Darjeeling feels like heaven on earth. Surrounded by the hills, it has all the ingredients for a splendid summer vacation. Whether you are looking to go for a honeymoon or a family vacation, either way you can enjoy a good holiday.
But before you go, you need to plan how you’re going to get there. Darjeeling is conveniently located to Kolkata, and is also easy to get to from a lot of places in Bengal. So you have different options to get to the hill station. This can often lead to confusion and sometimes what you choose might not be the right transport to take.
To help you take a quick decision, we have put together this guide on how to get to Darjeeling by different modes of transport.
The fastest and easiest way to get to Darjeeling is by air. The closest airport is Bagdogra, which is about 70 kilometres away from Darjeeling. Flights to and from Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati land at this airport on a daily basis.
Those who are travelling from other parts of India will have to take flights to the above-mentioned places and then head to Darjeeling from there.
How to Reach Darjeeling from Bagdogra
The safest way to reach Darjeeling from Bagdogra is by taking a pre-paid cab from the airport. If you a large group, you would need to book a 7-seater car that will cost you around Rs. 2,500.
A smaller car will cost you Rs. 1,800. Keep in mind that the rates can fluctuate.
You might get a private cab for a cheaper fare outside the airport, but you will have to do some bargaining. A fair knowledge of the local language can help you get a good fare.
The journey is about 70 kilometres and on a normal day, when there is no traffic, it should take you around two hours to reach the city centre.
The close station to Darjeeling is the Jalpaiguri Station. It is about 118 kilometres away from Darjeeling. The Jalpaiguri is actually quite busy, trains from major metros often land here.
From the station, you can hire a private cab from outside the railway station. Just like it is at the airport, you will have to do a little bargaining to get a cab. Fares fluctuate, depending on season and time of the day. There is a pre-paid taxi booth but this closes by 7 pm. Fares are around Rs. 2000 for a single journey to Darjeeling. If you can’t get a taxi, you can take a cycle rickshaw to Siliguri and from there, a taxi to Darjeeling.
If you arrive in the morning, you can hail the toy train, hauled by a diesel engine. The journey is quite long. It takes around 7 hours to reach Darjeeling, but the experience is one to remember. Along the way you have the chance to click stunning pictures of the hills and its surroundings.
Those who are on a budget can hail a bus from the Jalpaiguri station. Buses leave the station twice in the morning, one at 8 am and other at 10 am.
The cheapest option by road is by taking a bus. You can hail a bus from Siliguri, Kolkata, Kurseong and Kalimpong. If you are travelling from a metro city that’s not Kolkata, the best option would be to take a bus from Siliguri. The journey will take you seven and a half hours to reach. In case you are travelling from Kolkata, it takes 19 hours to reach.
Bus journeys can be very time consuming, so a good, but costly option would be to hire a private cab. Near most stations near the hills, you could hire these cabs for a pre-decided fare. You will have to negotiate with your driver before hailing the cab.
In case you are travelling alone, you can hire a shared taxi. These are cheaper than private taxis, but they make many stopovers along the way.
Driving Down by Your Own Vehicle
The closest starting points if you plan on driving down to Darjeeling are Siliguri, New Jalpaiguri and Bagdogra. From your destination, drive down to any of these locations, rest for a bit and then start your journey to Darjeeling.
The journey to Darjeeling is challenging, as you need to pass through hills ands curvy roads, so make sure your vehicle is in top condition. The common point from all the above mentioned routes is the Ghum Area, from where you have to follow the Hill Cart Road to Darjeeling.
You can travel to Darjeeling during the peak seasons. One is in summer and the other is autumn. Summer and spring is between the months of March and July and autumn is between October and December.
Best Time to Visit Darjeeling
The best time among the two is to visit in summer/spring. The temperature is just right and you have plenty of opportunity to explore the outdoors at its peak.
During the months of October to December, the weather gets cold. Temperatures are between 2 to 10 degrees Celsius. If you are visiting during this period, go in December, around Christmas and New Year as the place is buzzing with events and the entire town is lit up.
In peak winter, January to February, temperatures can drop below 0 degrees Celsius, making it difficult to bear. During this time, Darjeeling is pretty much free of tourists. Hotel rates are at their lowest during winter, and restaurants close early.
If you are not comfortable with long journeys, you can choose to go by flight. Although you will reach Bagdogra pretty quickly, the journey from Bagdogra to Darjeeling can be a little long, depending on which route your driver picks.
So, after reading about the many options, we are sure you already have a preferred mode of transport to take to Darjeeling. We would love to hear about which transport mode you would pick. Do let us know about it in the comments below.