- Population : 132,000 (approximate)
- Altitude : 2,075m / 6,812 ft
- Summer temperature : 9C minimum - 29C maximum
- Winter temperature : 1.5C minimum - 8C maximum
- Best season : April - mid-June and October - November
- Clothing : Tropical and light woollens in summer and heavy woollens in winter
Darjeeling is situated on a north-westerly facing ridge. Inevitably any tour of the town will require a lot of walking up steep paths or roads and the visitor is advised to be well prepared for this. The advantage of Darjeeling's situation is that, when the weather conditions are right, the views are breathtaking.
The town is divided into distinct areas. After the station, the lower part is the bazaar area which has the feel of a real Hills town, while the upper part to Chowrasta and Nehru Road (previously called The Mall) is more focused on the needs of tourists. Further north, to Observatory Hill and beyond, lie the Zoo, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and opportunities for peaceful walks.
A walk around the town - things to see
The Lower Bazaar, which retains an indigenous atmosphere unchanged over the years, can be reached from the station by continuing down the Hill Cart Road. Note the remains of the railway line heading towards the Bazaar. The woodyard near the ropeway's upper station was where the DHR line terminated. Afterwards, on the left, one encounters the rabbit-warren of the Bazaar where you can buy anything from spice to silk. It is worth looking around the Bazaar for anything you want to buy before shopping in the more tourist-orientated shops above in Chowrasta. Nearby is the building of the old Eden Sanatorium and continuing beyond the Bazaar, along Tenzing Norgay Road leads, you to the main bus and taxi stand, the Botanical Gardens, Loreto Convent and the Happy Valley tea estate .
Alternatively, turn right after the station and climb up along Laden-La Road to bring you to Nehru Road (The Mall). A short way up on the right is the new Rink Mall shopping centre, which is somewhat out of character with Darjeeling's traditional buildings. In Laden La Road itself are plenty of shops, the Foreigners' Registration Office (left) and the fine Municipal Building of 1850 with its restored clock tower. In an imposing position above the Clubside traffic police post is the Planters' Club; the pedestrianised Nehru Road leading up to Chowrasta, the acknowledged heart of the tourist Darjeeling.
Heading north beyond Chowrasta take the right hand path on the level for a less strenuous circular walk back to Chowrasta with vistas down the valley to Lebong. Pony rides from Chowrasta also take this route. Those who do not wish to make an early start to Tiger Hill can also view the sunrise over Kanchenjunga (excepting when the valley floor is obscured by cloud) from this path. From near the start of this path is another on the left which takes you up, through the grounds of the Windamere Hotel, to the temples on the top of Observatory Hill, the former site of the original Dorje Ling monastery.
Alternatively, leave Chowrasta by the left hand path on the level around Observatory Hill taking you past St Andrews Church, the Gymkhana Club and Government House (not open to the public) and thence via Nightingale Park (on the right) to the Zoo and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, in the Zoo grounds, established by the late Tenzing Norgay who shared the first successful climb of Mount Everest in 1953.
Dropping down from the Zoo, you rejoin the Hill Cart Road from the Bazaar and Happy Valley tea estate and can continue to the aerial passenger ropeway, which takes passengers down to the Rangeet Valley thousands of metres below, then the Tibetan Self-Help Centre craft workshops and on to Lebong, which is said to have had the highest racecourse in the World. A footpath returns from the Tibetan Self-Help Centre up to Chowrasta via the lovely Bhutia Bustee Monastery, rebuilt by the Chogyals of Sikkim in the 19th century.