|Darjeeling is located in the lesser Himilayas at an elevation of about 6,700 ft. The name Darjeeeling translates to "land of the Thunderbolt" which I guess means there is lots of thunder and lightening hear, however we have not seen any. DArjeeling was founded by the British in the mid 19th century and was designed for 10,000 people. Currently Darjjeeling has approximately 132,000 and resources are stretched. The people here are extremely friendly and one feels comfortable walking about at night, unlike in Delhi. Today's activities include 1. a short walk to a look out to see Mount Kangchengjunga, the third highest mountain in the world before it is covered by clouds; 2. a visit to the Himilayan Mountain Institute and Zoological Gardens; 3. a visit to the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre and finally 4. a walk around a market area with a stop for tea tasting.
1. We walked to the lookout to view The mountain which was spectacular and learned the locations of Nepal, Buhtan and Tibet were as well as the Inian area known as Sikkim. The Sikkim district has restricted travel for Indians not living in Sikkim due to its close proximity to the Chinese occupied Tibet.
2. We then walked most of the way to the Himilayan Mountain Institute and Zooolical Garden before our taxi picked us up and drove us for about 15 seconds. The Himilayan Mountain Institute (HIM) was started in 1954 by Sir Edmund Hillary and is used today as both a museum and a training centre. All climbers who wish to scale Mt. Everest must take an extensive mountaineering course here before they are allowed to attempt an ascent.
The Zoological garden was founded as a breeding facility for endangered animals which when the young are old enough are then reintroduced to the wild. The Zoo includes several leopards, Bengal tigers, Himalayan Wolves, several species of mountain goats and deer, Himilayan Black bears and Red Pandas as well as various species of birds. Apparently it has been very successful.
3. The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre was founded in the early 1950s for 4 original refugees from Tibet and now numbers 250. No new refugees have been allowed out of Tibet since 1997. The refugees are self sustaining and make Tibetan crafts that they sell in their own showroom at the centre.
4. We walked along a higher end market area that is frequented mostly by tourists and looked at Pasmina and Kasmir Scarves among other things and then went to a tea store to be educated about teas and try some of them. Darjeeling has many varieties of tea; 3 different black teas (spring, summer and autumn), white teas and green teas and as you all likely know, Darjeeling tea is exported around the world.
After all of this we went back to our hotel fro supper which could be either a western or Indian varitety and then early to bed for a 3:30 AM wake up call tomorrow.