WINE & DINE
How To Reach Darjeeling
Ana Sabuwala (March 2014)
Hi Raj, Was happy to come across a "helpline" of sort like this. Hats off to your good efforts. My reason to write to you is that, we, my husband and myself are planning to travel in the first week of May, 3-8 precisely. We are landing in Kolkata on 3rd morning. Have checked out the train schedule and feel that the night train, Darjeeling express suits us good so that we reach New Jalpaiguri in the morning. Would love to experience the toy train but seems that it takes 7 hrs to reach Darjeeling !! We are planning to cover 2-3 destinations in those 5 days; including Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri & a little time in Kolkata of course. Would these destinations be proper or do we visit some other too to get a good feel of the region ?? Though Darjeeling is must !! :) Would appreciate your expert opinion and kind response on this, for us to plan our trip accordingly. Thanks :)
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com), March 2014
Hi, It's Darjeeling Mail (not Express) ... a good train. There is no toy train these days from NJP all the way up to Darjeeling. A part of the track is lying damaged in between. Option ... take a taxi (pre-paids are also available) from the station and go to Kuseong (takes about 1hr 45mins). You can take your lunch at the WB Tourist Lodge (nice restaurant with a view) and then take the 3pm toy train that leaves Kurseong station (located nearby) for Darjeeling.... takes about 3.5 hours. If this is too much of a hassle, then take a 2 hour toy train joy ride from Darjeeling itself on any day (there are 4 round trips on a day). Plan Darjeeling and Kalimpong or Gangtok (NOT Siliguri.... it's a messy crowded township and you will hate to spend a minute).
Ranjeet Banerjee (March 2014)
I have plan to travel to Darjeeling on 18th May'14, my flight shall reach Bagdogra at 3.45pm, is it safe to travel to Darjeeling at that late evening with family. if not then kindly let me know which is the hotel to put in for the night in Bagdogra. Kindly let me know.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com), March 2014
There is no problem as such. You will reach Darjeeling by 7:30pm. But driving in mountains in the dark is not enjoyable. Sometimes fog can create visibility problems, but it's unlikely around that time. There are several hotels in Bagdoga. You can see reviews in Tripadvisor and select one based on your budget. You will be better off staying in Siliguri. There are far more options both with stay and restaurants. There is nothing much in Bagdogra.
CA. Rajiv Chanda (May 2013)
Hi Raj, In your earlier mail you mentioned prepaid taxis are available unless we reach at odd hours. We would be reaching at about 6 to 7 p.m. Though the schedule arrival time is 3pm but Barmer Gauhati exp. normally runs 3-4 hrs late. So arriving at 7pm, would we get transportation for Darjeeling from NJP ? Thanks again !! Warm regards.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com), May 2013
At 7pm, you might get private taxis outside the station. You will be better off going through a travel agent and booking a car to pick you up if you anticipate that you may be that late. But I would recommend not to travel in the hills after dark (mainly because of the fog problems around this time) and reach the hotel at night when there may be nobody to receive you. If you reach late at NJP, stay back at Siliguri and travel next morning. If you still decide to go ahead, call up the hotel and tell them that you will be arriving late at night and there should be somebody to check you in. Otherwise you will end up banging the doors whole night shivering in the cold.
Jane Hadley (February 2013)
Hello Raj, Thank you for the information; The only thing now is the tricky question of getting to Darjeeling! Tom and I have been looking at the train timetables but honestly, it is a little confusing! From what we can see it looks like we would have to get a train (the Mail Express) to New Jalpaiguri then another one from there up to Darjeeling. It looks like both of them would take several hours; the first one from Kolkata to NJP an overnight one.
Is this correct? How easy is it to book from overseas or would it be better to do this once we are in India??
