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Darjeeling





Darjeeling is a town and a municipality in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in the Mahabharat Range or Lesser Himalaya at an elevation of 6,700 ft (2,042.2 m). The hill town was originally set up as a sanitarium or health resort by the British in mid 1800s. But over the years, it earned its name for its world famous aromatic tea and then with opening up of roads and Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, for tourism. No wonder you will see numerous sprawling tea estates in Darjeeling that produce world's best tea, as well as the amazing narrow gauge Toy Train which is considered an engineering marvel that overcame such steep gradients and curves of the mountains. The town center of Darjeeling is known as Mall or Chowrasta, which is like a flat open promenade, a pedestrian only zone free of vehicular traffic and surrounded by colorful stores with backdrop of mountains and valleys. Most tourists try to stay near the Mall area to be close to hub of all activities, restaurants and shops.

Sightseeing : Top 10 Tourist Places in Darjeeling
(1) Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) and the amazing Darjeeling Zoo: HMI is a destination by itself and a said to be a pilgrimage for all climbing enthusiasts of the world. It was established in honor of Tenzing Norgay after he and Sir Edmund Hillary climbed the Everest in 1953. It has a well stocked museum with mountaineering displays and many expedition artifacts, a boarding school for mountaineering students, houses for the trainers, a restaurant, a souvenir shop and more. HMI is located on Jawahar Road or the Birch Hill that can be accessed from the Mall Road and Lebong Cart Road. One can actually walk down Mall road & then Jawahar road to reach HMI. 

The Zoo is located in the same premises where HMI is and therefore should be covered at the same time. The unique feature of this zoo is, it houses animals of high altitude and mostly from upper Himalayas. You can see some rare animals here like Red Pandas, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and lot more. 

(2) Tiger Hill 
Located at the highest point in Darjeeling area, Tiger Hill is best known for the dazzling sunrise view of the Kanchenjunga and the snow covered peaks of the entire eastern Himalayan range. On a clear day you can even see the mount Everest from here. Tiger Hill is located 11km from the Darjeeling Town and takes about 40 minutes to reach by car. 

(3) Batasia Loop 
Located 5km from Darjeeling Town and just below Ghoom, Batasia Loop as the name suggests, is a loop or a spiral of a narrow gauge railway track where the Toy Train negotiates a sudden sharp descent from Ghoom. It's a wonderful viewing place with manicured gardens, streams and falls, from where you can get a wide range view of the Darjeeling's landscape, Kanchenjunga and the other Eastern Himalayan peaks. 

(4) Darjeeling Ropeway 
This is one way you can be part of special diverse offerings from the nature and all in one place. From the ropeway of Darjeeling which is also known as the Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car, you can have mind blowing view of the valley below, see the spread of lush tea gardens, dense forests, mountain streams in their full flow, waterfalls, and the awesome snow peaks at the background. Get off at a lower station and enjoy the tea estates, walk through the tea gardens, or just relax and enjoy the view around. It's hard to find all these together in one place. 

(5) Darjeeling Mall & Chowrasta 
The Chowrasta or the Mall is the town center in Darjeeling. This is a lovely little flat area, a public square where four roads meet. This public place is where you would like to lounge & bake in the sun, sit and watch the wonderful views of the mountain range and see many locals and tourists hanging around. One side of the mall is lined with pine trees through which you get wonderful mountain vistas, the other side is lined with lovely boutique shops of different kinds. And all around the mall, you have benches to sit and relax. 

(6) Rock Garden & Ganga Maya Park 
These two are scenic parks in wonderful settings located a few miles away from the Darjeeling town. Rock garden is about 10km and Ganga Maya is another 3km from there. Rock Garden is all about terraced gardens at different levels that have been cut through the rocks having a waterfalls with nice seating arrangements. Ganga Maya is more spread out and has a beautiful stream flowing through it on a valley, has flower gardens, fountains and more. 

