Bagdogra to Darjeeling Transports & Road Routes
Transports from Bagdogra Airport
is well connected to various destinations within India and there are regular daily flights that operate at the airport. This is the main airport nearest to Darjeeling and is located within Siliguri district in the state of West Bengal. There are several road routes from Bagdogra to reach Darjeeling. On the shortest route which is via Matigara, Rohini and then NH-110 (Hill Cart Road), Darjeeling town is located at a distance of 70kms from Bagdogra airport.
There are several transport options to get to Darjeeling from Bagdogra.
Reserved Taxis at Bagdogra
There is a pre-paid taxi counter at the Bagdogra airport arrival hall next to the exit door. There can be long queues here at times particularly when more than one flights land at the same time. But, usually there are enough taxis available until the last flight lands.
Prepaid Taxi Counter, Bagdogra Airport
You can also go out of the arrival hall and negotiate rate for a reserved taxi with the drivers waiting outside. You may get a better rate than the pre-paid rate, particularly in off season. However, you may need to go through a lot of haggling with the drivers for the rate. I won't recommend this, because the official way of taking a reserved taxi is through the pre-paid booth which is operated by the Siliguri Metropolitan Police and they keep details of the taxis and the drivers. Should anything go wrong on the way, you can get support from them.
For pre-paid taxis, you need to pay up the fare upfront at the counter and you will be given a slip. As you go out of the arrival hall, there will be volunteers to show you who is your driver and which car you are allotted. You can choose between a small car and a large car (different rates), but can not specify a make or model of your preference. A small car will be like a WagonR, Santro etc and a large car like a Scorpio, Innova, Xylo etc.
Outside Bagdogra Airport Building
The taxi will drop you at Darjeeling town, usually either at Clubside taxi stand next to Gandhi Road or at Chowk Bazaar motor stand at lower town. The taxi driver won't charge extra if your hotel is located close to the town center. Otherwise pay some extra to the driver to drop you at the hotel if it is some distance away from the main stands. Alternatively, you will need to take a porter or a local cab from the taxi stand to your hotel.
Many hotels in Darjeeling are in pedestrian-only zone and vehicles can not reach up to the entrance of the hotel. In such a case, you will need to walk from the nearest taxi stand. Porters are usually available, the hotel can also help you by sending staff and take care of your luggage.
Shared Taxis at Bagdogra Airport
There are no shared or pooled taxis available at Bagdogra airport, officially. But, if you go out to the car park area, you will find some drivers quoting per person fares... this unofficial and dubious practice is quite rampant, particularly in the high tourist seasons when the demand is high.
If you want, you can hop into the car, and wait until there are enough passengers. If you are two or more persons travelling together, you may get a lower rate per person. These shared taxis will usually drop you at Chowk Bazaar taxi stand in Darjeeling lower town. However, since this system is officially not allowed, I shall not recommend this option.
But there is actually a great option to book a shared taxi at Bagdogra airport. And this service is available for Darjeeling, Kalimpong and even Gangtok. There is an online service using which you can book a shared luxury cab in advance. The company usually uses Innova or Innova Crysta type of luxury vehicles which are in good condition. They take up to 5 persons in a vehicle and the fares are quite reasonable.
There are several such daily shared luxury taxi services that are usually aligned with flight timings. They have several drop-off points at the destinations where you can get off. You can also plan a return transfer to Bagdogra using this shared cab service. Check out luxury class shared taxis at Bagdogra
Public Buses at Bagdogra Airport
Effective 6th June 2022 and for the first time, a daily public bus service has started between Bagdogra Airport and Darjeeling... this has been initiated by GTA Tourism. There are presently two 12-seater buses that leave from just outside the Bagdogra airport building. The first bus leaves at 2pm and the second one at 4pm.
Passengers can buy the bus tickets from the GTA Tourism counter which has been opened outside the airport building. The bus fare from Bagdogra airport to Darjeeling is Rs. 400/- per passenger. The buses from Bagdogra take the route via Rohini and Kurseong and finally along Hill Cart Road (NH-110). The buses terminate and drop passengers at the Darjeeling bus stand located in the lower town (Chowk Bazaar area).
