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Originally known as Dorje Ling (‘Place of the Thunderbolt’), Darjeeling became India’s summer capital during the Raj. Today, the town is still strewn with buildings from the colonial days and retains much of its old character. A ride on the famous Darjeeling Hill Railway (now a world heritage site), shopping for local crafts at the mall, and a visit to the grand Old Planters’ Club and Observatory Hill – an excellent viewing point of Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world – should not be missed. Among the colonial-era architecture lurk Buddhist monasteries and the fascinating Tenzing Norgay mountaineering institute. In addition, those who opt to stay on a working tea estate outside Darjeeling can explore the lush tea plantations, interact with estate workers and learn to pluck ‘two leaves and a bud’.

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