Place to visit Darjeeling – Kalimpong
You thought that Darjeeling must be a small hill town and what could you see there other than Kanchenjunga peaks and some scenic views? Sure Darjeeling town is small, but you may be amazed to know how many great places you can access from here that are within short distances. And if you love to travel down the winding mountain roads, you can reach some treasures that are unmatched anywhere in the world.
Over the past many years of our family vacations, we have uncovered all such great Darjeeling attractions. Remember, while Darjeeling town is small, the district of Darjeeling spans over more than 3,000 square kilometers (or about 1,200 square miles). So it’s really up to you how far would you like to travel to uncover a treasure. We don’t keep any limits until it’s time to be back.
In the sections below, I have described the top Darjeeling tourist places and attractions including the parks & gardens, scenic places & view points, waterfalls, temples & monasteries, museums & historic places, and lot more. But you will need to take Sightseeing Tours to experience all that unless you have your own vehicle. Few of these tourist places are of course within easy walking distance from the town center.
If you are planning to visit some of them on foot, remember a couple of things. First a distance in the hills will feel like almost three times of a similar distance in the plains as you walk uphill. And most of the roads in Darjeeling have steep gradient or slope. So unless you are used to walking in the hills, it may not be as easy as you may think. Second, there are some sightseeing places in Darjeeling that can only be reached on foot. A vehicle can only go up to a point beyond which you will need to walk. So in general, a sightseeing day in Darjeeling should start early.
As you go through the Darjeeling tourist attractions below and visit the links for details, you will get the distance of the places and time it should take to reach from the town center. Let me start with our top favorite sights and tourist places in Darjeeling. And then I’ll talk about the ones which too come very close to the best.
Mac Farlen Church
Ever since it was constructed in the year 1890 – 91, this magnificent building has been the landmark of Kalimpong. This beautiful church was built on 1 Nov 1891 by the Scottish Missionaries. . In the early days the sermons were in 10 different languages for the purpose of spreading Christianity. These were – Bodo, Nepali, Bengali, Hindi, English, Chinese, Lepcha , Sanskrit, Urdu and Tibetan.
Nature Interpretation Center
This is an Ecological museum set up by forest dept in the year 1990. Visitors must stopover at this museum for getting a fair idea about the wildlife of the hills. Samples and photos of fauna like the beetles, butterflies and animals are exhibited here.
Zang Dhok Palri Phodang 1976
Also known as the Durpin Monastery, it is the largest monastery in Kalimpong and was consecrated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself in 1976. It is situated at 1372 mts on the peak of Durpin hill, from where a majestic view of the town and Mt. Kanchenjunga can be seen.
The Morgan House or the Singhamari is one of the oldest Colonial bungalows that were built after the British opened up Kalimpong as a hill resort. It is currently under the West Bengal Tourist Development Corporation. This is a very beautiful example of a colonial past of Kalimpong.
Situated at a height of 5500ft, Deolo is the highest point of Kalimpong town. The view from the Hill is a fantastic one. One can see the entire kalimpong Town, the magnificent Mt. Kanchenjunga, the surrounding villages and Relli valley on one side with the Teesta River on the other. It is one of the most popular destinations of Kalimpong where views are concerned.
As the name suggests, Hanuman Tok has a huge statue of Lord Hanuman approximately 25 to 30 ft in height located on a hill top not very far away from the Science City. Here fantastic views of the both sides of the hill can be seen along with the Himalayan range. A small mandir of Goddess Durga is found right in front of the statue.
A very new addition to the tourism of Kalimpong is the Science City. Located less than a kilometer away from Deolo Hill, this is a place which is of tremendous joy specially to the children. Here, various examples of science or ‘science-magic’ as we would like to call it are displayed and also has a garden with various outdoor activities like tyre-swings, climbing ropes , see-saws, along with models of dinosaurs like a little Jurassic Park. It provides great joy to all visitors especially because of its location being on a hilltop.
Mirik is a picturesque tourist spot nestled in the serene hills of Darjeeling district in West Bengal, India. The name Mirik comes from the Lepcha words Mir-Yok meaning “place burnt by fire”. Mirik has become a popular tourist destination for its climate, natural beauty and easy accessibility. The centre of all attraction is the Sumendu lake, surrounded by a garden on one side and pine trees on the other and linked together by an arching footbridge called Indreni Pull (Rainbow Bridge). A 3.5-km-long road encircles the lake and is used for walks with the view of Kangchenjunga on the far horizon. Boating on the quaint shikaras and pony riding are available.
