Remote Lands arranged an absolutely flawless trip for me to Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan where I stayed in some of the world's finest hotels.
Once a possession of the Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim, Darjeeling was annexed in 1849 by the British, who soon introduced tea plants to the area, jump-starting the industry that would make Darjeeling famous. Today, it has pockets that are as pleasant as when it was the hill station of choice for the British government escaping Calcutta summers.
In addition to its tea, which sometimes grows on precipitous hillsides, Darjeeling is also well-known for the Toy Train, a narrow-gauge railway formally known as the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and beautiful summer estates once home to the British colonial elite. Because of its location, Darjeeling is populated by a variety of hill tribes and Himalayan peoples, among them Nepalese Gurkhas, Tibetans, Anglo-Indians, and Sherpas.
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Tour the tea plantations at Glenburn Tea Estate, which will include a walk through the neat rows of tea, a tour of the factory and lunch. You will be met by a tea expert and manager of the property, who will assist you with selecting a special blend of tea tailored to your personal tastes.
Drive through the Simbong Forest to the River Rung Dung and into the Badamtam Forest. Walk along the forest path, following the River Rungeet. On the way, your guide will help you identify the birds, butterflies, occasional animals, and the rich plant life to be found in the forest.
Manjitar Suspension Footbridge
Cross the Manjitar Suspension Footbridge, which spans the River Rungeet into the old royal kingdom of Sikkim. This impressive structure was built by the British in 1902 after the original cane bridge was washed away by the floods of 1899. Measuring about 200 feet (61 meters) across and at least 100 feet (30 meters) above the river, crossing this footbridge is an adventure in itself.
Cross the bridge into Sikkim and wander around Manjitar Village, stop for a cup of tea in one of the village dhaabas (tea shops), and visit the local Shiv Temple.
Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Center
Stop at the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Center, which was established in 1959, and meet the Tibetan people as they go about their business of knitting sweaters, woollens and other interesting crafts.
Visit Hayden Hall, a non-profit organization that has been helping families break the cycle of poverty since its founding in 1969. Hayden Hall focuses on empowering women to achieve self-sufficiency through a variety of methods, from vocational training to providing small savings and loan plans.
Take a ride on the charming Toy Train, so-called because it is the world’s narrowest gauge railway at only two feet wide. A UNESCO World Heritage Site built in 1881, the Toy Train travels to the world’s highest train station at 7,400 feet (2,256 meters) and is one of the world’s most curious railway wonders.
Have a private tour of the Ghoom Monastery, built in 1875 by Lama Sherab Gyatso. On occasion, Remote Lands can arrange for visitors to have tea with senior resident monks, who can offer a special blessing. There are several hand-written Buddhist manuscripts here, which were compiled in volumes, carefully wrapped in cloth and stacked beside the main altar. The structure itself is a fine example of Himalayan architecture, with its exquisitely colored exterior and slanted roofs.
Explore the sights and attractions of India’s exciting Bengal region, on a 12-day luxury journey from Bangladesh’s bustling Dhaka, through the lush Sundarbans mangrove forest, onwards to Calcutta for lunch at the Polo Club, and ending Darjeeling for a tour and stay at Glenburn Tea Estate.
This 8-day luxury tour of Darjeeling and Northeastern India starts in Calcutta at the city’s famous Polo Club, and continues on to fragrant Darjeeling, with a tour and stay at Glenburn Tea Estate, rounding off in Sikkim, with its famous orphanage, friendly locals, and incredible mountain views.
Spend 22 days traveling from India to Bhutan on this luxurious adventure of a lifetime. Shop in New Delhi’s world-famous Chandni Chowk market, dine at the Calcutta Polo Club, and marvel at the ancient Tibetan Buddhist Ghoom Monastery, while staying in luxury hotels like Amankora and Oberoi.
Take a private jet through the world’s highest peaks - the Himalayas - on this incredible 11-day luxury India tour. You’ll jet into New Delhi, over to Shimla to stay in its stunning Wildflower Hall, onto Rishikesh for yoga and meditation at a luxury spa resort, ending in Darjeeling for an exclusive tea tasting.
Glenburn Tea Estate
A combination of tea plantation, homestay and luxury resort, Glenburn Tea Estate is a truly unforgettable place to stay. Set amidst lush green tea gardens above the Rungeet and Rung Dung rivers, Glenburn consists of two luxury bungalows, Burra and Water Lily, both of which are over 100 years old and have been lovingly maintained. Both bungalows have separate bedroom, sitting room and veranda superb views, and also have real fireplaces. Multi-course meals are served in a communal dining room, and the resort can also provide picnics out in the tea fields, with food served on quality china by porters smartly dressed in classic plantation-style clothing. The resort also has walking trails through the plantations, as well as a charming riverside lodge which can also accommodate overnight guests.