(7) Japanese Temple & Peace Pagoda 
About 10 minutes by car, you will reach a wonderful area that is symbolic of peace and tranquility. Located in the Jalapahar hill, the Japanese Temple is built in traditional Japanese style where you can join the prayers and feel the spiritual peace amongst humming and chants. Close to it is the Peace Pagoda where there are four large avatars of Lord Buddha. The view from the top is magnificent. You can see the snow peak range from here including the Kanchenjunga. 
(8) Bengal Natural History Museum 
What started as a modest effort in 1903 to display butterflies and birds of the Darjeeling district, has grown to house a large collections of mammals, birds & nests with eggs, reptiles & fishes and even insects of wide varieties. The displays are actually specimens of real creatures that had been captured, stuffed and preserved. The Bengal Natural History Museum can be reached by few minutes walk from the Chowrasta Mall. 

(9) Observatory Hill and Mahakal Temple 
Rising from behind the Mall, Observatory Hill is an ideal place to get a 360 degree view of Darjeeling and the peaks surrounding it. The Mahakal Temple, the central temple of Darjeeling of all faiths is located on top of the hill where the original Dorjeling Buddhist Monastery once stood.  

(10) Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center 
This center was established on October 2nd, 1959 for rehabilitation of Tibetans who followed Dalai Lama and escaped their homeland during the period of mayhem. In order to sustain living, they adopted the principle of self help. The center is located on a hill top that can be approached from the Lebong Cart Road. You can see Tibetan men and women making exquisite hand crafted items like woolen carpets, shawls, carved wooden crafts, leather items and more. There is an outlet at the center from where you can buy these items. 

Local Package Tours: The best way to cover the above tourist places is by taking a local packaged tour. All local taxi drivers and touro operators offer such packages.

1. 3-Point Tour of Darjeeling 
Usual timing: 4am-7:30am 

·         Tiger Hill : Who doesn't know about the magnificent view of sunrise from Tiger Hill. You will need to wake up by 3:30am and take a vehicle. But the rewards are awesome. You can see the changing colors of the Kanchenjunga snow peaks as the light strikes. On a clear day you can also get a glimpse of Mount Everest, Mount Makalu and one of the most beautiful peaks of the world, Tibet's Chomol Hari. Tiger Hill is 11kms away and at an altitude of more than 8,400ft. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the top where there is a view tower for watching sunrise. There is an entry fee.
·         Ghoom Monastery: On the way back from Tiger Hill, you will visit one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries of Darjeeling located at a scenic location in Ghoom area. It houses a 12-foot tall statue of Mayetriya Buddha which represents the Buddha of the future. No entry fee but donation required for taking photos inside. 
·         Batasia Loop and the War Memorial: Batasia Loop is an engineering marvel located in Ghoom area. This is where the toy train makes a double spiral loop to negotiate a drop of 1000 ft as it moves towards Darjeeling town. Amidst the beautiful garden where the railway track is laid in form of a loop, there is also a War Memorial. It was constructed in honor of the Gorkha soldiers who sacrificed their lives in service of the nation. There is a nominal entry fee. Don't miss the Samosas (fried vegetable pastries) that are sold near the entrance of Batasia Loop in the morning. 

2. 5-Point Tour of Darjeeling 
Usual timing: Half Day, 9am-12noon / 2pm-5pm
·         Japanese Temple & Peace Pagoda: Close to the Darjeeling town and in a scenic setting there is a temple built in a traditional Japanese style. About 100 yards away and in the same complex, there is large Peace Pagoda that showcases four avatars of Buddha. The view of the mountain range and Darjeeling town from the top of the pagoda is spectacular. No entry fee.Caution: In order to save time, some drivers try to treat these two attractions as separate ones and count 2 instead of one. Don't be deceived or you will miss out on one of the following. 
·         Lalkuthi or Lal Kothi : This is a plush bungalow style building locate close to the Japanese Temple and has a beautiful garden, manmade waterfalls, ponds and having an amazing view of Kanchenjunga. It was once the site of several films including the Bengali movie Lal Kuthi. It has been converted into Darjeeling Gorkhaland Hill Council Secretariat. Since entry inside is no longer allowed, you won't miss much even if you skip this one. 
·         Dhirdham Temple: This is a Hindu temple of Lord Shiva located close to the Darjeeling Toy Train Railway station. It's a close lookalike of the Pashupatinath temple of Katmandu, Nepal. There is no entry fee. Donations accepted. 
·         Ava Art Gallery : This art gallery has exquisite artwork of late Ava Devi who was a specialist in embroidery art. It's located on Hill Cart Road and about 4km from the town center. No entry fee. 
·         Bengal Natural History Museum : A museum rich with the fauna of Bengal and particularly of the Himalayan region. It has many preserved specimens of birds, reptiles and fishes, mammals, insects and more. There is an entry fee. 

