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New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling
New Jalpaiguri or NJP is a major railway junction located about 88kms south of Darjeeling. Many long distance trains terminate or pass through this station. So if you are planning to visit Darjeeling by train, this is where you are likely to get off.
However, the twin city known as Siliguri is only few kilometers away. There are some trains that pass through that station as well. Once in NJP, there are several options to get to Darjeeling including taxi, shared jeep, bus, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway operated Toy Train etc. The taxis take about 3.5 hours to reach Darjeeling. The buses are a bit slower. But the toy train which is hauled by diesel engine these days, takes over 7 hours and leaves at a fixed time in the morning.
Stalls outside NJP Station
There are actually several roads to approach Darjeeling from New Jalpaiguri. One of the most scenic is the one via Mirik, but it's a long route. Hill Cart Road is the main road and is generally maintained very well. This is a national highway (NH-55) and most commonly used by the local drivers. The road via Pankhabari is very narrow and winding but quite shorter compared to the others.
Recently, large number if stalls have come up just outside the NJP railway station. So if you plan to have your breakfast or lunch before heading for Darjeeling, there are ample options right here. Otherwise, you can take a rickshaw or a taxi to Siliguri town some 5-kms away, and ask the driver to take you to a proper restaurant. There are plenty of better and more hygienic eateries available in Siliguri town.
Now you are all set to head for Darjeeling. Visit Roads To Darjeeling to know about all the road routes, directions, attractions and villages on the way to Darjeeling.
New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling by Taxi
If you plan to take a taxi from the NJP station, there will be hundreds of them just outside the station. The taxis are usually small cars or vans. You get larger vehicles like Sumo, Tavera etc as well. Remember that the local drivers always try their opportunistic chances and there is always a scope for bargaining if you are taking a full taxi. The rates usually increase during the high tourist season and the scope of bargaining reduces during such time because of higher demand.
However for a reserved taxi, I would always recommend that you take a pre-paid taxi. There are pre-paid taxi counters run by the West Bengal and Sikkim Transport Corporations. The pre-paid counters are located just opposite to the station entrance. Here the rates are fixed and the taxis will be far more reliable. You will be given a slip against a full fare advance payment. Once you reach Darjeeling, you only need to hand over the slip to the driver, and that's it. The pre-paid counters at NJP station usually open at 7:00am and close by 10pm.
Note that the taxis usually drop you only at the Darjeeling town center, i.e. either at the Clubside Taxi Stand (across Gandhi Road Police Point) at the base of Nehru Road or Chowk Bazaar Taxi Stand. From here you will either need to take a local cab or a porter to the hotel unless you decide to walk.
However, on request some taxi drivers do agree to drop you at the hotel and sometimes at a nominal extra charge which you pay directly by cash. Note that in Darjeeling, there are some pedestrian only zones where vehicles are not allowed like the area around Chowrasta Mall. If your hotel is located in such area, you need to from the nearest taxi stand (you will get porters to carry your luggage though).
New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling by shared taxi or jeep
Usually there are plenty of shared taxis available outside the NJP station. The shared taxis are usually jeeps and take two persons in front next to the driver, four in the back seat and four others at the rear seat. So they won't start unless they have a minimum of 8-10 passengers. While the shared jeep is convenient, fast and cheap, one constraint is you can not carry too much of heavy luggage. All the bags and suitcases are carried free of charge on the roof without any additional charge.
If you want a little more comfort, you can book both the seats in front or a row of seats at the back by paying for those extra seats. Then the driver won't let other passengers occupy the seats you reserved even if they go empty. Sometimes, you may get shared taxis in form of smaller vehicles like Maruti Vans as well.
If you for some reason don't get a shared jeep or a taxi from NJP station, another option is to take an auto or a cycle rickshaw to the Siliguri main bus stand known as the Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus. It is about 8kms away. From here you will get plenty of shared jeeps leaving for Darjeeling. The jeeps have a small board in front of them with the destination written on it. The system of seat sharing is followed here as well.
New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling by bus
You won't get a bus directly from New Jalpaiguri station. You will need to come to the Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus at Siliguri located on the Hill Cart Road. It's only about 8kms away. You can take a taxi, auto rickshaw or a cycle rickshaw to reach there comfortably.
From here you will get plenty of state run and private buses for Darjeeling that leave frequently. Check out Siliguri to Darjeeling for more details and options of reaching Darjeeling once you come to Siliguri.
New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling by Toy Train
There is a toy train which is run by Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. It starts from the NJP station and goes all the way to Darjeeling. The narrow gauge track climbs uphill and passes via the highest altitude railway station in Asia known as Ghoom. The toy train which is part of UNESCO World Heritage Site, was introduced during the British colonial days in 1800s and is still operational. Until recently, the train was hauled by steam engine and took over 10 hours to reach Darjeeling. Nowadays, it is hauled by a diesel engine and takes about 7 hours.
Visit Toy Train Rides & Services and check out the section under Regular DHR Toy Train services to know about the toy train, its timing and how to book the tickets.
The toy train goes through a scenic route offering breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys. You will also experience the village life. The narrow gauge track has several zigzags and loops on the way to negotiate steep gradients. Check out the Toy Train Route to know about the journey and all the stations it passes through.
1) Visit Bus/Taxi/Toy Train Fares For Darjeeling to know about fares for buses, private & shared taxis, shared jeeps and toy train etc from NJP/ Siliguri/ Bagdogra and up to Darjeeling.
2) Visit How to reach Darjeeling for complete information on reaching Darjeeling from various places in India and neighboring countries.
By Raj Bhattacharya
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