Chowrasta or the junction of four roads is situated at the heart of Darjeeling. Chowrasta is commonly known as Darjeeling Mall. Without visiting Mall and without walking around the round road starting and ending from the mall surrounding Mahakal temple hill Darjeeling trip will remain incomplete. Surrounded with heritage restaurants and cafés serving the famous Darjeeling tea, Chowrasta with its amphitheatre, free wifi and breathtaking view of Kanchenjungha has become a hub for the travellers and locals. Decorated with green colour sitting benches Mall is the place to get a pony ride. Chowrasta or the Mall is a vehicle and smoking free zone is located just at 10 minutes walking distance from the Darjeeling Taxi stand. It is perfect place to relish the scenic beauty of Darjeeling. Mall has its own charm although bustling with life yet a place to find solace. While taking a leisurely walk around the famous well paved Mall road through the lush green alpine forest one can make a short visit to the nearby Shrubbery Nightingale Park if they fancy seeing well manicured garden around the stony pathway.
In conserving wildlife Darjeeling is also playing a very important role. Darjeeling Zoo or Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is just 3 km from Chowrasta. Situated at an altitude of 7000ft. Darjeeling Zoo is opened in 1958 and is one of the highest altitude zoos in the country. It is internationally renowned for its conservative breeding program for the endangered species of Eastern Himalayan region likes snow leopard, red panda, Tibetan Wolf and many more. Darjeeling zoo houses a vast collection of wildlife species which are kept in their semi natural habitat. From small reptiles like tortoise and salamander to large predatory animals like Royal Bengal Tiger and snow leopard. Darjeeling Zoo is the safe haven for many astounding and exquisite creation of Mother Nature.
Situated at a distance of 2 km from Mall is Himalayan Mountaineering Institute of Darjeeling also known at its abbreviated name HMI was established on 4th November 1954 to encourage mountaineering as an organized sport in India. In 1953 after the first ascent of Mt. Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary interests were sparked for mountaineering especially among youths. Apart from providing mountaineering training courses for aspiring mountaineers, Darjeeling HMI also has the country's oldest mountaineering museum. The HMI museum of Darjeeling houses many historical artefacts which includes the mountaineering gears used during the first Mt Everest expedition. Sharing its ground with Darjeeling Zoo, HMI is one of the places to catch the impeccable view of snow-capped Eastern Himalayan range. Learn more about the history of mountaineering while tasting some of the mouth watering Darjeeling delicacies in Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.
Sprawled across a verdant land is a nature blessed place called Lloyd's Botanical Garden. Named after Lt. Gen .George W. Aylmer Lloyd commonly referred as The Father of Darjeeling is located below the Taxi Stand of Darjeeling at a downhill. Lloyd's Botanical Garden has stayed out of the radar of many travellers. It is the oldest botanical garden of Darjeeling which has showcased the finest collection of Himalayan flora since 1878. Lloyd's Botanical Garden preserves and displays some rare and exquisite plants species of orchid and rhododendron. Lloyd Botanical Garden is one of the favoured destinations of the area. Witness the vibrant flora of Eastern Himalayan region in Lloyd's Botanical Garden while travelling to Darjeeling.
Darjeeling is also famous for the panoramic views of mountains and valleys and one of the best ways to experience these views is to take a ride on the ropeway. It's also known as the Rangeet Valley Cable Car because of the mesmerising view of the valley around the river Little Rangeet. The ropeway was started in 1968 by the forest development department and comprised only a single car which ran one way. Later it was upgraded to 16 cars and went to and from. The ropeway passed over dense forests, mountain ridges, waterfalls, flowing rivers, green valleys and tea gardens. It is an ideal spot to watch the whole of Darjeeling from a scary elevation.. A ride definitely not for faint hearted, the passenger ropeway gives a mind-blowing view of Tea expanses down the valley. The ropeway was stopped in October 2003 after four tourists died when the cable snapped causing two cars to plummet down the hill. In 2005, the state forest and public works department ministers formed a three-member committee to oversee safety issues. The ropeway was reopened on 2 February 2012 after clearing the safety issues.
Dhirdham temple is among the most beautiful temples in the city situated just below the Toy Train Railway Station. Dhirdham Temple is a shrine of Lord Shiva built in traditional Tibetan style resembles the famous Pashupatinath Temple of Kathmandu. Known as "Pancha Bakram Tri Netram" the beautiful idol of the deity Lord Shiva depicts the five different facial expressions and the Third Eye. The entire premises of the temple are constructed in such a manner that it offers its visitors a sense of relaxation and peace. Under the commandment of Purna Bahadur Pradhan the King of Nepal and with the Gorkhali architect style design of Beg Raj Shakya this temple was built. There are trees and shrubbery all around making the entire premise look really nice and attractive. Dhirdham Temple looks more like a multi layered pagoda. The exterior of the temple is painted in vivid colours such as white, red and yellow. Though the temple remains open from 8 am to 6 pm, the best time to visit is during the ‘Aarti’ which is done at 8 am and 6 pm.
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