Darjeeling…it’s not just about Tea!

After a few days in Delhi, I decided to head to the hills and the cooler weather of the hill station of Darjeeling.

The road trip to Darjeeling takes a couple of hours, nearly as long as the flight to Bagdogra but the views are lovely and the time goes quickly.

If you are a train enthusiast, you might want to catch the famous Darjeeling toy train that takes you from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway’s toy train is one of the few hill trains that still operates.


Copyright attributed to WildVanilla


As we drove closer to Darjeeling, we climbed higher and higher often being surrounded by clouds. Darjeeling stands at 6000 ft above sea level. Tea plantations surrounded us, the dark green of the tea bushes broken only by the colours of the women working in the fields.

Tea Plantations in Darjeeling


I was not staying in Darjeeling but on Glenburn Tea Estate, about an hour from the town.


Glenburn Tea Estate Collage.jpg  

Staying here meant that whenever I could, I would wander around the hills watching the women with their baskets on their backs picking the tea leaves and chatting to them and learning about tea. Did you know that green black and white tea all comes from the one leaf!

Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling


Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling


The leaves would then be sorted in the factory.

Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling


I’d pop down to the nearby village of Shilkari Dura….

Shilkari Dura village, Darjeeling

A home in the village of Shilkari Dura on the Glenburn Tea Estate


Shilkari Dura Village, Darjeeling

Children wait to fill their pots with water


Shilkari Dura Village, Darjeeling

One of the beautiful old men of the village


One day we headed into Darjeeling.  We wandered through the Mall, the main street of Darjeeling lined with tempting shops selling local crafts and antiques, admired the colonial architecture and stopped for tea at one of the old tea rooms.

The Mall, Darjeeling


One of the highlights was a visit to the Ghoom Monastery about six kilometres from Darjeeling. It was established in 1850 and belongs to the Yellow Sect of Buddhists also known as Gelupka.

Ghoom Monastery, Darjeeling


They worship this 15 feet statue of the Buddha known as the Maitreya, that was built in 1875.

Ghoom Monastery's Buddha, Darjeeling

The large buddha in Ghoom Monastery


Ghoom Monastery, Darjeeling

Buddhist prayer wheels being spun


We also visited the Tibetan Refugee Centre which was established in 1959 to support Tibetans who followed the Dalai Lama out of Tibet. Many of the elderly Tibetans here are artisans…weaving, knitting and making rugs to support their community.

Tibetan Refugee Centre, Darjeeling

Tibetan Refugee Centre,Darjeeling

Darjeeling is definitely off the beaten track but once you are here there are many other places to tempt you to visit……Bhutan is only a couple of hours away!!



Other articles you may enjoy:
High in the Mountains of India
The Faded Frescoes of the Shekawati
Kumaon Village Walks
Sri Lanka’s Lion Rock





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31 Responses to Darjeeling…it’s not just about Tea!

  1. jmledwellwrites April 4, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    Beautiful post! Some of these pictures make me feel like I want to crawl into Elephant Walk.

    • Jenny Freedman April 4, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

      Thank you. I hadn’t thought of that movie though it was based in Ceylon as it was known then. Elizabeth Taylor in her hey day!

  2. The Tablescaper April 4, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    So interesting. Great photos.

    I’d love to have you link to my weekly link party “Oh, the PLACES I’ve been!”

    – Alma, The Tablescaper

    • Jenny Freedman April 4, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

      Thank you. I’ve heard about your link..a few of my friends join up each week. I’ll check it out but somehow I don’t think I’ll make it until the A to Z challenge is finished. it’s taking up quite a bit of time!

  3. Ann April 4, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    What an experience! I love tea. I’m embarrassed to say this, though, even though I saw the moving Darjeeling Express several times it never occurred to me that Darjeeling is a place. I always thought of it as more of a tea process.

    • Jenny Freedman April 4, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

      It was fun Ann. You knew about the tea..that’s all that matters! I’ll have to check out the movie!

      • Ann April 4, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

        It’s a good movie. You really feel India. But, now I wonder if they do make mention of traveling to Darjeeling and I never noticed. Ha ha ha.

  4. Corinne April 4, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    Jenny. This totally looks like my kind of place! Gorgeous photos!