3. 7-Point Tour of Darjeeling 
Usual timing: Half Day, 9am-12:30pm / 2pm-5:30pm 
·         Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and the Zoo: These are two attractions in the same complex. The institute, which was built to honor Tenzing Norgay's triumph to the Everest is dedicated to train mountaineering and rock climbing lessons to students from all over the world. There is an HMI museum. The highlights of the museum include the artifacts from various Himalayan expeditions, the Everest section showcasing Tenzing's personal belongings, an eagle found dead at 26,000 feet during 1960 Everest expedition, a high power telescope that once belonged to Hitler and was used by the Institute etc. The zoo has many high altitude Himalayan animals including Snow Leopard, Tibetan Wolf, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, yaks etc. There is a combined entry fee. 
·         Darjeeling Ropeway: You will board the cable car from Singamari located 3km away from the town center. The 45 minutes ride takes you from an altitude of 7,000ft to 800ft with wonderful vista of a valley around Rangeet river, tea estates and sweeping views of the snow peaks of Himalayan range including Kanchenjunga. Ticket needs to be purchased. During high season, there may be long queues. So try to book in advance. 
·         Tenzing & Gombu Rock: These huge rocks are located on Lebong Cart Road where rock climbing is practiced. At the Tenzing Rock, Tenzing Norgay used to practice rock climbing. Look at it from the left side where you can see the bottom of this gigantic rock. During a visit of former Prime Minister Late Jawaharlal Nehru, Tenzing demonstrated a climb on this rock without any safety equipment. No entry fee. 
·         Happy Valley Tea Estate: An old tea estate that exports all its produce to Harrods in London and few other countries. You can see the delicate tea processing in the factory with the help of a guide and buy tea packets from its outlet. You won't get this tea anywhere else in the country. There is no entry fee, however there is fee for the guide. 
·         Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center: A center and a factory established by the Tibetan refugees who fled Tibet and took refuge in Darjeeling. They not only live here, but also produce varieties of exquisite handicraft items to make their livings. The hand crafted items include jackets, carpets, gloves, aprons, bags, curios, cards, pouches, carved wooden items, Tibetan paintings etc. This is a great place to buy a gift or a souvenir for your friends and relatives. There is no entry fee. 
·         Lebong Race Course: 8km away from Darjeeling Town Center, this was the smallest race course in the world (a full lap is 480 yards) and the one located at the highest altitude (5935 ft). It was created in the 1800s during the British colonial days when horse betting was very popular. However, it is no longer used as a race course and has been converted into a parade ground. You can see the ground from Darjeeling Mall road. 
·         Gorkha Football Stadium: This is an alternative to the race course. The stadium is also located in Lebong. Youngsters play soccer here. The ground is also used for many soccer tournaments as well for festivals. The ground looks wonderful with Kanchenjunga and the other snow peaks forming the backdrop. 





4. Rock Garden & Gangamaya Park 
Usual timing: Half Day, 9am-12noon / 2pm-5pm 

Rock Garden, also known as Barbotey Rock Garden is a lovely picnic area located some 10kms from Darjeeling Town. The road is steep and winding and descends by several thousand feet. However the garden with natural water streams flowing through it over the rocks and seating areas with flower gardens at different levels, is great place to picnic and spend few hours. A short distance from here and further down is the Gangamaya park which too has water streams, parks and fountains. There is a cultural dance program held here during the high season. Many locals walk down to these places. I won't recommend that for visiting tourists who are not used to hill walking. Check out Rock Garden & Ganga Maya Park for details with pictures. 

5. Mixed Points Tour of Darjeeling 
Full Day: 9am - 4pm 

If you are one of those who doesn't exactly like any of the above set tours, then there is one more option - Mixed point tour which tries to maximize between all the other options. A typical mixed point tour includes the following sights/visits: 

·         Japanese Temple & Peace Pagoda 
·         Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and the Zoo 
·         Darjeeling Ropeway 
·         Tenzing & Gombu Rock 
·         Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center 
·         Rangeet Valley Tea Garden, and 
·         Happy Valley Tea Estate 
·         Rock Garden & Ganga Maya Park can also be combined at an additional charge. Tour timings would change accordingly. 


