Friday, April 20, 2007

Gardens and Picnic Spots

Tiger Hill

Situated at an altitude of 2590 metres (8482 ft.) and 13 kms from the town, this spot has earned international fame for the magnificent view of the sunrise over "Kanchenjunga" and the great Eastern Himalayan Mountains. Even Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, is visible from here. A steep gradient road through colourful forests of oak, magnolia and beautiful ferns runs up to the Tiger Hill. To ensure a treasured sight one has to reach this point early at dawn before Sun rise. The spot is superbly developed to give a 360 degree view of the Himalayas. As the Sun rises over the Kanchenjunga one sees the five snow-capped peaks glow in the magic of crimson, pink and shining gold light. If the weather is clear even the great Mount Everest is Visible with Tibet's Chomol Hari Mountain, the most beautiful peak in the world and the Kabru and Janu, peaks which are though visible, actually are dwarfed by the magnificence of the Kanchenjunga, which leaps into view.


Batasia Loop

This railway loop is an interesting example of engineering. At this loop the toy train takes a very unique turn. This loop is just five kilometer from the main town of Darjeeling. Batasia Loop is a memorable experience, it offers a grand view of the town of Darjeeling, with the magnificent Kanchenjunga in the background. The War Memorial constructed in the memory of brave sons of Darjeeling who died in different action since 1947, is worth a visit. A glorious view of snowy peak and town can be seen from this place. This place also has a very good market where one can buy the purses, bags and other decorative items made by the local women at very reasonable price.


Victoria Falls

These are located only a short distance from the heart of the town, south of the railway station. The stunningly beautiful waterfalls originate from a small stream, the Kalijhora. Cascading down a sheer drop of 30.5m the water rushes through deep ravines to the valley below. There is a Ferro-concrete bridge over the stream. The water of the Falls is harnessed for generating electrical power and the Sidrapong Power Station here was the first Hydel Project in India.


Senchal Lake

Located about 10km southeast of Darjeeling, has three artificial lakes on top of a 2487m high hill. The lakes are a reservoir of Darjeeling's water supply. It is also a popular picnic spot. The golf course at the summit is the highest in the world. There is also the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary, set up in 1915. Here, high altitude game such as the barking deer, wild boar and black bear, have found refuge in their natural habitats.


Botanical Gardens

In 1878, 40 acres of rolling hillside land was gifted to Lt. Governor Sir Ashley Eden by Mr. W. Lloyd, proprietor of the famous bank of the same name, who wanted it turned into one of the best gardens in Asia. Sir Ashley started the Lloyd Botanical Garden to study living specimens from the sub-temperate and temperate Himalayas. Over the years, exotic plants from other parts of the world have also been included. The garden has charmingly laid-out terraces containing alpine plants, arum lilies, geraniums, azaleas, tree ferns and conifers. This place is near the taxi stand. The gardens also has a green house. It is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Darjeeling's Ropeways

Darjeeling has two Ropeway systems. The main Darjeeling Ropeway connects Darjeeling with the town Bijanbari, down in the little Rangit Valley. The 1408m span covered by the Ropeway, is the longest in Asia. A mono-cable Ropeway in which a single rope acts as both tractor and carrier, it moves at a speed of 6.5 km per hour. The other is a Bi-cable Passenger Ropeway that plies between Darjeeling's North Point and Singla. It descends from an elevation of 2134m to 244m. This is the first Bi-cable passenger carrying Ropeway in India and the longest of its kind in Asia. The Ropeway covers an aerial distance of 8km to Singla Bazaar, situated 1828.8m below. The 45-minute ride stretches above yawning gaps filled with dense forests, silvery rivers, mountain ridges, green valleys, tea gardens and waterfalls.


The Shrubbery

This beautiful garden is situated on the Jawahar Parbat behind Raj Bhawan. A magnificent view of Kanchenjunga Range and Singla Valley can be enjoyed from here.


