Darjeeling 2,143 metres / 7030 feet, is a beautiful hill station with tea gardens , the magnificent views of Kanchenjunga range of Himalayan mountains( world’s third-highest peak, 8,598 metres / 28,209 ft and the world famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railways a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in West Bengal state of India. It lies in the north eastern part of Himalayas, in the North East India. To the north of Darjeeling is the Indian state of Sikkim , it borders Nepal on the West, and Bengal plains in the South and East.
The development of the town dates back to the mid 19th century, Captain Herbert, the Deputy Surveyor General, was sent to Darjeeling to examine the area. The court of Directors of the British East India Company approved the project. General Lloyd was given the responsibility to negotiate a lease of the area from the Chogyal of Sikkim. The lease as per the Deed of Grant was granted on 1 February 1835.
Thus, Darjeeling was gifted to the Britishers. This was an unconditional cessation of what was then a worthless uninhabited mountain. The land gifted to East India Co. in 1835 did not comprise the whole present Darjeeling. Subsequently extensive tea plantation was done It was narrow enclave of 138 square miles, about 30 miles long and 6 miles wide.
In 1849, the British annexed the area and Darjeeling became a part of British India. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was opened in 1881 (it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between 1879 and 1881, the railway is about 78 kilometres (48 miles) long. Its elevation level varies from about 100 metres (328 feet) at New Jalpaiguri railway station to about 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) at Darjeeling. The Darjeeling Himalayan railway, along with the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka-Shimla Railway, is listed as a Mountain Railways of India World Heritage Site.
Today there are 86 tea estates which produce Darjeeling tea and has received the UNSECO status, it cannot be produced anywhere else in the world just like the champagne of France. Hence it is limited and valuable. The annual production of Darjeeling tea is approx 10 million kgs and exported all over the world with some teas fetching price over Rs 20,000 a kg in the international market.
The majestic sight of Kanchenjunga with snow covered peaks and tall coniferous trees abound Darjeeling and the chill climate mingled with these sights are unforgettable. It is the aura of this hill station that draws you mysteriously again and again. British architecture and the mall roads with tall heritage clock tower draws you back into medieval history. Today Darjeeling is visited by tourist from all different parts of the country and the world.
The tourists are spell bound with the virgin greenery still visible in this part of the Himalayas. The upper Darjeeling abounds in rich flora like rhododendrons, magnolias, orchids etc. About six hundred different species of birds inhabit the forests. Darjeeling is blessed with extreme natural beauty. A place you just cannot afford to miss. The old colonial summer retreat is surrounded by spectacular and wonderful vista view of Mt. Kanchenjunga- the world’s third – highest peak, a variety of trekking options, and the opportunity to cool down after a stint in the plains. The town is also a suitable place for travellers heading to Sikkim.
Darjeeling was a popular hill station during the days of the Raj, a lovely Victorian town was built among the Himalayan foothills, the remnants of which are still visible around the Chowrasta ( The mall) and Darjeeling remains a popular summer resort for the tourist till date…!