• Abhilasha Iyer

The Land of the Thunderbolt

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

Darjeeling. A word many associate with tea but don’t bother to see the bigger picture. Come, let’s sweep aside the veil of ignorance and open up our minds to this mystic, enthralling hill station tucked in the far corners of West Bengal.

Darjeeling is derived from the Tibetan work “Dorje” meaning Thunderbolt and “Ling” meaning place. White mists rolling over the mountains hide the breath taking view of the tea estates and rivers, occasionally letting our eyes feast on the great platter of Mother Nature.

Winding roads cutting through the hills are the only way to your destination. But don’t worry! The drivers have infinite skill and will make sure you reach your destination safely no matter what the situation may be.

Ranging in variety you can pick hundreds of teas, cups, strainers, pots and other tea time crockery at the famed Golden Tips shops. Tea varies in flush, color, flavor and price.  

The Peace Pagoda welcomes with its Nirvana – like atmosphere and beautiful cherry blossoms that make you feel eternally grateful to life. Don’t forget to click pictures but avoid talking loudly as the atmosphere is shattered and your mind will go back to its usual turmoil of thoughts.

The Darjeeling Zoo consists of many a species belonging to the cat family. Almost all of these animals are endangered. Seeing the majestic Black Panther and Clouded Leopard, you will fall in love with wildlife. Gaze in awe at the King of the Zoo, the great tiger as you watch him walk in front of you (if you are lucky) and see it flex its muscles to the surface of its skin like a ripple in water.  Feel a wave of happiness as you look at the Red Panda and its antics as it saunters up the tree to forage for food.

Black Panther Clouded Leopard Red Panda

Visit the monasteries and gaze in wonder at the simplicity of the life of rosy cheeked monks. 

The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center is a must visit and is the best place to pick up souvenirs. By doing so, you are helping the Tibetan refugees. The beauty is that even the 90+ year old refugees work hard to earn a respectable living.

Tenzing Norgay is a much respected man who worked so hard climbing the numerous rocks that he finally scaled the Everest. You can climb the Tenzing Norgay rock, a popular place where Mr. Norgay practiced for the Everest expedition. The tourists can enjoy climbing the rock. For more professional climbing, the Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering is the best place to take classes in mountaineering.

Go on a joy ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The toy train is one of great beauty and reminds you of the trains in old movies with steam billowing out of the engines. You can stay at many hotels, homestays or AirBnBs and indulge in the Indo-Tibetan cuisine that consists of the much loved momos. Make sure to book well in advance as Darjeeling is a popular tourist destination.

About the Author

Tisya Aluru studies in Grade 7 at Sri Kumaran's Children's Home, Bangalore.She is a sport climber and enjoys climbing trees too. Her interests are reading, playing chess, Carnatic vocal music and playing with dogs. During the lockdown she focussed on her workouts, wave boarded around the house and enjoyed flips and hanging upside down from my pull-up bar.

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