If you do not get a ticket for a bus leaving Bagdogra airport, you can take a taxi and go down to the Siliguri main bus terminal known as Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus located on Hill Cart Road. From the bus terminus area, you will get buses, shared jeeps and private taxis to Darjeeling and other places.
The bus terminus is about 16kms from Bagdogra Airport and takes about 35-mins to reach. The taxi fare from Bagdogra airport to the Central Bus Terminal of Siliguri will be around Rs. 500-600/-. Alternatively, you can take a taxi and go up to Bagdogra market which is only five minutes from the airport. From here you will get a bus or an auto rickshaw for Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus.
If you are planning to visit Darjeeling or Sikkim, the eBook on Darjeeling & Sikkim
can be very handy in knowing all the best places, sightseeing tours & operators, eateries, nightlife, shopping and lot more, and would serve as a guide to effectively make your tour plan.
Fares from Bagdogra to Darjeeling
The pre-paid taxi fares at Bagdogra airport are very reasonable and depends on the type of vehicle you choose (small or large). While returning, there are no pre-paid fares available in Darjeeling and the fares charged by the taxis at the stands are usually much higher than the pre-paid fares at Bagdogra airport, and varies with season.
Bagdogra to Darjeeling: The Route Description
The car park is about 50 yards away as you come out of the Bagdogra airport arrival building. This is where all the taxis are parked. There are several Roads to reach Darjeeling. The drivers from Bagdogra airport usually take the route via Matigara and then Rohini (this is the shortest and most convenient route) or sometimes via Pankhabari, if Rohini road is closed for some reason. To get a visual idea of all the road routes from the plains of Siliguri to Darjeeling, go through Road Routes to Darjeeling
Both Rohini Road (now renamed as Subash Ghising Marg) and Pankhabari Road eventually meet Hill Cart Road (NH-110) at Kurseong which leads to Darjeeling via Ghum. The distance of Darjeeling town from Bagdogra airport via Matigara, Rohini, Kurseong is 70kms and takes about 2 hours 45 minutes by car. Both Rohini and Pankhabari roads are quite narrow, steep and winding. But this is the stipulated route for pre-paid taxis from the airport.
Once you start from Bagdogra airport, you will first get to the National Highway NH-31. You will then soon pass by the Bagdogra Township and market area, and then the North Bengal University Campus on the left. Soon there will be another township known as Shibmandir (5kms from airport).
Matigara Crossing at NH-31
I took the picture after taking the left turn
from NH-31 towards Simulbari.
You will get on to a bridge (fly-over), cross the Balasun river and reach Matigara, a small township which is some 8kms from the airport. Here you will need to leave NH-31 and take a left turn at the crossing and drive towards Simulbari.
As you drive along this road, initially it's a little dusty and there are small stalls on both sides. Soon the scenery turns green. Through the vast stretches of green fields, you can see the top of a few shrines and cottages at a distance, and far away, the outline of the gorgeous mountains. And you will be heading towards those mountains.
After about 15-20 minutes of drive, you will pass through the Khaprail Military Camp area. By now the nature has turned to full green and you are breathing pollution free fresh air. The mountains have come closer. Don't be surprised if you find your car in the middle of a herd of cattle left on the road on their own .
Soon you will pass through the Khaprail village area. And then as you look to your right, there is a vast green stretch of tea gardens running parallel to the road for miles on both sides. And next to the garden are the gorgeous mountains. This is the Simulbari Tea Garden which is laid out below the hills in a picturesque settings.
Simulbari Tea Gardens
You will then reach the crossing known as the Rohini More in Simulbari area which has a police check post. There are several routes to approach Darjeeling from here - via Rohini, via Mirik, and Via Pankhabari. I shall discuss each route soon.
Rohini More and the guards
At the Rohini crossing there is a small temporary stall run my a Nepali lady called Sonu. She sells tea and snacks including boiled eggs and samosas (fried veg patties). When I asked her why there is no name to the stall, she told me that wild elephants from the adjacent forests come and break her stall 4 to 5 times in a year, and she has to rebuild it every time. Actually there is a name of the stall - Sonu's Stall.
