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Darjeeling

India

1/2 Tea pickers on the slopes near Darjeeling
Tea pickers on the slopes near Darjeeling
2/2 View over Darjeeling
View over Darjeeling

The sweltering summer heat was all too much for the British Raj in Calcutta and so for several months of the year the whole lot upped sticks and moved from Calcutta to Darjeeling, the ‘Land of the Celestial Thunderbolt’

The sweltering summer heat was all too much for the British Raj in Calcutta and so for several months of the year the whole lot upped sticks and moved from Calcutta to Darjeeling, the ‘Land of the Celestial Thunderbolt’ .  At an altitude of 2134m (7000ft) it is considerably cooler than the plains, though decidedly wet in summer.

The first tea bushes were planted in the surrounding Himalayan hills in the same year the town was established and by 1881 the railway line from Siliguri to Darjeeling meant that tea could more easily be brought to market.  You can still ride the rails today, chugging through forests of rhododendrons and curving around tea plantations, though most visitors find the short trip between Darjeeling and Ghoom preferable to the seven hour journey from the plains.

Haphazard construction and congestion in Lower Darjeeling means this part of town is best avoided but The Mall, with its Victorian gothic architecture, views of the Himalaya from Obsevatory Hill, and nearby Buddhist monasteries decorated with colourful murals and fluttering prayer flags make Darjeeling worthy of a few days stay. And, of course, there’s an almost limitless supply of excellent tea to keep you refreshed along the way.

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A few of our favourite places to stay:

The Water Lily Bungalow, Glenburn

Glenburn Tea Estate

An hour’s drive downhill from Darjeeling Glenburn is a

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Who to talk to

Andrea Hulme

Andrea Hulme’s travel experiences could fill a small novel; from a bit-part in a Tamil movie, to leading expeditions in Kyrgyzstan and negotiating landslides along the Karakoram highway.

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At Natural High, we've had long experience putting together trips in Africa that really work. Whether it's intimate bushcamps in out of the way places, or a private lodge in one of Africa's top-billing wildlife areas, light mobile camping or remote island escapes, we know there is a lot to choose from. We're absolutely confident that we can recommend the right places for you.

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