Darjeeling -Tea Country Part II
Darjeeling, the romance of this lovely place had seeped into our blood streams and we woke up asking for more on our second day in this Himalayan hill station, which was once a retreat of the Colonial British Raj.
If you have not read the Part I of this series, please check it out here – What to see in Darjeeling, the Tea Country – Part I :
Darjeeling – Tea Country Part II – Day-2
Our day started with a lovely breakfast at the hotel.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
We were not too keen on a visit to the Zoological Park, but went ahead nonetheless and did not regret the decision at all. The park stretches over 67 acres of land and at an average elevation of 7,000 feet is the largest high altitude zoo in India. It is very well maintained and no stone is left unturned to ensure that the birds and animals get as natural setting as possible. The animals in the park include the Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Asiatic Black Bear among others.
The birds housed in the park include the Himalayan Monal Pheasant, Grey Peacock Pheasant and Lady Amherst among others.
The wide expanse of the park provides a great ambiance for a family picnic and is also a great place to have a leisurely stroll.
TIP Nice place to take your kids to, remember the attraction is closed on Thursdays.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
The institute is located within the premises of the Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park itself. The institute was established in 1954 to encourage mountaineering, Tenzing Norgay was the first Director of Field Training for the institute. There is a very fascinating Mountaineering Museum housed inside the institute’s campus where on display are the various memorabilia associated with various Everest expeditions. Of particular interest to us were the various items used by Tenzing on his historic climb to the summit of Mt. Everest.
There is a statue of Tenzing Norgay situated very near the spot where he was cremated and there stands a memorial to this brave heart of whom the world is proud of.
This is a huge natural rock formation that has been named after Tenzing Norgay, one side of the rock has a reasonably graded surface while the other side of the cliff is almost vertical. The rock is used by the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute for training purposes. One can try one’s hand at climbing this rock for a nominal fee of INR 50, by using ropes, the climb is safe and can afford a thrilling experience. The place provides ample photo opportunities as well. We also had a steaming cup of aromatic Darjeeling tea at one of the many small outlets that dot this place.
Tea Gardens of Darjeeling
India is the second largest producer of tea in the world and has a long history of tea culture, in fact the first documented use of tea is found in the Ramayana(750-500 BCE). Darjeeling along with Assam are the main tea gardens of the country.
When in Darjeeling you can never be far from a tea garden, but our friend Budesh assured us he would take us to a big tea estate where we could take photographs as well as buy some tea freshly packed which would be reasonably priced. So off we went to experience closely the beauty of this aromatic shrubs.
We stepped away from the roadside and walked down an incline and what we saw left us breathless. We saw layers upon layers of tea shrubs sloping down in front of us and women folk in colorful dresses gently and nimbly picking the leaves and dropping them into cane bags hoisted on their shoulders like a backpack.
We spent a lot of time simply luxuriating in the cool breeze and feasting our eyes on the wonderful spectacle before us. But alas it was time to move, but not before we had tasted cups of freshly brewed tea which was like manna from heaven from a small makeshift shop on the edge of the tea estate. The shop also sold processed tea at very reasonable rates, we bought some of that to take home and relive this wonderful experience whenever we had a cup of the wonder brew.
Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre
This self help centre was started in 1959, following the turbulence in Tibet which resulted in the dramatic escape of the Dalai Lama and the influx of refugees to this region. The centre manufactures Tibetan handicrafts which are sold in a shop in the premises. There is a monastery which has a very peaceful ambiance and you also can get some great views from this place. You can also have a look at the people working on different tasks in the manufacture of handicrafts.
It was evening as we walked along the picturesque Mall road in Darjeeling, there was a nip in the air and we drew our jackets closer. We strolled leisurely taking in the sights, smells and sounds of the place, knowing that we would be bidding adieu to this enchanting place next morning. As we mad our way towards Chowrasta we passed some heritage hotels and shops which have been there for ages, one such vintage place is Glenary’s which is a Cafe where you can get some awesome cakes, pastries and other snacks.
Chowrasta which literally translates into Four roads, is like a city square or centre, with a huge open space with benches, where one can sit and enjoy the evening breeze. We found children playing freely in the space under the watchful eyes of their parents relaxing on the benches. We also had some awesome views of the Kanchenjunga mountain ranges from here.
It was soon dark and we headed back to our hotel silently lost in the wonderful memories of these two days we had spent in Darjeeling and vowed to ourselves that we would be back one day to more leisurely savor the experiences that this land of tea gardens had to offer.
We found Darjeeling to be one of the most romantic destinations that we had visited. There was so much to share about this beautiful, romantic place that we had to split and write Darjeeling – Part I and Darjeeling – Part II.
Watch our short video on Darjeeling. Please watch in HD on full-screen:
Did you like our series Darjeeling – Part I and Darjeeling – Part II? Do share your experiences with us through your comments.