    • Jenny Freedman April 4, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

      It’s definitely off the beaten track Corinne!

  5. Rhonda Albom April 4, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    I had never really thought about Darjeeling before, but now I will. Your photos really tell a story, the words almost not needed, but filling in the details. Thanks .

  6. Jessica | A Passion and A Passport April 4, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    Lovely photos! I have to admit I’ve never heard of Darjeeling before! And I love tea! Love the emotions you captured in the photos!

    • Jenny Freedman April 5, 2014 at 6:41 am #

      Thanks Jessica. Darjeeling tea is THE tea! You must try some if you get the chance. The people were lovely…so many stories etched into their faces. If only I could speak the language!

  7. Ashley @ A Southern Gypsy April 4, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    Fantastic photos – I love the railway one 🙂 This really makes me want to visit here 🙂

    • Jenny Freedman April 5, 2014 at 6:42 am #

      It’s an interesting place to visit Ashley. Their toy train is famous! I’m sure they’d love you to visit!

  8. Tam @ TravellingBookJunkie April 4, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    How close is that train to the houses!!!! These pictures are lovely. India has always been at the top of my must-visit list. I keep on at my other half in the hope that our next big trip will to this wonderful country. 🙂

    • Jenny Freedman April 5, 2014 at 6:44 am #

      India is one of my favourite countries to visit Tam. It gets under your skin and you want to keep going back. It’s fascinating as each are you visit is so different to the other. I hope you do get to visit!

  9. Calli April 5, 2014 at 12:37 am #

    Stunning photos! I can’t imagine how incredible it must have been to stay here. I’ve never really put much thought into visiting India (embarrassing as it is to admit) but recently I’ve seen so many incredible posts coming out of the country, and now this, you’ve definitely got me rethinking my travel plans 🙂

    • Jenny Freedman April 5, 2014 at 6:48 am #

      Thanks Calli. India is a fascinating country to visit. The sights, sound and colours of the country pull you there time and time again! It’s won me…I’m planning yet another trip…number seven!! Go..

  10. Daidri | Thee Getaway Gal April 5, 2014 at 12:38 am #

    Fantastic photos, especially the close up of the women working in the field with the baskets on their backs. Great post!

    • Jenny Freedman April 5, 2014 at 6:49 am #

      Thanks Daidri. It was great to be in an area of India that was so different to other places I had been.

  11. Anabel April 5, 2014 at 12:48 am #

    Gorgeous photos – never been to India and would love to go there.

    • Jenny Freedman April 5, 2014 at 6:50 am #

      It’s an addictive country Anabel..and fascinating. Rajasthan is probably my favourite area but I love going into the hill stations especially to escape the heat of summer.

  12. Donna Amis Davis April 5, 2014 at 5:07 am #

    Oh my gosh! Your photos are amazing! My sis just spent time in Delhi and sent me back some Darjeeling and spices. I’ll have to share this with her.
    Donna On Palawan @ Quintessential San Diego From A to Z

    • Jenny Freedman April 5, 2014 at 6:51 am #

      That’s a coincidence Donna! I hope she had a great time in Delhi

  13. Cornelia April 6, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    This is a absolutely tickeling my travel desires to go India. Are you going to Bhutan as well?

    • Jenny Freedman April 7, 2014 at 9:04 am #

      No, unfortunately Bhutan is still sitting on top of my wish list Cornelia though I am needing an desperately needing an India fix soon!That’s the trouble, once you go to India, you will want to keep going back!

  14. Fawn Carriker April 6, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Thank you for giving me a visual “taste” of where my favorite tea comes from! – Fawn

    • Jenny Freedman April 7, 2014 at 8:56 am #

      My pleasure Fawn. After so many cups of darjeeling it was great to be there and see what it was all about. Of course I bought a few packets of tea home with me!

  15. ben April 9, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    I really love the local atmosphere. Very relaxing and remembers me on my grandmother’s home too. 🙂

    • Jenny Freedman April 9, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

      It was relaxing Ben. Glad to have bought back memories for you.

  16. Heather April 13, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    Marvelous! I read a fascinating book about tea while I was living in China, about how the British established their tea industry in Darjeeling. I’d love to experience it in person!

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