How to take the local tours 
You will find plenty of private taxis at the stands offering local sightseeing tours. Once you approach one, many others will also swoop in. Depending on the demand, they will offer varying rates and eventually you will get dragged into haggling and bargaining. And often their cars are not in good conditions. Most taxi drivers have no background knowledge about the tourist places and are poor guides themselves. 

Taxis are available at the Club Side taxi stand (Gandhi Road or Laden-La road) next to the traffic police point. There are also lots of taxis at the Chowk Bazaar motor stand at the lower level. Talk to few drivers before you finalize. Also keep in mind that most taxi drivers are inflexible and tend to rush you through the points. 

Rates/Fares for Darjeeling local tours 
The rates vary depending on demand (i.e. high or low tourist season), the type of tour you choose and also on the changing fuel prices. Rate for larger vehicles (like Scorpio, Bolero, Sumo etc.) are higher than smaller cars like Santro, Wagon-R, Maruti Van etc. 

3-Point tour is also available on per person rates in shared jeeps that leave from the Clubside stand next to Gandhi Road traffic police point. They take about 10 persons per Jeep. This is suitable for those who are looking for low budget tours. 

Note: 
1) The tour charges do not cover any admission fees or cost of food. 
2) The rates from the Tour Operators would be higher than taxi rates, but you can expect a vehicle in good condition and a driver more professional and friendly in nature. 

Here are some indicative fares by taxi: 

(1) 3-point tour covering Tiger Hill, Ghoom Monastery and Batasia Loop: Costs Rs. 1200 by small private taxi, Rs. 1500 by Jeep/Sumo etc, Rs. 150 per person in shared Jeep for up to 10 persons. 

(2) 7-Point tour: Costs Rs. 1200 in small taxi, Rs. 1500 in larger taxi. Shared Jeep Rs. 150 per person (if available). 

(3) Mixed Point tour: Costs Rs. 1500 in small taxi, Rs. 1700 in larger taxi. 

(4) 5-Point tour: Costs Rs. 1000 in small taxi, Rs. 1250 in large taxi. 

(5) Rock Garden/Ganga Maya is Rs. 1500 in small taxi, Rs. 1700 in large taxi. 

The GTA (formerly DGHC) Tourist Information Center located on the Mall Road (Bhanu Sarani) and the Tourist Bureau located on the Mall & run by the West Bengal Tourism offer the above tours on a per person rate during the high tourist season. The rates are very reasonable. You can walk down to their offices and book the tours. 




Darjeeling Toy Train
Rides, Services & Schedule
Riding the Toy Train of Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR) has always remained a coveted experience to the tourists. Only few would let go such an opportunity. And there is a clear reason why so. After all this Toy Train has been accorded the UNESCO World Heritage status, and that's for something special. 

Operating on narrow gauge tracks since 1880s and providing an important transport link to the various parts of the Himalayan hills, the Toy Train is still unmatched when it comes to absorbing the magnificent beauty of Darjeeling hills. Darjeeling is where the Toy Train was first introduced in the country by Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) in 1881 which later went on to get the UNESCO World Heritage status.

Toy Train Joyride - Darjeeling to Ghum & Back 
Toy train joy rides operate from Darjeeling Railway Station. It's a 2-hour round trip from Darjeeling up to Ghum and back covering a total distance of 14kms. There are four such round trips in a day, two in the morning half and two in the afternoon. 

The train stops for 10 minutes at the Batasia Loop. At Batasia the train makes a loop around a wonderful manicured garden. The view of Darjeeling town and the snow peaks of Kanchenjunga from here are unparalleled. The War Memorial built in honor of the Gorkha soldiers who sacrificed their lives is located at the center of the Garden. 

Ghum is the highest altitude station on the Darjeeling Himalayan Rail track. It's at an altitude of 2225.7 meters (7407 ft). Here the toy train stops for 30 minutes for a visit to Darjeeling Himalayan Railway museum. The DHR Museum is located at the station premises. The highlight here is the oldest toy train engine - The Baby Sivok. The entree fee to the museum is included in the ticket price. So that you can cherish the memories of your ride, DHR sends by post a certificate validating your ride on the toy train. 

