and reach there in 15 minutes from Darjeeling town, one of the popular means is to take the Toy Train Joy Ride which makes a round trip from Darjeeling station to Batasia Loop and Ghum and back, and stops at both Batasia and Ghum.
4. Darjeeling Ropeway
This is one way you can be part of special diverse offerings from the nature and all in one place. From the ropeway of Darjeeling which is also known as the Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car, you can have mind blowing view of the valley below, see the spread of lush tea gardens, dense forests, mountain streams in their full flow, waterfalls, and the awesome snow peaks at the background. Get off at a lower station and enjoy the tea estates, walk through the tea gardens, or just relax and enjoy the view around. It's hard to find all these together in one place.
5. Darjeeling Mall (Chowrasta)
The Chowrasta or the Mall is the town center in Darjeeling. This is a lovely little flat area, a public square where four roads meet. This public place is where you would like to lounge & bake in the sun, sit and watch the wonderful views of the mountain range and see many locals and tourists hanging around. One side of the mall is lined with pine trees through which you get wonderful mountain vistas, the other side is lined with lovely boutique shops of different kinds. And all around the mall, you have benches to sit and relax.
6. Rock Garden & Ganga Maya Park
These two are scenic parks in wonderful settings located a few miles away from the Darjeeling town. Rock garden is about 10km and Ganga Maya is another 3km from there. Rock Garden is all about terraced gardens at different levels that have been cut through the rocks having a waterfalls with nice seating arrangements. Ganga Maya is more spread out and has a beautiful stream flowing through it on a valley, has flower gardens, fountains and more.
7. Japanese Temple & Peace Pagoda
About 10 minutes by car, you will reach a wonderful area that is symbolic of peace and tranquility. Located in the Jalapahar hill, the Japanese Temple is built in traditional Japanese style where you can join the prayers and feel the spiritual peace amongst humming and chants. Close to it is the Peace Pagoda where there are four large avatars of Lord Buddha. The view from the top is magnificent. You can see the snow peak range from here including the Kanchenjunga.
8. Happy Valley Tea Estate
This is one of the famous tea estates in Darjeeling that was established by British planters in 1854 and located only 3kms away from the lower town. Due to its proximity, a visit to this tea estate is quite common in the local package tours offered by tour operators or taxi drivers. Many tea bushes here are over 100 years old and it's a treat to the eyes to watch the vast expanses of lush tea gardens on the slopes of the hills. During season (April to October) you can watch tea plucking by local Nepali women. The estate workers also volunteer for a tea factory tour (expecting a good tip though). You can get inside the factory and watch the various stages of tea processing. The best quality tea here is known as Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. The estate produces black, green and white tea.
9. Observatory Hill and Mahakal Temple
Rising from behind the Mall, Observatory Hill is an ideal place to get a 360 degree view of Darjeeling and the peaks surrounding it. The Mahakal Temple, the central temple of Darjeeling of all faiths is located on top of the hill where the original Darjeeling Buddhist Monastery once stood.
10. Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center
This center was established on October 2nd, 1959 for rehabilitation of Tibetans who followed Dalai Lama and escaped their homeland during the period of mayhem. In order to sustain living, they adopted the principle of self help. The center is located on a hill top that can be approached from the Lebong Cart Road. You can see Tibetan men and women making exquisite hand crafted items like woolen carpets, shawls, carved wooden crafts, leather items and more. There is an outlet at the center from where you can buy these items.
11. Jamuni Bridge
This is a newly developed 13-acre complex amidst nature and scenic beauty. Jamuni is only 45 minutes away from Darjeeling town (about 15kms). So what to see & do here? There is a lovely mountain stream flowing through the place which is surrounded by forested hills and villages, there is a manmade lake for boating, a children's playground, stepped and manicured gardens, nice walkways through the complex with gazebos to relax in, and more... a great place for a family picnic.