Nestled amongst the magnificent Himalayan mountains, with the snowy peaks of Mount Kanchenjunga – India’s tallest and the world’s third tallest mountain at over 8,500 metres high – towering in the distance, Darjeeling is a historic Victorian British colonial hill station in the Indian state of West Bengal. Known around the world for its famous tea and mesmerising tea plantations, the Darjeeling hill station was originally developed by the British in the mid 19th century as an elite escape from the summer heat. Today, the region still holds onto its refreshing charm, lush vistas and exotic appeal.
Secret Retreats boutique Darjeeling hotels offer a particularly picturesque stay while staying in this enigmatic destination. Throughout your stay, take a ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed miniature train chugging through mountains, stop at a tea plantation and sample some of Darjeeling’s world-renowned tea, explore local temples, visit museums and monasteries, and simply be mesmerised by the rich local culture and stunning natural beauty of this region. For unique souvenirs, browse the shops for bamboo items, jewellery, carpets, textiles and other local handicrafts, then replenish your energy by savouring the rich and tantalising Indian cuisine.
Of course, a stay in Darjeeling wouldn’t be complete without visiting or ideally staying at a Darjeeling tea plantation.
Hotels in Darjeeling:
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Itineraries in India:
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Stay at a Darjeeling Tea Estate with Secret Retreats and Explore the Surrounding AttractionsWondering where the best place to stay in Darjeeling is? The best hotels in Darjeeling aren’t your typical hotels, but Darjeeling tea plantations. During your stay at a Darjeeling tea estate with Secret Retreats, take advantage of the fresh mountain air, peaceful tea fields and let the slow pace of local life unwind and relax you. Staying right on the grounds of a working tea plantation that has been owned by local tea planters for generations allows for an added level of authenticity and historical charm throughout your Darjeeling holiday. Away from your heritage bungalow, explore the other rich cultural practices and unique attractions of the region.
The population of Darjeeling is made up of people from India, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan, and Nepali is the primary spoken language. It is common to witness Hindu priests and Buddhists monks praying side by side in Mahakal temple, one of many striking Buddhist temples and monasteries in and around the town - which has a predominantly Buddhist population.
Join in the daily prayers for world peace at the Japanese Peace Pagoda, built under the guidance of a Japanese Buddhist monk or if, it’s due to be a clear day, set out in the morning to pay homage to nature and head up Tiger Hill to watch the sunrise light up the snowy peaks of Mount Kanchenjunga
and Mount Everest beyond.
As mentioned above, one of the region’s most popular attractions is the iconic Darjeeling Himalayan Railway which was completed by the British in 1881 and has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known locally as the toy train due to its small scale (2ft gauge) it runs from New Jalpaiguri on the valley floor at just 100m above sea level to Darjeeling at 2,200m above sea level, quite a climb!
These are just a few of the many things to see and do in Darjeeling.
Enjoy the Famed Darjeeling Tea from the Best Darjeeling Tea EstatesNaturally, one can’t go to Darjeeling without tasting its eponymous brew. Highlight your Darjeeling tea estate stay by trying the popular tea direct from its source. More than 80 tea gardens carpet the hills around Darjeeling, and you can witness or even participate in the tea harvesting process or take a guided tour around an estate’s factory whether you’re staying at the Darjeeling tea plantation or at other Darjeeling hotels.
Darjeeling tea is often considered one of the finest teas in the world. A light to medium-bodied black tea, it can only be called Darjeeling tea if it comes from Darjeeling. Floral with a strong fruity aroma, Darjeeling teas are the highest elevation produced teas in the world, with the high altitude conditions resulting in a distinct tea leaf and highly unique flavour. To ensure the highest quality product, Darjeeling tea is hand-picked and produced with tremendous care taken throughout the entire process.
Experts recommend steeping Darjeeling tea in water that’s slightly lower than boiling temperature for two to three minutes. However, tastes vary, and experimentation is encouraged to find the perfect balance because the best way to have tea is the way you like it!
Don’t forget to take some away with you as the perfect souvenir from your stay at a Darjeeling tea plantation.
Immerse Yourself in the Natural Beauty surrounding Darjeeling Hill Station with Secret RetreatsIn addition to the plantations, Darjeeling is home to a vast variety of flora and fauna. Some are dependent on the altitude while others come and go with the seasons. This means spring brings a burst of colour and life to the town and surrounding countryside. Indigenous trees include oaks, chestnuts, cherry, maple, birch, alder and more. In the upper hills and the alpine zones are the conifers, yews, spruces and evergreens, to name a few. Colourful flowers include rhododendrons, magnolias, marigolds, pink cherry blossoms, pear blossoms and peach blossoms.
In the winter, Darjeeling’s fragrant orange orchards are ripe for the picking and the oranges from Darjeeling are known for being particularly juicy and sweet. The wildlife in the region is just as varied, being home to monkeys, otters, leopards, tigers, foxes, bears, porcupines, and even the very rare and protected pangolin. In the lower altitude forests and foothills live elephants, bison and the single-horned rhinoceros. Also boasting another 600 species of birds in the region, the Darjeeling and the surrounding hills and valleys are a nature lovers paradise in more ways than one.
Start Planning Your Darjeeling Tea Estate Stay
Perhaps pair your Darjeeling tea estates holiday with a visit to Calcutta, a fascinating steeped in history. Find the best hotels in Darjeeling and Darjeeling tea plantations by contacting the Secret Retreats concierge and begin planning your magical Darjeeling holiday tailored with the personal touches of the local hosts and the care and attention to detail from your Secret Retreats concierge.
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