Darjeeling is a town in the Indian state of West
Bengal. It is the headquarters of Darjeeling district, in the Mahabharat
Range or Lesser Himalaya at an average elevation of 6,982 ft (2,128 m).
During the British Raj in India, Darjeeling's temperate climate led to
its development as a hill station for British residents seeking to
escape the heat of the plains during the summers, becoming known as the
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
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 has one of the few steam locomotives 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, though the separatist movement has gradually decreased over the
past decade because of the setting up of an autonomous hill council. In
recent years the town's fragile ecology has been threatened by a rising
demand for environmental resources, stemming from growing tourist
traffic and poorly planned urbanisation.
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