Trip Tips: Tea, trains and tales from India's Darjeeling
By Tony Tharakan
DARJEELING India (Reuters) - Darjeeling, for many people, means tea, but the eponymous hill resort nestled in the Himalayas in India's northeast is also a gateway to spectacular views of the world's third highest peak as well as a rare glimpse of snow leopards and red pandas.
There also are reminders of India's colonial past, including a narrow-gauge railway known as the "Toy Train" that makes a tourist run into the hills under power of a steam locomotive.
Visitors willing to make the extra pilgrimage to Sikkim, the Indian state to the north of West Bengal, where Darjeeling is located, can get a taste of Tibetan culture without visiting the Chinese-ruled region.
Here are tips for getting the most out of a trip to Darjeeling and nearby areas from Reuters, whose 2,600 journalists in all parts of the world offer visitors the best local insights.
The closest airport, Bagdogra, is 90 km (56 miles) from Darjeeling. Perched at an altitude of 2,134 meters (7,000 feet), Darjeeling is said to have derived its name from Dorje-ling, which means "land of the mystic thunderbolt".
The best time to visit is October to November or February to April. It's never too warm in Darjeeling and there is often a drizzle. Taxis ferrying tourists often jam the narrow lanes, and cabs sometimes dash across the rail tracks that run alongside, causing drivers of the slow-moving "Toy Train" to sound a warning hoot. Continued...