Yes guilty me, this time the Queen of Hills was not my prime destination; it was an one -day stopover for me between Sikkim and Kolkata. However, I did not forget to make the most of my 24 hours in Darjeeling.
One of the first sites at the city was the Japanese Temple and the Peace Pagoda. Just like the other Peace Pagodas, this one also houses the 4 Avatars of Lord Buddha. This sacred white abode of peace is located at the slopes of the Jalapahar Hills. If you are lucky and is visiting this enchanting tourist destination on a clear day you can even view the beautiful snow capped Himalayas from here.
Yes yes, I know this should come first on the list as watching sunrise at Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill is one of the most magical experiences on earth. However, thanks to the continuous rains, unfortunately I could not witness sunrise here as well. However, enjoying the floating clouds from a height of approximately 9700 feet while sipping a cup of steaming hot tea (I enjoyed 2 cups!) is nothing less enchanting.
While I had the Himalayan Zoological Park and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, these were closed on Thursday and hence I decided to re-route my trip to Mirik.
My first destination on the way was to one of the gateways of Nepal, Chauk Bazaar. This is one of the unique tourist spots where on one side of the road you have Nepal and on the other side there is India and you get to shop from both sides. Quaint tea stalls, small curio shops and the buzzing local culture, this market on the Hillcart Road is just not a perfect place for shopping but also walking through the sloping inner by-lanes is a memorable experience.
Gopal Dhara Tea Estate
My next stop was at the Gopal Dhara Tea Estate. Travelling in the monsoons to a tea estate like walking through the clouds. Another best part visiting this tea estate was buying authentic Darjeeling tea at lower rates than at any of the famous markets of Darjeeling. You can enjoy tea testing at just a rate of Rs20 to understand which flavor you like the best and want to take back home. I am providing a link below to a complete range of Gopal Dhara tea available online.
You can even pickup cute tea sets (kettle and cups) painted and showcasing the local culture here art an affordable rate.
On my way to the Mirik Lake I came across a nursery and I could not control buying some beautiful Echeveria. In between the splashing rains and the cool Himalayan breeze, a huge variety of succulents have found a perfect place to bloom and flourish here.
Boat on the still waters of Mirik Lake or just walk along the lush greenery of the Mirik Gardens; you can spend hours in this picturesque tourist spot just basking in the natural beauty. Last but not the least; do not forget to explore the shops right across the Lake. The handwoven, soft and beautiful woolen sweaters and shawls are available at quite affordable rates here.
You can also get succulents online at the below link-
The Mall Road
My last destination for the day was the Mall Road, located at the top of the Nehru Road. One of the most famous shopping destinations of Darjeeling, you cannot control but go on a shopping spree. However remember to explore few shops, take quotes and then make your purchase. Being one of the most popular town centers, the products are expensive here. So while there is a wide variety of curios, woolen apparels and food products that you can buy here, it is necessary to get the right deal.
In case you are not visiting Darjeeling anytime soon, you can try out the flavor online!
Not a big fan of shopping? Take a pony ride or just take a seat at any of the benches scattered at the middle of the shopping site, and enjoy the scenic views of the Mall Road. So feel the vibe of Darjeeling at the Mall Road.
So do not be upset if you have limited time; in one day you can feel the life of the Queen of Hills.