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In pics: Darjeeling – The Queen of the Hills

The mighty Himalayas surround the town of Darjeeling
Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela

Darjeeling is surrounded by emerald-green tea plantations and is towered over by the majestic Khangchendzonga – the third highest mountain in the world, with an elevation of 8,169 ft.

It is the classic Indian hill station and one of West Bengal’s premier destinations. Take a look at Darjeeling’s breathtaking beauty in pictures.

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Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, known affectionately as the toy train, made its first journey along its precipice-topping, 2ft-wide tracks in 1881 and is one of the few hill railways still operating in India. It has had the Unesco World Heritage listing since 1999.

Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela

The 140-year-old steam-billowing Darjeeling Himalayan Railway that was once used for transporting tea, is now a landmark and attracts tourists from all around the world. Two-hour ‘joy rides’ from Darjeeling to the Ghum Monastery and back satisfy most people’s toy-train urges.

Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela

During the train’s half-hour stop at Ghum, India’s highest railway station, you can visit the small museum dedicated to the train.

Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela

The Yiga Choeling Gompa, the region’s most prominent monastery, was founded in 1850 and houses up to 40 monks of the Gelugpa school. The serene temple has spectacular old murals and enshrines the 15 feet high statue of Jampa (Maitreya or ‘Future Buddha’) and 300 beautifully bound Tibetan texts.

Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela

Spread in ribbons over a steep mountain ridge, a breathtaking view of the Himalayas from the Darjeeling railway station overlooking a Buddhist building.

Image courtesy: ©Abhishek Hajela

The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is another tourist attraction in Darjeeling famous for the conservation of the endangered red panda, black leopard, and the snow leopard.