Darjeeling Tourist Information

Darjeeling Local Info-Popular Dances–Important Contact numbers

Local Dances of Darjeeling: The rich cultural heritage of Bengal is evident in its theatre and dance forms which are either agricultural or devotional in theme. They predominantly portray the lives of rural folk of Bengal such as the cowherds, goatherds, fishermen, boatmen, agriculturists and so on. Dance and drama are an integral part of the Bengali Tribal lifestyle and a popular source of entertainment among the Bengalis. They have modeled a dance for every little occasion in their lives which shows that Bengalis love to celebrate.

1.Chhau Dance:  Also called the ‘Purulia Dance’ as  it originated in the Purulia District of Bengal, the Chhau Dance  is a very popular tribal mask dance which incorporates some martial arts that the tribal’s are very good at and hence the display. The dance depicts the various characters of the mythological epics – the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and is performed only by males. ‘Purulia Chhau’, ‘Mayurbhanj Chhau’ and ‘Seraikella Chhau’ are the three sub-genres of the Chhau Dance. The dominant ‘rasas’ (human emotions) being ‘Veera’ (gallantry) and ‘Roudra’ (rage) – the Chhau Dance is performed at festivals where there are huge gatherings.

2.Santhal Dance: Found in the western part of Bengal, the Santhal tribes are credited to this dance’s origin which celebrates nature’s glory especially during the ‘Karam’ festival in the months of September and October. Bright and colourful costumes are the highlight of this dance.

3.Gajan Dance: Bearing incensed burners called ‘Dhanuchi’, saffron clad men perform the Gajan Dance to the music of brass gongs (kanshi) and decorated drums in praise of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

4. Rava Dance: Dances indigenous to the Rava Tribes are the Rava Dances which are performed to melodious music wearing colourful costumes. Performed by the Bengali women folk - the Fai Nang Mein (welcome dance), Nak Chung Baini (the dances by the fisherman), Baishar Bidan (dances performed at the New Year’s) and Larai Lunji (a war dance) are some of the popular Ravi Dances.

5.Rabha Dance: Performed by the women-folk of the Rabha community depicting their daily lives. Some of the Rabha Dances are “Fai Nang Ning Mein” or Welcome Dance, the “Braisar Pridan” or New Year’s Dance and “Larai Lunge” or War Dance.

6.Chaibari Nritya: With their intricate costumes and melodious music, this dance originated in the Tea Gardens of Bengal.

7.Mech Dance: Originated in the Jalpaiguri District is this nature dance performed at Spring Festivals. ‘Bagroomba’, ‘Mesa Glang Nai’ and ‘Jhumre Gele Nai’ dances are a variation of the Mech Dance.

8.Rajbanshi Dance: It is a graceful dance performed to the beat of the Dhol, Kanshi, Kartal, and Mukhabanshi by the Rajbanshi Tribes of North Bengal.

9.Dhamail Dance: This folk dance is performed by the married women by dancing in circles and by clapping rhythmically.

10.Oraon Dance: It is a dance performed by the Oraon tribal aborigines of eastern Bengal to the tune of the musical instruments such as the nagara, kartal and mandar.

Nepali Dances at Darjeeling: Nepali culture has become an integral part of northern Bengali culture owing to the historical intermingling of the two. Nepalese are rich in folk culture which reflects off of their numerous Dances that are predominantly nature and Nepali community centric such as the one mentioned below:
1.Maruni Naach: This is a Nepalese dance which a male dancer adorns costume and makeup of a female and enacts a female rendition of dance. With a large dose of humour the dance is highly entertaining and always draws huge crowds.

2.Dhan Naach: It is performed in groups by the Limbus to the beat of Chyabrung – a Nepali drum.

3.Jhankri Naach: This is the dance of a Nepali exorcist who dances to the beat of a brass plate in his endeavour to drive away evil spirits.

4.Jatra Naach: It is a Nepal community dance.

5.Domphu Naach: Domphu being a Nepali musical instrument is central to this dance form.

6.Kukri Naach: ‘Kukri’ is a weapon which is depicted in this dance as something the girls of the community proudly hand to their warrior-brothers before they set out for war.

7.Deora Naach: It is performed by the Damai community to the tune of a band comprising 9 musical instruments called the ‘Naumati Baja’.

8.Dhimay Naach: It is a Nepali ceremonial-march-dance.

9.Sanginy Naach: During the festival of women - the ‘Teej’ - this dance is performed by Bahuns and Chhetris with a bronze plate, or a lit-up terracotta oil-lamp on the head of the dances.

10.Balan Naach: This dance is performed by Bahuns and Chhetris during religious ceremonies.

11.Jhyauray Naach:  It is a Nepal community dance.