Stall at Rohini crossing run by Sonu
She mentioned that she would put up the board again shortly. It's hard to believe the way people live here. But what amazes me is her charming smile despite such ongoing hardships. On a subsequent trip I did however see a big yellow board on top of her stall proudly displaying the name of the stall.
Route to Darjeeling via Rohini
The road turning right at the police check post crossing (i.e. Rohini More) is called Rohini Road (now renamed to Subash Ghising Marg after the late leader of the political party Gorkha National Liberation Front). This is the most common route these days and all pre-paid taxis will usually take this route. It goes all the way up to Kurseong where it meets the National Highway NH-110 (i.e. the Hill Cart Road) which then leads to Darjeeling.
In 2014, the Rohini Road became a two-way toll road and a toll booth was established (small cars Rs. 10/-, Innova, Tavera etc Rs. 30/-, each way). However, due to strong protests from taxi drivers, tolls were removed in April 2018, and Rohini Road again became toll free. The road is usually maintained in a great condition.
Rohini Road to Darjeeling
It's a picturesque road and you will find several tea stalls along the way to take a break. It takes about 1 hour 20 minutes to reach Kurseong from Bagdogra and another 1 hour 25 minutes from Kurseong to reach Darjeeling. The road is quite narrow at several sections and there are several steep hairpin bends along the way.
Shortly after you cross the erstwhile toll booth location, you will find the restaurant Timboor on your right perched on a little higher elevation with lush gardens, greenery and flowering plantations. They have both outdoor and indoor seating and serve nice Indian, traditional Nepali and Continental food, although a little pricey.
The building of the restaurant once used to be a DGHC (Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council) lodge. It was razed by fire and destroyed in 1980s during the riots. It has been now restored & renovated and given out on lease to run the restaurant. If it's your lunch time when you are passing by, it can be a nice option for your day meal.
As you continue to drive up Rohini Road, there are several spots from where you can see the plains below and realize how quickly you are ascending. You can realize how quickly the houses below appear to look smaller with every turn. You can well imagine how steep the road must be.
View of the plains & valley from Rohini Road
The Rohini road meets NH-110 (Hill Cart Road) at Giddapahar area in Kurseong. As you get on to Hill Cart Road, you can see the famous narrow gauge Toy Train track of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway running along side the road and crisscrossing it at several points along the way. If you are lucky, you can even see the train moving side by side.
You will pass by the Kurseong Railway Station and the main market area of Kurseong, and then 1km further up you will see the Kurseong Tourist Lodge
on the left which is run by West Bengal Tourism Department. They also have a nice restaurant and the window-side tables have great view. You can also take your lunch at Kurseong Tourist Lodge
. They serve Indian and Chinese food, the prices are quite reasonable and food is nice. They also have a momo counter where you can get excellent momos.
8kms from Kurseong town and towards Darjeeling, you will come across Margaret's Deck, a tea lounge operated by the Goodricke Group. It has an open deck that overlooks the beautiful and sprawling Margaret's Hope Tea Garden which is laid on the mountain slopes. This is a great place to take a tea break and taste authentic Darjeeling Tea prepared traditionally and served impeccably with choice of snacks. The rates are relatively high, but this is a very popular tea lounge, and during the high season, it's often difficult to get tables.
On Hill Cart Road, the toy train track runs side by side all along the way till you reach Darjeeling Railway Station via Ghum
(the highest railway station in India). From Darjeeling station, the town center of Darjeeling is only a short distance away. Go through Toy Train Route & The Journey
and start reading from Kurseong
onwards to know about the rest of the route along Hill Cart Road up to Darjeeling.
Route to Darjeeling via Mirilk
While the Rohini road is the most common route to Darjeeling, you can pay extra fare and take another route. And there are good reasons to do that, particularly the one via Mirik. It's one of the most scenic and beautiful roads winding up through several lovely tea gardens on rolling hills.
From Rohini More, instead of turning right to Rohini road, take the road that goes straight ahead. You will soon reach a small village area called Garidhura. There are small shops, stalls and eateries on both sides of the road. Small eateries like Nipun's Hotel serve tea, momos, thukpa and other snack items and even meals during lunch time. The tea at Nipun's Hotel was really nice. It's run by a smiling young girl and her elder brother.
