Darjeeling and the Himalayas
Posted: Sep 27 2014
The beauty and grandeur of the Himalayas knows no bounds. To take a trip to these majestic mountains is a spiritual experience in and off itself. A feast for the eyes that words can not properly describe, a visit to the Himalayas is worthy of any savvy travelers bucket list. For those of you who are tea enthusiasts and connoisseurs than Darjeeling is certainly the place to be. Nestled high up in the mountains Darjeeling's numerous tea estates are world famous for their quality and variety of teas.
For most people the journey to Darjeeling begins in the city of Siliguri at the base of the Himalayas, a noisy bustling hub that is in sharp contrast to the serenity that awaits as you begin your journey to Darjeeling. From Siliguri you slowly wind your way up the mountain on a four hour drive to your destination. This drive represents the first taste of the unique beauty of the mountains, as well as multiple opportunities to begin sampling the local variety of teas one will find along the way. Of course their's much more to Darjeeling as well as the surrounding area and it's numerous hill stations than just tea.
For train enthusiasts there's the world famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway also known as the ToyTrain due to it's surprisingly small size. First built in 1879 and still in operation today, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a designation reserved for only truly remarkable landmarks. Taking a ride on the Toy Train from Darjeeling to Ghum station, India's highest railroad station located in the next town over, presents a unique opportunity to not only get breath taking views of the surrounding landscape but is also a great way to visit the incredible Ghum Monastery. Ghum Monastery is just one of the many Buddhist Monasteries worth seeing that dot this section of the Himalayas. Buddhism thrives in this area and is also home to a large number of Tibetan refugees. Just outside of Darjeeling one can visit the Tibetan Refuge Center, the first stop for many Tibetans coming from their homeland in search of a better life. Inside you can find the a small museum dedicated to the struggles of the Tibetan people as well as work shops were people hand make beautiful traditional Tibetan rugs.
Ultimately for anyone who loves hiking, mountains, tea, trains, or is interested in Buddhism then Darjeeling should be at the top of their list of destinations to see. Finally I would be remiss if I didn't mention the most famous and delectable cuisine native to the region, something so simple yet so amazing that for a serious foodie it would be worth the trip for this delicacy alone. Momo's. Steamed dumplings that are equal to none and are yet another example of the fact that words can't describe just how awesome Darjeeling and the Himalayas really are.