travel-quest specialist travel directory
travel-quest specialist travel listings

Rodney Appleyard and Dan Thory have now moved north to Darjeeling from where they take in breathtaking views of the Himalayas, glimpse the peek of Everest, marvel at the beauty of Buddhist temples and enjoy the sites of a very different Indian city.

Main search page

Latest travel news
New additions

Special Searches

Submit a site
Travel Co Admin

Contact travel-quest


Darjeeling – admire mountains from a seat in the clouds

Rodney Appleyard and Dan Thory have headed north to the mountains and are inspired by views of the 'abode of the gods' – the Himalayan mountains – and the fascinating sites in and around Darjeeling.

Don't try looking for food or drink in Darjeeling after 10 p.m., because you won't find anything, and you'll probably get lost in the dark streets when the street lamps get turned off at this time too. Even if you do stay awake and try to have a conversation, you will find yourself whispering, hoping desperately that you won't wake up anybody nearby.

But it's worth it, because people in Darjeeling live for the day, not the night, and you'll do exactly the same after a couple of days. There is so much to see and do between the hours of sunrise and sunset

Our first night was spent at the Aliment Hotel, which featured a roof top view of the Himalayan mountain range, including Mount Everest. The landlord warned us that he would wake us up at 5.30 a.m. the following day so we could see the mountains at sunrise. He stuck to his word and what a beautiful site it was too! We watched the light reflect its early morning colours on top of Kanchanjunga, the third tallest mountain in the world. This was enough to get us addicted to the early-to-bed and early-to-rise policy of Darjeeling, so we immediately agreed to get up even earlier for the big one – a trip to 'Tiger Hill' at 4.30 a.m.

Tiger Hill
Tiger Hill is a very famous spot where crowds gather every cloudless morning to watch an even clearer view of the sun rising over the whole mountain range. This view, from 8,482 feet high, includes a view of Mount Everest's peak.

Apart from the opportunity of trekking up mountains through the clouds and white water rafting the rivers in the valleys, there are many fascinating things to do in and around Darjeeling.

Darjeeling Zoo
Even if you don't believe in keeping animals in captivity, Darjeeling Zoo is worth a visit because they protect endangered species, including some of the most unusual animals in the world. Amongst these are Red Pandas, Siberian Tigers, Yaks, Snow Leopards and Himalayan bears. We felt that the Red Pandas were by far the most fascinating of all of these creatures; these appealing animals live almost entirely on a diet of bamboo and their natural habitats are the bamboo forests of the Himalayan mountains, extending through Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Burma, and Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in western China. The loss of this natural habitat has put them on the endangered list.

The Darjeeling Tea Plantation
The Darjeeling Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway service (the first of its kind in India), carries you over the Darjeeling Tea Plantation via cable car. Here they are reputed to make the best tea in the world. Once you are travelling over the plantation, you can watch people below you picking the tea leaves, and can then enjoy a cup at the bottom, amongst a breathtaking view of the valleys and mountains.

The Mount Everest Mountaineering Institute
Just north of the Zoo is the Mount Everest Mountaineering Institute, which contains invaluable exhibits and artefacts from travellers and climbers from all over the world who have conquered Everest. Tenzing Norgay (Sherpa), who together with Edmund Hillary was one of the first people to set foot on the summit of Everest, lived in Darjeeling for much of his life. Tenzing Norgay was one of the founding members of the Mount Everest Mountaineering Institute and was also its Field Director.

Darjeeling monasteries
Darjeeling is surrounded by beautiful monasteries built in idyllic and remote locations. The monks are very content here because they are isolated enough to meditate and are inspired by the environment. We met an Australian woman who had decided to become a Buddhist nun in Darjeeling. Aniyang chen, as she is now known, told us why Darjeeling is such a special place for monks and nuns:

Aniyang chen: "I have been in Darjeeling for two years. I first read about the Dali Lama's teachings in Australia 10 years ago and I came here because of the special Tibetan language school and Darjeeling's interesting Buddhist history.

A monk once meditated for days/weeks next to a holy stone, which is called 'Dorje' in Tibet. His dedication and sacrifice made a huge impression on the people, and Darjeeling's name is derived from the word 'Dorje', based on this story. The monk made this place sacred and both Hindus and Buddhists now worship at this spot, which is called Observatory Hill.

Many Tibetans fled Tibet in 1959 to live in India. The higher Lamas settled in Darjeeling and set up monasteries, which is why there is a strong Buddhist presence here now."

Darjeeling is ideally set up for tourism and there are numerous trekking opportunities, but the scenery and the lifestyle of the locals and Buddhists is equally fascinating. In Darjeeling you can feel a part of the community very quickly – because everybody seems proud to live in the clouds.

Text © Rodney Appleyard, photographs © Dan Thory, 2003