Darjeeling, Queen of the Hills


Darjeeling's toy train


Darjeeling, Queen of the Hills
Today as much as in the past, Darjeeling has always been the favourite place for people to escape the heat of the plains. In contrast with the very romantic idea that we had, Darjeeling is now also a small but bustling city with around 100,000 inhabitants. The city is spread out on the flanks of several steep hills and very few of its roads can be accessed by car. It is a city full of character and history.



Darjeeling's houses
Darjeeling developed as a tea production area under the impetus of the British. As the city grew, many public buildings and private homes were constructed in the style of the time. Today, many of these are in a very poor state but getting lost in Darjeeling's small street is a delight as we discovered one beautiful building after the other.


Darjeeling is about 70 km South of the Himalaya and it is not common to see the mountains during the monsoon. We must have been lucky because one early morning, the sky was clear and we rushed outside to discover a clear panorama of the mountains around the Kanchenjunga, the world's highest mountain at 8598 m.


They don't come much higher that this one at 8598 m


On the roof of the world, one early morning in Darjeeling, India


Darjeeling tea
The name Darjeeling is of course synonymous with tea. The city is surrounded by tea plantations and tea estates that can be visited. Tea manufacturing is by far the major activity of the region as it produces a quarter of all Indian tea.


Inside a tea estate. Tea is processed in the following steps : weathering for 24 hours, rolling (centre picture), several size selections, fermentation, drying and quality inspection


The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
Darjeeling is home to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute that was founded following Tenzing Norquay's first ascent of Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. Tenzing lived in Darjeeling as Director of the Institute until his death in 1986. The museum houses loads of objects and equipment that were used on various expeditions on Everest over the years. It was fascinating to see the evolution of equipment used over the 100 or so years that men and women have battled the highest peak on earth. Next to the Institute is a zoo where the endangered snow leopards have found "refuge". 


Many Tibetans refugees live in the various regions South of the Himalaya... 



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