The Queen of Hills in North Eastern India, Darjeeling is among the most frequented hill stations in the country. From toy trains to cable car rides, from adrenaline-pumping treks to soul-satisfying cuisines, there is nothing that Darjeeling doesn’t offer to its travelers from all walks. And guess what, Darjeeling in December turns double charming and double exciting against whatever notions tourists may hold. Don’t believe us? Well, take a look at what all you can do in this picturesque hill town in December to experience its unique blend of tradition and beauty that draws travelers here year after year.
The Weather in Darjeeling in December
December is the time to visit Darjeeling in winter when it has just set it. The cold is bearable and pleasant, turning the city a haven for winter lovers. The average temperature during this time ranges from 2.5°C to 11.2°C, and most of the attractions are open. Darjeeling weather in December is usually not accompanied by snow. In fact, January is the best time to visit Darjeeling for snow. However, when it there really is snowfall in Darjeeling in December once in a blue moon, the charming hill town turns into a snowy fairyland!
How To Reach Darjeeling
Owing to the fact that Darjeeling is one of the most visited hill stations in India, travelers never face issues in getting to this paradise. Let’s look at ways to get to Darjeeling in December by different means of transport:
By Air: The nearest airport to Darjeeling is located 95 km away in Bagdogra. The airport receives direct flights from major Indian cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, and more. After getting down at the airport, one can easily cover the rest of the three-hour distance to Darjeeling via road. Taxis and buses are readily available at Bagdogra to take tourists to Darjeeling at rather affordable rates.
By Road: One can either take a bus or drive all the way to Darjeeling from towns like Siliguri, Bagdogra, Kurseong, Kalimpong, and Gangtok. Buses ply form all these nearby cities at affordable rates and take travelers through scenic routes and over well-maintained road networks. One can also take a shared cab or drive their own from these cities to Darjeeling for a rather more comfortable journey and convenience.
By Train: The nearest railway station to Darjeeling is New Jalpaiguri in Bagdogra which is 73 km from Darjeeling. One can easily board the 9 AM train to Darjeeling every day and get there by 4:15 PM. The train journey to Darjeeling is an experience in itself as it takes one through breathtaking landscapes and green environs. The New Jalpaiguri railway station connects Darjeeling with all the major parts of the country, with trains to and from metros like Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Guwahati, and Kochi. It’s relatively easy to reach Darjeeling from the station by cabs and local buses.
Things to do in Darjeeling in December
1. Be part of the exciting festivals of Darjeeling
Owing to the diversity of the population of Darjeeling, some festival or the other is celebrated almost every month. Most of the Hindu and Tibetan festivals follow the lunar calendar and so the date of the festival does not fall on the exact date the next year. We will update our page to give you the exact date of the festival in the current year. Also a public holiday means that all the Government offices and Banks remain closed that day.
Teesta Tea & Tourism Festival: The landscapes of Darjeeling transform as large fairs are set up selling different varieties of tea. The air swells up with the delicious aroma of the world famous Darjeeling tea as well as local North Eastern cuisines like momos and thukpa. The celebrations are dominated by toy train rides, tea stalls, as well as food stalls selling local food items and traditional specialties. People are also educated on the hefty process of tea making and how the Tea Industry contributes to West Bengal’s economy and revenue generation.
Darjeeling Orange Festival: As the name suggests, the festival revolves around this juicy fruit where farmers from over 50 villages around Darjeeling come together to promote and sell their produce. The locals try and make the festival interesting by holding cultural performances during the fair and also by educating people about the varieties, qualities, and conservation methods of oranges produced around Darjeeling. And by the way, these aren’t your regular oranges. Those that grow there are smaller, paler, and even sweeter compared to those in other parts of India.
Christmas: Darjeeling observes a peak season from 23rd December to the 1st week of January every year due to the Christmas and New Year fervor. The streets are bathed in multi-coloured hues, while all stores and diners dip themselves in Christmassy lights and colours and start rolling out special menus and discounts to attract customers. Bakeries start preparing special Christmas items like plum cakes, puddings, pies, pastries, and candies while hotels are brimming with energy with carol singing, cultural dances, special dinners, bonfire, live band performances, and more delights for guests.