Shortly after the Garidhura Market, a road branches out towards left and that road goes to Mirik and then onwards to Darjeeling. The other road continues ahead via Pankhabari village, becomes narrow and steep as it winds up all the way to Kurseong where it meets NH-110 (Hill Cart Road) which in turn leads to Darjeeling.
The route via Mirik
is one of the most scenic routes in Darjeeling district. This is an alternative route to Darjeeling, quite longer and takes about an hour more compared to the other routes. Garidhura to Mirik takes about 1 hour 15 minutes. From Mirik the road continues via Pasupati Nath Market
at the Nepal border, followed by Sukhiapokhri
, then to Ghum
and then Darjeeling.
The road towards Mirik through Tea Gardens
From Mirik it takes another 2.5 hours to get to Darjeeling along that route. And on the way you will see lovely tea gardens on open hill slopes. The road winds around the tea gardens on mountain slopes. Between Pasupatinath and Sukhiapokhri, there is a viewing area called Simana
from where you can see a winding trail on the opposite mountain that leads to the famous trekking destination Sandakhphu
. Along the way you will see many lovely tea gardens as well like Goodricke, Gopaldhara etc.
Route to Darjeeling via Pankhabari
Sometimes I take the Pankhabari road that goes straight ahead from Garidhura. This road is narrow, steep and winding and not suitable for both way traffic. Sometimes it is made a one-way road to come only downhill from Kurseong. But while going up the taxi drivers often convince the guards at the entrance saying that the car would go only up to a short distance to a nearby place, but actually go all the way up to Darjeeling on that route. Strangely, there is no further check along the way.
You will pass by Longview Tea Estate on both sides of the road. This is the first tea estate on the route that produces Darjeeling brand of tea. This long stretch of tea garden on both sides of the road is laid just below the hills. Soon after some 10 minutes (about 6kms) from Garidhura, the uphill climb starts.
The first village as you drive along is Pankhabari and hence the name of this road. At Pankhabari you will see vegetable and small stationery stalls on both sides of the road. The sight of lovely wooden huts on the cliffs and the charm of little kids on the roadside waving at you just sets the day right.
After you have driven uphill for a while, there is a point on the right from where you get a breathtaking view of the Siliguri plains below. You can see two rivers, Teesta
and Balasun flowing side by side at a distance. Teesta on the left and Balasun on its right.
View of Teesta & Balasun rivers from Pankhabari Road
It is this Balasun river that you had crossed along NH-31 over a bridge while coming from the Bagdogra airport. Within two minutes from this point you will reach Makaibari village
. This is another quaint village with huts on both sides of the road. You will then pass by the Makaibari Tea Estate
. This is the oldest tea garden of Darjeeling that has gone on to win many international awards. The villagers here offer unique home stay packages that combine visit to the tea gardens and village tours. The luxury resort Taj Chia Kutir Resort & Spa
has come up here at Makaibari Tea Estate offering sweeping views of the tea gardens.
From Makaibari, Kurseong
is another 3 kilometers. It is here at Kurseong
(altitude 4,864 ft) where the Pankhabari road as well as the Rohini Road finally meet the Hill Cart Road (NH-110) for Darjeeling. From here onwards, it is only one road (i.e. the Hill Cart Road) that goes all the way up to Darjeeling.
Pankhabari road meets the Hill Cart Road right next to the Kurseong Railway Station. You can easily identify the Hill Cart Road when you see the toy train track running alongside the road. It's much wider too. In fact, the railway track for most part runs parallel and next to the Hill Cart Road all the way up to Darjeeling.
Since the toy train track runs side by side the Hill Cart Road, both the road route and the train route are similar for most parts, and so is the journey and the view. Go through Toy Train Route & The Journey
and read from Kurseong
onwards to know about the rest of the journey up to Darjeeling.
3) Visit How to reach Darjeeling
for complete information about reaching Darjeeling from various places in India and neighboring countries.
Ashwini Pailoor(January 2022)
Hi... Your website is really helpful. Thank you for that. I am from Bangalore and I have booked my tickets to visit Darjeeling on the 6th of Feb. I would like to know, are there frequent buses from Bagdogra to Darjeeling at the moment (everywhere the frequency has reduced due to Covid). If not, will I be able to get pre-paid taxis from Bagdogra at a reasonable price? Thank you!