Toy Train Joyride Schedule 
Train No.: 52546, Departs: 8am, Returns: 10am, Diesel Engine 
Train No.: 52548, Departs: 10:40am, Returns: 12:40pm, Steam Engine 
Train No.: 52549, Departs: 13:20pm, Returns: 15:20pm, Steam Engine 
Train No.: 52547, Departs: 16:05pm, Returns: 18:05pm, Steam Engine 

There are usually two first class coaches provided in a train. 

TIP: Note that during high season, there is a lot of rush for this ride and you should try to book well in advance. Don't plan to buy the joyride tickets after you reach Darjeeling because you may not get them. Just in case you don't get the joyride tickets, an alternative plan is to buy a ticket on the regular morning toy train operating between Darjeeling and Kurseong, which too goes via Batasia and Ghum. Get off at Ghum and take a shared jeep back to Darjeeling... almost similar experience as the joy ride. However this is a diesel engine hauled train and not steam engine. You can buy tickets online through Indian railway site irctc.co.in. 

Toy Train Joyride Fare 
Diesel Engine Rides: Rs. 625/-. All first class seats (Earlier fare was Rs. 400/-). 
Steam Engine Rides: Rs. 1,090/-. All first class seats (Earlier fare was Rs. 400/-). 

NOTE:  
1) Above are round trip fares Darjeeling-Ghum-Darjeeling.  
2) No concession in Darjeeling Toy Train Joy Rides to Children of age 5 or above, neither to senior citizens. No tickets required for children below 5 years.  
3) The first train in the morning at 8am is the diesel engine hauled train while the rest are steam engine trains. The fares of Steam Engine puled trains are far costlier because they represent the original heritage trains and their maintenance cost is also higher. 

How to book DHR Toy Train Joyrides 
The toy train in Darjeeling is treated like any other normal train. You can book the joyride either online though the Indian Railway's website or at any computerized reservation counters. The best way to book online is to go through the Indian Railway website www.irct.co.in. Here you will first have to register and create an account. Registration is free and quite easy. Only after logging into to your own account in the website, you can make the bookings. But carefully note a few points. While finding the trains for joyrides, you will need to enter the source station code as DJ (which stands for Darjeeling). For the destination station, the station should again be Darjeeling because it's a round trip. But the web-form does not accept the same station code for both source and destination. This is a limitation of the website. So for the destination code, you should enter DJRZ which also stands for Darjeeling (meaning 'To Darjeeling'). 



Temperature in
Darjeeling, Gangtok, Kalimpong

January and February are the coldest months in Darjeeling. If you are lucky, you can even experience snowfall during this time. The lowest ever temperature recorded so far in Darjeeling town is -6.7°C which occurred in February. But usually the temperature varies between a minimum of 1.9°C to a maximum of 9.1°C during this period. 
·         Spring in Darjeeling (March - April): The temperature during spring season ranges between 6°C at night to 17°C during day time. Overall it's a great time to enjoy Darjeeling in its best weather conditions and views of the mountains all around
·         Summer in Darjeeling (May - July): The average temperature during summer varies between 11°C to 19°C. While May remains a popular tourist month in Darjeeling, there are good chances of showers and hails during this time.
Monsoon in Darjeeling (June - August): During the peak monsoon time in Darjeeling (June, July, August), the sky can be barely seen for 10 days in a month. It rains incessantly and the weather remains foggy or misty for most times. 

In September however, the change in the weather starts showing. The average temperature during monsoon ranges between 13°C to 19°C. However in the evening and at night, the temperature can fall and it can get quite cold. This is the period when humidity in Darjeeling is at its highest levels and can easily go past 90% of saturation. 