Kurseong is a hill station and sub-divisional town in the Darjeeling district of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located at an altitude of 1,458 meters (4,783 ft), Kurseong is 32 kilometers (20 mi) from Darjeeling and has a pleasant climate throughout the year. Kurseong is 47 kilometers (29 mi) from Siliguri and is connected to the city by road and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The nearest airport is at Bagdogra and the nearest major railway station is New Jalpaiguri [NJP], which is about 53 kilometers (33 mi) from the town. The economy is based primarily on education and tourism.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) and the amazing Darjeeling Zoo
HMI is a destination by itself and a said to be a pilgrimage for all climbing enthusiasts of the world. It was established in honor of Tenzing Norgay after he and Sir Edmund Hillary climbed the Everest in 1953. It has a well stocked museum with mountaineering displays and many expedition artifacts, a boarding school for mountaineering students, houses for the trainers, a restaurant, a souvenir shop and more. HMI is located on Jawahar Road or the Birch Hill that can be accessed from the Mall Road and Lebong Cart Road. One can actually walk down Mall road & then Jawahar road to reach HMI.
The Zoo is located in the same premises where HMI is and therefore should be covered at the same time. The unique feature of this zoo is, it houses animals of high altitude and mostly from upper Himalayas. You can see some rare animals here like Red Pandas, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and lot more.
Located at the highest point in Darjeeling area, Tiger Hill is best known for the dazzling sunrise view of the Kanchenjunga and the snow covered peaks of the entire eastern Himalayan range. On a clear day you can even see the mount Everest from here. Tiger Hill is located 11km from the Darjeeling Town and takes about 40 minutes to reach by car.
Located 5km from Darjeeling Town and just below Ghoom, Batasia Loop as the name suggests, is a loop or a spiral of a narrow gauge railway track where the Toy Train negotiates a sudden sharp descent from Ghoom. It’s a wonderful viewing place with manicured gardens, streams and falls, from where you can get a wide range view of the Darjeeling’s landscape, Kanchenjunga and the other Eastern Himalayan peaks.
Darjeeling Rope way
This is one way you can be part of special diverse offerings from the nature and all in one place. From the ropeway of Darjeeling which is also known as the Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car, you can have mind blowing view of the valley below, see the spread of lush tea gardens, dense forests, mountain streams in their full flow, waterfalls, and the awesome snow peaks at the background. Get off at a lower station and enjoy the tea estates, walk through the tea gardens, or just relax and enjoy the view around. It’s hard to find all these together in one place.
Darjeeling Mall (Chowrasta)
The Chowrasta or the Mall is the town center in Darjeeling. This is a lovely little flat area, a public square where four roads meet. This public place is where you would like to lounge & bake in the sun, sit and watch the wonderful views of the mountain range and see many locals and tourists hanging around. One side of the mall is lined with pine trees through which you get wonderful mountain vistas, the other side is lined with lovely boutique shops of different kinds. And all around the mall, you have benches to sit and relax.
Rock Garden & Ganga Maya Park
These two are scenic parks in wonderful settings located a few miles away from the Darjeeling town. Rock garden is about 10km and Ganga Maya is another 3km from there. Rock Garden is all about terraced gardens at different levels that have been cut through the rocks having a waterfalls with nice seating arrangements. Ganga Maya is more spread out and has a beautiful stream flowing through it on a valley, has flower gardens, fountains and more.
Japanese Temple & Peace Pagoda
About 10 minutes by car, you will reach a wonderful area that is symbolic of peace and tranquility. Located in the Jalapahar hill, the Japanese Temple is built in traditional Japanese style where you can join the prayers and feel the spiritual peace amongst humming and chants. Close to it is the Peace Pagoda where there are four large avatars of Lord Buddha. The view from the top is magnificent. You can see the snow peak range from here including the Kanchenjunga.
Bengal Natural History Museum
What started as a modest effort in 1903 to display butterflies and birds of the Darjeeling district, has grown to house a large collections of mammals, birds & nests with eggs, reptiles & fishes and even insects of wide varieties. The displays are actually specimens of real creatures that had been captured, stuffed and preserved. The Bengal Natural History Museum can be reached by few minutes’ walk from the Chowrasta Mall.
Observatory Hill and Mahakal Temple
Rising from behind the Mall, Observatory Hill is an ideal place to get a 360 degree view of Darjeeling and the peaks surrounding it. The Mahakal Temple, the central temple of Darjeeling of all faiths is located on top of the hill where the original Dorjeling Buddhist Monastery once stood.