Darjeeling India

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Description: Open source travel guide to Darjeeling, featuring up-to-date information on attractions, hotels, restaurants, nightlife, travel tips and more. Free and reliable advice written by Wikitravellers from around the globe.

Originally just a cluster of villages that was administered intermittently by Nepal and Sikkim. Darjeeling grew in prominence during the mid 19th century when, because of its climate, the British first established a hill station there after leasing it from the Chogyal of Sikkim and later discovered that the area was particularly well suited for tea plantations. In 1849, the British annexed the area and Darjeeling became a part of British India. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was opened in 1881 (it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site ) and the town became the de-facto summer capital of India during the days when the Raj was governed from Calcutta.

Because it was a popular hill station during the days of the Raj, a lovely Victorian town was built among the Himalayan foothills, the remnants of which are still visible around the Chowrasta and Darjeeling remains a popular summer and fall resort for the natives of Kolkata today. For foreign tourists, the main attractions are the cultural diversity (many Tibetan refugees moved here after Tibet was annexed by China and they co-exist with the descendants of the many Nepali and Bihari laborers brought to work in the tea plantations), the beautiful views (including the wonderful vista view of Kanchenjunga), a variety of trekking options, and the opportunity to cool down after a stint in the plains. The town is also a jumping off point for travelers heading to Sikkim. [1] 4 Days Sightseeing in Darjeeling.

There has been intermittent political action from Gorkha groups demanding an independent state (Gorkhaland). In June 2008 a strike paralyzed the area, with closed hotels, restaurants and shops, and the accompanying protests even turned violent a couple of times. Though inconvenient, tourists generally are not at risk, but recently they do check the status before going there.

The nearest airport is Bagdogra, near Siliguri. 96 km from Darjeeling. Bagdogra Airport is 2.5 hours by road from Darjeeling and 2 hours by air from Delhi, and 50 minutes by air from Kolkata.

  • Delhi - AI 880 (daily) and AI 879 (daily)
  • Guwahati - AI 879 (Mon/Fri)
  • Kolkata - AI 721 (Tu/Th/Sat)
  • Delhi - 9W 601 (Mon/Wed/Fri - Via Guwahati) and 9W 602 (Tu/Th/Sat/Sun)
  • Guwahati 9W 601 (Mon/Wed/Fri)
  • Kolkata 9W 617 (Daily)

Indigo has also started direct/indirect flights to & from Delhi and Guwahati since April, 2009 end.

Getting to and from Nepal can be tricky, despite their close proximity. One can catch a share jeep to Siliguri and a bus to the Nepalese border, changing buses in Nepal. An alternative is that Juniper Tours and Travels - located just next to the clock tower in Darjeeling offer a service where a driver can take you across the border and drop you at the Bhadrapur airport in Nepal for your connecting flight to Kathmandu. It is more expensive than organising your own transport but they make a concerted effort to look after you and will help you out if the situation becomes dicey (particularly with strikes in Nepal), they cannot be recommended highly enough and this is unusual for India.

Siliguri is the nearest town connected to the mainline rail network. Ample transport is available to Darjeeling from here. The most popular modes of transport are taxi (usually shared by three to four passengers), shared jeep (ten passengers) @ 100-200 depending on bargaining skill.

Shared jeeps depart regularly, from several locations around town. They are probably cheapest at the main bus stand. They leave when full, and are a cheap and fast (but uncomfortable as roads are poorly maintained) way to get to Darjeeling. An air conditioned prepaid taxi will cost 1800 (as of December 2012) - if you can find people to share it with you it will obviously be cheaper!

If you have arrived by train at NJP, you can take a taxi or shared jeep to reach Darjeeling from the booking counter at the taxi stand in front of the railway station. There is also a prepaid taxi stand in front of the train station. Note that if you arrive too late for the jeep to make a return journey from Darjeeling, you may end up paying more, e.g. 200 per person. The prepaid counter will tell you that no jeeps are available, so you'll have to find one via a fixer or by negotiating directly with drivers.

Tourists often opt to buy an extra seat or two to have more space for the 3 hour journey up to Darjeeling! Luggage is carried for free on the roof. Jeeps may stop for a snack and toilet break on the way up (normally a few km short of Kurseong).

While going to Darjeeling from NJP, try to hire a Taxi/Jeep/Sumo with overhead carrier, which has just arrived from Darjeeling, as this will be much cheaper if you hire a vehicle which is going directly from NJP to Darjeeling.

There is a regular bus service from Silguri to Darjeeling. However, they are quite slow due to the steep, twisty climb up to Darjeeling. Shared jeeps are faster, but cost double: 200rs vs. 100rs for the bus (2015).

The nearest railway station to Darjeeling is New Jalpaiguri which connects the city with all the major parts of the country. There are a number of trains from cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Guwahati, Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar and Kochi.

New Jalpaiguri (NJP),Siliguri is the nearest station on the main inter-city line. Direct trains to NJP run from Delhi (approx 27 hours) several times a day. If you are traveling from Kolkata (Sealdah Station) the best train for you will be Darjeeling Mail (circa 12 hours) running nightly at 10:05PM.

From there (NJP), the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), known to all as the 'Toy Train' completes the journey to Darjeeling. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was the first, and is still the most outstanding, example of a hill passenger railway.It is now listed as a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO.

This route is very popular with tourists as it passes through some very picturesque mountain scenery and has been the subject of many romantic articles. The line has a series of zig zags and loops to gain height and runs straight up several village main streets!

NJP to Darjeeling Toy Train service is suspended after railway track damage due to recent earth-quake (September 2011). The service may not be restored until 2013. The train now starts at Kurseong and terminates in Darjeeling Railway station though times are not fixed. It is probably best not to rely entirely on this service rather reach Darjeeling by other means and go for a joy ride if and when time permits. Collect enough information if you are planning to reach Darjeeling by Toy Train.

The steam 'Joy' train operates from Darjeeling to Ghoom round the famous Batasia Loop, four times a day – enquire at Darjeeling station. Costs 400. Website DHR: [2]

A steam train also operates Siliguri to 'Agony Point' above Tindharia most Saturdays and Sundays. Enquire to Siliguri station. There is also a daily 'School Train' that leaves Kurseong at 06:15 arriving Darjeeling at 08:45. It leaves Darjeeling at 16:00 arriving Kurseong at 18:30. This is still hauled by a steam engine and is one of the last 'day to day'/ordinary steam trains running anywhere in the world. IR keeps changing the times for it and it is notoriously unreliable often running hours late.

Darjeeling is a small town and the salubrious climate means walks around town are an extremely enjoyable means of getting around. For longer trips, taxis are available in stands near the entrance to the Mall.

Taxis and travel agents sell various tour packages based on "points" which are simply the number of attractions covered. A 7-point package includes seven places to visit such as the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute/Zoo, Cable Car, Peace Pagoda, etc and takes about 5 hours to complete with the driver waiting at each attraction. Price in April 2014 was Rs. 1,200 for a dedicated car. Numerous taxis also sell "Local Sightseeing" trips on a shared basis with up to 10 travelers, in a Tata Sumo or Mahindra Bolero SUV.

Point-to-point dedicated taxi rides start at Rs. 150 for even short distances. The most economical way is to flag a shared taxi. Rides are Rs. 10 for short distances and Rs. 20 for longer distances. Traffic jams are common especially around the mall and bus station areas. It may be easier to walk rather than sit in a crowded taxi.

A great way to spend a day is to take a shared-jeep to Ghoom (the next town up the ridge), visit some monasteries there and walk back to Darjeeling via some of the villages.

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