We would like to do that Toy Train loop but we understand we need to book well in advance. You can see it is hard for us to actually say to a hotel exactly what/how many nights we need. The Shangri-La wants a 50% deposit! We would be leaving Kolkata to travel to Darjeeling on the 28th October so that would probably mean we would need a hotel on the 29th; would that be accurate? We need to be back in Kolkata by the 2nd November so we would need to leave Darjeeling on the 1st November. Again, would this be accurate? I'm thinking of how long the trains take to get from Kolkata to Darjeeling and then return! Thank you again. Regards
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com), February 2013
Jane, You are mostly right. Let me clarify a few points. There are several trains from Kolkata to NJP, and most are overnight trains. Kolkata has two stations - Howrah (HWH) and Sealdah (SDAH). The best train is Darjeeling Mail which leaves from Sealdah station at about 10pm and reaches NJP at 8am. Although the name is Darjeeling Mail, it does not go up to Darjeeling. You will need to get off at NJP.
From NJP, earlier there was a provision to take a toy train (Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or Mountain Railway train) that would take you up the hill to Darjeeling town. It took some 7 hours to reach. But that is not operational these days (track damaged due to landslides). So you should take a private taxi (although shared jeeps are also available and used mostly by locals) and go to Darjeeling (takes about 3.5 hours from NJP).
Trains from Kolkata to NJP in October would get fully booked 2-3 months in advance, because that is the peak season and Darjeeling will be swamped by tourists. So you must buy the tickets well in advance. Use the Indian Railway website www.irctc.co.in to buy tickets online.
But a much better option would be to fly from Kolkata to Bagdogra (which is the nearest airport for Darjeeling). Flying time is less than 1 hour. From Bagdogra, it takes the same time (3.5 hours) to reach Darjeeling by car. You will get ample pre-paid taxis at the airport. Check out flights to Bagdogra
Abhra Shau (February 2013)
We'll (5 persons) reach NJP around 7 pm from Kolkata by train. Is it possible to get a taxi to travel to Darjeeling at that evening?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com), February 2013
Hi, It may be possible to get a private taxi (you won't get shared jeeps around that time). I won't recommend driving to Darjeeling at night mainly because of fog. Secondly the Hill Cart Road (the main road and the national highway) is closed up to Kurseong. Also note that unless you have booked in an upscale hotel with adequate staff, most hotels in Darjeeling would close their main entrance after 10pm, all staffs leave and you may get stranded. You are better advised to stay back in Siliguri for the night and start next morning. Regards,
Subhajit Manna (September 2012)
Hi Raj, We are a group of 5 friends & plan to go to DARJEELING this Christmas 2012. Possible departure date 26 or 27 of Dec. We came to visit your website by searching the info about DARJEELING. I swore it's very helpful...... I want to know one more thing from you. I am sure that you must have bus services at that time in December due to the peak season. If you kindly tell me what will be the bus timing and ticket price and place for spot booking, I will be really thankful to you.......... With Regards,
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com), September 2012
Hello, You will get the bus tickets from Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus at Siliguri located on Hill Cart Road. Ticket price is Rs. 50-80 per person (depending on the route it takes. Presently Hill cart road to Darjeeling is closed and buses go via Mongpu). You will need to find out the timing at the bus terminal.
Deepak Kumar Das (Aug 2012)
Sir, Please inform me how to return from Darjeeling by bus/shared jeep to arrive at NJP Railway station by 7pm.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com), Aug 2012
You will get plenty of shared jeeps from the chowkbazaar (lower market) area as well as from Clubside Taxi Stand (across Gandhi Road Police Point). They leave frequently during the day time. So come to the stand by 3pm. Buses also leave from Chowkbazar area, but since a part of the Hill Cart road is closed since a long time, the buses go via Mongpu. Buses will however come up to Siliguri Tenzing Norgay Bus Stand. You will then need to take a taxi, auto rickshaw or a cycle rickshaw for NJP station (only 8kms away). So go to the Darjeeling bus stand a day earlier and inquire about the timings.
By Raj Bhattacharya
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