Famously known as “Queen of the Hills’’, Darjeeling stays true to its nickname and doesn’t disappoint its visitors. It is the favourite summer holiday destination among Indians and tourists all over the world. Pleasant weather, warm hospitality and beautiful landscape adds to its popularity. Located at an altitude of 2,050 metres (6,730 feet) above the sea level, Darjeeling is synonymous with tea and toy train. The hill station has a wide range of flora and fauna for wildlife lovers, various exciting activities for adventure lovers, peaceful locations for soul-searching travellers and naturally beautiful landscapes for photographers, painters or poets. Though Darjeeling has so much to offer, here is a list of top five reasons why you should visit this picture-perfect place this summer season.
1. White Water Rafting at Teesta River
For all the thrill-seeking people, the White Water Rafting on the river Teesta and Rangeet, provides amazing opportunity to get more closer to nature. The scenic beauty of the banks, surrounding hills and its various flora and fauna creates an amazing ambience. Located at a driving distance of one and a half hour down to Teesta bazaar, the bubbling waters of the mountain rivers, Teesta and Rangeet, attract large number of water rafting enthusiasts. The rafting is an awesome journey as the river flows down a valley with forested banks and mountains on both sides. One can also go for camping on river banks. The best time for rafting is between December to June and the most popular place for rafting is Melli. Monsoon (July to September) season should be avoided. One has to sign a bond “Assumption of Risk and Release” before undertaking the trip.
2. Paragliding at Kalimpong
Want to fly with the birds? Go to Kalimpong that offers paragliding. Located at a distance of 55 kms from Darjeeling, it takes around 2.5 to 3 hours to reach there. Several tour companies offer paragliding packages. You can choose between a ‘Regular’ 15-minute package or a ‘Cross-country’ one that lasts for 30 minutes. You can go for a solo ride if you have a prior experience otherwise you can take the help of a guide provided by the operators. The cost of a single ride per person is Rs. 3000 and the best time to do paragliding is from the month of April to June. Enjoy the flight amidst breathtaking views of mountains, landscapes and Kanchenjunga snow peaks.
3. Breakfast at Keventers
Located at Nehru Road, Keventers restaurant is famous for serving the best English breakfast in the whole of Darjeeling. Before you start planning your sightseeing schedule, head straight to Keventers and have a yummy breakfast. You can choose from chicken cutlets, hot dogs, egg sausages, ham salami and bacon. For vegetarians, cheese sandwiches and burgers, baked beans on toast etc. Darjeeling tea and chocolate shakes are highly recommended. It is open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
4. Shopping at Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre
If you’re looking for unique Tibetan Handicrafts, then Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre is the place for you. It is located at Lebong hillside at a distance of 7 km from Darjeeling. The centre sells beautiful carpets, home decor items, wood carvings, woollens, metalwork and Tibetan antiques. Popular stuffs among tourists are woolen carpets, short kurtas, Nepalese woolen clothes and jackets, stoles etc. The market is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and remain closed on Sunday. You can also take a tour of the workshops and see artisans at work.
5. Relaxation at Sumendu Lake (Mirik)
Located about 49 kms southwest of Darjeeling, Mirik has become a popular tourist destination because of its pleasant climate, natural beauty and easy accessibility. Sumendu lake is the centre of attraction that is surrounded by pine trees on one side and a garden on other side. The two sides are linked together by an arched footbridge that is called as Indreni Pull (Rainbow Bridge). You can go for a boat ride in a paddle boat that can be hired for an hour or for a pony ride. On the right side of the lake, you’ll find a number of local stalls, shops and restaurants. Have some yummy local foods and enjoy a beautiful view of the scenic place while relaxing on the bank of the lake.