Darjeeling Packages FAQs
A. As you scour Darjeeling packages, you must remember the proximity of the hill station to the nearest airport in the state. The Bagdogra International Airport in Siliguri is the airport closest to Darjeeling about 70 kilometre away. The drive through the winding hilly roads takes around 2.5 hours. There is a pre-paid taxi booth at the airport run by the Siliguri Metropolitan Police open till until 07:00 pm, and this is the only form of official private transport facility available from the airport other than the state buses that ply from the nearby bus stand.
Q. Which is the nearest railway station to Darjeeling?
A. There is no dearth of Darjeeling tour packages, but very few that do justice to the destination and the commute it warrants. The New Jalpaiguri Railway Station which serves Siliguri city and is the port of entry to the seven north-eastern states, is the closest railway station to Darjeeling at about 93 kilometre. A taxi ride from NJP to Darjeeling takes about 3 hours and 15 minutes. There are ample shared jeeps and taxis at the New Jalpaiguri station available at a decent frequency to get you to Darjeeling. Or you can head to the nearest bus stand in Siliguri to avail a bus to Darjeeling. Else if you have more time at your hands opt for the toy train journey between Siliguri and Darjeeling that takes around 7 hours skirting brilliant mountain scenery all along the Hill Carter Road.
Q. What is the route of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway?
A. Make sure one of the Darjeeling travel packages you settle for comes with a ride aboard this world-heritage toy train. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway came into being in 1881 and is about 88 kilometre long winding its way through New Jalpaiguri along Hill Carter Road all the way to Darjeeling. In its run it scales the 328 foot of NJP to 7,218 foot of Darjeeling through its diesel locomotives. From Darjeeling, the toy train services extend to Ghum, the highest railway station in the country. The prominent stops on the NJP to Darjeeling route aboard the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway include Siliguri Junction, Rangtong, Sukna, Tindharia, Mahanadi, Sonada, Tung, Ghum, and finally Darjeeling.
Q. What is the local mode of transport in Darjeeling?
A. While walking remains the most popular way of commuting short distances, there is no long lineup of auto-rickshaws and taxis to take you from one part of the hill station to the other. In fact there are several areas around the Mall (Chowrasta) that are accessible only to pedestrians. You can, however, rely on reserved or shared taxis and public buses for covering distances within the city limits. The shares taxis are a cheaper mode of commuting and connect Darjeeling to Gangtok, Kalimpong, New Jalpaiguri, Mirik, Siliguri, and Kurseong. Shared taxis are typically made of jeeps that accommodate about 10 passengers on a single ride.
Q. Are there sufficient ATMs in Darjeeling?
A. You better be cash-rich if you are travelling within Darjeeling and the surrounding Kalimpong, Ghum or Mirik. The few ATMs around are either cash-starved or very simply out of order. Some that are in mint condition have long queues outside of them. So, it is better to rely on your cash reserves for your travels within Darjeeling and in its vicinity. Some places have now begun to accept e-wallets, but not so much cards, whether it is credit or debit cards. And in local markets too and at restaurants you are expected to make your payment in cash.
Q. What is the local language of Darjeeling?
A. While Bengali is the official and easily the most widely-spoken language of the hill station, Nepali has emerged as a close second among the prevailing languages. The refugee population largely speaks Tibetan outside of other local languages of the tribal population of Darjeeling. But since it also thrives on tourism and has catered to tourists for a significant period of time, and also owing to its colonial heritage, English is spoken and understood by the local population. Particularly at its tourists centres, restaurants and hotels, English is easily followed.
Q. From where can I avail a taxi in Darjeeling?
A. Head to the Upper Club-side taxi stand which is right below the Planter’s Club on Gandhi Road. There are kiosks here operated by the local taxi association which offer private taxis at regulated rates. The other point is the Lower Club-side taxi stand on Laden-La Road adjacent to the Gandhi Road traffic control junction, and the Motor Stand on Lebong Cart Road close to Chowk Bazaar. The shared taxis can be flagged down from any point on the road and they will stop for you only if they have any vacant seats on-board. Shared taxis are available between 07:00 am and 03:00 pm. Any big luggage you might be carrying will be tied to the roof of the vehicle.