How to reach Darjeeling and main things to do around Darjeeling Hills



If you are planning to visit Darjeeling or intend to go there in future, this post can help you plan your commute to the town and then local transportation, apart from details around things you can do in Darjeeling. This blogpost also talks about some of the beautiful walks around Darjeeling hills and Darjeeling points of interest.

If you are planning to visit Darjeeling or intend to go there in future, this post can help you plan your commute to the town and then local transportation, apart from details around things you can do in Darjeeling. This blogpost also talks about some of the beautiful walks around Darjeeling hills and Darjeeling points of interest.

Lets talk about different transportation options for Darjeeling. So there are multiple modes. If you want to go there via flight, Bagdogra is nearest airport to Darjeeling. In fact, if you intend to visit Sikkim, thus airport is well connected with main cities of India and some of the international airports. And after landing at Bagdogra, you have following options - Private Taxi to Dajeeling or shared cabs.


Lets talk about different transportation options for Darjeeling. So there are multiple modes. If you want to go there via flight, Bagdogra is nearest airport to Darjeeling. In fact, if you intend to visit Sikkim, thus airport is well connected with main cities of India and some of the international airports. And after landing at Bagdogra, you have following options - Private Taxi to Dajeeling or shared cabs. 


I couldn't gather much details about buses available on this route and in fact the road is not very friendly for heavy vehicles. Personal taxi would cost you around 2000 rs (as of April'2017). The cheaper option is to take an auto-rickshaw to Siliguri and theb board shared cab. Auto would cost you 250 rs and then shared taxi to Darjeeling charges 130 rs per head. Seats are allocated on first come first serve basis. Each shared cab takes 10 people and the makes sense from economics point of view. 2 on the front seat and 4 each on middle & last seat. These cabs are either Tata Sumo, Mahindra Xylo or other bigger jeep, preferably a 4*4 vehicle.


I couldn't gather much details about buses available on this route and in fact the road is not very friendly for heavy vehicles. Personal taxi would cost you around 2000 rs (as of April'2017). The cheaper option is to take an auto-rickshaw to Siliguri and then board shared cab. Auto would cost you 250 rs and then shared taxi to Darjeeling charges 130 rs per head. Seats are allocated on first come first serve basis. Each shared cab takes 10 people and the makes sense from economics point of view. 2 on the front seat and 4 each on middle & last seat. These cabs are either Tata Sumo, Mahindra Xylo or other bigger jeep, preferably a 4*4 vehicle.

Time to time, various startups try to solve thus commute problem from Bagdogra to some of these main cities like Gangtok, Darjeeling, Peeling etc. So it makes sense to just google other convenient options available. I tried a few but failed to get appropriate option available on time.
Time to time, various startups try to solve thus commute problem from Bagdogra to some of these main cities like Gangtok, Darjeeling, Peeling etc. So it makes sense to just google other convenient options available. I tried a few but failed to get appropriate option available on time.

Above is a photograph of church near mall road. Whenever you take a round of Mall road till Raj Bhawan, you would see this church on your right.  Now lets talk a little about places around Darjeeling which can either be explored via taxi or on foot. It also makes sense to touch upon the options to stay and preferred areas to stay.

Above is a photograph of church near mall road. Whenever you take a round of Mall road till Raj Bhawan, you would see this church on your right.

Now lets talk a little about places around Darjeeling which can either be explored via taxi or on foot. It also makes sense to touch upon the options to stay and preferred areas to stay.



If you like exploring the place on foot, prefer a place around Mall road of Darjeeling. There are variety of options available with wide set of budgets and service levels. Do you prefer booking a place to stay in advance or prefer backpacking & decide a hotel when you the destination? Either ways, the basic criterion remain the same unless you have different preferences. For example - you may want to skip staying in the city and chose a homestay around one of the beautiful tea gardens in Darjeeling.

If you like exploring the place on foot, prefer a place around Mall road of Darjeeling. There are variety of options available with wide set of budgets and service levels. Do you prefer booking a place to stay in advance or prefer backpacking & decide a hotel when you the destination? Either ways, the basic criterion remain the same unless you have different preferences. For example - you may want to skip staying in the city and chose a homestay around one of the beautiful tea gardens in Darjeeling.

It becomes tricky to book hotels online when you have preference in terms of locality. This is a problem which is not solved well. Some sites show you the map but not very helpful when you are not familiar with the place. Anyways, my job is not to complicate your life but to make it a little simple. So as suggested Mall road makes a good choice as it leads to various walks you can take during mornings and evening. We got a good room at 1200 rs in a homestay ( technically it was not a homestay) near mall and that brought a big difference to our experience. Every morning we used to walk around the mall road, raj bhawan and saw lot of birds on our way. Every evening was very eventful and a little crowded with tourists. If you like shopping, Mall road and markets around it are interesting. Some of the cool restaurants, cafes and tea boutiques are also on and around mall road.



