We spent three nights in Darjeeling – two before and one after our 6-day trek in the nearby foothills of the Himalaya. Darjeeling is a “hill station”, created by the British as the summer location for the capital of colonial India (at the time, the capital was located in steamy Calcutta). We visited at the height of summer, in April, and yet Darjeeling was pleasant. This fast-growing city of 100,000 people clings to the hilltops at nearly 7,000’ and has stunning views north into Sikkim and the massive Kangchenjunga peak (8,586m or 28,169’) — the world’s third-highest peak. Read on!
We arrived after dark. The next morning I awoke at dawn in hopes of seeing Kangchenjunga, and was rewarded with an eye-popping view of the whole range looming over the town. I don’t think my photos – taken from my hotel room while still in my pajamas – really capture their beauty. I’m glad I saw this view, as it was nearly the last we’d see of any mountains for the duration of our 10-day visit.
We spent Saturday strolling through the town with our trek guide, visiting the Himalayan Mountain Institute and the excellent zoo full of Himalayan animals like the red panda. We enjoyed strolling through the central market street, although packed with tourists, there were many interesting curio stalls and tea shops.
Early on Easter Sunday we headed out for a 6-day, 6-night trek along the Singalila ridge, the border between India and Nepal, organized by Himalayan Adventures – but more on that in the next blog entry!
After our trek we spent another half day strolling the market and trying to avoid the dozens of other tourists in town; this week is the beginning of the busy April-May season for Darjeeling. (The other good time to visit is October-November, when skies are more clear.)
See the photo album for some more pix around town.
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