Thursday, June 6, 2013

How to Reach Darjeeling

| Thursday, June 6, 2013 | 2 comments

Darjeeling is the most popular hill station in the world today. Snuggled at the foothills of the eastern Himalayas at an altitude of 6710 feet, Darjeeling is the most sought after holiday destination in North East India.

Though Darjeeling is located in the state of West Bengal, some 89 kms from the plains of Siliguri, it is quite easier to reach here. But as most of the tourist face lots of problem in order to make to the town of Darjeeling, here is the information on how to Reach Darjeeling, which I am sure is going to help if not many, few tourists for sure.

By Road: Once you reach Siliguri, NJP or Bagdogra, from here you have the option to reach Darjeeling by road. You can either hire private vehicle or shared taxis to reach Darjeeling which is connected by Pankhabari Road or recently constructed international standard Rohini Road. NH 55 which earlier connected Darjeeling with rest of India is not operating as near Tindharia certain portion of the land is washed away by massive landslide.

By Air: There is no option to reach Darjeeling directly by air. The nearest airport is Bagdogra and from there you have to hire private vehicle or you can come to Siliguri and hire shared taxis, which are available in plenty.

By Rail: Earlier it was quite interesting to reach Darjeeling by Toy Train. But few year back, a massive landslide near Tindharia has put a halt of the toy train journey which was earlier operational from Siliguri Junction to Darjeeling railway station.

Once you reach NJP which is the nearest railway station, you can hire shared taxis from there or you can come to Siliguri which is just 20 minutes from NJP. From Siliguri you will find many shared taxis to Darjeeling.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Shopping In Darjeeling

| Thursday, April 18, 2013 | 8 comments


Shopping in Darjeeling (Fashion changes, but style endures -Coco Chanel

Darjeeling is known to have been a trend setter in terms of fashion. This reminds me of a very famous line “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only, Fashion is in the sky, in the street, the fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Courtesy –Coco Chanel. No other lines can best describe our little fashion world. Yes! In Darjeeling, you find fashion not just in how we dress but you find fashion in the sky, in the climate, fashion in the street, to fashion in the way we speak and eat and of course fashion in how we live! Welcome to the land of fashion, Darjeeling.

Best time to Visit 
 There is never a best time to visit Darjeeling as it is beautiful year round. However, for those who cannot bear the extreme cold should avoid winters. The best time for them would either be April-May or even better would be during the festival season September-October.

What to buy? 
Clothes, shoes, bags, pashmina shawls, fancy woolen caps and head gears, sweaters and jackets, mittens and mufflers, the very famous Gorkha knives ‘Khukri, Traditional necklace worn by mostly married Nepalese women called ‘pothay”, the traditional cap ‘paday topi’ paintings and postcards, Tibetan masks, curio items, scroll paintings that depicts religious Buddhist stories called the ‘Thankas’, fireball pickles ‘dallay’ and lots and lots of TEA are some of the “MUST TAKE” items from Darjeeling.

How to shop? 
Since Darjeeling is a very small town and there are no drive-in malls, the only way to shop hop is on your feet. However, all the shopping malls and stores are centrally located thus making it convenient for the shoppers. Remember to wear comfortable shoes because it is quite a walk up and down the hill.

Where to shop? 
 Black & White This store started in the late 90’s and has some of the best and most fashionable clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories. They usually get their products from Bangkok and they only sell women’s wear. It also has a yearly sale upto 50% off during spring. They have grown extensively over the years and have added three more stores. The most recent is named ‘Chocolate’ the best thing about these stores is the customer friendly ambience, good bargains and lots of varieties. If you shop during the festival season, you are treated with a return gift of a sample perfume (branded). They usually get an imitation of branded items like Zara, Mango, Charles & Keith, Gucci, Chanel, to name a few.

Mahakal Market 
This is one of the oldest and largest shopping malls in Darjeeling. It has more than 50 shops, mostly run by the local Tibetans. The items are the same everywhere in terms of clothes and shoes but the prices vary. You must bargain to get a good price.

Dragon Market 
Bang opposite to the Mahakal Market is the Dragon market mostly run by the local Tibetans again. This includes a store named ‘Arsenal’ which sells football jerseys and shorts, football boots etc. They mainly sell Men’s wear, such as, gorgeous shoes and jackets.
Darjeeling Handicrafts
Stores in Chowrasta mall sell the world famous Gorkha knives ‘khukuri’, The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre sells some fascinating Tibetan Handicrafts and beautiful handmade carpets. Hayden Hall, a catholic social service centre makes the finest woolen items for sale such as mufflers, mittens, leg warmers, sweaters, ponchos, woolen caps etc. Manjusha Bengal Emporium sells Himalyan handicraft items and artifacts including silk products of West Bengal. You can buy Khadi and Khadi products from Gram Shilpa.

