The title is clichéd still…..
Being brought up in the northern part of our country, when I visited Darjeeling for the first time, I simply fell in love. The reason was simple too. A terrain with such vast greenery and variety of flora and fauna, the old British reminiscences and the tea gardens, all took my breath away. The charms were too many and when I revisited again this month, the magic was still there in spite of many improvisations which has been added for the benefit of tourism.
Mountains have a curious habit of changing its looks in different seasons. So when fellow travelers would tell me, “Hey, you know what? I love the summer look” or “Oh! I just love the monsoon look” I would wonder what possibly the changes could be in the mountains! The only look of the hills which I could relate to would be the September/October autumn looks, because that is when I usually got a break from my work schedule.
But this time it was June and Monsoon:The thrill was too much as I was travelling with my sis and the ching bangs. The trip was going to be a discovery of past and renewed pleasures. So here are few things which I discovered that we must do in monsoon in hills. And guess what was my favorite destination? Darjeeling, in our very own West Bengal of course.
- 1. Drive up to the Hills in mist and rain:
Although flights to Bagdogra from Kolkata offer a good time saving option, but nothing beats the first excitement of sighting the mighty ranges once you reach the foothills of Himalayas from Sevoke Road Siliguri. This thrill for me has always been the deciding factor to opt for the drive. The weather starts cooling down and the relief of taking out a jacket and putting it on, after the killing sweltering heat of the plains in summer/monsoon months makes you feel gleeful as cool breeze hits you.
- Locate a lodging place with ‘Hill view’. Tell your agents that you would not settle for anything less. The hotels which have a view of the ranges are generally located in and around the mall. If you are not staying in Darjeeling and have decided to stay in Takdah, Kurseong or Kalimpong then make sure that mountain ranges are visible. Do not get misled by the agents and online bookings, check the sites thoroughly in Google maps too. Specially in hills, you really do not know if the hotels are as they appear in the websites.
There are numerous sites from where Kanchanjunga is visible and on a clear day it is visible till 3p.m in the evening. The morning view of the ranges as the sun rises is nothing less than divine.
- Check out tea boutiques: Darjeeling has always been famous for its tea terrains. The tea that makes it no.1 in the world class brews comes from this hilly terrain. And now we have ‘Tea Boutiques’ like Nathmulls: where you not only taste all flavors but they also have a bakery to compliment the exquisite brew with its baked items. They also have a wide and refreshing variety of tea accessories like cups and saucers and napkins with many other pretty things.To name a few other outlets – Two leaves and a bud, Kho-Cha, Happy Golden Café and Golen Tips and many more.
4. Must visits to Glenary’s and Keventers: These are highly recommended, as these two outlets are a complete throwback on the Raj days and their platters carry unparalleled taste. The breakfast at Glenary’s has fresh baked breads, buns and pizzas with bases freshly (yumm) from the oven. I mean, picture this: you have ordered a sausage and bacon cheese pizza and they rush to their baking ground roll out the pizza dough with correct measure and bake it (if you want a crisp base or a soft base, do tell them) with all the topping and very little the tomato pizza sauce, loads of cheese and there you are served fresh from oven. Heaven.
Order your wish, enjoy the scenery of hills and mountains around, they measure, roll, bake and voila -your wish is their command.
- Take a drive to 3 tea estates- Peshok and Teesta Valley and Duncans (Ruglee Rungliot is the brand). Although entire Darjeeling District has numerous tea gardens and almost all the gardens are just as beautiful, still these three render a special mention for three things. Altitude, visibility of the mountain ranges and the road which is spiraling and goes to the interiors of the gardens. There is one particular Kanchanjunga (locals spell it as Khanchandzongha) view point from Teesta Tea estate which is absolutely near divinity.
Darjeeling has many aspects which can keep one occupied for visits and revisits and maybe re-revisits. The eateries, clubs, Japanese Peace Pagoda, Ghoom Monastery, Batasia Loop, Toy Train, The Railway Museum, Tenzing Norgay Mountaineering Institute, The Mall, Rock Garden, Ganga Maiya falls, Teesta River, Takdah Tea Gardens, Lamhatta Nature Park, Tinchuley Trek and many more such places. But the above mentioned five are not to be missed at any cost. And don’t forget, different seasons have different flavors but monsoon simply mesmerizes. Lastly, carry a good umbrella or you can buy one from the Tibetan Market on a shopping spree. Have a nice day or as they say in Nepali- Subh Din !:D
How to reach Darjeeling – https://www.darjeeling-tourism.com/darj_0000a5.htm
The route which I preferred.
Kolkata to NJP by Satabdi Express- 7hrs, reaches NJP at 10:30p.m at night. Stay over at NJP. Drive up next morning to Darjeeling with an early lunch stop over at Kurseong. You will reach by 1p.m. and enjoy the evening in Darjeeling.