During monsoon, sometimes landslides take place in Darjeeling area that can result in important road communications getting cut off
·          
·         Autumn in Darjeeling (September - November): Darjeeling again becomes a paradise for the tourists during these three months.  Temperature ranges between 18°C to 6°C and starts becoming colder in November. Tourists start pouring in and the hotel rates go back to the peak by first week of October. 
·         Winter in Darjeeling (December - February): Temperature ranges between 2.5°C to 10°C . You will find lots of visitors in Darjeeling during Christmas and new year celebrations. January and February are really cold. It can get quite unpleasant for the tourists who are not used to the chill, more so when it gets foggy or clouded. While the temperature generally ranges between 2°C to 9°C , it can drop to 0°C on some days. Snow fall is not very common in Darjeeling. However it does take place once in a while during these two months. This time is again free of tourists and the hotel rates get discounted. But most of the shops and restaurants close down early and the hill town goes off to sleep by 7pm. 



What to buy in Darjeeling? 
So what do you shop in Darjeeling? Some popular handmade items include the Tibetan masks, paintings of Bhutia facial expressions on cloth pieces, local jewelry items including brooches and pendants with carved-in gems, many types of curios, traditional boots, Khukri (curved Gorkha knives with decorative handles), woolen items including shawls & pashminas, jumpers, scarves, caps, leather items, and lot more. 

Where are the best stores located? 
For tourists, the main stores are mostly lined up on both sides of Nehru road that leads up to the Mall (Chowrasta) and also around the mall itself. As you walk along, you will see many stores selling fashion wears, Darjeeling tea, curios, all kinds of woolens, books, handicraft items, studios offering original pictures of Himalayas and lot more.



How To Reach Darjeeling
By Train, Road and Air



(1) Take a train up to NJP (New Jalpaiguri). Darjeeling is only 88kms from here. You will get ample taxis and shared jeeps from NJP to reach Darjeeling in about 3.5 hours. Few long distance trains pass through Siliguri as well. You will also get plenty of shared jeeps, taxis and buses at Siliguri (takes about 3 hours to Darjeeling). You can even take a toy train ride from either NJP or Siliguri through scenic mountain route that takes about 7.5 hrs to reach Darjeeling. The toy train track runs parallel and next to the Hill Cart Road for most part. 
(2) Fly down to the nearest airport Bagdogra which is 94 kms from Darjeeling town and take a private taxi. Shared taxis and buses are not available here. It takes little over 3 hours to reach Darjeeling from Bagdogra airport. 

(3) There are regular buses including Rocket and Volvo services between Kolkata (Calcutta) and Siliguri Main Bus Terminal (known as Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus located on Hill Cart Road). From Siliguri main bus terminal area, you will get buses, shared Jeeps and private taxis for Darjeeling. Distance between Siliguri and Darjeeling is 80kms. 

Indicative Private taxi fares 
There are plenty of private taxis available both outside the NJP (New Jalpaiguri) railway station and Bagdogra airport. These are private commercial vehicles and have yellow number plates. The private taxis or cars are essentially of two types - small cars like Maruti Vans, WagonR, Alto etc which can take up to 4 passengers, and large ones like Scorpio, Sumo etc taking up to 7 passengers. While you can always take a private taxi from outside the station or airport, negotiate the rates and move to Darjeeling, it is advisable to take one from the Pre-Paid taxi counters. The pre-paid counters are run by the state department and they can track the driver and the car in case of any problems. 

The pre-paid taxi counter at NJP station is located just opposite to the station entrance. It's a small kiosk outside the station building. The pre-paid counter at Bagdogra airport is located at the arrival hall before the exit. The rates are fixed and the cars & drivers tend to be more reliable. You are given a slip as you pay up the amount in advance. Hand over the slip to the driver once he drops you at Darjeeling. No other payment is required. 

Remember the taxis will drop you at Darjeeling town center (i.e. either at the Chowk Bazaar stand or at Clubside Taxi stand next to Gandhi Road police point). They can drop you right at your hotel entrance if your hotel is located close to the stand. Otherwise the driver will ask for some extra money to drop you to your hotel. However some areas, like the mall area is closed to vehicles where taxis/cars are not allowed. If your hotel is located in such pedestrian-only area, then you will need to either walk or take a porter from the nearest taxi stand. 

