Darjeeling, 'Queen of the Hills'
After breakfast enjoy a tour of Darjeeling, beginning with a visit to the Bhutia Basti (Village) Monastery, originally the branch of the Nygampa sect’s Phodang Monastery in Sikkim, which was transferred to Darjeeling in 1879. There’s an old library of Buddhist texts upstairs in the monastery. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute* (below right) contains collections of historic mountaineering equipment, specimens of Himalayan flora and fauna and a relief model of the Himalayas. The Everest Museum next door traces the history of attempts on the great peak. Both the Mountaineering Institute and the Everest Museum are located in the grounds of Darjeeling Zoo, famous worldwide for its Snow Leopard Breeding Centre (closed to the public but you may see snow leopards in their enclosure). One of the most popular animals is the endangered Red Panda, several of which have been bred here. Also visit the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre, established in 1959 to help rehabilitate Tibetan Refugees who fled from Tibet with the Dalai Lama following the Chinese invasion. Religious importance is attached to this place as the 13th Dalai Lama (the present is 14th) stayed here during his visit to India in 1919-22. The centre produces carpets, woollen goods, woodcarvings and leatherwork and has various Tibetan curios for sale (coins, banknotes, jewellery etc).