Situated at a height on 2134m above sea level, is a world-renowned hill resort - Darjeeling. 'The land of the thunderbolt". The British acquired it from the Raja of Sikkim as a "Free gift" about a hundred and fifty years ago and developed it as a rest and recreational center for their troops. Today Darjeeling has become a welcome respite during the hot summer months. Blessed with a cool and bracing climate, one can see a panoramic view of the Himalayas spread over one hundred and eighty degrees crowned by the Kanchanjunga massif. The town has retained, till today, many of the legacy of the British Raj. It has a mixed population of about 1000,000 of various races and religions living in perfect harmony. This is vividly reflected in the shrine at observatory Hill, where Hindus and Buddhists offer prayers alongside each other, Gorkhas, Bhutias, Lepchas, Sherpas. Yolmos and migrants from the plains have made Darjeeling their home. Gorkhali (Nepali) is the lingua franca, but Hindi and Bengali are also spoken and almost everyone understands and speaks a bit of English.
Established in 1954, Tenjing Norgay Sherpa, the first person to climb Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary, was closely associated with this institute till the time of his death. The institute conducts basic and advance courses in mountaineering and has a field training center in the West Sikkim Himalayas where the advance course students climb small peaks. The Everest museum, which is attached to the Institute, has on display rare photographs, objects and artifacts. Tenjing's monument is also located here.
Introduced by the British in 1840 as an experiment, Darjeeling's "Orthodox" tea is now famous the world over. Darjeeling tea is produced by the orthodox method as opposed to the "Curling, Crushing and Tearing" (CTC) method adopted in other places in India. The most convenient tea garden to visit is Happy Valley, which is only 2 km away from town.