Roads To Darjeeling

 
You need to reach one of the following places before you start the uphill road journey to Darjeeling: 
  • New Jalpaiguri or NJP which is the largest railway junction in the area. 
  • Bagdogra, which is the nearest airport for Darjeeling. 
  • Siliguri, which is the second largest city in West Bengal and located only 5kms from NJP. You will likely be here if you are coming by long distance bus or personal car. 
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    If you are looking for road route from Kolkata to Siliguri, then refer to this section.  
     
    In the infograph below I have shown all the roads that lead to Darjeeling from New Jalpaiguri and Bagdogra Airport. From New Jalpaiguri (NJP) the Hill Cart Road (NH-55) is the main route and the shortest (if accessible). From Bagdogra, the Rohini route leading to NH-55 is the usual route. 
     
    Roads to Darjeeling 
    Road Routes To Darjeeling 
    Click the picture to view in full size 
     
     
    It takes about 3 hours (depending on traffic) to cover the 88kms distance from NJP to Darjeeling. NH-55 (Hill Cart Road) offers magnificent views of the mountains, valleys and village life. The toy train railway track runs side-by-side the road for most part. Check out Toy Train Route to know about this wonderful scenic route and all the villages and towns on the way to Darjeeling. 
     
    Update November 2017: Due to a major damage from land slides at Pagla Jhora (just before Kurseong), a 500m stretch of NH-55 (the Hill Cart Road) was washed away and has remained inaccessible at that point since June 2010. Subsequently another 150m stretch suffered bad damages from land slides at Tindharia in September 2011. So the vehicles have been taking alternative routes to reach Darjeeling (commonly the route via Rohini to Kurseong and then NH-55 to Darjeeling). 
     
    Update January 2018: NH-55 (The Hill Cart road) before Kurseong has been repaired and effective 1st January 2018 vehicles and buses have been plying on this route between Siliguri and Darjeeling. 
     
     
     
    From Bagdogra Airport, the distance to Darjeeling is 94kms (by Hill Cart Road). However there are shorter road routes as well. Travel for 8kms up to Matigara (a small town in Siliguri area) by the main road that connects Siliguri and then take a left turn towards Simulbari. At Simulbari the road bifurcates.  
     
    One road goes through Pankhabari village and known as the Pankhabari Road. This is a narrow and sharply winding road. Two vehicles can barely pass each other. But this road is 12kms shorter for Darjeeling compared to the Hill Cart Road. 
     
    Taxis and commercial vehicles are not allowed to take this road for Darjeeling. Only Government Officials, VIPs, Journalists or those going for a short distance to a local village are allowed to take this route. Otherwise this is a one-way road only for downward vehicles. However the local drivers sometimes trick the guards at the check post. They convince the guards saying the car is going for a short distance, then get on to Pankhabari road, but go all the way up to Darjeeling. 
     
    Strangely there is no further checking on the way. This road is shorter and takes lesser time to reach Darjeeling. But unless you are used to hill driving, you may not feel comfortable on this road due its many sharp bends. This road is however quite scenic and also in a fairly good condition. There is a point on the way from where you can see both Teesta and Balasun rivers flowing far below. The road also passes by the famous Makaibari Tea Estate near Kurseong. 
     
    If you like to know more about the route that leads to Darjeeling from Bagdogra and find out the experience on the way, then check out Bagdogra to Darjeeling
     
    The second road from Simulbari goes via a village called Rohini. This road is known as Rohini road. This is also similar to Pankhabari, quite short but not as narrow. Both these roads (i.e. Rohini and Pankhabari) meet the main Hill Cart road (i.e. NH-55) at Kurseong. In fact from Kurseong, there is only one road (the Hill Cart Road) that goes all the way up to Darjeeling. 
     
     
     
    Update March 2014: The Rohini road has recently gone through major repair. As a result this is a great route now to approach Darjeeling. It has now become a toll road - Rs. 10/- for small taxi and Rs. 30/- for larger vehicles like Innova etc. All pre-paid taxis from Bagdogra take this road nowadays. It is also one of the picturesque roads to Darjeeling. However unlike Pankhabari road, you can not get a glimpse of river Teesta or Balasun from this road. 
     
    Update April 2018: The GTA (the body in charge of administration in Darjeeling hills) has decided to remove the toll at Rohini road effective April 2018. The road had been recently renamed as Subash Ghisingh Marg after the erstwhile GNLF leader. 
     
