Darjeeling is a town and a municipality in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in the Lesser Himalaya at an elevation of 6,700 ft (2,042.2 m). It is noted for its tea industry, the spectacular views of Kangchenjunga, the world's third-highest mountain, and 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. It is also a popular tourist destination in India.
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 recognised and ranks among the most popular of the black teas. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connects the town with the plains and has some of the few steam locomotives still in service in India.
Darjeeling has several British-style public schools, which attract pupils from India and neighbouring countries. The varied culture of the town reflects its diverse demographic milieu consisting of Nepali, Bengali, Sherpas, Lepcha and other mainland Indian ethno-linguistic groups. Darjeeling, with its neighbouring town of Kalimpong, was a centre of the Gorkhaland movement in the 1980s. The town's fragile ecology has been threatened by a rising demand for environmental resources, stemming from growing tourist traffic and poorly planned urbanisation.
Tourist inflow into Darjeeling had been affected by the political instability in the region, and agitations in the 1980s and 2000s hit the tourism industry hard. However, post 2012, Darjeeling has once again witnessed a steady inflow of both domestic and international tourists. Presently, around 50,000 foreign and 500,000 domestic tourists visit Darjeeling each year, and its repute as the 'Queen of the Hills' remains unaltered. According to an India Today survey published on 23 December 2015, Darjeeling is the third most googled travel destination among all the tourist spots in India.
Sikkim is a northeastern state of India. It borders China in its north and east, Bhutan in its east, Nepal in its west and the Indian state of West Bengal in its south. Sikkim is also located close to the Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh. Sikkim is the least populous and second smallest among the Indian states. A part of the Eastern Himalaya, Sikkim is notable for its biodiversity, including alpine and subtropical climates, as well as being a host to Kanchenjunga, the highest peak in India and third highest on Earth. Sikkim's capital and largest city is Gangtok. Almost 25% of the state is covered by the Khangchendzonga National Park.
The Kingdom of Sikkim was founded on the Silk Road by the Namgyal dynasty in the 17th century. It was ruled by a Buddhist priest-king known as the Chogyal. Once a vassal state of Qing China, it became a princely state of British India in 1890. After the People's Republic of China invaded Tibet, Sikkim continued its protectorate status with the dominion and republic of India. It enjoyed the highest literacy rate and per capita income among Himalayan states. In 1975, the Indian military deposed the Sikkimese monarchy. A referrendum in 1975 led to Sikkim joining India as its 22nd state.
Modern Sikkim is a multiethnic and multilingual Indian state. Sikkim has 11 official languages: Nepali, Sikkimese, Lepcha, Tamang, Limbu, Newari, Rai, Gurung, Magar, Sunwar and English. English is taught in schools and used in government documents. The predominant religions are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Sikkim's economy is largely dependent on agriculture and tourism, and as of 2014 the state had the third-smallest GDP among Indian states, although it is also among the fastest-growing.
Sikkim accounts for the largest share of cardamom production in India, and is the world's second largest producer of the spice after Guatemala. It is the most organic farming state in India. It is also among India's most environmentally conscious states, having banned plastic water bottles and styrofoam products.