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At a time when Darjeeling  is in news for not so good reasons, Peshwa Acharya, CMO, Sterling Holidays Resorts explores all that Darjeeling has to offer and has remained off the radar for most  travellers.

333A lot has been said about the beauty of Darjeeling itself, but Darjeeling is an excellent base camp to explore interesting places at short distances. One such place is Palmajua, nestled in the forests of Singalia, in the Eastern Himalayan ranges. Its proximity to Kanchenjunga make it a haven for photographers, trekkers and wildlife enthusiasts. Singalia National Park, close to the Indo-Nepal border park is home to the endangered Red Panda – known to us as ‘Firefox’ (the logo of the internet service provider is said to be derived from the animal), armored Pangolins and more than 170 species of rainbow coloured birds. 

A kind of Holy Grail for trekkers is the trail from Singalia Ridge to Sandakphu and Phalut. This is on account of the grand sights of the Kanchenjunga and Everest ranges which offer spectacular views. Trekking in the lap of the eternal, mighty Himalayas really gives you perspective! You realize, at once, how small you are compared to the mountain and yet powerful enough to scale it.

Two hours’ drive from Darjeeling, you find the village whose hilltops look like three stoves or ‘Tinchuley’ village. This quiet hamlet specializes in Village Tourism and offers organized village walks, nature hikes and tea garden visits for tourists. While that may not appeal to all, this place allows you to immerse yourself deep into village life, taking you to a different era where time was not a luxury and things moved at a leisurely pace. It’s a true get-away experience. Of course, Tinchuley has local attractions like the view of the Teesta and Himalays from Gumbadara and the ‘Lover’s Meeting Point’ or the sangam of the Teesta and Rangit rivers. 

Half an hour from Tinchuley is the ‘Monk’s Hermitage’ village or Lamahatta (Lama means monk (think Dalai Lama) and Hatta means hut).

Lamahatta is a real honeymoon destination if the couple wants an idyllic time, among the trees of Dhupi jungle and the orchids of Takdah Center. A quiet place, where visitors can learn the ways of local Sherpas, Yalmos, Tamangs, Bhutias and Dukpas tribes. A short distance away lies Peshoke View Point from where you can see the Triveni- the union of the Teesta and Rangeet rivers.

19 kms outside the town of Darjeeling lies Jorpokhri, named for its twin lakes which are home to rare Himalayan Salamanders. Those visiting between October and March are assured of the view at its best and you might spend hours watching the mountain ranges change from gold to purple to red in the setting sun. The lakes mirror Mt. Kanchenjunga.

So you see, there’s a lot more to Darjeeling than just Darjeeling! 

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TourismFirst-coverOne of its kind, TourismFirst is a monthly magazine that brings together the larger tourism product of India. It connects tourism with its diverse linkages, most notably infrastructure, and many of India's current national programmes. TourismFirst brings the best of global best practices through its Global Exchange pages.