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At the onset, I would like to tell you that it is going to be a great ride. Roads are good and every turn is a visual delight. There are a few different ways that you can commune this 2-3 hours time.
They come with varied expenses and varying levels of freedom for you. Obviously, as the budget goes higher, freedom and comfort go higher too.
The easiest option to avail from Bagdogra airport to reach Darjeeling is to hire a prepaid taxi. There are pre-paid taxi counters within the airport arrival terminal. These taxis do not ply on a shared basis. However, you might come across passengers looking for shared taxis and striking up a casual conversation with a few of them might save you a lot of money.
You could strike a deal with the driver to take the entire group to a mutually pre-fixed destination.
If you have a tight budget to keep pace with, then hiring a prepaid taxi might not be the cheapest option.
Fortunately, there are other options available that could significantly bring down your transportation cost. You can hire a taxi from the pre-paid taxi counter inside the airport building to reach Siliguri bus terminal.
The bus terminal is around 16 Km away from Bagdogra Airport and will take you around 30-35 minutes to reach. A number of transportation options like private taxis, buses and shared jeeps are available here. You will be able to hire buses or auto-rickshaws that ply from the Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminal.
This bus terminal is located on Hill Cart Road and is also popularly known as Siliguri Bus Terminal.
If budget is not a problem and this trip to Darjeeling is more about your comfort and leisure then the latest luxurious options of transport are unputdownable. There are a couple of car service companies that are renting out luxury vehicles for tourists to travel from Bagdogra to Darjeeling.
These vehicles offer shared services and the types of vehicles that ply are Xylo, Crysta, Innova and even Audi etc.
The bookings of these luxury cars are primarily done online and you have the benefit of choosing your own seat! They have pre-fixed drop destinations like Ghum Railway Station, Kurseong, Sonada, and many others within Darjeeling as well.
If you opt for individual cars instead of shared vehicles, you will have to haggle a lot initially. The drivers quote exorbitant rates initially but if you can bargain enough, you will have a good deal in some time. Tourist seasons usually witness higher car fares but offseasons are much cheaper.
When you hire a pre-paid taxi, you have to deposit the fare at the counter and receive a slip in return. There may or may not be different cars to choose from, given the kind of season you go in. The usual drop-off is at Chowk Bazaar Stand, in the town of Darjeeling.
If your hotel is a little further away, you could pay your driver a few bucks extra to cover that mile.
However, cars are not allowed inside most hotels in Darjeeling that are on and around the Mall Road. You will either have to carry your own luggage or hire porters to do the same.
# ProTip: A lot of bargaining happens here. Do not go for the first guy who approaches you. Wait a bit and as the major crowd disperses, you will find rates are coming down. However, INR 3-5k for exclusive is reasonable and fair depending upon car type and peak and lean seasons.
As you leave the airport premises, it will take you 50 yards to reach the car parking area. You will meet your driver who will, most probably, be a local. The distance between Darjeeling and Bagdogra is 94 Km and it will take close to 3.5 hrs by car. The route which your driver will usually take is the Hill Cart Road or the NH-55.
A lot of tourists ask us if there are shorter routes to take between Bagdogra and Darjeeling. You will be glad to know that there are three routes other than the usual route to Darjeeling and we will discuss at length about these routes in this very article.
However, before we begin to talk about the routes and the stopovers in between, here is a brief outline of the initial journey to Simulbari Tea Garden.
This is the point where you can pick the best route among three routes to Darjeeling. This is the common point where you will need to come to no matter which route you take.
Drivers driving you from Bagdogra to Darjeeling try their best to save around 30 minutes of travel time by taking shorter routes to Darjeeling. Although these routes are spotted with hairpin bends, sharp curves, narrow and rough roads, they do cut down a minimum of 12 Km on your way uphill.
Drivers tend to take the Rohini route and lead through Pankhabari to reach Darjeeling.
Once you board the car, the driver will start the journey on the National Highway and in a matter of minutes, you will cross the township and market area of Bagdogra.
The next township that you enter will be Shibmandir. This is at an approximate distance of 5 Km from Bagdogra Airport. In the town of Shibmandir, you will cross a river named Balasun.
The next township is Matigara, which is around 8 Km from the airport. This is your last bit on the NH-31 and from here, your driver will take a left towards Simulbari. The usual route of NH-55 is mostly avoided because it is more time-consuming.
In a few minutes from this point, the surroundings transform into a lush green spectacle and you can even spot stunning mountain ranges at a distance. In about 15 more minutes, you will reach the Khaprail Military Camp Area.