Happy Valley Estate

Here the tea from the gardens is processed. One can spent a few hours here. Entry is only allowed to persons who have permission from any officer of the estate.It is open from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 4.30 p.m and Closed on Sundays (afternoon and) and Mondays (full day).


Garg World Amusement Park

Situated at a distance of about 4 km. On Gandhi Road it is a new amusement park with a variety of attractions.
Entry fee: Rs. 15/-


Lebong Race Course

About 8 km from the town, it is the smallest race course in the world. The complete lap is only 480 yds. Long. It was laid out in 1885 as a parade ground.


Barbotey Rock Garden

Situated 10 kms. from town it is a very attractive picnic spot with natural water falls.


Singla

Altitude 244 metres or 800 ft. (approx.), this attractive picnic spot near Rangeet River has been earmarked by the Department of Tourism, DGHC for a water sports complex.


Ajitar

21 km. from Darjeeling by road (jeepable), it is a magnificent picnic spot.


Bijanbari

38 km. from Darjeeling by road (motorable). Situated at an altitude of 762 metres or 2500 ft. This beautiful picnic spot is near the Little Rangeet river.


Neora Valley National Park

The Neora Valley National Park, spread over an area of 88sq.km. in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal was established in April 1986. The park, a unique area of rich bio-diversity lies in the Himalayan foothills and is bordered on the east by Western Bhutan and the forests of Sikkim.

Neora Valley, one of the least tracts of virgin wilderness in the country sustains a unique eco-system where tropical, sub-tropical, sub-temperate, and temperate vegetative system still harbours a wealth of flora and fauna. The forests consists of mixed species like rhododendron, bamboo, oak, ferns, sal etc. The Valley also has numerous species of orchids.

The fauna consist of such endangered species as the clouded leopard, red-panda, and musk deer. Other species are leopard, five species of civet, black bear, sloth bear, golden gat, wild boar, leopard cat, goral, serow, barking deer, sambar, Himalayan flying squirrel and thar. The park rich in bird life houses the bearded vulture, Himalayan griffon, red legged falcon, pigeons, doves, great pied hornbill and a large number of migratory birds like whistling thrush etc. King cobra, common cobra krait, green pit viper, blind snake and lizards are also found. Many colourful insects such as butterflies, moths, beetles, bees, wasps, bugs cicadas are added attraction of the valley.

The main entry point to the park is Lava (7016 ft), a small village adjacent to the park. There is a nature interpretation centre here. The other entry point is Samsing (3000 ft). There is no motorable road inside the park. Visitors should take an entry permit from the park authorities in Lava or Samsing. Forest bungalows at Lava (32 km from the nearest town Kalimpong) and at Samsing ( 18km from Chalsa) are available for stay. Tented accommodation is available in the forest resort at Suntale Khola from where there is a trek to Neora valley.Time to visit the Park is between March to June and September to November. Nearest Airport is at Bagdogra which is 100km away. Nearest railhead is at Darjeeling which is 30km. away. There are buses available from Siliguri to Kalimpong (100km) which is 32km away from the entry point Lava. Another route is from Siliguri - Chalsa (65km) - Samsing (18km). The park can be reached by road from Samsing


Singalila National Park

Singhalila National Park located at a very high altitude of more than 7000ft from sea level (between 2400 m to 3650m ) is the highest National Park in West Bengal. It is situated in the extreme north western boundary of Darjeeling District and extends on an area of 78.60sq.km.

The vegetation of these virgin forests mainly alpine, changes with the range in altitude. The main tree species found are the Rhododendron, Magnolia, Oak, Hemlock, Silver Fir, Juniper, Mailing Bamboo, Buk, Kawla, Bhujpatra etc. Other flora include primulas, aconitums, gentians, arisaemas and orchids adorning the forest clearings. The fauna found in the park are leopard, serow, pangolin, elephant, chinkara takin, red panda, barking deer etc. The park has a variety of birds such as pigeons, doves, sibia, minivet, magpie, cuckoo, hornbills, Kaleej pheasants and a large number of migratory birds.

