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Transportation in Darjeeling
Darjeeling's proximity to the Indian metropolitan city of Calcutta and its status as one of India's most favoured tourist destinations ensure that it is easily accessible by air, the railway and by road. However, since the town is perched almost 2134 metres above sea level, any journey would necessarily prove to be an uphill affair!
Transport options for getting around Darjeeling include shared jeeps, bicycles, taxis and walking.
Darjeeling Transportation Guide
Getting to Darjeeling
The nearest airport is at Bagdogra, which is near Siliguri. From here, you have connecting flights to most of the major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata. Once you reach Bagdogra, Darjeeling is only 88 km away - a journey of almost three hours by road.
For transport from the airport to the city (or from the city to the airport), we recommend Green Path Transfers, who offer eco-friendly airport transfers in hundreds of destinations around the world.
From Siliguri, there is a steam train which stops just above Tindharia on weekends. However, it is best to make enquiries at the Siliguri station before setting out. There is also a school train running back and forth between Darjeeling and Kurseong.
New Jalpaiguri (NJP) on the main inter-city line is the town's nearest railway station. However, it is situated almost 80 km away. Though Darjeeling does have a station, it receives only the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or the ‘Toy Train' from NJP.
Famed for its picturesque route, the toy train runs through many village main streets and proves to be an exciting journey. A narrow-gauge railway, it was declared as a World Heritage Site in 1999. According to UNESCO reports, it is "an outstanding example of the influence of an innovative transportation system on the social and economic development of a multi-cultural region, which was to serve as a model for similar developments in many parts of the world." It is the second railway in the whole world to have been thus honoured and your Darjeeling trip would hardly be complete without a ride!
Once you reach the Bagdogra Airport or New Jalpaiguri Railway station, you can hire a share taxi or jeep, take the bus or even a pre paid taxi. Booking counters and stands are present right at the station.
Share Taxis and Jeeps: The share taxis and jeeps are an economic mode of travelling. While taxis can be shared by three or four people, jeeps can be shared by ten passengers. Shared jeeps are available at different locations around the town; they leave when full and are a fast way to get around the town. However, they tend to get rather crammed; if you'd like to have more space, do buy an extra seat. Luggage is carried for free on the roof.
Bus: You can also make the journey to Darjeeling by bus if you are getting off at Siliguri. However, since the roads are steep, buses may prove to be rather slow.
Getting Around Darjeeling
By Foot: Since Darjeeling is a rather compact town, you can visit many of the main destinations by foot. Walking is a great way to really enjoy the picturesque scenes and revel in the town's pleasant climate.
Bicycles: Many tourists opt for bicycles, which are also a great way to soak in the scenic atmosphere.
Taxis: Taxi stands are found in many parts of the town. However, for short trips, taxis may prove to be an expensive option. For longer trips, you can hire taxis from the stand near the Mall entrance. But do note that many parts of the town do not permit taxis. Do check with your hotel or a local guide before you make plans for your journey.
Shared Jeeps: This is a far better option if you're willing to share the pleasures of your trip with strangers. Most share jeeps travel north of the city centre. A great way to spend your day is to hire a share jeep to the quaint little town of Ghoom, visit some of the monasteries and travel back by foot.