Darjeeling – West Bengal – India

Darjeeling is a town and a municipality in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in the Lesser Himalayas at an elevation of 6,700 ft (2,042.2 m). It is noted for its tea industry, the spectacular views ofKangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Darjeeling is the headquarters of Darjeeling district which has a partially autonomous status within the state of West Bengal. It is also a popular tourist destination in India.

The recorded history of the town starts from the early 19th century when the colonial administration under the British Raj set up a sanatorium and a military depot in the region. Subsequently, extensive tea plantations were established in the region and tea growers developed hybrids of black tea and created new fermentation techniques. The resultant distinctive Darjeeling tea is internationally recognised and ranks among the most popular black teas in the world.

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connects the town with the plains and has some of the few steam locomotives still in service in India.

Darjeeling has several British-style public schools, which attract pupils from India and neighbouring countries. The varied culture of the town reflects its diverse demographic milieu consisting of Nepali, Bengali,Sherpas, Lepcha and other mainland Indian ethno-linguistic groups. Darjeeling, alongside its neighbouring town of Kalimpong, was the centre of the Gorkhaland movement in the 1980s. The town’s fragile ecology has been threatened by a rising demand for environmental resources, stemming from growing tourist traffic and poorly planned urbanisation.

How To reach

Darjeeling can be reached by the 88 km (55 mi) long Darjeeling Himalayan Railway from New Jalpaiguri, or by National Highway 55, from Siliguri, 77 km (48 mi) away. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a 600 mm (2 ft) narrow-gauge railway that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999 for being “an outstanding example of the influence of an innovative transportation system on the social and economic development of a multi-cultural region, which was to serve as a model for similar developments in many parts of the world”, becoming only the second railway in the world to have this honour. Bus services and hired vehicles connect Darjeeling with Siliguri and Darjeeling has road connections with Bagdogra, Gangtok and Kathmandu and the neighbouring towns of Kurseong and Kalimpong. However, road and railway communications often get disrupted in the monsoons because of landslides. The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport, located 90 km (56 mi) from Darjeeling

 

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