If you fancy a overnight trip from Darjeeling, you can get to Kurseong in 90 minutes by shared jeep (about 50 pence each way).
Kurseong has spectactular views of the Himalayan foothills and the plains of north-east India. However, one place not to be missed (even if only for the trip along the mountain ridge to get there) is the organic Makaibari Tea Estate (by shared jeep or taxi from Kurseong Train Station).
I was taken on a personal tour of the factory (and tea tasting session) with Mr SK Banerjee, the owner of the estate.
Mr Banarjee is extremely knowledgeable and entertaining on the subject of tea and believe me, after 90 minutes or so, you will never want to drink teabag tea ever again.
If you are sick of the heat, dust and general aggravation that accompany travelling around India; or if this is your first trip and you fancy somewhere which is a gentle introduction to the sub-continent, then Darjeeling is the place to be.
May I reccommend Hotel Dekeling as the place to stay.
It's centrally located (10 minutes' walk from the toy train station and five minutes from Chowrasta). Clean, hot water 24/7 and run by the wonderful Mr and Mrs Norbu, who guarantee a warm family welcome.
What I particularly liked about it was:
Whilst I had booked in advance, I turned up a day early. The staff bent over backwards to sort out an alternative room for me. Whilst it was in the attic and had a shared bathroom, the price they gave me meant I could stay as twice as long as I planned.
They don't hustle you, come knocking on your door every five minutes looking for tips or try to sell you overpriced trips (which plenty of other top price hotels will do).
I wanted to go to Ghoom for the day. The staff gave me detailed instructions on how to get a shared jeep, how much I should pay , where to find the temple and how to get back to DJ again.
In all, a half day out cost me 25 pence.
There is a common area complete with books you can borrow and a stove. Great for just relaxing.
Topping it all, on the street level there is the attached cafe (Devakas) which serves delicous Tibetan food - cooked fresh in front of you.
I would suggest booking well in advance, it's pretty popular and was full during my stay.
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