Darjeeling Tourism: The Hill Station That Outshines Shimla - by Priyanka Biswas - CollectLo

Darjeeling Tourism: The Hill Station That Outshines Shimla

Priyanka Biswas - CollectLo

Priyanka Biswas

Content Writer

5 min read . Dec 08 2023



If you think there’s no better hill station than Shimla then this article will make you rethink! Standing proudly in the lap of the mighty Himalayas, Darjeeling is like a timeless gem in the crown of Indian tourism. The town is home to pristine vistas of the Kanchenjunga, lush tea gardens, a snowy environment, and a rich cultural tapestry. Travelers from across the globe will not only find solace in its breathtaking natural beauty but also its unique experiences, from the enchanting ride on the UNESCO-listed Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) to the tranquility of Tibetan monasteries and the flavors of steaming momos! As you explore all these things to do in Darjeeling, you'll discover why its charm triumphs over its northern counterpart, Shimla, making it a must-visit for those seeking an authentic and unforgettable journey.

Things To Do In Darjeeling 

While Shimla is no doubt breathtaking, it often struggles with overcrowding. Darjeeling, on the other hand, retains its majestic landscapes and traditional hill station charm. It welcomes you with a panorama of rolling hills, lush tea gardens, and the mesmerizing Kanchenjunga in the backdrop. Sip a cup of Darjeeling tea at one of the many sprawling tea estates, and you'll realize that the beauty here is not just skin deep—it seeps into every sip and every sight!

1) All aboard the UNESCO-listed Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR)! 

This adorable “Toy Train” is not just a mode of transport; it's an emotion in itself! Climb aboard this century-old vintage steam locomotive and you’ll notice how its polished wood and brass structure gleams in the sunlight. The train uses zigzag (or z-reverse) pathways as it chugs through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Himalayas. Peer out of the windows, and you'll love the sight of tea pickers in colorful attire, plucking delicate leaves with their nimble fingers. The scent of freshly brewed Darjeeling tea that wafts through the air will tantalize your senses and remind you of the region's rich history as a tea-producing hub.

Shimla's Mall Road might offer shopping and dining, but it can't compete with this unique journey that makes one nostalgic for the bygone era.

2) Lose yourself in the vibrant culture of Gorkha Heritage

Darjeeling is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, primarily influenced by the Gorkha community. They originally settled in the region as laborers in tea gardens and contributed to the growth of the tea industry in Darjeeling. When you visit their village, you'll be greeted with warm smiles and open arms. The villagers will invite you to join them for a meal, and you will be treated to a delicious spread of traditional Gorkha dishes. During the local cultural festivals such as Dashain and Tihar, the villagers gather to sing and dance. The music is lively and upbeat, and the dancing is energetic and graceful. Join in on the fun, and you soon find yourself lost in the rhythm of the music. 

The Gorkhas are a proud and resilient people. They have faced many challenges over the years, but they have always maintained their culture and traditions. Shimla, on the other hand, is more reminiscent of British colonial times.

3) Have a live view of the Tiger Hill Sunrise

Picture yourself waking up before dawn all bundled up in warm clothing. You are heading to the scenic Tiger Hill. The air is crisp and cool, and the sky is still dark. As you climb to the top of the hill, you can see the first rays of sunlight peeking over the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. You'll witness a magical spectacle—an ever-changing canvas of colors that will leave you awestruck. In Shimla, while the city has its own charm, it simply can't beat the serenity offered by the sunrise moment at Tiger Hill.

After sunrise, you can spend some more time exploring the area around Tiger Hill. There is also the Senchal Mandir nearby, which is open to the public and a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus.

4) Go for a thrilling adventure in the Hills

Darjeeling tourism offers a plethora of activities for the fearless adventure-seekers. Trekking enthusiasts can try out the Sandakphu trek and take in the breathtaking views of four of the world's highest peaks - Mount Makalu, Mount Lhotse, Mount Kanchenjunga, and Mount Everest. Paragliding, river rafting, and mountain biking are also popular among thrill-seekers. The ambiance in Shimla is relaxed and suitable for leisurely strolls through its colonial-era architecture.

5) Go shopping at the Chowrasta

There might be many shopping areas in Shimla but none like the Chowrasta in Darjeeling. It is a central area of the town where four roads meet. The air is filled with the smell of coffee and tea, and the sound of laughter and conversation. You will pass by shops selling everything from a variety of souvenirs to traditional clothing and Tibetan handicrafts. When tired, you can sit at a street-side bench and watch children playing, locals shopping, and tourists taking pictures.

6) Enjoy the local cuisine 

One of the many things that Darjeeling successfully beats Shimla is its culinary prowess. The town’s unique cuisine is influenced by Tibetan, Nepali, and British cultures. Be sure to savor some of the popular local delicacies, including the mouth-watering steamed momos, thukpa, churpee, and sel rotis. 

7) Tea Tasting at Makaibari Tea Estate

Darjeeling tourism is synonymous with tea, and a visit to Makaibari Tea Estate is a must for any tea lover. Take a guided tour to learn about the tea-making process, pluck your tea leaves, and savor a cup of the freshest tea you'll ever taste. While Shimla does have its own tea shops, they can't match the essence of an authentic Darjeeling tea estate!


From witnessing the sunrise at Tiger Hill to immersing in the vibrant Gorkha culture, Darjeeling is stealing the spotlight from Shimla with its unparalleled beauty and authentic experiences. Seize the day and let Darjeeling's enchantment be your next adventure!


Q1: What is the best time for Darjeeling tourism? 

The best time for touring in Darjeeling is the autumn (October to November) and spring (March to April) seasons. During these months the weather is most pleasant with no rainfall.

Q2: Can I reach Darjeeling by train? 

Yes, you can take a train to New Jalpaiguri (NJP) or Siliguri, and from there, you can hire a taxi or take a shared jeep to reach Darjeeling.

Q3: Which month is the off-season in Darjeeling?

The off-season months for Darjeeling tourism are June to September. This is the time for the monsoon season with unpredictable weather and rainfall but also lower prices and fewer crowds.