The fascinating sight of Eastern Himalayas has bewitched people from every corner of the world since time immemorial. Breathtaking landscapes, lost kingdom of mythical Sikkim, rolling tea gardens covering the undulating hills and charming villages give you an ethereal introduction of Northeast Himalayas and leave you awestruck.
The king of all tea gardens, Darjeeling, perched on the foothills of the Himalayan ranges, remained a favorite destination for mountaineers since colonial era. Located at a height of 2134 m above sea level, Darjeeling is kissed with cool climate and rolling lush tea estates. It is also home to Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world, several natural springs and waterfalls. On your drive to Darjeeling from Bagdogra, at every 100 yards you get a sight of local farmers with roadside stalls of fresh produce. Rather than munching on junk food, you can taste these local produce like cucumbers and carrots and get the real feel of a hillside vacation. Major attraction of this quaint hill station is Tiger Hill, from where you witness the spectacular sunrise over the Kanchenjunga Mountain ranges. A morning toy train ride from Darjeeling Township to Ghoom will let you feel the freshness of greenery from close quarters.
One of the sightseeing destinations in Darjeeling that should not be missed is the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute created by late Tenzing Norgay, one who conquered Mt Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary on 29 May 1953. A zoological garden with an assortment of wildlife like yaks, Siberian tigers and red pandas is worth visiting. Also, Darjeeling Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway, the first passenger ropeway in India and Observatory Hill, the oldest site in Darjeeling, leave you awestruck with their rich history and unparallel beauty. A trip to Northeast India remains incomplete without hopping into monasteries. The Dhoom Gompa monastery is one such monastery that possess a very beautiful statue of Maitrayie Buddha and some of the rare handwritten Buddhist manuscripts.
An evening walk by The Mall, a popular commercial street acquaints you with Tibetans selling sweaters, souvenirs and delicious momo and thupka. If you are with kids, take them for a pony ride at Chowrasta’s pony riding arena. Again, a road trip from Darjeeling to Gangtok, capital of Sikkim is another feast to a traveler’s eye. Deep valleys, floating clouds, abundant flower nurseries and undulating hills take you to Gangtok, home to several important monasteries in the world. Gangtok boasts of exceptional mountain scenery and is inhabited predominantly by Buddhists and small tribal settlements. Coniferous forests, rivers, wooden huts, rhododendrons are highlights of this place. Drul Chorten, the most important stupa of Sikkim is located in the heart of Gangtok. The stupa embodies sacred gold-topped shikhara with 108 prayer wheels. Monasteries like Enchey monastery and Tashi Ling monastery capture the nerves of religious minded people. Rumtek Monastery exhibits exclusive Tibetan monastic art in Sikkim known for its unique traditional architecture. Must visit in Gangtok is the Namgyal Institute that promotes research in Mahayan Buddhism and Tibetan language and traditions. Orchid Sanctuary is highly appreciated by nature lovers as it houses almost 454 species of orchid found in Sikkim. Do not forget to visit the holy Tshangu Lake during your stay.
Dense forest in Kalimpong made up of golden oak trees counteracting with rich bushes of moss and linen leads to a relaxed walk on thick cushions of brown leaves. From here you get panoramic snow views of Kanchenjunga, Siniolchu, Paunhari, Lama Anden, Chola, Nathu La, Jalep La and Gymochen peaks. Take a glance of snow peaks, Kalimpong town and Teesta Valley from the topmost Deolo View Point. Do not miss out on the monasteries here that date back to 1836.
As your trip gets over with last stay at Kalimpong and you head to Bagdogra for onward destination, take back some pleasant memories of Eastern Himalayas to frame in your vacation calendar forever. Valleys and villages, hills and lake mélange in a way that creates a picturesque portrait of nature and stands still attracting people from generation to generation.