If you are tired of the hustle – bustle of the city and need a getaway, the Darjeeling Hills are the perfect place. The ride up the NH55 or the old Hill Cart Road has hidden gems that are a pleasure to visit. We have put together some of these places which one must see.
- Sukna forest
As you leave Siliguri town behind, you suddenly find many more trees and much more peace. You have entered the Sukna Forest Area. There are many signs warning you to be careful as this is an elephant corridor. If you are lucky you may even see them crossing your path. Please remember they are wild, so it is better to remain inside your vehicle.
Situated at an altitude of 1527 mts., Sukna is the gateway Darjeeling. Though it is a small town, it is the source of natural beauty. It has three important landmarks and they are Sukna Forest Department Campus, The Sukna Raiway Station (Quaint little rail station which reminds you of the glorious time) and the Sukna Cantonment. It is surrounded by dense forests of the Terai where elephants and leopards can still be found.
As you proceed on the road, you reach Rongtong. It is an ideal place for bird watching. Himalayan Bulbul, Spangled Drongo, Black-Crested Bulbul, Scarlet Minivet, Serpentine Eagle, Shikra, Golden-fronted leaf birds, and Green Bee-eater can be spotted while traveling toward Rongtong making it a paradise for the bird watcher. There is a rundown park in Rongtong that you may bypass but the sunset from that park is simply breath-taking leaving the visitors spellbound by the orange and golden hue glazing the surrounding area. In short, it is undoubtedly a splendid place to visit at least once in a lifetime.
- The iconic Tindharia DHR Station
Tindharia or Tindharay is a railway settlement town along the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway route, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It falls under the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India lying between Siliguri and Kurseong on the Hill Cart Road. The construction work including rail track of Darjeeling Himalayan Railways started in May 1879 and completed from Siliguri to Tindharia in 1880. You will be amazed at the beautiful architecture and workmanship of this heritage train station.
- Locomotive Manufacturing Unit at Tindharia
It is impossible to miss this structure. Even if you cannot enter it, the beautifully painted gate tells you the story of its importance in the DHR story.
Right now, the entire maintenance work of steam locos are carried out in Tindharia while that of diesel locos is divided between Tindharia and Siliguri Junction.
Sources in DHR said they have taken the task to upgrade the workshop in Tindharia which started construction in 1913 and became operational in 1925. Spread over an area of 6,670sqm, it is the one-of-its-kind facility in the DHR.
- The Agony Point Loop - Smritiban
This view shows a train half-way round ‘Agony Point’, one of the most precarious loops in the line, located north of Tindharia. This section of the line between Tindharia and Gyabari stations has the steepest average gradient. This is a DHR, world heritage site infrastructure. Situated within the agony point of 20th Mile Loop is a small garden with a café called Smritiban. This café, incidentally, also keeps Dorje Teas packets.
- Mother Teresa’s Santa Bhavan
This building belongs to Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. It was originally used as an orphanage for the children of unwed mothers. However, today it has become an old age home sanitorium. Interestingly, Selim Hill Tea Estate and Shanta Bhavan have a very deep connection. A part of Shanta Bhavan’s land has tea bushes which are cultivated and taken care of by Selim Hill Tea Estate.
- Pagla Jhora Waterfall
Pagla jhora literally means the mad waterfall. It is visible form the Hill Cart Road itself. View it in its might and majesty.Mahananda is a major river in India. It rises from Paglajhora Falls in Darjeeling and flows in West to East direction.
- Selim Hill Tea Factory
Just before the paglajhora waterfall is a sharp turn which goes towards Gidda Pahar. Ahead on this road you can visit the Selim Hill Tea Factory at the Selim Hill Tea Estate. Your very own Dorje Teas are plucked, packed and dispatched from here. Dorje Tea Club members are most welcome to visit the factory and tea garden and have a day of peace and quiet.
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