We spent a couple of nights in Darjeeling, India on our trip last April. We spent one night prior to the start of our Himalayan trek and a second night at the end of our trek before heading to Kurseong and the Makaibari Tea Estate.
Darjeeling is located in West Bengal in northern India. It is located in the lower Himalayas at an elevation of 6,700’. It is noted for its tea industry, the spectacular views of Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Extensive tea plantations were established in the region, and tea growers developed hybrids of black tea and created new fermentation techniques. The resultant distinctive Darjeeling tea is internationally recognized and ranks among the most popular of the black teas.
We stayed at a great homestay in Darjeeling. Breakfast out on the patio.
When it is clear, there are great views from Darjeeling of Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world and twelve other peaks, all above 20,000 feet. The view is clear during October to November. At other times of the year, it is a matter of luck. We weren’t so lucky the couple of days we were there. It was quite hazy so we didn’t have the great views.
We spent some time exploring the city. A short walk from our homestay was Observatory Hill. Observatory Hill is near Chowrasta square, or The Mall as it is popularly known.
A monk on the mall.
The Mahakal Temple is located at the top of Observatory Hill. This temple is considered holy to both the Hindus and the Buddhists. Many Hindu and Buddhist devotees come here to pay tribute to three siva-lingas: Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar which are believed to have originated themselves here in 1782. The devotees come here and walk barefoot three times around the temple and ring the many bells that are hung from the walls. Heading up the path to the temple.
The main entry way into the temple.
Many, many Buddhist prayer flags around the temple.
Many spinning prayer wheels around the temple area.
After exploring around Observatory Hill after breakfast, it was time to head back to our homestay and check out so we could continue our journey to Kurseong and the Makaibari Tea Estate. Our hosts gave us each a khata and a hand-made bookmark before we left. A khata is a traditional ceremonial scarf in Buddhism. It originated in Tibetan culture and is common in cultures and countries where Tibetan Buddhism is practiced.
The khata symbolizes purity and compassion and are worn or presented with incense at many ceremonial occasions, including births, weddings, funerals, graduations and the arrival or departure of guests. It is usually made of silk. Tibetan khatas are usually white, symbolising the pure heart of the giver, though it is quite common to find yellow-gold khata as well.
The scarf presented to us by our homestay hosts.
I loved the quote that was written on the bookmark they gave us.
We also received a khata from the trekking company at the end of our trek. Here is picture of that scarf.
Onward to the Makaibari Tea Estate!