Here are the indicative reserved taxi fares from NJP / Bagdogra to Darjeeling: 

·         NJP/Bagdogra to Darjeeling (Small Car): Rs. 1850.00 
·         NJP/Bagdogra to Darjeeling (Large Car): Rs. 2200.00 
·         NJP/Bagdogra to Darjeeling (Small Car) Via Mirik: Rs. 2500.00. One takes this route if one wants to stop at Mirik, enjoy the lake at Mirik and also the wonderful tea gardens and scenic views along the way. This route is not as steep as the others but takes one hour more (usually about 4 hours+). 
·         NJP/Bagdogra to Mirik (Small Car): Rs. 1500.00 
·         Mirik to Darjeeling (Small Car): Rs. 1500.00 

Pre-Paid Taxi - Know about the internal story 
If you are planning to book a pre-paid taxi on arrival at Bagdogra or NJP, you should be aware of an interesting activity that takes place there. Pre-Paid taxi counters (both at Bagdogra airport and NJP railway station) usually allocate a local taxi with a local Siliguri based driver. The local driver then tries to find another driver who would have come from Darjeeling, Gangtok or other places to drop passengers and now waiting outside for a return customer. To those returning drivers almost any amount for return is acceptable as they would otherwise have to go back empty. The local driver would quickly negotiate a deal with him for a much smaller amount than the pre-paid fare which you have paid up at the counter. So don't be surprised if you find that having booked a pre-paid taxi, when you come outside you are transferred to another cab. Insist on your original booking as otherwise the security of pre-paid booking would be lost. 

This racket of brokerage is going on since long. So if you come outside and directly negotiate with a driver who is waiting to return, you can strike a rate which is far cheaper than the pre-paid rate. But the question is, will you always find such a returning cab outside? If you don't then you will need to negotiate with a local driver, in which case you may not get much price advantage and instead face a lot of haggling. 

NOTE: Presently the usual route is via Simulbari, Rohini and Kurseong, and it takes about 3 hours to reach Darjeeling from NJP or Bagdogra (with a short break in between). 

Shared Jeep/Taxi fares for Darjeeling 
Shared taxis that go up to Darjeeling are usually large Commander Jeeps or sometimes Sumos. There are two places from where you will get shared jeeps for Darjeeling - Outside NJP Station and next to Siliguri Main Bus Stand (i.e. Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus on Hill Cart Road). The Siliguri bus terminus is about 8kms from NJP railway station and you can reach the bus stand by an auto or a cycle rickshaw easily within few minutes. 

The shared Jeeps take 10 persons in a jeep, and wait until all the seats are filled up. Usually I have seen that during the high season, the seats get filled up quite quickly during the day time when a jeep arrives. There are often many passengers waiting for the shared jeeps. In low season it might take 30 - 45 minutes for all seats to get filled up. Usually several locals would accompany you. Some of them get off on the way and new passengers may join in. 

With so many people packed into the Jeep, it can get uncomfortable at times. But there is a way out. In a shared jeep, you can actually pay and book more than one seats for yourself to buy comfort. For example, you can book both the seats next to the driver and occupy them yourself. Alternatively you can reserve four seats in the back row behind the driver's seat or the ones at the rear. Once booked, the driver won't let anyone else occupy those seats. Luggage is carried on the roof. 

For a city dweller like myself, 10 persons in a jeep becomes really stuffy and it may be worth paying for an extra seat for a journey that takes 3.5 hours. 

·         Shared jeep fare from NJP Station to Darjeeling: Rs. 150.00 (per seat) 
·         Shared jeep fare from Siliguri Bus Stand to Darjeeling: Rs. 130.00 (per seat) 
·         Shared jeep fare from NJP Station to Mirik: Rs. 100.00 (per seat) 
·         Shared jeep fare from Mirik to Darjeeling: Rs. 100.00 (per seat) 

Usual route for a shared jeep is by Hill Cart Road (NH-55). Usual travel duration is 3.5 hours. If any detour is required, that would increase the fare. 

Bus fares to Darjeeling 
You will get buses only from the Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus located on Hill Cart Road in Siliguri. It is about 8kms from NJP station. The buses are run by North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) and are blue in color. They look like mini buses and can carry some 30 passengers (standing is not allowed in these buses).

Currently there are four bus services from Siliguri to Darjeeling and back. The first one starts at 7am in the morning and others ply during the day time. There is no night bus. While usual route used to be by Hill Cart Road (NH 55), the road is closed near Tindharia since 2010. The bus now takes the Rohini route up to Kurseong and then the Hill Cart Road to Darjeeling. The travel duration between Siliguri to Darjeeling by bus is about 4 hours. 

