sawli si raat ho
Darjeeling, one of the most beautiful towns in West Bengal, is known particularly for its tea industry. A popular hill station at an elevation of 6710 ft., Darjeeling has a rich cultural diversity and attracts tourists for its pleasant weather, beautiful scenes and trekking opportunities. It came in prominence in the mid-19th century with just a cluster of villages. The hills are a part of the lesser Himalayas and the flora and fauna consists of various species such as Oak, Alpine forests and elephants, leopards, hog deer and tigers. It is also famous worldwide for Darjeeling Himalayan Roadways, a UNESCO world heritage site.
The youthful yet quiet vibe generated by the atmosphere in Darjeeling makes you desire to spend time in its serenity and holiness.
Bollywood has been giving a lot of love and importance to this beautiful hill station. From Aaye Din Bahar ke in 1966 to Barfi in 2012, Bollywood has never hesitated to capture the charm of the hills since the early times of movie making.
Darjeeling Clock Tower
The dings at every hour and the pleasant musical note of the huge clock compliment the surrounding and make the atmosphere more appreciable. It was built by Late Rai Sahib Kharga who was the founder of Darjeeling town. The tower acts as an important landmark in the town and many hotels and restaurants have been constructed around the monument, therefore making it the most happening place in town. The Clock tower has been very well placed in the backdrop in the song Mein Kya Karoon of the movie Barfi (2012).
Scene: Main kya karoon song sequence
St. Paul School
Once the highest public school in the world situated at a height of 7800ft above sea level, this 190 year old School has been a preferred shooting location for many Bollywood directors right from the 70’s. Founded in 1823 the school is set on a picturesque backdrop of the beautiful blue mountain ranges and it is a treat to the eyes. A big tourist attraction many people throng the valley to get simply a snap or two at this location.
Raj Kapoor came down to this school to shoot his childhood (played by Rishi Kapoor) in Mera Naam Joker but he couldn’t resist coming back again and came back to shoot for Bobby (Rishi Kapoor’s debut movie). Even Farah Khan also chose it to shoot her directorial debut film Main Hoon Na here. Even Anurag Basu who had his movie based out of Darjeeling ensured he had made this school as part of the movie Barfi where the school is called as Muskaan. The final shot of the movie has been beautifully shot with the school in the backdrop that left audience mesmerized by the serenity of the place.
Scene: Barfi closing scene (Muskaan) & Shahrukh’s School in Main hoon na
Darjeeling Toy Train
A joy ride between Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri, which takes you on a tour to the outskirts of Siliguri, crossing the Mahanadi River and through the spell bounding tea gardens, is the most popular tourist attraction in town. You also witness the charming view of the woods at the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Operating on a narrow gauge since 1800s, the toy train has been granted the status of World Heritage by UNESCO. The train moves at a slow pace and lets you absor the marvelous beauty of Darjeeling.
This picturesque site has not been missed by filmmakers. Some of the movies that have been shot here are Parineeta (2005), Barfi (2012), and Jab Pyaar Kisi Se Hota Hai (1961). Who can forget the legendary Rajesh Khanna driving the roads of Darjeeling on an open Jeep with the beautiful Sharmila Tagore in the toy train who seems to be fascinated by the song Mere Sapno ki rani kab ayegi tu being sung by Rajesh Khanna. The small steam engine train can also been seen in the songs such as Kasto Maza, Mai Kya Karoon, Jiya o Jiya Kuch Bol Do.
Scene: Main Kya Karoon scene sequence from Barfi & Kasto Majja from Parineeta
Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary/Sukhna Forest Range
Under the area of reserved forests, Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is two and a half hour drive away from Darjeeling. Spread across an area of 158 sq. km, the sanctuary is under the control of the Darjeeling Wildlife Division of Government of West Bengal. Safaris are organized both in the morning as well as evening for the visitors to witness 330 different types of plantation 36 different species of mammals. The sanctuary is also famous for the Royal Bengal Tigers and elephants. It is also a paradise for bird lovers with approximately 243 variety of species of birds.
The beautiful song Kyon from the movie Barfi (2012), was shot in these serene woods.
Scene: Kyon song sequence
Darjeeling Tea Estates
You can’t visit Darjeeling and not explore the green tea gardens of Darjeeling. It is a unique experience to stay in the Darjeeling tea estate, wake up amidst the lush garden, sip a cup of finest tea, stroll through the garden and learn tea processing in factories. It is an opportunity to experience the nature close enough. You also get to interact with the locals and enjoy the music and local cultural dance in the evening.
The tea gardens are captured in the movie Parineeta (2005) in the song Kasto Mazza.
Scene: Kasto Maaza song sequence
Highest point in Darjeeling area at an altitude of 8482 ft., Tiger Hills provides an extravagant view of the picturesque Himalayan ranges. It is situated 11 km from the main town. The sunrise and sunset is something to witness and is a beautiful sedative experience.
A popular tourist spot, Suntalekhola is a small village which is an ideal nature retreat. It is a starting spot for treks to the Neora Valley National Park. The place is also home to rare species of birds and butterflies.
Mirik is a well-known tourist spot in the midst of calm and beautiful hills with Sumendu Lake complimenting the serenity of the environment. The place is roughly about two and a half hour drive which helps you explore Darjeeling, closely passing through the tea plantations.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
If you are inclined towards climbing and travelling, you should surely get involved with the institute. It gives a great deal of information on mountaineering and lets you start off with your passion of mountaineering.
Darjeeling is a destination suitable for organization of trek and adventure tours. If you are in for some love of adventure you should surely take the Sandakphu trek through the Singalila Range. The trek offers you moments to cherish. The trek takes you on a tour of the Himalayas and the villages of Darjeeling.
A small town 50 km away from Darjeeling, Kalimpong is a wonderful town with various Tibetan monasteries. It was a trade gateway from Tibet and China and therefor the area has an influence of the same. The place is also inhabited by the migrants from the north.
There are direct flights to Bagdogra, the closest airport which is 94 Km from Darjeeling, from the major cities of India. Shared taxis and buses are not available but you could hire a private taxi to reach Darjeeling.
Siliguri Bus stand is the stop for Darjeeling and the bus services are also good. Private as well as shared taxis
The closest railway station is Jalpaiguri which is approximately 33 km from Darjeeling on NH-55. You could take a jeep, taxi or a bus to Darjeeling. A few trains also pass through Siliguri.
There are a numerous mainstream hotel options near and around the clock tower. But if you wish to stay at some offbeat locations you might want to check out some hamlets like Takdah, Lamahatta, Tinchuley and Latpanchar. People here offer homestays which are budget friendly and you get to stay at beautiful locations.
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