The air will feel crisp and light and the mountains will seem even closer. Around the Khaprail village area, you will spot sprawling areas of green parallel to the road. This is the Simulbari Tea Garden that looks spectacular from even a distance.
The very next check post is Rohini More. This is the point where all the three routes emerge.
One route goes through Rohini, the other through Mirik and the third through Pankhabari.
The road that turns right from the check post is Rohini Road. This happens to be the commonest road taken by drivers of prepaid taxis. The road has toll booths and is a two-way route. It leads the way up to Kurseong and then merges with NH-55 to reach Darjeeling.
This road is not at all what it used to be in the past. Recently, extensive repairs have been carried out that have made the road broader and very well-maintained. The route is beautiful and although the turns are very sharp, the scenic beauty more than makes up for it.
The air will start to feel cooler and you will find exactly what you might be looking for on the Rohini Road. There are several tea stalls where you could request for a pit stop and enjoy a cup of tea along with light snacks.
Rohini is beautiful and very near to Darjeeling and hence a lot of tourists opt to stay a night or two over here. There are not too many stay options available though. We have a great and cheap homestay over here, You can check out the link, in case you are interested.
The next stop would be the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Lodge. The lodge was burned to a bad state in the riots of the 1980s but the architectural grandeur atop a cliff is not to be missed. This could very well be a photographer’s delight.
It will take you 1 hour 20 minutes to reach Kurseong. As your car gets on the Hill Cart Road, you will witness the popular Toy Train track of Darjeeling. It will run along with the car route and might even intersect at certain points. You might even spot a toy train making its way through the track.
Kurseong is a beautiful small tea town before Darjeeling. We some superb properties here. You can take a stopover at the lodge and either freshen up or have breakfast. The scenic beauty from this spot is breathtaking and a complete gold mine for photographers.
Your driver will then continue on NH-55 and reach Darjeeling town in about 1 hour 25 minutes.
The route from Mirik to Darjeeling might cost you a few additional bucks but it is worth every extra penny that you pay. The scenic beauty is enthralling and the lush green tea gardens add to the already beautiful surroundings. The road that goes straight from Rohini More leads to Garidhura, a small village.
This is your perfect spot for refreshments of all kinds. There is a small eating joint called Nipu’s Hotel that serves local delights like momos, thukpa, full course meals, and hot beverages.
Once you cross the Garidhura market, your driver will take a left towards Mirik road that will eventually lead you to Darjeeling. Although it will take an hour more to reach Darjeeling on this route, the interesting spots on the route will compensate for the delay.
The road from Garidhura village to Mirik takes an hour and fifteen minutes. Mirik road leads through Pashupati Nath Market to Ghoom station and finally to Darjeeling.
It takes around 2.5 hours from Mirik to Darjeeling. On your way ahead from Pashupati Nath Market towards Sukhiapokhri, you could stopover at Simana.
It is a viewing point from where you could spot the trail that leads to Sandakphu, the famous tourist destination for trekking.
Simana is also an amazing place to stop and enjoy locally sourced dishes like momos, alcoholic beverages and chocolates. All along the route, you will come across sprawling and spectacular tea gardens like Gopaldhara, Goodricke etc.
Mirik is the Tea Plantation land in Darjeeling District and the large natural lake makes the place a stopover choice for many travellers. We have lots of great places to stay over here and you can explore if you are interested to stay a day or two in Mirik. It is worth it for sure.
The Pankhabari route runs straight from Garidhura. It is a narrower route and mostly supports one-way traffic. While passing through this route, you will come across the Longview Tea Estate.
This tea estate occupies land on both sides of the route. It is the first tea estate on your way uphill that produces Darjeeling tea.
As you drive along, the first village that you would come across is the picturesque village of Pankhabari.
It is a sleepy little hamlet that will charm you with its lovely sights. An uphill drive from here will lead you to a high point from where you can view the two majestic rivers, Teesta and Balasun flowing adjacent to each other. This is also a splendid spot for a photographer as the view is nothing less than breathtaking.
A few minutes from here is the Makaibari village and the famous Makaibari Tea Estate. This happens to be Darjeeling’s oldest tea garden. Kurseong is around 3 Km from this point.
At Kurseong, the two routes from Rohini More and Pankhabari merge together with the Hill Cart Road that goes uphill to reach Darjeeling.
So, hopefully, you got everything that wanted to know about how to go to Darjeeling from Bagdogra.
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