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How to Reach Darjeeing

How To Reach Darjeeling

Nestled amidst the rolling hills of the Himalayas, Darjeeling, the “Queen of Hills,” beckons travelers with its captivating scenery, colonial charm, and world-famous tea gardens.  To embark on this dream getaway, planning your route to Darjeeling is crucial. This comprehensive guide explores all the travel modes available, distances, estimated travel times, and handy tips to ensure a smooth and delightful journey to Darjeeling.

Reaching for the Summit: Choosing Your Travel Mode

Darjeeling, while a dream destination, is not directly accessible by air. However, fret not! The journey itself becomes an experience, offering scenic landscapes and diverse transportation options. Here’s a breakdown of the popular travel modes:

By Air:

  • Landing Point: Bagdogra Airport (IXB) in Siliguri, West Bengal, is the nearest airport to Darjeeling, situated approximately 63 kilometers away.
  • Connectivity: Major airlines like Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, and GoAir operate regular flights to Bagdogra from all major cities in India, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore.
  • Travel Time:  The flight duration from major cities in India typically ranges from 1.5 to 3 hours.

Onward Journey to Darjeeling: Upon arrival at Bagdogra Airport, you have several options to reach Darjeeling

  • Taxis: This is the most convenient option. Prepaid taxis are readily available at the airport and can be booked in advance. The ride to Darjeeling takes approximately 3 hours, offering breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys. Expect to pay around ₹1800-₹2500 for a sedan taxi.
  • Shared Taxis: A budget-friendly option, shared taxis operate from Bagdogra to Darjeeling. However, they may take longer due to waiting times and detours.
  • Helicopter Service: For a truly unique experience, consider a helicopter service offered by the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) subject to weather conditions. This scenic 20-minute ride comes at a premium cost (around ₹3000 per person).

By Train:

  • Nearest Railway Station: New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Railway Station in Siliguri, West Bengal, is the closest major railway station to Darjeeling, roughly 88 kilometers away.
  • Connectivity: NJP Station boasts excellent connectivity to major Indian cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, and Lucknow. Several express and superfast trains operate on these routes.
  • Travel Time: Train journeys from major cities can range from 12 to 24 hours.

Onward Journey to Darjeeling:  Similar to Bagdogra Airport, you have multiple options to reach Darjeeling from NJP Station:

  • Taxis: Taxis are readily available at the station and offer a comfortable 3-hour ride to Darjeeling. Expect to pay around ₹2000-₹2500 for a sedan taxi.
  • Shared Taxis: A more budget-friendly option, shared taxis operate from NJP to Darjeeling, although travel time might be slightly longer.
  • Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR): This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-do experience. The DHR, fondly called the “Toy Train,” offers a slower but scenic journey (approximately 7 hours) through charming villages and tea plantations. Booking tickets in advance, especially during peak season, is highly recommended.
  • Buses: SNT buses provide a cost-effective way to reach Darjeeling, taking approximately 4-5 hours.

By Road:

Road Trip Adventure: For the adventurous soul, a road trip to Darjeeling offers stunning vistas and the freedom to explore hidden gems along the way.

Popular Routes: The most common routes to Darjeeling are:

From Siliguri (West Bengal): A scenic 70-kilometer drive via NH55 takes approximately 3 hours.

From Kalimpong (West Bengal): A slightly longer but picturesque route (52 kilometers) via NH31A, offering a 2-3 hour journey.

Vehicle Options: You can choose from self-driving a rented car, hiring a car with a driver, or joining a shared taxi service.

Choosing Your Path Wisely: Factors to Consider

The ideal travel mode depends on your budget, time constraints, and travel preferences. Consider these factors when making your decision:

  • Budget : While trains and buses provide the most economical way to travel, the DHR offers a unique experience at a slightly higher cost.
  • Time Constraints: If speed is a priority, flights are the clear winner. Taxis offer a relatively quick journey, while trains and buses take considerably longer, with the DHR being the slowest option.
  • Comfort: Flights and taxis provide the most comfortable travel experience. Trains offer a decent level of comfort, while buses might feel crowded, especially during peak season. The DHR offers a charming but slower journey with scenic views.
  • Adventure Factor: A road trip allows you to set your own pace, explore hidden waterfalls and viewpoints along the way, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Himalayas.

Pro Tips for a Smooth Journey

  1. Book Flights and Trains in Advance: Especially during peak season (October to February), booking flights and trains well in advance is recommended to secure your seats and avail better deals.
  2. Research Taxi Fares: Prepaid taxi fares are generally displayed at airports and railway stations. It’s wise to research standard fares beforehand to avoid being overcharged.
  3. Consider Shared Taxis: While slightly less comfortable, shared taxis are a budget-friendly option, especially for solo travelers.
  4. Embrace the Journey: Whether you choose to fly, take a train, or embark on a road trip, the journey to Darjeeling itself is an experience. Relax, soak in the changing landscapes, and enjoy the anticipation of reaching your Himalayan paradise.
  5. Pack for the Mountains: Darjeeling’s weather can be unpredictable. Pack comfortable clothes, layers for varying temperatures (it can get chilly at night), rain gear, and sturdy shoes for exploring uneven terrain.
  6. Permits: Foreign nationals require a Protected Area Permit (PAP) to enter Darjeeling, which can be obtained online or upon arrival at designated entry points.

Exploring Darjeeling’s Environs

Darjeeling serves as a perfect base to explore the surrounding beauty of the Himalayas. Here are some captivating destinations within reach:


Home to the world’s second-highest railway station, Ghoom offers stunning views of the Kanchenjunga mountain range and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Batasia Loop: 

This scenic loop on the DHR railway line offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Himalayas.


A hill station known for its serene lake and mesmerizing beauty, Mirik is a great escape for nature lovers.

Singalila National Park: 

A haven for trekkers, Singalila National Park offers opportunities to spot diverse flora and fauna amidst the majestic Himalayas.


Reaching Darjeeling is an adventure in itself, offering diverse travel options and breathtaking landscapes. By considering your budget, time constraints, and travel style, you can choose the perfect mode to embark on your Himalayan escapade.  With careful planning and these handy tips, you’re sure to have a smooth and memorable journey to the “Queen of Hills.” So, pack your bags, embrace the adventure, and get ready to be enchanted by the magic of Darjeeling.

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