April 09, 2020
India is full of beautiful places to visit, but its hill stations are on par with the best in the world.
India is full of beautiful places to visit, but its hill stations are on par with the best in the world. As an avid traveller, you must make sure to tick off all the hill stations off your list during your lifetime. One of the best ones to visit is Darjeeling.
Though Darjeeling has been in existence for a few centuries, its earliest recorded history dates back only to the 19th century. This was during the time of the British Empire in India. The rulers had set up a military depot in the region, along with a sanatorium for officers and their families. The location was perfect for rest and rejuvenation, as the crisp mountain air and total silence made recovery from illness simpler.
Noting the hilly terrain and the rich soil quality, the British created the first tea plantations in Darjeeling. The rest, as they say, is history – Darjeeling today has a flourishing tea producing industry and its teas are rated as among the best in the world. Its extensive tea estates grow both home grown (famous black tea of India) and hybrid varieties of tea, and new fermentation techniques have also been discovered here.
Today, apart from its flourishing tea industry, Darjeeling ropes in a lot of revenue via tourism. Located in the lower Himalayan range in the State of West Bengal, Darjeeling is a dreamy little hill station full of delight and wonder for every traveller.
As if its picturesque locales were not enough, you might require some more prodding to go visit Darjeeling. Here are some good reasons why you should:
* The people are fantastic. After years of welcoming tourists from India and around the world, the local residents of Darjeeling are truly welcoming of every visitor. You will find unparalleled warmth and genuine hospitality here, making you want to visit over and over again. On a societal level too, the people here have evolved into a truly cosmopolitan region. Many different religions are practiced here, there are different places of worship that are respected and revered. Though there are several ethnic linguistic groups here (like the Gurkhas, Bhutias, Bengalis, Khampas, Newars and Lepchas), there is very little inter-community strife. Travellers certainly do not bear the brunt of any local disputes. You will find yourself in peaceful, harmonious surroundings that are hard to come by these days.
You will also love the freedom to be yourself in Darjeeling. Unfortunately, there still exist many places in India where women do not feel totally safe in the locality, or where people are not allowed to dress the way they want. Not so in Darjeeling. If you are respectful of local culture and polite in your interactions, nobody will accost you or make you feel uncomfortable in public places.
* The hill station has rich natural beauty and wildlife. Darjeeling is not all sightseeing and sighing over the gorgeous locations you come across at every turn. The area has a rich biodiversity that you would do well to explore on your holiday. In fact, Darjeeling is part of the designated Himalayan zoo-geographic zone. What this means is that there are several old and rare species of trees here, as well as a huge variety of wildlife. There are several alpine, sal and oak groves to walk in and explore.
Nearby, you can drop in to the famous Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park and the Lloyd Botanical Garden for a look at rare flowering and leafy plants. You can spot small animals like civets and Indian mongoose in the forests.
* The tea is a strong reason to visit. It is little wonder that this picturesque hill station draws tea lovers from all over the world, like a moth to a flame. Darjeeling is the last word in tea, and you can find the most excellent varieties of tea here both to taste and to buy. Take a walk through the big tea plantations, enjoy a steaming cup of freshly brewed tea, buy boxes to take back home, and also learn about how tea is processed and packaged here. Make sure you taste and buy the special Darjeeling black tea and hybrid tea. It is better to buy the tea in the plantations, because its authenticity and freshness are assured.
* It soothes your nerves. Darjeeling is definitely one of the prettiest places you will find, and not just for its natural beauty. The greens of summer and monsoon and the starkness of winter aside, Darjeeling is also colourful with man’s intervention. Take a walk through the little streets, bazaars and villages for a look at the colourful houses with their manicured lawns. Most houses here sport bright colours, gardens and patio furniture – the entire tableau is straight out of a Victorian painting!
Now that you are aware of a little bit of Darjeeling’s history and also why you should pencil in this destination for your holiday this year, let’s check on the best time to visit Darjeeling.
