The Madding Crowd: Is Overtourism Ruining Darjeeling's Magic?

Darjeeling is overrun by lakhs of tourists for almost seven months in a year. We spoke to key stakeholders to find out what's being done to protect it from further damage

Darjeeling has been a popular hill station since the British era Photo: Shutterstock

Darjeeling's identity as a summer hill station was set up by the British, who wanted to recreate something close to their home country's mist-laden rolling hills. After Independence, the "Queen of Hills" was a preferred destination for people from the plains with means who could enjoy their summer holidays in pleasant climes. The tourist destination has always drawn droves of tourists, however, now, the hill station and adjoining areas are struggling to host lakhs of visitors in peak season. The crowds are good news for those in the hospitality industry, but, as elsewhere, overtourism is resulting in many issues impacting the fragile ecosystem and local lives.