Wednesday, 24 September 2014

That’s How I Discovered Darjeeling

Darjeeling is a legacy. It’s not an ordinary destination. I had a void in me as a traveller that always kept Darjeeling somewhere on my radar. Even though I had heard so many bad reviews about it, I still wasn’t deterred about visiting it.

I still wanted to make it there.

The true Darjeeling

As I always say that I am a curious traveller, I want to do what I want to do, and I want to go where I want to go. I will probably hit my head on the wall and know that it hurts, but I will still do it once. Since I was in Sikkim, Darjeeling wasn’t a distant dream.

When I am fascinated about a place, I draw a certain picture of it in my mind. Somehow, I knew Darjeeling was going to be delightful. I remember my first impression about it – there was a tinge of glow in my heart the moment I touched the brinks of Darjeeling district. I could feel a difference in the air. The pine trees on my both sides hinted at the secret treasures that I was about to unravel.

I DIDN’T go to Darjeeling town.
      
I went to Darjeeling, but not to the polluted, busy and commercialized Darjeeling town. I chose to stay in the quietude. I explored the offbeat Darjeeling - the villages, the tea gardens, the lesser-known towns, the British heritage, and enjoyed mingling with the Nepalese folks.

Lamahatta

Lamahatta was my first layover.

I kept it pretty off-the-cuff. When I was heading to Lamahatta, I didn’t have any idea about the place. I wanted to go somewhere else, but didn’t find a room there, so I had to settle for another accommodation, which landed me in Lamahatta.

Lamahatta is a small village, which is also one of the best spots to have clear glimpses of Kanchenjunga Mountains. 

Goomtee Tea Estate & Resort

Goomtee Tea Estate & Resort got me a chance to stay at a vintage bungalow.

Now there was another surprise waiting for me at Goomtee Resort. I didn’t know it was a British-era cottage, which was turned into a resort for travellers to enjoy a stay in the midst of nature and taste the freshly harvested Darjeeling Tea.

Dilaram Village & Tea Gardens

Kettle Valley Home Stay introduced me to Dilaram Village and its tea gardens.

After the colonial stay, I had the warm hospitality of a Nepalese family in store for me. My hosts at Kettle Valley were exceptionally nice. They unveiled the real gems of Darjeeling to me by taking me for village walks, tea garden trails and also educating me on little nuances of their local traditions and everyday life.

Kurseong

I discovered Kurseong, a lesser-known town in Darjeeling district.
   
It was not on my itinerary. I never planned to explore Kurseong, but it just happened by chance. That’s the beauty of travel. While I stayed in Dilaram at Kettle Valley, I managed to know a town like Kurseong too.

Darjeeling district has hill stations like Darjeeling, Kurseong, Mirik and Kalimpong
Darjeeling Town

I made a day trip to Darjeeling town.

Yes, I mentioned in the beginning that I didn’t go to Darjeeling. I wanted to imply that I didn’t devote much time in the commercial town. But I did take a quick trip to the main Darjeeling town as well. I must say that when I reached there, I was smugly happy to have made the right decision of not making it my base.

The Darjeeling hill station is clearly waning. It is far from the charms of the old classic Darjeeling. Although the attempts to make the whole district a tourist web are quite evident, there are still many ‘untouched’ places that I wish remain undiscovered for the rest of life.

So, now you know how to explore Darjeeling, right?

Have you been to Darjeeling? How was your experience?

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29 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Ananya! :) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. I love this post. Great job done there with discovering Darjeeling away from the town. And beautiful photos.

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    1. Thank you! :) Yeah, it just happened that the kind of accommodation options I picked landed me in different beautiful regions of Darjeeling district.

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  3. Superb Renuka, I was from Siliguri only, and Darjeeling is one of my favorite places, unfortunately I am not getting the time to visit Darjeeling since last 14-15 years, but whenever I get the time I will definitely visit there. Thank you for reminding everything about Darjeeling :)

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    1. You are welcome, Alok! Darjeeling, apart from the main town, is still charming and beautiful. I hope that remains so!

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    2. Yup, the nearby area and locations are truly awesome. My home was there around 80 Kilometers away from Siliguri towards Alipurduar side. If you are going for a trip there you must at least need 15 days to visit all the places like Kalimpong, Mirik, Gangtok, Lava, Kurseong, along with Darjeeling. :)

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    3. Right! I spent a week in Darjeeling district and explored Lamahatta, Goomtee, Dilaram, Kurseong and Darjeeling town. It was a wonderful experience. :)

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  4. Such a beautiful post ! Was following it up through your FB updates, but came to the blog after quite some time. Delightful :)

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    1. Thanks Puru :) Yup, this post was long due. I wanted to write about how the 'real' Darjeeling is still there!

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  5. Darjeeling is a small charming town in West Bangal. It is located in the Mahabharat Range. It has many British style schools which attract the students all around the India. It is not only famous for tea industry but it is also famous for Dajeeeling Himalayan Railway a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I visited it last month before going to mini circle island tour. It was a beautiful land. There were many green meadows and huge mountains which were given a spectacular and eye catching view. I would love to visit it again in my next tour.

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  6. Darjeeling looks absolutely amazing. I can see why you chose to stay outside of the main town. The villages and tea plantations look stunning. I think I would have made the same decision!

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    1. I am sure, Justine! Any sensible traveler would do that. The main Darjeeling town doesn't deserve more than a day.

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  7. Looks great.. still one of my dream places

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    1. Make it there soon! Maybe the upcoming spring. :)

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  8. Have been to Darjeeling when I was a small kid. This post brought back those memories. I am eager to make another trip to Darjeeling.

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    1. Yes, you should! :) Darjeeling is amazingly charming in the countryside - the tea gardens, the small villages and valleys.

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  9. That's absolutely amazing place to explore. I love being so close to the nature. Hiking there is a must I guess :).

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    1. You bet! :) Darjeeling is a nature lover's paradise.

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  10. And good on you for making it there! One and a half years in India, and I still didn't get there! *Sigh*... one day I guess :)

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    1. It would be wonderful if you head to Darjeeling and Sikkim one day. These are some awesome places in India.

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  11. Nice photos.
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