Darjeeling hills back on the map of tours through India
The historic and picturesque Darjeeling hills are set to once again feature as a highlight of tours through India.
Over the past few years, sporadic political turmoil has deterred visitors from venturing to this part of the country and the recent earthquake that rocked the area also dealt a blow to the local tourist economy.
However, according to a new report from the Indian Express, the hills are once again proving a hit with both foreign and domestic tourists, helped largely by the signing of the Gurkha Territorial Administration treaty back in July, an act which has brought stability to the area.
Indeed, research carried out by the newspaper show that occupancy rates in hotels both on and around the Darjeeling hills have soared over the past few weeks, with this trend expected to carry on for the foreseeable future.
Additionally, the famous Toy Train of Darjeeling, which takes tourists through the world-famous tea-growing field and gives them a window seat from which to observe a way of life which has remained unchanged for generations, is now running eight times a day, compared to just twice a day at the height of the troubles.
Notably, as well as the big hotels of historic Darjeeling town, the tourist boom is also spelling good news for local residents, with dozens of villages enjoying being on the tourist trail, many of them cashing in on tours of the tea fields and even demand for local hospitality.
The Toy Railway, or to give it its proper name the Darjeeling Himalayan railway, has long been a highlight of tours through India.
Finished in 1881 and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the narrow-gauge railway linked New Jalpaiguri with Darjeeling town, taking passengers through numerous small market towns, often running right down the main high street and passing within inches and shops and houses.