Image by Emad Aljumah Getty Images
To watch the dawn light break over a spectacular 250km stretch of Himalayan horizon, including Everest (8848m), Lhotse (8501m) and Makalu (8475m) to the far west, rise early and take a jeep out to Tiger Hill (2590m), 11km south of Darjeeling, above Ghum. The skyline is dominated by Khangchendzonga (‘great five-peaked snow fortress’), India’s highest peak and the world’s third-highest. On either side of the main massif are Kabru (7338m), Jannu (7710m) and Pandim (6691m), all serious peaks in their own right.
This daily morning spectacle (views are best in autumn and spring) is a major tourist attraction, and you'll find hundreds of jeeps leaving Darjeeling for Tiger Hill every morning at 4am – traffic snarls en route are quite common. At the summit you can pay to stand in the pavilion grounds or warm up in one of the heated lounges (₹30 to ₹100 with tea). It can be a real bunfight here, so if you prefer your Himalayan views in solitude you might want to try somewhere else.
Organised sunrise trips (usually with a detour to Batasia Loop and the monasteries in Ghum on the way back) can be booked through a travel agency or directly with jeep drivers at the Clubside taxi stand. Return trips cost ₹1300 per vehicle, or ₹250 per seat.