It becomes tricky to book hotels online when you have preference in terms of locality. This is a problem which is not solved well. Some sites show you the map but not very helpful when you are not familiar with the place. Anyways, my job is not to complicate your life but to make it a little simple. So as suggested Mall road makes a good choice as it leads to various walks you can take during mornings and evening. We got a good room at 1200 rs in a homestay ( technically it was not a homestay) near mall and that brought a big difference to our experience. Every morning we used to walk around the mall road, raj bhawan and saw lot of birds on our way. Every evening was very eventful and a little crowded with tourists. If you like shopping, Mall road and markets around it are interesting. Some of the cool restaurants, cafes and tea boutiques are also on and around mall road.

Above is govt college of Darjeeling which comes on your left when you walk down from Mall road towards Zoo & Mountaineering institute.

Above is govt college of Darjeeling which comes on your left when you walk down from Mall road towards Zoo & Mountaineering institute. 

Above is my lucky shot of Red Panda at Darjeeling Zoo. This Panda got up for few seconds and slept again. Nobody at that point could click the face of this Red Panda. You can find them sleeping most of the times.
Above is my lucky shot of Red Panda at Darjeeling Zoo. This Panda got up for few seconds and slept again. Nobody at that point could click the face of this Red Panda. You can find them sleeping most of the times. 

Another added advantage is that you can easily walk down to Zoo, Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering, Srubbery Park, Cable car station and Museum of natural history. We explored all these places on foot from Mall road. It's a 3-4 hours affair. If you look at the map of Darjeeling, Mall road is in the middle and all these places are on north of the city.

Another added advantage is that you can easily walk down to Zoo, Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering, Srubbery Park, Cable car station and Museum of natural history. We explored all these places on foot from Mall road. It's a 3-4 hours affair. If you look at the map of Darjeeling, Mall road is in the middle and all these places are on north of the city.

Another added advantage is that you can easily walk down to Zoo, Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering, Srubbery Park, Cable car station and Museum of natural history. We explored all these places on foot from Mall road. It's a 3-4 hours affair. If you look at the map of Darjeeling, Mall road is in the middle and all these places are on north of the city. 


Here is the cute girl who gave us the tickets to enter Shruberry Park at Darjeeling. She was there at the counter with her mom and was enjoying the process of taking money and giving the tickets to visitors.

Here is the cute girl who gave us the tickets to enter Shruberry Park at Darjeeling. She was there at the counter with her mom and was enjoying the process of taking money and giving the tickets to visitors. 



So you walk down to Shrubbery Park first. Its a green place with variety of flowers. There is an entry ticket of 20 rs per person and no ticket for camera. Then head down to Himalayan Zoological Park. Entry ticket for Zoo, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Natural History Museum is 60 rs per person and there is common entry gate for all these 3 options. They are very close. There is also a ticket for camera and i am forgetting the exact amount for that. Don't miss Red Panda at Darjeeling Zoo.

So you walk down to Shrubbery Park first. Its a green place with variety of flowers. There is an entry ticket of 20 rs per person and no ticket for camera. Then head down to Himalayan Zoological Park. Entry ticket for Zoo, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Natural History Museum is 60 rs per person and there is common entry gate for all these 3 options. They are very close. There is also a ticket for camera and i am forgetting the exact amount for that. Don't miss Red Panda at Darjeeling Zoo.

After exploring these 3 places in one go, take the beautiful walk to Passenger Ropeway station which will take 15 minutes to reach from entry/exit gate of Darjeeling Zoo. We were aware that usually there is huge queue at ropeway and in my opinion thats because of very old infrastructure there. Its extremely slow and hence time between each trolley is significant. When we went there, the queue was huge and we had to wait for 1hr at least, so we skipped. Weather was also not very encouraging as I was not expecting good aerial shots from the trolley.

After exploring these 3 places in one go, take the beautiful walk to Passenger Ropeway station which will take 15 minutes to reach from entry/exit gate of Darjeeling Zoo. We were aware that usually there is huge queue at ropeway and in my opinion thats because of very old infrastructure there. Its extremely slow and hence time between each trolley is significant. When we went there, the queue was huge and we had to wait for 1hr at least, so we skipped. Weather was also not very encouraging as I was not expecting good aerial shots from the trolley.

Other places of interest in north of Darjeeling hill are - Tanzig Rock, Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre and Happy Valley Tea Estate. We skipped all these 3 and planned to take taxi to go to the south of the Darjeeling town.

Other places of interest in north of Darjeeling hill are - Tanzig Rock, Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre and Happy Valley Tea Estate. We skipped all these 3 and planned to take taxi to go to the south of the Darjeeling town.

