Darjeeling is not Just about Tea; its beyond

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Darjeeling is part of a Bengali lifestyle, like a sumptuous Kolkata Mutton Biryani dish with an extra potato. Haven said this, being a partial Bengali, it’s not complete until I took at least one journey of my life to Darjeeling-The unequivocal queen of the hills in India! And it has been a while since I visited the mountains. Well, I wasn’t shackled at home because of containment. But mountain trips required a PCR test, and frankly, I avoided it. So I wandered in the plains. However, the time had come to meet the Love of my Life, “Himalayas”.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea; its beyond

I organised a family trip with my grandmother (my mother’s mother) and my aunts. Being a partial Bong, I grew up knowing there’s a mountain out in the backyard! And in a manner of speaking, Darjeeling is synonymous with being our own Pahar (mountain). Another important reason is when Bengali intellectual culture pauses to welcome the colourful amalgamation of Gorkha and Bhutanese cultures- Darjeeling occurs. I planned the trip during Holi and Easter week, which allowed me to manage my leave more quickly. Working from home can be hectic at times. Trust me!

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond
Night look of the city on a whole moon night

The fun of this journey was that we were travelling by train. Also, it’s been quite some time since I’ve travelled by train. Hence, I booked tickets for NOQ SDAH SPECIAL(02378) because most trains were cancelled due to COVID-19. Finally, D-day arrived; on March 26th, I boarded and took my flight to Kolkata. On my arrival at Kolkata airport, I booked an uber for Seladah station as I had to catch my train from Seladah station to New Jalpaiguri. As usual, my Mom was over the call with me till I reached the station as a safety precaution.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea; its beyond
Aerial view of Kolkata

A wave of nostalgia passed across, looking at the crowd, the coolies in red and black uniforms, the railway announcement, platform with people’s expectations. I paused to soak up my train trip memories while my dad was working in the Railways. But as usual, my mother interrupted my thoughts. She wanted me to bargain with the coolie charging a bomb. So the focus shifted to the coolie, and we set a reasonable price. Though the satisfaction was overwhelming. I used to be excited about a train journey as a child, and today I could feel the same adrenal surge again.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond
Sealdah Station

Lastly, the train arrived, and we got on board. While boarding, my eyes were stuck on the large bag my Masi was carrying; Mom clarified there was bedding in it. Yeah! How could I forget that due to COVID-19, Indian Railways ceased to provide bedding? Also, I was not happy looking at the coach because it looked more like a sleeper coach than AC 2tier. They took down the curtains, too, damn it! But you can’t do anything, as COVID-19 has changed many dynamics.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond
Ac 2 tier

The entire coach echoed various sounds of the water or tea vendors, passengers looking for berths, or police dogs’ whoof during the patrol. It was pretty enthralling. We all settled in our berth, & I had my dinner that my Mom carried from home. Finally, the train gave a jolt, signalling the journey had begun.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond
Train journey

It was 8 am when I woke up. A tea seller was offering tea to my family members. I, too, took one & started to sip while looking outside the window. Green paddy fields passed by, where farmers were ploughing, wooden huts with children playing and some small & big rivers. I finished my tea & went to brush my teeth. The train journey is fun, excluding the toilets, as they are never cleaned properly. But still, you have to use them. Shit!

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond
Paddy field

Finally, our destination arrived, New Jalpaiguri. And I had to bargain with coolie on price point again. While doing this, I realised it’s the cost of one flight ticket. Unfortunately, nothing can be done except bargaining. While heading towards the exit, my driver called. His name was Hari, a happy young lad. I met him at the parking; post settling all luggage & we drove towards Darjeeling. It was a 3hrs drive from the railway station.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond
New Jalpaiguri

Darjeeling is spread like the party strips over a soak mountain edge and immersed by the dynamic emerald tea ranches on the elevated Kanchenjunga. That we all know, right? And what most of us do not know is that not just fair mountains but Darjeeling offers gigantic differing qualities in and around places. This web journal is developed considering almost those few gadabouts looking for purity, looking out for a one-of-a-kind place, and needing to taste the culture savour at each step.


This time the place of stay was chosen by my Mom. And it was not forest Lodges, PWD rest houses, or state Tourism Lodging accommodation. Instead, it was Boutique Hotel in Darjeeling. It’s a heritage hotel situated in Limbugaon. Initially, a summer palace of the Maharajas from the Burdwan Kingdom of northern India. Burdwan Palace (Rani Koti) Residency is an exclusive gate-away for travellers seeking tranquillity and scenic natural beauty with provisions for all modern amenities. On the way to the hotel, we stopped at Margaret Deck. This is the perfect place to rejuvenate if you are a teapot person.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond
Margaret Deck

Margaret Deck is a colossal deck overlooking the massive field of the Margaret Trust Tea Gardens. It is shaped like a ship’s deck, offering a panoramic view of the rolling hills in front. I sat leisurely gazing at the blue horizon. Margaret Deck could be a tea luxuriate, an initiative taken by the Goodricke Tea Pot. In any case, there’s a fascinating history behind the title. The tea plant can be followed back to the early 1860s when Mr Cruickshank was its bequest chief. Margaret came from Mr Cruickshank’s daughter’s name. Margaret, entirely adored these lavish tea gardens. And now Margaret’s Deck stands tall as a mute witness to the girl’s eternal love.

