Darjeeling, the Queen of Hills, as she is fondly mentioned around. It was a summer retreat of the British, much like Shimla, Ooty, etc. and has a lot of British heritage strewn around. Two things, make Darjeeling very famous, all around the world, its Tea, fine and flavoured and the Darjeeling Hill Railway, a narrow gauge line from Siliguri to Darjeeling.
For anyone, who hasnt been here yet, and is planning a visit to this side of the country, do make Darjeeling a part of your itinerary for sure.
I ll break the complete journey into parts, and let in a bits of information as and when I see necessary, so that, for those who have been here, feel refreshed, and those who havent, should feel tempted and inspired to visit again. Hope you enjoy the journey, lets begin.
I started from Venus More at Siliguri. Shared taxis are plenty, and they charge about Rs 150 for the trip to Darjeeling. The traditional route, of Hill Cart Road, with the train line snaking along the mountain has been washed out at Tindharia, hence, the Mirik/Rohini – Pankhabari road is being taken.
The road via Pankhabari is one of the steepest and is filled with twisty turns and scenic views. If you are motion sick, please take the medicines before you go by this route, you ll need them.
En route Darjeeling, we come across, the major Kurseong, Sonada and Ghoom.
The road continues to snake through, and just past the Ghoom station, you ll find the famous Batasia Loop. In this loop, the train does a full round of a hill and executes an ascent or descent of a steep gradient. There is an Army memorial there. More on Ghoom on the return trip.
It took almost 3 hours to reach Darjeeling, and I was famished. If you are a vegetarian, I cant give any recommendations, but if you dig meat, head straight to Keventers. Ask the traffic police, and they ll be happy to show you the way. Once there, DIG in to the English breakfast. I had sausages, ham, bacon, eggs, a couple of butter toast and a mug of hot chocolate.
The view from there is pretty mesmerizing. One side is the street, photos below, and the other side is the valley. The valley is generally covered in clouds, as was this day, and hence I actually didnt bother to shoot.
For the ones who cant live without Pizza or Fried Chicken, theres some hope too!
Post the breakfast, I went in search of my hotel to stay. I would always recommend that you book one previously, and not be stuck with the hassles there.
Part II will be up very shortly, as soon as the photos get uploaded that is. With a struggling internet, it might mean tomorrow evening. Stay tuned. I go to the station, and shoot some locos and then I explore bit of local flora and meet up with a fluffy local fauna too.
All and more, right here!