South part is not very good for walking so we booked the cab for visiting Japanese Peace Pagoda which is located at one of the higher peaks of Darjeeling town. We walked down from ropeway and hired a  taxi. We agreed to pay 700 rs for a tour  of Japanese Peace pagoda, Dali monastery , Batasia toy train loop, war memorial and Samten choling Monastery. We wer not keen to visit Rock Garden and Chunnu falls, but many folks include this place when hiring taxi. If you also want to skip the walk from mall road to other places in North, taxi would charge you around 1200 rs for the whole day.

South part is not very good for walking so we booked the cab for visiting Japanese Peace Pagoda which is located at one of the higher peaks of Darjeeling town. We walked down from ropeway and hired a  taxi. We agreed to pay 700 rs for a tour  of Japanese Peace pagoda, Dali monastery , Batasia toy train loop, war memorial and Samten choling Monastery. We wer not keen to visit Rock Garden and Chunnu falls, but many folks include this place when hiring taxi. If you also want to skip the walk from mall road to other places in North, taxi would charge you around 1200 rs for the whole day.  

Japanese Peace Pagoda is a beautiful place to spend some time. One needs to walk a bit to reach main stupa from taxi stand. I recommend to visit this place and not because of the stupa , but more because of the beauty of the surroundings and the height. A smart driver in Darjeeling can be very helpful in managing your time well and skip traffic jams.

Japanese Peace Pagoda is a beautiful place to spend some time. One needs to walk a bit to reach main stupa from taxi stand. I recommend to visit this place and not because of the stupa , but more because of the beauty of the surroundings and the height. A smart driver in Darjeeling can be very helpful in managing your time well and skip traffic jams.

After visiting the beautiful Japanese Peace Pagoda, we headed towards Batasia Toy Train Loop. Dali Monastery comes on the way but we planned to visit it on our return journey. Dali Monastery, Batasia Loop and Samten Choling Monastery are on the road which connects Darjeeling with Siliguri. Most of the times people come to these places in early morning after a visit to Tiger Hill. Supposedly Tiger hill offers great views of Kanchanjunga mountains during sunrise. We skipped tiger hill as we enjoyed such views from Pelling a day back.



After visiting the beautiful Japanese Peace Pagoda, we headed towards Batasia Toy Train Loop. Dali Monastery comes on the way but we planned to visit it on our return journey. Dali Monastery, Batasia Loop and Samten Choling Monastery are on the road which connects Darjeeling with Siliguri. Most of the times people come to these places in early morning after a visit to Tiger Hill. Supposedly Tiger hill offers great views of Kanchanjunga mountains during sunrise. We skipped tiger hill as we enjoyed such views from Pelling a day back.

So lets come back to the place we explored next - Batasia Toy Train Loop. There is an entry ticket of 20 rs per person here and you enter into a beautiful park with colourful flowers and lush green landscapes. This places has a loop of railway track. If you have ever seen beautiful photographs if toy trains, those must be shot at this place with beautiful backgrounds on a clear day. At most of these places you would find local dresses on rent to get clicked. Thats a common thing and you would find people enjoying in Nepali dresses as well. During our drive 2 coal engine trains crossed us but there was no train for next 45 minutes, when we were at Batasia Toy Train loop.

So lets come back to the place we explored next - Batasia Toy Train Loop. There is an entry ticket of 20 rs per person here and you enter into a beautiful park with colourful flowers and lush green landscapes. This places has a loop of railway track. If you have ever seen beautiful photographs if toy trains, those must be shot at this place with beautiful backgrounds on a clear day. At most of these places you would find local dresses on rent to get clicked. Thats a common thing and you would find people enjoying in Nepali dresses as well. During our drive 2 coal engine trains crossed us but there was no train for next 45 minutes, when we were at Batasia Toy Train loop.

After having a walk around this place we had quick snacks on one of the kiosks outside the Batasia Loop. Next place in mind was Samten Choling Monsatery, which is one of the oldest in this region. There was no one there when we reached. It was 3:30pm and we got to know that folks visit this place in morning, so we were happy :). Although this place can be skipped if you have been to other monasteries in north east part of India. Dali Monastery is pretty impressive.

After having a walk around this place we had quick snacks on one of the kiosks outside the Batasia Loop. Next place in mind was Samten Choling Monsatery, which is one of the oldest in this region. There was no one there when we reached. It was 3:30pm and we got to know that folks visit this place in morning, so we were happy :). Although this place can be skipped if you have been to other monasteries in north east part of India. Dali Monastery is pretty impressive.

Before heading back to Darjeeling Railway station, our halt was planned at Dali Monastery. A beautiful place and also has a cafeteria. We enjoyed chhole puri her and it was awesome. If you have tike to visit Dali Monastery, do visit their cafe and have something here.

