Located 2,200 metres up in the cool Himalaya, the much-loved hill station of Darjeeling is famed for its characteristic black tea grown on plantations that carpet the surrounding hillsides.
The snowy summit of Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, dominates the skyline of this historic colonial outpost. Home to the British Raj until 1947, Darjeeling’s refreshing climate made it the perfect respite from the sweltering Calcutta summers. The British Raj elite would head for the hills aboard the slow but scenic Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (Toy Train), a narrow gauge railway still in use by visitors today.
Modern-day Darjeeling is a blend of jaw-dropping mountain views, mock-Tudor houses, Gothic Victorian architecture, elaborate Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries. The city is home to a thriving Buddhist community alongside the predominant population of Nepalese descendants, Lepchas and refugee Tibetans. There are narrow, winding streets and markets where you can purchase hand-woven textiles, spices and steaming cups of spiced chai. Climb Tiger Hill at dawn to watch the sunrise over the Himalayas and, on clear days, see the tip of Mount Everest.
Often referred to as the ‘champagne’ of teas, Darjeeling tea is celebrated for its light colour and wonderful floral aroma. Take a tea plantation and factory tour for a chance to meet the pickers and learn all about the tea making process. For an even more immersive experience, stay overnight at a working plantation such as the historic Glenburn Tea Estate to enjoy blissful days wandering the tea fields, fishing and sipping on freshly brewed cups of Darjeeling tea from your private veranda.