Darjeeling - The Queen of Hills
India is a country of diversity that resides in harmony with people of all cultures and walks of life. Among this diversity is the landscape crafted with such precision and beauty that they are marvels across the world. One such place in India is the famous hill station of Darjeeling which is nestled on the mountains ranges of Kanchenjunga. This mind-blowing town is well known across the world for its phenomenal views and the one-on-one experience with pure nature. Even though it only covers approximately 1144 sq km, it attracts more than millions of tourists from around the world every year. Its rich natural and cultural heritage will fascinate you and leave you wanting more as you explore every nook and cranny of this marvelous town. Those who enjoy communing with nature and spending time in a peaceful and calm environment can truly embrace the spirit of Darjeeling.
Where is Darjeeling Situated?
It is a district in West Bengal, a state in India and is a popular tourist destination all through out the year. Among the many things it offers is the delicious Darjeeling Tea and the toy train which has been declared as a UN heritage. The hill rises to an altitude of more than 12,000 feet, from the Terai and Dooars plains in Bengal. The district is mainly divided into three Kurseong, Darjeeling and Kalimpong. They mainly constitute of hilly areas and the sub division of Siliguri resides in the plains. Darjeeling being a northern town, has many people who grew up on the mountain ranges identify themselves as Bhutanese, Nepalese, Tibetan or Lepcha according to their ancestry.
You will find the Indian state of Sikkim towards the north of Darjeeling, it faces the border of Nepal to the West and is surrounded by the plains of West Bengal towards the South and East. Darjeeling is not only an amalgamation of cultures but also a mix when it comes to religion. Even though a majority of the population follows the Hindu religion, there are some who follow Tibetan Buddhism and many other religions.
Culture of Darjeeling
Just like many other places in India, Darjeeling has a culture which is quite unique to it. As there are people from all spheres of life which contributes to a diverse yet unique manner of living. There are mainly two religions that are followed by the majority, Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. There are other religions too and many of the festivals that decorate the culture of Darjeeling include Ram Navami, Dashain, Buddha Jayanti, Christmas, Tihar and Holi. There are a large number of Buddhist ethnicities which include Bhutias, Lepchas, Sherpas, Tamangs, Gurungs and Yolmos. They celebrate Losar which is a new year festival which starts on January and comes to an end towards the end of February. Other festivals celebrated by the Buddhist ethnicities include Tendong Lho Rumfaat, Chotrul Duchen and Maghe Sankranti.
The Khambus or the Kiranti Rai people also have festivals unique to their beliefs such as the Sakela festivals of Ubhauli and Udhauli. All of these festivals and songs give Darjeeling a regional uniqueness that sets it apart from the other tourist destinations in India.
Food in Darjeeling
Just like its culture, Darjeeling is home to some unique cuisines that has made its rounds across the world and is quite popular. As mentioned earlier, Darjeeling has a diverse collection of ethnicities which means that each group has a food culture which is unique to them. Some of the most popular food items that you will discover in Darjeeling are momos which is a doughy wrapping filled with pork, chicken vegetables or beef, gundruk is a type of leafy vegetable which is dried and fermented, kinema is made of fermented soy beans, sinki, Wai-Wai, chhurpi and thukpa. There are number of restaurants that serve inter-continental cuisines as well as Indo Chinese cuisines to tourist.
When it comes to beverages, Tea is the most popular drink in Darjeeling and it is procured form the Darjeeling tea garden which is famous for exporting the best quality tea leaves. They also enjoy coffee as well as a local alcoholic drink called Chhang which is made of fermented millet, rice or maize.
Entertainment in Darjeeling
When it comes to entertainment, the people of Darjeeling spend a good amount of their time listening to and singing music. This admiration for music has made many musicians emerge from Darjeeling among which many are from the genre of Nepali rock music. Western music is extremely popular especially with the youth of the region. Other forms of entertainment include Football which is a widely celebrated sport in Darjeeling.