12.Paschimay Chutki: To the rhythmic beats of a drum called ‘Khaijadi’, the Chhetris and the Bahuns perform the Chutki.

13.Dhimay Naach: This is a festival dance that is performed by the Jyapus in ceremonial marches.

14.Rodhighar Naach: is a popular Nepali dance which the Gurung society identifies with.

15.Lakhey Naach: The Pradhan community performs this dance to ward off evil spirits and to invoke peace and prosperity. Dhimay, Jhali, and Dhol are the instruments that are used in this performance.

Handicrafts of Darjeeling:
With easy availability of raw materials, sufficient power supply, skilled man power and a reliable socio-political condition in West Bengal, this material expression of a free and creative spirit soars in the State of West Bengal. This legendry heritage of West Bengal handicrafts embellishes homes of millions all over the world. The list of handicrafts would run into scrolls but just to give you a taste of what to expect, here are the most popular handicrafts of Darjeeling:

1.Dhokra Craft: This craft dates its origins back to the pre-historic period of Harappa and Mohenjodaro of the Indus Valley Civilization. A beautiful amalgamation of art and science, ‘Cire Perdu’ – French for lost-wax casting, also called ‘hollow casing - is a 13-stage process by which a metal sculpture is cast from an artist’s sculpture is a foundry. The craftsman sculptures a wax model of the object he wants to make and then makes a mould of clay and pours molten metal into a hole in the mould after which the wax is melted (which is why it is called the lost-wax casting) and the clay mould is broken to bring out the metal object which is smoothened and polished to perfection. The specialty of the Dhokra Craft – also known as the bell metal craft - is it’s enthralling folk motifs with timeless, antique, rustic and dull-gold feel and appearance which is the effect of bringing together nickel, brass and zinc in the castings. The craftsmen – the Dhokra Kamar Tribes who are known to be the original metal-smiths of Bengal, were originally wandering groups of Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, who finally dropped anchors at Bankura, Birbhum, Midnapur and Bardwan districts of West Bengal. Dhokra Casting is used to make varieties of symbols of ethnic folklore like metal masks, imagery and figurines of Gods, birds and animals as well as lamps, necklaces (hansuli), anklets (payeri & ghungroo), bangles, wall-art, table-ware, door handles, caskets, boxes and other decorative trinkets. This unique metallurgical skill has earned this art a spot in the international marketplace earning considerable export revenues for the State of West Bengal.

2.Kantha Embroidery: Who knew that outlining a decorative motif with a running stitch in with colourful threads would add so much beauty to an embroidered pattern? As simple as it sounds, it is a very attractive stich which looks like the stich on a Prada Bag – only; the Kantha Stitch which is indigenous to Bolpur and Shantiniketan towns of Bengal has been around for ages. Quilts, bed-spreads, pillow cases, sarees, dupattas, and dhotis are what the Kantha stitch is done on. With patterns specified by some foreign fashion houses, Kantha stitch work is now also done on wall art as well. Kantha embroidered sarees make their way to almost every Indian woman’s wardrobe.

3.Thanka Painting: Also called the scroll paintings, these paintings depict the Buddhist tales from the Buddhist scriptures. Thankas are made of paper which is specifically brought from Tibet or Nepal. Earthen colours dominant in these paintings and grounded stone such as the Lapis Lazuli is used. Thanka paintings are usually hung in the Buddhist Monasteries but now are also making their way to the Tibetan homes and Buddhist household Shrines.

4.Cane and Bamboo Crafts: More than 35,000 artisans of Bengal weave cane for a living which only shows the demand for cane products. Furniture, baskets, lamp shades and cane mats of Bengal in diagonal and diamond shapes, twill, zig-zag and checks are very popular items in India. This is a special kind of cane called the ‘Mutra’ Cane which is used in this craft. Even the elite class cannot resist this simple material called cane for their new urban furniture requirements.

5.Tibetan Carpets: Spun by the Tibetan womenfolk, are these very attractive carpets of wool with bright and bold colours in geometric patterns, Tibetan symbols like the mythical birds – ‘Dak’, dragon – ‘Jira’, the lion, God of lightening and floral designs as well. These carpets are spun on traditional spinning wheels called the ‘Chassba’. The Tibetan Refugees’ Self Help Centre – which was established as a self-supporting centre for Tibetan Refugees - is predominantly involved in crafting carpets and therefore utilizing the Tibetan skill. At this place you are allowed to watch the carpets being crafted by the Tibetans.

6.Nepali Khukris, rope-sole shoes, bedroom slippers, hats, jackets, and hanzu coats.

7.Wooden folding partitions, fire-screens.

8.Copper art – copper plates studded with semi-precious stones on engravings of deities.

