Darjeeling, for its elevated mountain ridge, green-sheathed tea plantations and panoramic snow-covered Himalayan ranges, is in true sense the pride of West Bengal. Apart from the enjoying intoxicating view of Khangchendzonga (8598 m), you can roam around the colonial-era buildings, spot red pandas and snow leopards at the nearby zoo and seek peace in Buddhist monasteries. Take a stroll down the steep narrow streets crowded with a stream of Himalayan faces from parts of Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet. If fatigue starts to mount your pace, rejuvenate yourself with a steaming Darjeeling brew. Post-monsoon (October and November) and the spring season (mid-March to the end of May) is the best time to visit Darjeeling; skies are clear, temperatures are pleasant and panoramas are enthralling during these months.
This is the time (specified as ‘high season’) when tourists head for Darjeeling in huge numbers. Darjeeling is perfectly placed over a west-facing slope amidst the maze of intersecting roads and elevated flights of steps. Chowrasta which is situated in vicinity to the top of town, and Clubside junction are the two main squares of Darjeeling. These are connected to each other through pedestrianised Nehru Rd (also knon as the Mall), the main shopping street here. Hill Cart or Tenzing Norgay Rd extend to the length of the busiest lower bazaar.
Before invading Gorkha from Nepal captured Sikkim in 1780, Buddhist chogyals (kings) were ruling it. In 1816, the East India Company took control over the region however they returned most of the region back to Sikkim, at the condition British holding the control in case of any border disputes. The chogyal of Sikkim were grateful to British for this deal and were ready to lease the uninhabited land of the state to the East India Company in exchange of an annual fee of £3000. The year 1835 saw the origin of Dorje Ling, a hill station of Darjeeling, where the first tea bushes were planted in the very year. Soon forest got transformed into colonial houses and tea plantations. The population of Darjeeling had become 10,000 by 1857, the reason being the massive immigration of Gorkha laborer’s from Nepal.
Post-Independence, the Gorkha grew as the main political power in Darjeeling. Following their dissidence with the state government, they’d called for a separate state of Gorkhaland by 1980s. In midst of riots, violence and killing, channelized by the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), state government granted a large measure of autonomy Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) in 1986. Meanwhile the calls for full secession continued to quake the region. In 2007, BimalGurung formed Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) out of the GNLF.