Darjeeling has always been at the crossroads of history. Fortune hunters, missionaries, tea planters, kings, princess, mystics have been charmed by the hills. The majestic Kanchendzonga has been an inspiration for artist, movie directors, holy men and commoners alike. From humble beginnings, Darjeeling has metamorphosised into a hill station with all the modern facilities trapped in an ancient body.
The beauty of hills is only revealed to a patient pilgrim. Too many opinions have been passed by travellers who have barely sojourned the Himalayas for two days!
Our charm is more subtle. It lies in wait for a weary soul, the restless spirit and the tired mind. The magical brew – Darjeeling is to be sipped with friendly company. The road less travelled winds through the forest. A trip to these mystical mountains is like promise kept – promise to meet again.
Rivers and streams wind their way from the snowy glaciers and rush headlong to meet the mighty ocean. Along the way, they provide us with sweet water and the loner angler, a war of the wills with the river fish. Of course, the tranquillity of sitting next to a murmuring stream minus the traffic horns and smog is the first step to nirvana.
The charm of Darjeeling lies in people. Very affable and friendly, they make you feel at home-sharing smiles and laughter. Never hesitate to ask to for directions for you will make new friends who will share your predicament and help you to your destiny.
Spirituality strengthens the bond of different communities across the hills. Temples, monasteries, mosques and churches are revered by all. But the almighty resides in caves, hillock, and roadside rock temples and in colourful prayer flag that flutter from trees. No prayer is forgotten and blessings and shared and enjoyed. Each festival is celebrated with gusto – Losar, Dasai, Christmas and other festivals are eagerly anticipated by one and all.
As one journeys though the mist, legends and fables captivate the listener. Local myths abound- of pale light that flicker at night by the riverside, the footsteps that follow the later returner at night. Such tales told by the fireside add lustre to the rich folklore of our hills.
Darjeeling, our abode, our enigma and an enduring legacy.