Often, deciding about the best time to visit Darjeeling, or any other place, is quite subjective. It all depends on what you expect from your vacation, if you like milling with other tourists or want a quieter spot, if you don’t mind paying extra for ‘tourist’ season rates at hotels and restaurants, and so on. But knowing the best time to visit Darjeeling will help you plan your itinerary better, and also pack properly for the trip. Also, it helps you plan your office leave calendar in conjunction with school or college holidays, so everybody can join in for a fun family trip.
* Summer season: The summer months in this hill station span from the month of March to June. This is often considered the best time to visit Darjeeling, because the day time temperatures rise as high as 28⁰C in May, making it a pleasant climate for sightseeing. The possibility of daytime mists and fogs is also lower in the summer, thereby improving visibility. You and your loved ones will love exploring the place since the days are longer, so you can stay out more as well. Do note that this is peak tourist season in this hill station, so book your Darjeeling resort and other essentials well in time before your departure. Eating out at restaurants in Darjeeling is a sinful pleasure in the summer months, and you will love meal times with the family.
* Monsoon: The monsoon season is quite intense in these parts. Being at a higher elevation, Darjeeling experiences cold and misty rainfall in heavy bursts. It is not recommended that you go sightseeing or driving far during this time, because the roads become quite slick and there is also the possibility of landslides. Since this is not considered the best time to visit Darjeeling, there are not many tourists around and hence, not many tour guides as well. You don’t want to be caught in a sudden downpour with no transport options in sight, so take stock of the day’s weather on suitable apps before venturing out.
* Winter: Though the winter is bitterly cold in these parts, especially in the months between December and February, there are many who prefer to visit this hill station during this time. This is the best time to visit Darjeeling if you revel in cold temperatures and snowy locales. Be sure to bundle up warmly and carry woollen scarves/stoles, hand gloves, thermal socks and underwear, etc. The hills and mountain ranges are powdered with snow during this time, so the place looks white and beautiful. You can take walks or even easy treks, provided the snow is set properly and is not slippery. The upside is that you will get the best deals on tickets and accommodation in Darjeeling during this time. But do steer clear of this spot in the winter if you suffer from arthritis, rheumatism or any bone-related aches and pains, because the cold will exacerbate your condition. Also be sure to carry your everyday medication because you might not find too many pharmacies in Darjeeling stocking the same brand.
Now that your Darjeeling holiday is on track to becoming a reality, it is time to pick the right resort to stay in. We recommend the Club Mahindra Darjeeling Resort in West Bengal.
This premium resort property is located opposite a sprawling tea estate, with magnificent views of the surrounding mountain ranges from every room. The 4-star resort is located away from the noise of the markets and tourists milling about there. Wake up to the sights of Kanchenjunga mountains, sip on tea in the balcony and proceed to the on-site restaurant for a sumptuous breakfast. If you would rather like to mill about the property, you can explore to your heart’s content and even visit the nearby tea estates. This resort promises the best rooms, warm service, recreation for you and the young ones, and the most enjoyable stay.
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited (MHRIL), India’s leading player in the leisure hospitality industry, offers quality family holidays as also stated by Club Mahindra Membership Reviews, primarily through vacation ownership memberships. While Club Mahindra is the flagship brand offering Club Mahindra Membership, the other brands offered by the company are –Club Mahindra Resorts Fundays and Svaastha Spa. As on Mar 31, 2019, MHRIL has 61+ resorts across India and abroad and its subsidiary, Holiday Club Resorts Oy, Finland, a leading vacation ownership company in Europe has 33 resorts across Finland, Sweden and Spain. Visit us at www.clubmahindra.com
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), a part of Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group, offers quality family holidays primarily through vacation ownership memberships and brings to the industry values such as reliability, trust and customer satisfaction. Started in 1996, the company's flagship brand ‘Club Mahindra’, today has over 250,000 members , who can holiday at 100+ resorts in India and abroad.