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Darjeeling - India
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Darjeeling is a town in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is the headquarters of Darjeeling district, in the Shiwalik Hills on the lower range of the Himalaya, at an average elevation of 6,982 ft (2,134 m). During the British Raj in India, Darjeeling's temperate climate led to its development as a hill station (hill town) for British residents to escape the heat of the plains during the summers, becoming known as the Summer Capital. Darjeeling is located on the Darjeeling-Jalapahar range that originates in the south from Ghum. Darjeeling is internationally famous for its tea industry and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tea plantations date back to the mid 19th century as part of a British development of the area. The tea growers of the area developed distinctive hybrids of black tea and fermenting techniques, with many blends considered among the world's finest. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connecting the town with the plains was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999 and is one of the few steam engines still in service in India. Darjeeling has several British-style public schools, which attract students from many parts of India and neighbouring countries. The town, along with neighbouring Kalimpong was a major center for the demand of a separate Gorkhaland state in the 1980s, the democratic movement for a separate state has begun again, this time without any accompanying violence. In recent years the town's fragile ecology is threatened by a rising demand for environmental resources, stemming from growing tourist traffic and poorly planned urbanisation.

The history of Darjeeling is intertwined with that of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Bengal. Until the early 19th century, the area around Darjeeling was ruled intermittently by the kingdoms of Nepal and Sikkim, with settlement consisting of a few villages of Lepcha woodspeople. In 1828, a delegation of British East India Company officials on their way to Sikkim stayed in Darjeeling and decided that the region was a suitable site for a sanatorium for British soldiers. The Company negotiated a lease of the area from the Chogyal of Sikkim in 1835. Arthur Campbell, a surgeon with the Company and Lieutenant Napier were given the responsibility to establish a hill station there. Darjeeling's temperate climate has five distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter, and the monsoons. The British established experimental tea plantations in Darjeeling in 1841. The success of these experiments led to the development of tea estates all around the town in the second half of the 19th century. The two most significant contributors to Darjeeling's economy are tourism and the tea industry.

After the independence of India in 1947, Darjeeling was merged with the state of West Bengal. The separate district of Darjeeling was established consisting of the hill towns of Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and some parts of the Terai region. As per the 2001 census, the Darjeeling urban agglomeration (which includes Pattabong Tea Garden), with an area of 12.77 km² (4.93 mi²) has a population of 109,163, while the municipal area has a population of 107,530. The town of Darjeeling can be reached by the 80-km long Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (nicknamed the "Toy Train") from Siliguri. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, nicknamed the "Toy Train", is a 60 cm (2 foot) narrow-gauge railway from Siliguri to Darjeeling in the state of West Bengal in India, run by the Indian Railways. Hill Cart Road (National Highway 55) connects darjeeling with Siliguri. Another road connecting the two cities is via Mirik. The nearest airport is Bagdogra (IXB), near Siliguri, which is a three hour (approx. 90 km) drive from Darjeeling. New Jalpaiguri is the nearest major railway station.


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