Bus fare from Siliguri to Darjeeling Via Rohini: Rs. 130.00 per person 

Toy Train Fare to Darjeeling 
The diesel engine hauled toy train leaves NJP station at 9am and takes about 7 hours 15 minutes to reach Darjeeling. You can also board the train from Siliguri Town and Siliguri Junction stations that are 5kms and 8kms away from NJP respectively. 

·         NJP to Darjeeling: Presently suspended due to landslides. 

·         Kurseong to Darjeeling: First Class Rs. 210.00, 2nd Class Rs. 60.00 

There are also toy trains available from Darjeeling for joy rides (both diesel and steam engines). Check out Darjeeling Toy Train Services for schedules & fares. 

NJP Station to Siliguri Bus Stand Fare 
Siliguri main bus stand (Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus on Hill Cart Road) is about 8kms away from NJP station. You can either take an auto rickshaw, a cycle rickshaw or a taxi from NJP to reach the bus terminus at Siliguri. 

Auto Rickshaw fare: Rs. 90/- (up to 3 persons, limited luggage), 10 minutes 
Cycle Rickshaw fare: Rs. 50/- (up to 2 persons, limited luggage), 30 minutes 
Taxi fare: Rs. 250/- (up to 4 persons) 


Mirik Tourism

·         Mirik Lake is the central attraction of Mirik and this is where you are likely to spend most of your time. This 1.25km natural lake is known as Sumendu Lake. Rain and spring water keep feeding the lake and it remains full all through the year. The depth of water varies from 3ft to 25ft. The western bank of the lake is surrounded by forest with tall dhupi trees having walking trails passing through it and the eastern bank of the lake has a nice garden where tourists and locals relax and enjoy the natural settings. 

·         There are more wonderful surprises just in the outskirts of Mirik. If you go 8kms down from Mirik along the main road, you will reach Tingling View Point. In my personal opinion, this is the place from where you get best views of tea gardens in the whole of Darjeeling district. What you see all around is wonderful views of rolling tea gardens on mountain slopes with mists and sun playing the game of lights & shadows... awesome. 

·         Within Mirik, my next most favorite place is the Bokar Monastery.... the full name is hard to pronounce and remember - Bokar Ngedon Chokhor Ling monastery. This is located at the highest point of Mirik at an altitude of 5,800ft. From the lake if you look towards south east, you can see this lovely monastery high up on the hills. And you can imagine how wonderful the view of the lake and its surrounding area would be when you look down below from the monastery. 

·         From Mirik lake, distance to Bokar Monastery is about 2.5kms and it takes about 30 minutes uphill walk. However most tourists visit the monastery by a local taxi. 


·         Close to the monastery are the view points Kawley Dara (or observatory) and another view point Rameetay Dara. These viewing areas are excellent to watch the sunrise and sunset. You get panoramic views of the mountain landscapes and Mirik, and off course Kanchenjunga snowpeaks as well. From the Bokar monastery, Kawley Dara will be another 10 minutes walk. 

·         Devi Sthan is another must visit in Mirik. This is a temple complex located at the western bank of the lake and deep into the forests as well as high up in the mountains... which means fairly long and strenuous walk. There are idols of several gods and goddesses here but the main temple is of Devi Durga or Bhagwati. 

·         There are more wonderful surprises just in the outskirts of Mirik. If you go 8kms down from Mirik along the main road, you will reach Tingling View Point. In my personal opinion, this is the place from where you get best views of tea gardens in the whole of Darjeeling district. What you see all around is wonderful views of rolling tea gardens on mountain slopes with mists and sun playing the game of lights & shadows... awesome. 

Day Trips & Tours from Mirik 
·         Darjeeling is only 49kms from Mirik and along the way you will come across amazing places. You will drive along the Nepal border road freely ... a mountain road that divides Nepal from India. On one side Nepali citizens live and on the other side Indians. At a viewpoint named Simana you can get lovely views of the mountains and also see the trek route to Sandakphu. You will pass by the entrance of Nepal's Pashupati Market. You can do some shopping here if you want but not recommended ... all low quality and mostly Chinese make and even fake items. You must be careful. 

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