Before heading back to Darjeeling Railway station, our halt was planned at Dali Monastery. A beautiful place and also has a cafeteria. We enjoyed chhole puri her and it was awesome. If you have tike to visit Dali Monastery, do visit their cafe and have something here.

What you read above is what we did in a day at Darjeeling and now I am sharing information on the basis of discussions I had with local folks including my host, taxi driver, tourism info centre and the cafe guy.


What you read above is what we did in a day at Darjeeling and now I am sharing information on the basis of discussions I had with local folks including my host, taxi driver, tourism info centre and the cafe guy.

Toy train ride is another interesting experience. I didn't have enough time at Darjeeling as I was visiting it for 2 nights after Sikkim trip. And I have experience of different toy trains on Kalka-Shimla route and Pathankot-Jogindernagar in Himachal Pradesh state of India.

Toy train ride is another interesting experience. I didn't have enough time at Darjeeling as I was visiting it for 2 nights after Sikkim trip. And I have experience of different toy trains on Kalka-Shimla route and Pathankot-Jogindernagar in Himachal Pradesh state of India.

Above photograph shows how the rail track is used during the free time. I loved the way these rail-tracks are part of everybody's life in Darjeeling and you can't ignore them :)  Places to eat and things to try near Mall Road in Darjeeling -

Above photograph shows how the rail track is used during the free time. I loved the way these rail-tracks are part of everybody's life in Darjeeling and you can't ignore them :)

Places to eat and things to try near Mall Road in Darjeeling -

Tea at Nathmull's on mall road best experience for me. They offer variety of green and black tea options. We chose Nathmull's Limited Edition first flush green tea, which is called as Ruby. It was unbelievably awesome. Two cups costed us 410 rs and the tea itself costs 12000 rs per kg. I dont know much about tea but this was the beat green tea I ever had. They make you smell the leaves after brewing the tea and that aroma was brilliant.


Tea at Nathmull's on mall road best experience for me. They offer variety of green and black tea options. We chose Nathmull's Limited Edition first flush green tea, which is called as Ruby. It was unbelievably awesome. Two cups costed us 410 rs and the tea itself costs 12000 rs per kg. I dont know much about tea but this was the beat green tea I ever had. They make you smell the leaves after brewing the tea and that aroma was brilliant.

Tea at Nathmull's on mall road best experience for me. They offer variety of green and black tea options. We chose Nathmull's Limited Edition first flush green tea, which is called as Ruby. It was unbelievably awesome. Two cups costed us 410 rs and the tea itself costs 12000 rs per kg. I dont know much about tea but this was the beat green tea I ever had. They make you smell the leaves after brewing the tea and that aroma was brilliant.

Glennary's for breakfast. We had breakfast at this place and again its very different from experience you get in other places at Darjeeling. It little expensive but not if you compare it with good cafes in main cities like Delhi. They serve variety of darjeeling tea and a huge spread of english breakfast. One has to try it once at least.


Glennary's for breakfast. We had breakfast at this place and again its very different from experience you get in other places at Darjeeling. It little expensive but not if you compare it with good cafes in main cities like Delhi. They serve variety of darjeeling tea and a huge spread of english breakfast. One has to try it once at least.

Glennary's for breakfast. We had breakfast at this place and again its very different from experience you get in other places at Darjeeling. It little expensive but not if you compare it with good cafes in main cities like Delhi. They serve variety of darjeeling tea and a huge spread of english breakfast. One has to try it once at least.

Golgappas at Darjeeling are pretty different. I think its not a big change for folks from West Bengal but certainly a lot of change for Delhites and people from other parts of the world.

Golgappas at Darjeeling are pretty different. I think its not a big change for folks from West Bengal but certainly a lot of change for Delhites and people from other parts of the world.

Cafe at Dali Monastery. Just try and you would know why I say this.

Cafe at Dali Monastery. Just try and you would know why I say this. 


If you are interested in birds, don't miss the walk on back side of the mall road which connects you to Raj Bhawan on right side and mall road of left. Early morning and evening time is best to spot these colourful wild wings around Darjeeling.   And now it's your time. If you have ever visited Darjeeling, please share your comments with places you would recommend or want to skip something from this list. If you are planning, please do write back your inputs after experiencing the place. If you are interested in birds, don't miss the walk on back side of the mall road which connects you to Raj Bhawan on right side and mall road of left. Early morning and evening time is best to spot these colourful wild wings around Darjeeling. 

And now it's your time. If you have ever visited Darjeeling, please share your comments with places you would recommend or want to skip something from this list. If you are planning, please do write back your inputs after experiencing the place. 

Comments

rupam sarma said…
very informative post. So beautiful photos.
Thanks a lot.