2. Savour the taste of Churpi, a local treat to beat the winter blues
Churpi (or durkha) is to Nepalis what chewing gum is to the outside world. These hard chewy cubes of cheese can be enjoyed for hours, while the softer ones are used in cooking as momo filling and in soups.
Made entirely by hand, farmers from regions like Taplejung, Shankuwasabha, Dolakha, and Rasuwa first extract milk from chauris (female yak-cow hybrids). When the milk is boiled, it leaves a solid mass behind. This mass is then wrapped in a cloth to soak up all the excess liquid and then hung out to dry. Finally, the churches are placed over a fire and the smoke allows them to ferment and acquire their characteristic taste.
3. Gaze at breathtaking panoramas from Tiger Hill
4. Visit the amusing Batasia Loop & Ghoom station
5. Go on a delightful cable car ride
The best way to witness the panoramic views of Darjeeling is via the Darjeeling Ropeway, or the Rangeet Valley Cable Car as it’s known here. This 45-minute cable car ride takes you up at an altitude of 7,000 ft over this attractive retreat, and lets you enjoy views of mist-laden valleys with colourful huts as well as popular places like Chowk Bazaar, river Rangeet, Tukvar Village, Singla Tea Estate, and more. The ropeway system in Darjeeling is divided into three stations on the basis of their height – the lower, medium, and high station, all with different ride timings and views to suit the preferences of different travelers.
6. Ride the Toy Train through lush naturescapes
An offbeat commute to unplugged destinations where the pace is slow enough to experience the free side of nature and the mood is cheerful. As these raunchy mountainous railway rides traverse over the bridge alongside undulating scenic landscape, they personify diverse topography. These eye-catching ’’ toy trains’’ have also become another tempting reason to visit these hill stations set in the foothills of the majestic mountainous regions. They run via several stations and quaint villages.
In the fantasy version of rides framing the winding roads and the fields with pastures of green complementing every shade of brown, they are the highlights of these quick getaways.
7. Greet the wild side of North East at Darjeeling Zoo
8. Test your strength with the Sandakphu-Phalut trekking expedition
Imagine a glorious view of some of the highest peaks in the world – the crystal white shimmer of Everest on one side, and the majestic Kanchenjunga range on the other. A trek to Sandakphu and Phalut spells beauty, might, and grandeur all clubbed into one. This eight-day Sandakphu Phalut Trek gives you a chance to wake up each morning in the lap of nature, surrounded by dense forests and lush green valleys, amidst rhododendron meadows and white mountains – each of which will take your breath away. Commence this magnificent journey from Chitrey – a tiny hamlet perched atop a hill and admire some of the most spectacular views of Darjeeling town. Hike on paths that soar upwards until you reach Tumbling which brings you face-to-face with the snowy peaks of Kanchenjunga. Cross the border and enter Nepal only to find yourself mesmerized with the winding mountain paths and blooming valleys. Head skyward and cross the ‘Valley of the Poisonous Plants’ to reach Sandakphu. On reaching the top, you will require a moment or two to gather yourself before the beauty of the place sinks in. Here, greet the sun as it rises from behind the towering snow mountains and covers everything in a shimmer of golden hue – a moment that will be etched in your memory forever. Pass by dense bamboo forests and soothing paths, be welcomed by pine and oak trees, be amazed by a lake that never freezes, explore small hamlets atop hills and sip piping hot tea from tiny village tea stalls – there is never a dull moment here. On this journey, take the roads less traveled, and by the end of it, you will know it was worth every bit of it.
9. Gorge on delish local cuisines of Darjeeling
Darjeeling has scrumptious answers to your hunger pangs while you’re there. One can dine at the many popular restaurants and enjoy a variety of finger-licking culinary delights while one a Darjeeling trip in December. Savour the taste of delicacies like Momos and Sael Roti at Kunga, Thukpa at Dekevas, Aloo Dum at Hasty Tasty, Dalle at Keventers, Nepali thali and Naga Platter at Revolver, and alcoholic beverages like Tongba and Chhang at the many pubs in Darjeeling. If you’re looking for budget options, you can eat momos and thukpa at the many street joints at almost every nook and corner of the town.