Postcards and paintings 
 Das studio and Photo stores are the leading studios in Darjeeling that sell quality postcards and paintings to take back as souvenirs.

Curio Shops 
Some of the most famous curio houses in Darjeeling are Habib Mallick and Nepal Curio; they sell precious stones, birth stones, silver jewelry and diamonds too.

Nathmulls, Golden tips, House of tea are some of the leading tea sellers in Darjeeling. They sell the finest and high quality tea. A must have and a must take for all the tourists.
 Libas, Chandulal, Amilal, Universal stores are some of the shops that sell good quality and branded woolen sweaters and shawls.

  Oxford and Singh Studio has some of the best collection of books. Children books, novels and self help books.

Rink Mall 
It has the very famous Big Bazaar which has become one of the favorites among the locals. Gossip, My Shop, Studio7, Reliance Trend, Adidas etc. are some of the stores located in this mall.

Chowk Bazar 
  If you want to visit the local market for household products, fresh vegetables and fruits, pick up the very famous fireball pickels ‘dallay’ then Chowk Bazar is where your search ends. It’s a typical market both noisy and chaotic.

What not to shop? 
 Avoid buying cheap shawls from mobile roadside shops. You may have to compromise on the quality otherwise.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Doting Darjeeling

| Tuesday, April 9, 2013 | 2 comments

The online dictionary defines Tourism as a travel for recreational, leisure, or business purposes. Touring or in today’s term commonly known as “Leisure travel” was associated only with the elite classes, the aristocratic and fashionable society. I’m sure all you travel frenzies out there, including myself, have heard about “The Grand Tour” which was the traditional trip of Europe practiced by mainly upper-class Europeans, mainly the British nobility from England. However with the advent of low airfares, alternate modes of travel and affordable tour packages “The Grand Tour” is merely become a myth and travelling has become a standard hobby and a passion for all. Cox & Kings was the first official travel company to be formed in 1758.

The Incredible India, as the name suggests has many incredible tourist attractions. Every state, every city, to every nook and corner of this land, has a story to tell and every wall screams of a hidden fact, some true and some made up. Incredible India mostly known for its spices, herbs and “saris” and its rich cultural heritage and the origin of the Kama sutra, a contradicting fact for a place where talking about sex in open is considered a taboo, let alone practicing it. Young India still carries with it, the same flavor and the same tag but along with all that, it is now associated with high rise apartments, fancy offices, women clad in saris riding two wheelers, young professionals who wear suits to work and stir their coffee clockwise. Yes, this is our India and isn’t it attractive? India attracts large tourist every year from all over the world. Amidst the hustle bustle of its faced paced cities, lies a quiet snail paced town in the hills, our little Darjeeling.

Darjeeling is famous for three T’s, tea, tourism and timber. Although it’s a clich├ęd line but it is a well known fact. Until the early part of the eighteenth century, Darjeeling was under the king of Sikkim. Later the Gorkhas invaded the region and procured the area, which they eventually lost to British. The British used this place to escape the heat and later developed it into a hill station and it was widely used for tea plantation. What does Darjeeling have that other hill stations don't? Yes, the snow-clad Kanchenjunga ranges. I doubt any other hill resort has a backdrop so spectacular, like ours, it is the world's third-highest mountain. Then we have the narrow-gauge steam railroad that draws train buffs from all over the world and of course, the tea plantation which records the world’s finest tea being produced in this area that quenched the thirst for all tea lovers.

Darjeeling, snuggled among the mountains, is a perfect destination for travel enthusiasts. Popular places to visit include the Tiger Hill from where you can experience a mesmerizing sunrise as early as around 4 am, the Batasia Loop, the Himalayan Zoological Park and Snow Leopard Breeding Center, The Rock Garden, Japanese temple etc. Darjeeling is also considered one of the educational hubs that provides quality education for the school level, considering the fact that it has the oldest missionary school in India that dates back to 1846 (Loreto Convent). The school was established during the British Raj by a group of Sisters of Loreto; hence the educational system is British like and is fancied by most parents. There are about 52 primary schools, 21 high schools and 4 colleges in the town attracting a lot of students from the mainland India and abroad.

Also, how can we leave behind our “FOODIES” At Glenary's they still serve the most authentic ready to eat snacks, Keventer’s gives you the best British breakfast including bacon, eggs, cheese, ham, salami and sandwiches, hotdogs with a Chocolate shake makes the finest order, at Joey’s club they fix you a perfect drink with the classic Beatles to go with it, then the little road side food joints like “bennis’ aloo dum”. At the Windamere and other fashionable hotels, they'll bring you marmalade and bread for your morning toast without your even asking. All this goes on to make our Darjeeling a doting one.

Tourism is one of the main sources of income for the local residents. However, with the political turmoil off late with the Nepali residents clamoring for Darjeeling to become a separate state called Gorkhaland; quite unfortunately and with little foresight, the politics has directly affected tourism, hence affecting the economy of our little town.

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