Darjeeling is a town in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in the Mahabharat Range or Lesser Himalaya at an average elevation of 6,710 ft (2,045.2 m). It is noted for its tea industryand the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Darjeeling is the headquarters of Darjeeling district which has a partially autonomous status within the state of West Bengal.
The development of the town dates back to the mid-19th century, when the colonial British administration set up a sanatorium and a military depot. Subsequently, extensive tea plantations were established in the region, and tea growers developed hybrids of black tea and created new fermentation techniques. The resultant distinctive Darjeeling tea is internationally recognized 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 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, 29,029 ft (8,848 m) high, can be seen
The two most significant contributors to Darjeeling’s economy are tourism and the tea industry. Darjeeling tea, due to the unique agro-climatic conditions of Darjeeling, has a distinctive natural flavour, is internationally reputed and recognised as a geographical indicator. Darjeeling produces 7% of India’s tea output, approximately 9,000,000 kilograms (20,000,000 lb) every year. The tea industry has faced competition in recent years from tea produced in other parts of India as well as other countries like Nepal. Widespread concerns about labour disputes, worker layoffs and closing of estates have affected investment and production. Several tea estates are being run on a workers’ cooperative model, while others are being planned for conversion into tourist resorts. More than 60% of workers in the tea gardens are women.Besides tea, the most widely cultivated crops include maize, millets, paddy, cardamom, potato and ginger.
Darjeeling had become an important tourist destination as early as 1860. It is reported to be the only location in eastern India that witnesses large numbers of foreign tourists. It is also a popular filming destination for Bollywood and Bengali cinema. Satyajit Ray shot his film Kanchenjungha (1962) here, and his Feluda series story, Darjeeling Jomjomaat was also set in the town. Bollywood movies Aradhana (1969), Main Hoon Na (2004), and more recently Barfi! (2012) have been filmed here.Tourist inflow into Darjeeling has been affected by the political instability in the region, and agitations in the 1980s and 2000s have hit the tourism industry hard.
According to the 2011 census Cooch Behar district has a population of 2,822,780, This gives it a ranking of 136th in India (out of a total of 640). The district has a population density of 833 inhabitants per square kilometre (2,160 /sq mi) . Its population growth rate over the decade 2001–2011 was 13.86%. Koch Bihar has a sex ratio of 942 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 75.49%.
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 600 mm (2 ft) 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.
According to provisional results of 2011 census of India, Darjeeling urban agglomeration has a population of 132,016, out of which 65,839 were males and 66,177 were females. The sex ratio is 1005 females per 1,000 males. The 0–6 years population is 7,382. Effective literacy rate for the population older than 6 years is 93.17 per cent.
According to the 2001 census, the Darjeeling urban agglomeration, with an area of 12.77 km2 (4.93 sq mi) had a population of 109,163, while the municipal area had a population of 107,530.The population density of the municipal area was 10,173 per km2. The sex ratio was 1,017 females per 1,000 males, which was higher than the national average of 933 females per 1000 males. The three largest religions were Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, in that order. The majority of the populace are Gorkhas of ethnic Nepali background. Indigenous ethnic groups include the Limbu, Rai, Magars, Gurung, Tamangs, Lepchas, Bhutias, Sherpasand Newars. Other communities that inhabit Darjeeling include the Marwaris,Anglo-Indians, Chinese, Biharis, Tibetans and Bengali. The most commonly spoken languages are Nepali, Hindi, Bengali and English.
Darjeeling has seen a significant growth in its population, its decadal growth rate being 47% between 1991 and 2001. The colonial town had been designed for a population of only 10,000, and subsequent growth has created extensive infrastructural and environmental problems. The district’s forests and other natural wealth have been adversely affected by an ever-growing