Travel Guide 48 hours in Darjeeling, West Bengal, India

by Akash Arjun

Almost everyone has sat down with a hot cup of Darjeeling tea at some point, but only a fraction of that number really knows anything about the colonial hill town where the tea is produced, let alone has taken the effort to go there. Discover hidden gems, vibrant cities, and breathtaking landscapes. Plan your adventure today! There wasn’t much to see in the area around Darjeeling until a Scottish doctor named Archibald Campbell planted some Chinese tea plants in the region’s rich soil.

Travel Guide 48 hours in Darjeeling, West Bengal, India

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Famous Darjeeling steam train, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Darjeeling, India.

Darjeeling Steam Train, a UNESCO World Heritage SiteImage source: RuslanKphoto/


Once used to transport British soldiers, tea growers, and Indian Civil Service workers from the foothills of the Himalayas to the mountain towns of Darjeeling and Siliguri, the original steam railway was constructed in Glasgow and is still in operation today. PLACES TO VISIT IN CHANDIGARH WITH FRIENDS.

The train’s whistle and roar reverberate through the air, thick white clouds of smoke billow from the massive locomotive engines, and the streets are narrow and tortuous as they make their way through. 

Plan ahead and arrive at Darjeeling station early to get a return ticket to Ghum, and watch for the train as it emerges from behind wooden houses perched on the brink of cliffs. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery of green tea plants tumbling down the steep Darjeeling hills from your seat on the left side of the train on the way to Ghum and your right side on the way back, while you wave and take photographs with curious residents as the train passes near their homes. MOST BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN CHANDIGARH AND MOHALI.

Tibetan Buddhist Monastery

Impressive statue of Maitreya at Likir Gompa (Monastery) in Ladakh, India.

Statue of Maitreya at Likir Gompa in Ladakh, IndiaImage source: Mazur Travel/


The meandering roads and tea plantations of the hill town are dwarfed by the massive Buddhist monastery, the biggest in West Bengal.

Plan your trip to coincide with the evening prayer session, when monks of varying ages sit in rows in front of a huge Buddha statue and make a lot of noise by chanting, slamming drums, blowing horns and trumpets, ringing bells, and smashing cymbals.

It’s a sensory overload, what with not knowing what to look for or listen for, not knowing what’s going on, and enjoying the flavor of what seems to be a sweet milky tea but is really a savory butter tea called po cha.

To mark the beginning and finish of prayer time, young monks will blow conch shells, which will reverberate across the area.

Tea Factory Visit

Close-up of fresh tea leaves before drying in a tea factory, Sri Lanka.

Fresh Tea Leaves Before DryingImage source: Goskova Tatiana/

While in the country that first began producing tea, you must take a tour of a working tea factory. The hills are dotted with dozens, if not hundreds, of facilities that process, package, and ship tea all over the globe. These industries are isolated from the planters’ homes and immaculate rows of green tea plants.

Although Happy Valley Tea Estate is the most well-known tea producer, it is not as historically significant as the neighboring Tukvar, Puttabong Tea Estate. Opened in 1852, the factory is situated in the heart of Darjeeling’s biggest estate in the town’s most northern area. You can see how tea leaves are cleaned, rolled, heated, sorted, packed, and cleaned again.

Have fun exploring the many nuances of Darjeeling tea. There are many different types of tea, including black whole-leaf tea, broken-leaf black tea, whole-leaf green tea, and green fannings tea.

Some of the more exotic varieties include green tea notes in the first flush (Springtime Bloom), muscatel notes in the summer (Summer Solstice), and the semi-fermented darjoolong.

Shopping for Tea

Exterior view of a tea shop in Darjeeling, West Bengal, India.

Tea Shop in Darjeeling, IndiaImage source: tengatt/

There are innumerable tea stalls and wooden stores in this area, all owned by different families and all selling, you guessed it, Darjeeling tea. Finding the best tea is an art, and haggling down the costs from crafty Indian traders who need to support their families is even more of a feat.

Find a place that sells loose teas and experiment with making your own unique flavor. You can be certain that wherever you go and whatever you wind up purchasing, you will be getting a much superior product at a far more reasonable price than you would in a western supermarket.


The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Mountain Zoo

Sign at the entrance of Himalayan Zoo Park in Darjeeling, India.

Entrance Sign of Himalayan Zoo Park in Darjeeling, IndiaImage source: RuslanKphoto/


The Indian government founded the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) in honor of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary’s 1953 Everest expedition. Explore the climbing museum, which has innumerable artifacts honoring mountaineers from all over the world, many of whom made Darjeeling their home for some time.

Take a look at the small number of individuals who have reached the summit of Mount Everest, the photos of great explorers that adorn the walls, and the flags of the countries that have funded these expeditions.

A mountain zoo can be found all around the HMI building. Wander around the enclosures housing some of the rarest and least understood species on the planet. Check out the red panda, the fox, the wolf, the fox, the numerous types of deer, and the birds. If you wanted to, you could easily spend a whole day here.

Dinner at the Windamere Hotel

Very few Indian establishments now make an effort to evoke the Raj era. The hotel’s restaurant, Windamere, serves such meals. A large continental-meets-Indian 5-course silver service dinner buffet set to the soft sounds of 1930s music will leave diners with lasting memories. On any given day, you could discover a Sunday roast served with chicken korma and rice, jam roly-poly with custard, and a cup of Darjeeling tea.

Fact File

Take a flight to Bagdogra Airport from Kolkata (Calcutta) or Delhi to reach Darjeeling. Prices for one-way tickets on Jet Airways’ flight from Delhi to Bagdogra start at INR 5,195 (approximately £56), and on IndiGo’s flight from Kolkata to Bagdogra, they start at INR 2,859 (about £28) in January 2019.

It takes around three hours to travel from Bagdogra Airport up into the hills to Darjeeling. There are a plethora of rental car services and vehicles available with drivers that can help you out here.

If you’re looking for a place to stay in the center of this hill town, go no farther than the historic colonial Windamere Hotel, one of the most recognized hotels in India. Rates for a single night’s stay with two meals included begin at INR 11,000 (+ GST), or around £118.


As the sun sets on your whirlwind adventure through Coorg, you may find yourself both exhilarated and contemplative. While your journey has been brief, it has undoubtedly left an indelible mark, planting the seeds of future explorations. India, with its lush coffee plantations, cascading waterfalls, and rich cultural heritage, is a destination that begs for further discovery. Your day has provided a mere glimpse into its abundant offerings, leaving you with a taste for more.

Plan your trip with ontravelx and get ready for a journey full of breathtaking sights and priceless memories.


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