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Two weeks after the wedding Maneesh and I set out on our two week honeymoon. We decided to head to the north east into the Himalayan mountains.
We flew from Delhi to Darjeeling, our first destination.
Situated in the state of West Bengal, not only is Darjeeling a city, it is also a district. We landed in the small town of Bagdogra, where the airport is located about three hours away from the actual city of Darjeeling. Bagdogra is surrounded by tea gardens, from where we started our road trip. The drive took us high up winding roads along the mountain slopes. The route was very scenic and extremely incredible. Naturally there were great views of the valley we were ascending from and some waterfalls along the way.
Darjeeling is a city that was developed by the British before Indian independence as a summer get away. Being located high in the Himalayan mountains, Darjeeling provided refuge from the infamous blazing Indian summers. The British developed summer homes and prestigious schools for their children and lived and operated out of Darjeeling (and other similarly developed hill stations) during the summer months. Many landmarks of that time are still prominent in Darjeeling.
Currently Darjeeling yields fame for its tea plantations and gardens. Darjeeling tea is sold all over the world.
We learned there are a few viewing points around the city from where Mount. Kanchenjunga is visible, the 3rd highest peak in the world. We were excited at the possibility of this sighting. Unfortunately, it was monsoon time and weather was generally very cloudy. As a result we were not able to catch a glimpse of the great Mt. Kanchenjunga. The clouds in Darjeeling would descend instantly and it would all of a sudden seem foggy. However eventually you learned what was fog and what were the clouds. IT was kind of cool walking through the clouds.
We had a chance to visit a Bhuddist peace pagoda, the Darjeeling Zoo, a tea factory and a tea garden, as well as the toy train.
Bhuddism is quite prevalent in this region of India. There were many Bhuddist temples and monasteries peppered in this region.
Darjeeling has some breath taking views of the tea plantations that sprawl down the mountain slopes.
The people of Darjeeling were very hospitable and warm. We felt they dealt with us with honesty and integrity. The few cab drivers we had were extremely polite, sociable and very welcoming. We don't typically experience this by cab drivers in Punjab or Delhi.
The features and ethnicity of Indians of the North East are different from the part of India our Punjabi families hail from. The features of North East Indians is a mixture of Tibetans/Chinese/Nepalis. The languages are also unique to this area. Many Tibetan refugees migrated into this area when China annexed Tibet and the Dalai Lama went into exile in India. Many Nepalis have also migrated and therefore the Nepali language mixed with local dialects, form the main language in this area. Hindi is spoken little but enough where one can get by.
Darjeeling was an absolutely charming place; lovely people and very serene natural sights.