Observatory Hill

Religious Site in Darjeeling

Sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus, this hill was the site of the original Dorje Ling monastery that lent Darjeeling its name. Today, devotees come to a temple in a small cave to honour Mahakala, a Buddhist protector deity also worshipped in Hinduism as a wrathful avatar of Shiva the destroyer. The summit is marked by several shrines, a flurry of colourful prayer flags and the ringing notes from numerous devotional bells, but sadly no mountain views.

A path leading up to the hill through giant Japanese cedars starts about 300m along Bhanu Bhakta Sarani from Chowrasta; watch out for marauding monkeys. Before you reach the summit a side path to the left leads down to the Mahakala Cave (ask for the gufa). The summit temple is staffed by a Hindu priest and a Tibetan Buddhist lama sitting side by side in an admirable display of religious coexistence.