Darjeeling AND Gangtok -- DARJEELING

Darjeeling is a Himalayan town in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is internationally renowned as a tourist destination, along with its tea industry and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the headquarters of Darjeeling district. The town is located in the Mahabharat Range or Lesser Himalaya at an average elevation of 6,710 ft (2,050 m).

The development of the town dates back to the mid-19th century, when the British set up a sanatorium and a military depot. Subsequently, extensive tea plantation was done in the region, and tea growers developed distinctive hybrids of black tea and created new fermenting techniques. The resultant distinctive Darjeeling tea is internationally recognised and ranks among the most popular of the black teas. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connects the town with the plains and has one of the few steam locomotives still in service in India. Darjeeling also has several British-style public schools, which attract students from throughout India and neighbouring countries. The town, with its neighbouring town of Kalimpong, was a center for the demand of the Gorkhaland movement in the 1980s. The present movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland is also centered in Darjeeling town. In recent years, the town's fragile ecology has been threatened by a rising demand for environmental resources, stemming from growing tourist traffic and poorly planned urbanisation.

Darjeeling is the main town of the  Sadar  subdivision and also the headquarters of the district. It is located at an average elevation of 6,710 ft (2,050 m) in the  Darjeeling Himalayan hill region  on the Darjeeling-Jalapahar range that originates in the south from  Ghum . The range is Y-shaped with the base resting at  Katapahar  and  Jalapahar  and two arms diverging north of the  Observatory Hill.  The north-eastern arm dips suddenly and ends in the  Lebong  spur, while the north-western arm passes through North Point and ends in the valley near     Tukver Tea Estate.   The hills are nestled within higher peaks and the snow-clad Himalayan ranges tower over the town in the distance. Kanchenjunga    , the world's third-highest peak, 8,598 m (28,209 ft) high, is the most prominent mountain visible. In days clear of clouds, Nepal's Mount Everest  , 29,035 ft (8,850 m) high, can be seen.

The hills of Darjeeling are part of the   Mahabharat Range   or   Lesser Himalaya.   The soil is chiefly composed of   sandstone   and conglomerate formations, which are the solidified and upheaved detritus of the great range of   Himalaya  . However, the soil is often poorly consolidated (the permeable sediments of the region do not retain water between rains) and is not considered suitable for agriculture. The area has steep slopes and loose   topsoil  , leading to frequent landslides during the   monsoons  . According to the   Bureau of Indian Standards,   the town falls under   seismic zone-IV  , (on a scale of I to V, in order of increasing proneness to earthquakes) near the   convergent boundary   of the   Indian   and the   Eurasian tectonic plates   and is subject to frequent earthquakes.

Darjeeling can be reached by the 88 km (55 mi) long Darjeeling Himalayan Railway from New Jalpaiguri, or by National Highway 55, from Siliguri, 77 km (48 mi) away. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a 60 cm (24 in) narrow-gauge railway that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999 for being "an outstanding example of the influence of an innovative transportation system on the social and economic development of a multi-cultural region, which was to serve as a model for similar developments in many parts of the world", becoming only the second railway in the world to have this honour. Bus services and hired vehicles connect Darjeeling with Siliguri and Darjeeling has road connections with Bagdogra, Gangtok and Kathmandu and the neighbouring towns of Kurseong and Kalimpong. However, road and railway communications often get disrupted in the monsoons because of landslides. The nearest airport is in Bagdogra, located 90 km (56 mi) from Darjeeling. Within the town, people usually traverse by walking. Residents also use bicycles, two-wheelers and hired taxis for travelling short distances. The Darjeeling Ropeway, functional since 1968, was closed in 2003 after an accident killed four tourists. It was proposed to be reopened in 2007, but remained closed as of November 2009 due to absence of patronage as a result of the development of the road network in the region.