    There is another road that branches off from a place close to where the Pankhabari road starts. This scenic road goes via Mirik and Sukhiapokhri (Sukhia in short) as shown in the picture. Although it's a little longer route and takes about 4.5 hours to reach Darjeeling from NJP or Bagdogra, on the way you will pass by some lovely tea gardens and view points. 
     
    Mirik is famous for its beautiful lake. This road also goes by Pasupati Nath Market located on India Nepal border and well known for foreign goods. Shortly thereafter you will get stunning views of mountains &ávalleys, and that of a road going all the way up to Sandakphu which is a trekkers paradise. Visit Route to Darjeeling via Mirik for more information and pictures of this route. 
     
    Finally all routes meet at Ghum Area which is the highest altitude point on the route. From here, there is only one road (the Hill Cart Road) that continues up to Darjeeling. The final stretch between Ghum and Darjeeling town is 8kms and takes about 25 minutes by car. 
     
     
     
    Related Articles 
     
    1) Check out How to Reach Darjeeling for the various options to reach Darjeeling from different parts of India and neighboring countries. 
     
    Visitors' Reviews/Comments 
     
    Nigel Vincent (June 2018) 
    Dear Raj, Thanks for all the details and information that you have provided. Very very helpful. I'll be visiting Darjeeling in October 2018 with my parents (aged 64+), sister, wife and daughter (age 2 at that time). Wanted your opinion and advice on traveling to Darj from NJP station. Taking ages into consideration should we go via hill cart or via Mirik? 
     
    Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) June 2018 
    Hello, hill cart road is shorter but steeper. Mirik route is a much longer route but the gradient is easier although there are sharp turnings on that route too. If you reach in the morning, like to take breaks in between and enjoy views, then Mirik route is good. 
     
    Gunjan (January 2017) 
    Dear Mr Raj, I have back issue.. had minor slip disc.. I just want to know how are roads currently. roads are bad? roads are having lots of curves (hair pin bends)? Roads in month of june? any new rail connectivity? It's very impressive.. your blog.. thanks and regards. 
     
    Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2017 
    Roads to Darjeeling and Gangtok have pot holes in patches but generally okay. Monsoon takes its tolls and road repair takes place in the winter. Yes, there are many sharp bends. 
     
    Dr. Maulik Varu (May 2016) 
    Hi Raj... Very informative guidelines by you indeed. I just want to know if I return from Darjeeling to NJP by a car and want to visit Rangtong (Rongtong), which route should I take? 
     
    Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) May 2016 
    Hi, Hill Cart Road (i.e. NH-55) is not accessible shortly after Kurseong (on the way to NJP). So at Kurseong take Rohini road, go down to Sukna via Simulbari, and then drive up along Hill Cart road for 7kms. You will reach Rangtong. 
     
    S Ravi (February 2016) 
    Hi Raj, This is Ravi here. I am going thru your website and its really helpful with all the tips and info. I am planning a trip from Mumbai to WB and Darjeeling this Apr-May and thinking of driving all the way. It will be really helpful if you could give me some tip on the following points. Driving around in this area, road conditions and if there are any restrictions on private vehicles. Waiting for you reply. Thanks and kind regards. 
     
    Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2016 
    Roads are generally okay. Take the route from Siliguri to Darjeeling via Mirik - great views of tea gardens, Mirik lake and drive along the Nepal border without restrictions. There will be security guards though at several places along the way, but won't bother you unless there is anything suspicious. No permits are required in Darjeeling, but you can't take cars to pedestrian only zones like the Chowrasta (Mall) area. Select a hotel which has parking. Roadside parking of private vehicles are not allowed. Roads are steep, narrow and winding. You should have experience in hill driving. Avoid driving at nights. 
     
    Kuldeep Kumar (February 2015) 
    Hi Raj, I want to know about the road condition, between NJP to Darjeeling and Darjeeling to Gangtok. 
     
    Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2015 
    Hi, The normal route from NJP to Darjeeling is via Siliguri, Sukna, Simulbari, then by Rohini road up to Kurseong and then Hill Cart Road (NH55) to Darjeeling. Up to Kurseong the road condition is good. The Hill Cart Road from Kurseong onwards is quite patchy with potholes along the way, but overall bearable. From Darjeeling, the route to Gangtok is via Ghoom/Jorebunglow all way downhill to Teesta bazaar, and then uphill along NH-31A. Up to Teesta the road is okay. After that it gets patchy - road repair work going on along the way. 
     
