|Darjeeling (population of ~110 thousand) is a stunning town full of colonial-era buildings nestled into a green hillside and overlooking the Himalayas which are dominated by nearby Khangchendzonga (3rd highest mountain in the world). It's bustling with tourists (mostly vacationing Indians) and has a very pleasant feel to it.
Since our train broke down on the way here, we decided to take a "joy ride" on the toy train for a few hours. The train had to undergo repairs and was an hour late, but eventually completed it's journey. I guess it's to be expected with a 129 year old machine! Very scenic trip. Though the best views we've had in India were from Tiger Hill - a high point above Darjeeling that gave us views of a huge expanse of the Himalayan range, including Mount Everest.
We also visited the 150 year old Yiga Choling Gompa, one of the most beautiful monasteries we've seen. The quality of the paintings on the walls, the old Tibetan texts, and views over the hills make it a very special place.
While we usually try to avoid zoos (too depressing, except for San Diego's), we did go to the zoo here. For a developing country, with limited resources, they do a very good job. We saw Bengal tigers, snow leopards, common leopards, clouded leopards, Himalayan wolves and jackals, the red panda and more pheasants than you can shake a stick at. On the same grounds, we went to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Everest Museum. Tenzing Norgay (first to climb Everest along with Sir Edmund Hillary) spent most of his life here and directed the Institute so it had much of the equipment he used to climb Everest on display. Very interesting!
We also took high-tea in the oldest hotel in Darjeeling which is a beautiful relic from the colonial past.