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2022
Hi, buses do not operate from Bagdogra airport, you will get pre-paid taxis. You can also book a luxury shared taxi online through Wizzride.com (they take 5 persons in Innova car)... check out the timings though.
Ashwini Pailoor(February 2022)
Hi Raj, We are back from our trip to Darjeeling. Although we had some downside to it, we loved and enjoyed every bit of it. We reached Bagdogra airport. Our pick up from Wizzride was scheduled at 5 PM, but there was a tyre puncture and we left Bagdogra city only by 6:30 PM. It was already dark so we couldn't see anything while on our ascent. We did see snow on our way up. It was our first time seeing snow, and our driver Gyalpo stopped so we could touch it.
Salilbindu Mohanty (April 2018)
We will reach Bagdogra Airport by Air Asia flight at 5.25PM. Can we get pre-paid taxi to Darjeeling. Is it safe for going through hilly road from 6 - 9 PM. Or shall we stay night at Siliguri and early in the morning go by taxi/ jeep/ bus to Darjeeling?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2018
There will be pre-paid taxis (as they are usually available till the last flight lands). However travelling in the hills after dark is usually not a good idea. Other than safety issues, you wont get to enjoy the scenic views along the way, which is one of the main motivations of travelling in the hills. You don't need to go all the way to Siliguri for staying overnight. There are plenty of nice hotels around Bagdogra and some of them (like Motel Marina) would send a complimentary car for pick up from the airport. You can go through hotels near Bagdogra airport
for more information about best accommodations in Bagdogra area.
Sachin (September 2015)
Hello Raj, I have plan to travel Darjeeling in first week of October this year. I will be reaching Bagdogra airport around 4:30pm and move ahead to Darjeeling by pre paid taxi . Is it safe to travel by road to Darjeeling from airport after 5pm ? And, is there any issue of fog in the evening during this time of calendar? I have nausea problem in hill areas..... is there too much hill area in this route? Thanks in advance.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) September 2015
There is no safety issue as such. Fog is usually not a problem in October, but possible. After the first 30 minutes or so, it's all hilly and winding roads.
Karan (April 2014)
Hi Raj, I've booked a hotel in Darjeeling for April month. I'm coming by flight so my query is how to reach my hotel. I've few queries:
1. Should I go for pre-paid taxi counter or talk directly to the taxi drivers. I'd talked to hotel manager for providing a cab facility so he told me that they have Innova and Qualis for that and the charges are 2600 and 2400.Although i've small family and easily adjust in a small car.
2. Which road route is better for Darjeeling in your opinion.
3. If I take taxi from airport will it drop me directly to the hotel or i've to pay them some extra money and if i have to then how much. Thank You
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2014
If you take taxi, then should go for pre-paid. Rohini route via Kurseong is the best and shortest route to Darjeeling now from Bagdogra. Pre-paid taxis will take this route. There is a toll (Rs. 10/- for small car and Rs. 30/- for larger vehicles) on the way. Taxi will reach you to the hotel provided its near the taxi stand/town center and accessible by car. Usually they do without any extra charge unless it's quite some distance away from the town center. Extra charge depends on the distance and can be Rs. 50-100/- within 1-2kms. Regards,
Deb Banerjee (March 2014)
Raj, We are reaching Bagdogra around 12 noon from Kolkata . On the way to Darjeeling by car, please advise eating places for lunch around 1.30 pm. Any clean place serving Dhaba style food food will be preferred. Many thanks.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2014
You can take an early lunch at Bagdogra airport. There is a stairway next to the arrival hall that leads to the restaurant in the first floor. It's a nice multi-cuisine restaurant with a bar. Alternatively you can take lunch at Kurseong West Bengal Tourist Lodge. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach Kurseong from Bagdogra. They too run a multi-cuisine restaurant & bar with nice views. Food is okay. There is no other good place to eat in between. If you take a pre-paid taxi, the driver may not agree to stop for lunch in between unless you pay some extra. Talk to the driver and sort this out before you board.