Spread over a steep mountain ridge and surrounded by tea plantations with a backdrop of jagged white peaks, this Himalayan town is the archetypical hill station. Our Darjeeling holiday takes you on a journey among one of the most imposing mountain ranges in the world to discover the nature, history and culture.
Originally the site of a small monastery called Dorje-ling, the area was discovered by the British and established as a sanatorium for the troops in the mid-1800s. The British soon recognised the potential of the place and built their colonial bungalows and planted tea. These days, people come here to escape the heat of India‘s northern plains.
Darjeeling tours reveal a charming town that’s enriched by the mountain people who come from all over the eastern Himalaya to work and trade in its bustling bazaars. On a clear day there are beautiful views of the sunrise over Kanchenjunga, the third-highest mountain in the world, standing at 8586m. Many of the famous Sherpa climbers trained in mountaineering skills at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, which is based here.
On our tour of Darjeeling, Sikkim and the Singalila Ridge, you’ll trek through verdant rhododendron forests, visit the traditional tea plantations and witness four of the world’s greatest peaks: Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga. When the sky is clear, the views are out of this world, and you’ll be in awe of the mighty Himalayan landscape. Along the way, you’ll also get to visit the traditional Sikkimese village of Martam and get an insight into the lives of the Bhutia and Nepali people.
15 DaysfromUSD 3,549
Guided Group (Excl. Flights)
A classic Northern India trek, from tea hills to Himalayan vistas
Visit the Bazaars: Darjeeling is home to several markets and bazaars where the sights, sounds and spicy aromas are intoxicating. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and heritage and meet the local people. There are several markets that surround Chowrasta Square, where you’ll find everything from Tibetan artefacts to interesting antiques. The Mahakal and Dragon markets are particularly well known for selling imported goods from Bangkok as well as woollen clothes. If you want to try the authentic food and tea of Darjeeling, check out Chowk Bazaar on the dusty Hill Cart Road.
Watch the Sunrise over Mount Kanchenjunga: Tiger Hill is an iconic tourist spot for anyone who wants to catch the sun rising over the snowy peaks of Mount Kanchenjunga. Watching the sky turn to deep orange against the mountainous backdrop is an awe-inspiring sight and an unforgettable experience – definitely worth the early start. As you return down Tiger Hill, there are several sights to stop off at on the way, including the Batasia Loop war memorial and Sincheal Singh Devi Dham, a traditional temple that stands just below the summit of Tiger Hill.
Explore Chowrasta Square: More commonly known as The Mall, Chowrasta Square lies at the heart of the town and is a must-visit destination on Darjeeling tours. The central hub is a vibrant place where visitors, locals and even animals congregate by the fountain to soak up the convivial atmosphere. Throughout the year, live performances take place in the square and you can watch scenes from Bollywood movies that were filmed in the area as they play out on the large screen above the seating area. The square is also a good starting point for exploring many of the local attractions, such as the Pony Road, Observatory Hill and Mahakal Temple.
Climb Observatory Hill: Rising up above Chowrasta Square, Observatory Hill is a fabulous viewpoint where you can enjoy uninterrupted panoramas of Mount Kanchenjunga. It was formerly home to the Bhutia Busty Monastery but is now where the famous Mahakal Temple stands. The Hindu temple is easily reached from the road that winds up from Chowrasta Square and offers an insight into the religious heritage of Darjeeling. Here you’ll find ancient prayer wheels, Tibetan prayer flags, and a sacred cave that winds underground to Ghum Monastery.
Try a Cup of Darjeeling Tea: For many, the first things that comes to mind when you speak of Darjeeling is the tea, which has gained worldwide fame. The various types of tea are dictated by the seasons in which they were harvested and are known as flushes. The first flush relates to the winter and spring harvests and are considered the finest, but they also come with the highest price tag. However, everyone has their own individual taste so you might want to try a selection and decide for yourself which is your favourite. Either visit Nehru Road and sit in one of the numerous tea houses to enjoy a cuppa or buy some from one of the local shops.
The trek was very nice. But due partly to exceptional circumstances the driving times were far too long.. And exceptional seems to be recurrent in this part of India. My suggestion for this trip would be to skip Sikkim and find alternatives closer to Darjeeling or the Singalila rirdge and elaborate another trip for Sikkim with hiking further there.
Great trip, very varied itinery visiting towns & some working monasteries, location of hotels is very good. Walking too is varied – lovely walks, through forests & bamboo plus up on the ridge for a couple of days. We were lucky & got sun & clear skies – views of everest and the whole range to kanchenjunga are fantastic. Trekking staff are brilliant.
Great mix of cultural diversity and natural beauty of India – starting and ending in the manic centres of Delhi and Kolkata respectively, the majority of the trip is in quieter parts of West Bengal and Sikkim, which are simply beautiful.