9.Metal ornaments and trinkets.

10.Bhutia Chadars.

11.Bhutan Paintings.

12.Pashmina Shawls and semi-precious stone-studded jewellery of Kashmir.

13.Tibetan artifacts such as metallic wall art, antique curios, music bowls, masks, prayer wheels and replicas. Copper, silver, brass and wood are the chief metals that the artifacts are made of. Tibetan jewelry is made of semi-precious stones such as the turquoise, jade and lapis lazuli.

Important Telephone Numbers:

  •  Deputy Director of Tourism, DGAHC,
    Silver Fir Building,
    Bhanu Sarani,
    Darjeeling - 734101
    Phone: 2254879/2255351
    Fax: 0354-2254214
  • Tourist Information Center,
    Govt. of West Bengal,
    Darjeeling Rly. Station,
    Darjeeling - 734101
  • Tourist Bureau,
    Govt. of West Bengal,
    1, Nehru Road,
    Darjeeling - 734101
    Phone: 2254050
    Fax: 0354-2254102
  • Tourist Information Center,
    New Car Park,
    Ladenla Road, Darjeeling - 734101
  • Tourist Bureau,
    Govt. of West Bengal,
    1, Nehru Road,
    Darjeeling - 734101
    Phone: 2254050
    Fax: 0354-2254102
  • Tourism Centre (Kolkata)
    (For reservation & detailed information)
    3/2, B.B.D. Bag (East), Kolkata - 700 001
    Phone : 033-4401-2659/2660/2661/2662/2665/2243-7260
    Fax: 033-2248 5168
    E-mail : visitwestbengal@yahoo.co.in
  • Foreigner Registration Office in Darjeeling is located at Laden La Road.
  • Foreigner Registration Office in Kolkata
    237 Acarya Jagdish Chandra Bose Road
    Kolkata - 700 020
    Phone: (33)-2247-0549 Fax: (33)-2247-0549
    Email: frrokol@nic.in
  • National Informatics Centre, Darjeeling - 0354-2256020
    Email: wbdjl@nic.in 

Best Time to visit Darjeeling is between April - June and September - December.

Precautionary Measures while travelling to Darjeeling:

1.Maximum temperatures reached in Darjeeling during summer is 20 degrees Celsius. Light Woolens are recommended to all tourists visiting Darjeeling in summers. During winter months from November to February, temperature dips to sub-zero so pack heavy woolens and medicines accordingly.

2.Sun-screen, sun glasses, tissue-rolls, roll of duct-tape, extra batteries, torchlight, water, energy-bars should be in your ready to grab bags.

3.First-aid kit is a must-carry on any trip.

4.Medicines to carry when you are travelling to a new place or when you’re away from hometown (which must be approved and prescribed by your physician or medical practitioner) are:
a.Painkillers
b.Anti-inflammatory
c.Wide-spectrum antibiotic
d.Anti-diarrhea
e.Anti-constipation pills
f.Mild sleeping pills - just in case you feel very overwhelmed by the altitude and atmosphere because of which you are unable to sleep.

5. If you’re getting around Darjeeling on foot then, you will need tried and tested walking-shoes and cash handy for this purpose. Do not wear brand new shoes when there is a lot of walking involved. You don’t want to risk getting a shoe bite when you’re travelling as it would render you immobile and crash your holiday plans. Even if you get new shoes, wear them for a few days (before you start your journey on vacation) till you are sure you won’t fall victim to shoe-bites. Extra laces and 6 pairs of warm socks are a must.

6.For fishing in Rivers Rangeet and Teesta in Darjeeling a Fishing Permit is mandatory which is issued by the Divisional Forest Officer in Darjeeling at:
Divisional Forest Officer, Wildlife-I
Bengal Natural History Museum, Meadow Bank Rd,
P.O. & Dist.Darjeeling, Pin-734101
Phone No. 0354-2254308 Fax: 0354-2257314
dfowl1darj@yahoo.in 

7.You are advised to carry a printed / written-down list of important phone numbers of West Bengal and Darjeeling tourism offices, your hotel in Darjeeling, your family and friends back home – just in case you lose your phone or run out of battery.

8.First-aid kit is a must-carry on any travel.

9.Darjeeling offers good basic and specialized hospital services.

Accommodation at Darjeeling:
With Colonial Mansions, a host of luxury and economy hotels and Tibetan Homestays, Darjeeling offers comfortable accommodation to every visitor. The luxury hotels provide all the latest luxury amenities and the budget hotels offer basic amenities. Every hotel, mansion, homestay and government guesthouse has views of more than 20 mountains in the panorama which is what one wants to wake up to every morning. The tariff of all these places of accommodations in Darjeeling depends on the season.

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