    Joydeep Chatterjee (November 2014) 
    Dear Sir, I will be a first time driver on the hills, which road will be most suitable with wide passage and minimal curves to reach Darjeeling from Siliguri ? Is the Hill Cart road fully operational now, as I have learnt that it is wider with minimal curves than other roads. Will a normal front wheel drive hatchback able to climb the heights? Thanks in advance. 
     
    Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2014 
    From Siliguri your route will be Hill Cart Road - Sukna - Simulbari - Rohini Road - Kursoeong - back on Hill Cart Road - Ghoom - Darjeeling. 
     
    Hill Cart road is still damaged and closed beyond Tindharia and therefore the diversion through Simulbari and Rohini road. Rohini road is a toll road and in very good condition. Driving is not difficult along this route if you are a seasoned good driver, even if it is for the first time. Normal cars can make it. Few tips since you will drive first time in Darjeeling hills (I am a veteran on this) 
     
    1) áDrive slow and on low gears. 
     
    2) Honk while taking turns and when you can't see cars coming from the other side. Most accidents in Darjeeling hills take place at the blind turns because you need to take a wider circular curve to go uphill and thus veering into the wrong side. And when a car coming down from the other side doesn't see you or you don't see it, there is a big risk. So keep honking at the turns. 
     
    3) If you need to stop on a slope, use handbrakes. 
     
    4) Do not overload your car, in fact keep it as light as possible... you should be able to easily move up on first gear after you have halted on a steep gradient or while taking a sharp uphill turn. Your car must not go backwards downhill. This is usually the biggest problems for first timers on such hills. 
     
    Good luck! 
     
    Deeksha (November 2014) 
    Hi Raj, I m travelling to Darjeeling this month and need to know if the route from Bagdogra airport to Darjeeling full of steep hills or is it combination of plains and hills. As per pictures and your description I believe the hills are not very steep but still need your advice. 
     
    Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2014 
    Hi, The initial stretch up to Simulbari (about 40 minutes from Bagdogra) is on flat terrain. After that the roads are winding and steep for most part, but you will get relatively flat stretches at times. 
     
    Tanmoy Mitra (September 2014) 
    Dear Mr. Raj, I am planning to go Darjeeling very soon. I want to know what will be the smartest way to reach Darjeeling from Bagdogra Airport. I know there are so many options by road. But one of my partners has vomiting problem in car. So I am very much worried about that. So please suggest me in this matter. 
     
    Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) September 2014 
    You can take the Rohini road which is the shortest. Mirik road is longer by 1 hour but not as steep and winding as the other. 
     
    Rahul Biswas (May 2014) 
    Dear Mr. Raj, May I please know if there is any one way traffic restriction on Pankhabari Road? I shall like to reach Darjeeling from Siliguri side, climbing by Pankhabari Road. But someone from one automotive forum had said that Pankhabari Road is completely made one way for traffic in recent times and upward climb is not permitted by the authorities. Is it true? Please understand that I have over thirty years of experience in hill driving. And I think you must admit that the steepness of Peshok Road, Pankhabari Road and the Darjeeling-Jorethang Road is very rarely found elsewhere. It is also a joy for the drivers to drive on those roads. Here I do not wish to mention anything about Sandakphu and Pkalut, as those places need a 4WD/AWD vehicle. 
     
    Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) May 2014 
    Pankhabari road is now one way for coming down. It's too narrow to allow both way traffic. But the guards make exceptions for VIPs, Journalists etc. For reaching Darjeeling, you need to use the Rohini Road. It has been done up recently and is in excellent condition. It has been made a toll road (Rs. 10 for small cars, Rs 30 for larger vehicles like Tavera, Innova etc). 
     
    Divya (May 2014) 
    Hi! we are planning for Darjeeling in June 14, but 10 years son has nausea in hilly roads, can you advise us the road condition from NJP to Darjeeling. 
     
    Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) May 2014 
    From Rohini onwards the road is quite steep and winding (for about 2.5 hours). Otherwise road is okay. You can go via Mirik. Will take longer (4.5 hours), but the gradient is comparatively more gentle. 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
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