Treks: The park is famous for its treks with spectacular views of Himalayan peaks through a mist of pristine forests and mountain flowers. Maneybhanjang ( 2134m) at a distance of one and a half hours by road from Darjeeling is the starting point to one of the popular trekking routes in the eastern Himalayas, via Tumling (2900m) or Tonglu (3050m) - Gairibans(1900m) - Sandakphu ( 3636m)(35Km) - Phalut (3605m) - Rimbik (2286m) and back to Manebhanjyang. The park area is enclosed within this trek route beyond Tonglu or Tumling. The trekkers can halt at Meghma/ Tonglu, Gairibans, Sandakphu and Phalut for the nights.

Maneybhanjyang to Mekhma (2600m) takes 4 hours, then to Tonglu or Tumling and from there to Gairibans through dense forests and wild flowers. This trek is a paradise for wild flower lovers particularly in March-April when rhododentrons bloom in white, scarlet, pink and yellow and large white and pink flowers of the magnolias, orchids along with beautiful birds adorn the way. But be wary of the leeches which infest the wet ravines. From Gairibans it is a steep four hour climb to Sandakphu. Halfway is the settlement of Kala- Pokhri at 2750m. The arduous trek through treacherous routes is worth the breathtaking view of the majestic Kanchenjunga the third highest peak in the world, from Sandakphu. Sandakphu is known as the mountain of poisonous plants cause of the cobra lillies seen here. The one day trek from Sandakphu- Phalut about 23km is the best of all the treks. Phalut lies on the borders of West Bengal, Sikkim and the eastern border of Nepal. The best for this trek along the Singalila ridge which passes through desolate hills covered with patches of forest is October and November. At Phalut, one can have real close look at the Kanchedzonga and experience the spectacle of circular rainbows. From Phalut the way down to Sirikhola on the banks of river Sirikhola, one can see meadows clustered with blue iris, orchids and a further 6km leads to Rimbik, a small village which connects Maneybhanjang and Darjeeling (51km)by road. From Sandakphu one can skip the trek to Phalut and come straight down to Sirikhola through a steep descend via Gurdum (2300m). There is also a motorable road up to Sandakphu.

There are two roomed rest houses available at Rambi, Tonglu, Gairibus, Sandakphu and Phalut available for stay. Maneybhanjang has plenty of hotels and houses available for stay. Time to visit the Park is between March to June and September to November. Nearest Airport is at Bagdogra which is 80 kmaway from Darjeeling. There are regular flights to Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati. Nearest railhead is Darjeeling which is 20km away. New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri railway Junctions connect Darjeeling with Kolkata (665 km) and New Delhi. From Siliguri/ Jalpaiguri one can also take the heritage toy train which takes about 7hours and get down at Ghum. Jeeps are available from Ghum to Maneybhanjang. There are buses and taxis available from Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling or Maneybhanjang. Siliguri is 15km from Bagdogra and New Jalpaiguri 4km respectively.


Zoological Gardens

This zoological garden houses some of the rare species of animals and birds. This is only zoo in India having the Siberian Tigers. Apart from these the rare Red Panda is also there. The Snow Leopards, Great Grey Birds, Snow Yaks are some the animals which are attracting tourist in great numbers. The entry in the zoo is by tickets which are also valid for the natural history museum and the mountaineering institute and museum. The zoo is situated two kms. from the main town.


Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

This zoo was established in 1958 with the objectives of study, conservation and preservation of Himalayan fauna. The animals are well cared for by dedicated keepers. To protect and breed the dwindling stocks of wild animals, to educate the public and instill in them a sense of the worth of these wonderful creatures, it is necessary to keep them in pseudo-natural habitats. The zoo houses India's only collection of Siberian tigers and some rare species, such as the red panda and the Tibetan wolf. The zoo is also a successful breeding centre for snow leopards and red pandas. Adjacent to the Tenzing Norgay mountaineering institute, it is a high altitude wild life park. It is open from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m and closed on Thursday.

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