You don’t have to spend a king’s ransom to live like royalty in the “Queen of Hills”. This beautiful Indian hill station has plenty to offer travellers on a shoe string too.
In New Jalpaiguri station, on a sticky pre-monsoon night, I drink sweet masala chai, while fat mosquitoes stab my ankles. My woollen shawl, useful for keeping out the chilly Himalayan air earlier in the day, has morphed into a cushion, softening the concrete slab that supports me and my churning tummy.
“Jamie, I think the ginger’s working, I don’t feel so sick.”
On a banner stretched across the main road we read “2600 years of the enlightenment of Lord Buddha”. By chance we had arrived just in time to join in the celebratory procession planned for the next day. At a mere 2100m Darjeeling is unlikely to strike you down with altitude sickness, but be prepared for an ear-popping drive from the Indian plains as you ascend two kilometres in four hours.