Darjeeling

Place to See in and around Darjeeling 

DestinationDarjeelingPlaces to See

 

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
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Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
Further north the Observatory hill is the  Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Everest Museum, entrance is through the zoo. Previously headed by the late Tenzing Norgay who shared the first climb of Everest in 1953, it traces the history of attempted climbs from 1857 and displays old mountaineering equipment including that used on that historic Tenzing-Hillary climb.

mapicon Jawahar Rd West
(daily 0830-1300 and 1400-1600 except Thu in winter, rupee100 (includes zoo), still camera rupee10, video rupee 20)

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Observatory Hill
Sacred to Siva, is pleasant for walks though the views of the mountains are obscured by tall trees.
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The
Tibetan Refugee Self-help Centre, walk to viewpoint 500 m beyond Windamere hotel and then walk down for about 30 mins (ask around), with its temple, school and hospital is north of town. After the Chinese invasion, thousands of Tibetan refugees settled in Darjeeling (many having accompanied the Dalai Lama) and the rehabilitation centre was set up in 1959 to enable them to continue to practice their skills and provide a sales outlet. You can watch them at work (carpet weaving, spinning, dyeing, woodwork, etc) during the season, when it is well worth a visit (closes for lunch). The shop sells carpets (orders taken and posted), textiles, curios or jewellery, though not cheap to buy.

South of town, the Aloobari Monastery, on mapicon Tenzing Norgay Road, is open to visitors. Tibetan and Sikkimese handicrafts made by the monks are for sale.
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zoo
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The Zoo 1000-1600, rupee100 (includes institute), is next to the Mountaineering Institute high altitude wildlife includes Himalayan black bears, Siberian tigers, red pandas, yaks and llama. There are large enclosures over a section of the hillside though at feeding time and during wet weather they retreat into their small cement enclosures cells. There is a reasonably successful snow leopard breeding programme.

    
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Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls, which is only impressive in the monsoons, provides added interest to a three-hour nature trail. There are several tea gardens close to Darjeeling, but not all welcome visitors. One that does is the Pattabong Estate on the road towards Sikkim.







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Chowrasta and around
Back into the centre of the town, the pedestrianized Mall to the east of Observatory Hill offers good views near the Chowrasta. Beware of the monkeys as they bite. The decaying Natural History Museum has a large collection of fauna of the region.

 Natural History Museum
 mapicon(Bishop Eric Benjamin Rd, 1000-1600, rupee5),
chowrasta

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Lloyds Botanical Gardens

Near the market are Lloyds Botanical Gardens
(Mon-Sat 0600-1700, closed bank holidays). These were laid out in 1878 on land given by Mr W Lloyd, owner of the Lloyd's Bank. They have a modest collection of Himalayan and Alpine flora including banks of azaleas and rhododendrons, magnolias, a good orchid house and a herbarium. It is a pleasant and quiet spot.


ghoom
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Ghoom Monastery, at an altitude of 2550 m, is the important Yiga-Choling Gompa, a Yellow-hat Buddhist Monastery. Built in 1875, it houses famous Buddhist scriptures. You can visit Ghoom, 8 km away, on the steam Tourist Train from April to June and October to November. There is an interesting Darjeeling Himalayan Railway museum at the station. A few spruced up carriages do a tourist-only ride in summer with a photo stop at Batasia, departing at 1000, returning at 1230 (but check times), rupee240.
It's limited to 40 passengers so go early to join the queue; tickets go on sale at 0800. Alternatively, go on the diesel train at
0900, rupee25 (first class);  rupee4 (second class) and return on foot or by bus. Both pass through Batasia Loop, 5km from Darjeeling on the way to Ghoom, which allows the narrow gauge rail to do a figure of-eight loop. There's a war memorial here in a pleasant park with good mountain views (rupee3).


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Lebong & Tiger Hill
The disused Lebong Race Course, 8 km away, was once the smallest and highest in the world and is still pleasant for a walk. It was started as a parade ground in 1885.

It is worth rising as early as 0400 to make the hour's journey for a breath talking view (weather permitting) of the sunrise on Kangchendzonga at Tiger Hill ( jeeps from Darjeeling, rupee600, you may wish to walk back from Tiger Hill (about 2hrs, 11 km) or visit Ghoom on the way back. Mount Everest (8846 m), 225 km away, is visible on a clear day. The crowds at sunrise disappear by mid-morning.






         


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