The Deck is segregated into two segments – one space where we had our tea tasting session and the eatery that serves mouth-watering neighbourhood delights. There were cups of pale yellow, dim brown and gleaming gold tea organised flawlessly before us on the table. We were educated that the glasses of diverse tea colours were made utilising the same cultivate’s clears. The contrast is that paint was brought by the leaf picking organisation – enticing. On the other hand, the aroma of the nourishment made our tunnies roll at the eatery. The delights were going with different tea cocktails, which was utterly splendid.

The tea table

Before heading to our hotel, we enjoyed a perfect continental brunch with a cup of muscatel tea special in this garden. However, try out the cookies, cakes, croissants, quiches, grilled fish, scones, brownies and cheesecakes as accompaniments.

Mushroom Quinoa

On the way, we placed our lunch orders at the hotel because, by the time we reached, it was 2 pm. The property location, as well as the property, was alluring. Also known as Rani Kothi, the palace was built during the 18th Century. And is ideally located next to the Grand Palace Dome, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday routine. Walking around the place, I noticed it offers an environment of elite seclusion with a beautiful garden—also the view of the entire Darjeeling town with the mighty Kunchunjunga on the backdrop.

Rani Kothi

As I entered the hotel, I loved the historic decore, primarily European. An imperial staircase that leads you upstairs. There are two wings, each side has three bedrooms and two toilets, and it’s interconnected. There was a significant seating era with an overlooking terrace, where you could sit & immerse in the beauty of Kanchenjunga. I fell in love with the rustic heritage of Darjeeling. Later we freshened up & had lunch. Since today was at leisure, I decided to stroll at the Mall in the evening.

Interiors of Rani Kothi

Darjeeling has been known for its tea gardens producing “Champagne of tea”. Interestingly, most of these estates were laid during the colonial days and are still thriving. Apart from the tea estate British colonial administration had left behind many historical landmarks & heritage buildings. Hence I decided to explore them to catch a glimpse of the old colonial aura. Suggestive one should wear good walking shoes & carry a bottle of water during self touring. And should be prepared to walk along the hilly roads, which may be steep.

Colonial Darjeeling

Well, there are several well-known landmarks along the Laden-La road. And one of them is the Darjeeling Municipality building. The building has a famous Clock tower form on the frontal side. You might recall once you watch the movie Barfi. This vast clock was constructed in 1850, which played a lovely musical tone followed by dings of the bell every hour. Later, the place used to be the Town Hall of Darjeeling.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond
Clock tower-Municipality

I further walked down on Laden-La road to witness a UNESCO heritage site. Yes! You read correctly; the Darjeeling post office is a UNESCO heritage site. It was open in May 1921 & is the oldest in the region. I clicked a few pictures before taking the roundabout corner that led to Gandhi road, the main road of Darjeeling. In earlier days, this road was known as Tanga road. Tanga in local means horse-drawn carriage since it was the only mode of transport in those days.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond
Post office

I noticed the Planter’s club on Gandhi road, established in 1886. A club where business tycoons, known personalities, British planters and their wives spent most of the evenings or stayed in the colonial rooms. Interestingly the nook and corner of mall road have a history of their own.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond
Planter’s Club

As I walked up the Nehru road, I came across two Century-old restaurants- Keventers & Glenary’s. I walked past Keventers since it was on my breakfast list; hence, I will return later.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond

However, I did stop by Glenary’s, founded by an Austrian named Silva. It is a famous bakery, & a tea room, and has a multi-cuisine restaurant on the top floor. I did pick up some muffins, pastries, rolls, & and handmade chocolates. Lately, Glenary’s has expanded with a basement bar & disco named -‘ The Buzz’.I could not explore it since travelling with the family has a few restrictions. Anyhow, something should be left for the next time.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond

As I walked up towards the mall area, I crossed the oldest studio of Darjeeling- The Das studio, set up in 1927. In the mall area, you could see a lot many old shops. One of them is Habeeb Mullicks & Sons, famous for their handmade curios & exceptional jewellery. As I entered the shop, I was dumbfounded by the collection & ended up shopping for a few trinkets.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond
Habeeb Mullick & Son

I had to end my trip of exploring the Mall road, as the sky was darkening, threatening rain. But I did some tea tasting & buying from the Gloden Tip Tea shop before returning. Upon returning, I had an early dinner & headed to bed since the next day was adventurous. I planned a trip to Sandakphu & Phalut via Sanglila National Park.

Darjeeling Diaries: Darjeeling is not Just about Tea;its beyond
Golden tips

How to Reach

By Air:
The nearest airport is Bagdogra, approximately 95 km away from the city. From the airport, hire taxis to reach the city.

By Rail:
New Jalpaiguri is the nearest railway station to Darjeeling. New Jalpaiguri connects with many cities in India. You need to hire private cabs from the station to reach Darjeeling.

By Road:
Darjeeling is well-connected via road with Kolkata city & other closeby cities such as Gangtok and Kalimpong. Buses, private cabs, and shared taxis ply to Darjeeling from these places.









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