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24 May 2015

Darjeeling Trip, India

India  [印度] • 24 MAY 2015
Vacation in Darjeeling, have you ever thought of that?  
There is no airport at Darjeeling or Sikkim. The nearest airport is in Bagdogra. From Bagdogra Airport the distance to Darjeeling is 94kms and it takes about three and half hours time to reach by road. So if you are planning a flight for Darjeeling or Sikkim, you will need to come to Bagdogra and then take a road transport. There are several regular flights to Bagdogra from all over India including low cost airlines. If you are planning a short visit to the hill town, the flight can save you a lot of precious time over other modes of travel. 

Below are thecurrent flights to Bagdogra from major cities of India like Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, etc. Do take an early day flight so that you can reach your hotel before dark. Remember it takes a while to drive up the mountain roads to reach  Darjeeling. A day trip lets you enjoy the great mountain views and village life on the way. Secondly, as the roads are narrow, steep and winding in some parts between Bagdogra and Darjeeling, driving after dark is not advisable.

Flights from Kolkata to Bagdogra and Return 
Non-stop flights from Kolkata to Bagdogra take about 1 hour of flying time. The following are direct flights from Kolkata to Bagdogra. 

Air India (Tue, Wed, Thu, Sat) 
Leaves Kolkata at 1:40pm 
Arrives Bagdogra at 2:40pm 
Return flight leaving Bagdogra at 3:15pm, arriving Kolkata at 4:10pm 

Jet Airways Connect (Daily Flight) 
Leaves Kolkata at 12:25pm 
Arrives Bagdogra at 1:30pm 
Return flight leaving Bagdogra at 2:15pm, arriving Kolkata at 3:15pm 

Jet Lite (Daily Flight) 
Leaves Kolkata at 12:25pm 
Arrives Bagdogra at 1:30pm 
Return flight leaving Bagdogra at 2:15pm, arriving Kolkata at 3:15pm 

Kingfisher (Sun, Mon, Wed, Fri)  X No longer in operation 
Leaves Kolkata at 10:40am 
Arrives Bagdogra at 12:15pm 
Return flight leaving Bagdogra at 12:45pm, arriving Kolkata at 2:15pm 

Note: This is a very small plane. Unless you carry a small handbag, 
that too needs to be checked in. It takes 1hour 35mins of flying time. 

SpiceJet (Daily Flight) 
Leaves Kolkata at 1:55pm 
Arrives Bagdogra at 2:55pm 
Return flight leaving Bagdogra at 3:25pm, arriving Kolkata at 4:25pm 

Flights from Delhi to Bagdogra and Return 
A direct flight from Delhi to Bagdogra takes little over 2 hours of flying time. All the following are direct flights between Bagdogra from Delhi (unless otherwise mentioned explicitly) 

Air India (Daily Flight) 
Leaves Delhi at 7:05am 
Arrives Bagdogra at 9:05am 
Return flight leaving Bagdogra at 9:45am, arriving New Delhi at 11:55am 

Go Air (On Wednesdays only) 
Leaves Delhi at 10:35am 
Arrives Bagdogra at 1pm 
Return flight leaving Bagdogra at 2:40pm, arriving New Delhi at 5:00pm 

Jet Airways Connect (Daily Flight) 
Leaves Delhi at 10:40am 
Arrives Bagdogra at 12:50pm 
Return flight leaving Bagdogra at 1:25pm, arriving New Delhi at 3:35pm 

Jet Lite (Daily Flight) 
Leaves Delhi at 10:40am 
Arrives Bagdogra at 12:50pm 
Return flight leaving Bagdogra at 1:25pm, arriving New Delhi at 3:35pm 

SpiceJet (Daily Flight) 
Leaves Delhi at 11:15am 
Arrives Bagdogra at 1:25pm 
1. Flight leaving Bagdogra at 10:40am, arriving New Delhi at 12:40pm 
2. Flight leaving Bagdogra at 1:55pm, arriving New Delhi at 5:50pm via Guwahati 

For tourists, there are two best seasons to visit Darjeeling town, one during the Spring which is short lived from March to April, and the other during Autumn (September to November). These are the times when the temperature is pleasantly cool and the sky is usually clear.  

The Summer is short from May up to June. By June the Monsoon starts and usually lasts through August. It can sometimes stretch even up to October. The winter is from December until February. Winter in Darjeeling can be very cold after December. 

It's difficult to predict and rely on Darjeeling's weather. Although you may see a perfectly settled and beautiful weather at one instance, soon cloud or fog can rise from the deep humid valleys and put a white blanket all around. Sometimes you can see flakes of cloud in the sky above you and at the same time some below you at the valley. 

Weather conditions in Darjeeling hill town do not follow the typical temperate climate of the plains. In fact it varies quite widely across the district of Darjeeling. While I shall be focussing here mainly on the weather of Darjeeling hill town, I shall also draw reference to other areas within the district like Kalimpong and Terai (Siliguri/Dooars area), and even Gangtok located in the neighboring state of Sikkim. You can accordingly work out your travel plans in the region. 

Darjeeling hill town is located at the northern part of West Bengal at an altitude of 6,710 ft. There is no airport or a regular broad gauge railway station in Darjeeling town itself. If you are visiting from other parts of India, you will first need to reach either New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri or Bagdogra, and then approach Darjeeling. 

While Siliguri is the main town close to Darjeeling, New Jalpaiguri (NJP) is actually the nearest major railway junction, and Bagdogra is where the nearest airport is located. All these three townships are located at the lower plains of Darjeeling. So once you reach one of these three places, you will travel along flat land for a while after which the uphill journey begins. And depending on the place you arrive, you will get ample transport options for Darjeeling, including private & shared taxis, buses and even the famous toy train operated by Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. 

Darjeeling town from a distance 

Here are your options for reaching Darjeeling from other parts of India.  

  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 along the main highway NH-55 (also known as Hill Cart Road). Few long distance trains pass through Siliguri as well. You will also get plenty of shared jeeps, taxis and buses at Siliguri. 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 about 3.5 hours to reach Darjeeling from Bagdogra airport. 
  3. There are regular buses including Rocket and Volvo services from Kolkata (Calcutta) to 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. Siliguri to Darjeeling is 80kms. 
Bulk of the tourists come to Darjeeling from Kolkata because of location proximity. Other than many short flights, even trains from Kolkata are quite convenient and take about 12 hours to reach NJP. Some trains like Darjeeling Mail offers a convenient overnight journey. There are also regular flights and buses from Kolkata.  

Druk Thupten Sangag Choling Monastery is a popular monastery located in Darjeeling. Locally known as Dali Monastery or Dali Gomba, this monastery is the headquarters of Drukpa Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Built across many floors, this monastery is known for its architecture and has a beautiful facade. The monastery has a collection of colorful bas reliefs, depicting various animals, and murals, representing guardian kings and Guru Rinpoches, that adorn the inner and outer walls. 

The sole aim of this monastery is to preserve the Tibetan culture and its traditions. 
The monastery was inaugurated by HH Dalai Lama in 1993. Regardless of the religion the monastery is open to all.

Though the monastery is open from morning till evening, the best time to visit the temple is during the morning and afternoon prayers from 5.00 am to 6.30 am and 5.00 pm to 6.30 pm. The deep throated chants by the monks add to the ambience of this beautiful monastery.

As the place is a tourist hotspot, shared taxis are available to this place. The weather in Darjeeling is pleasant throughout the year.
Other tourist attractions nearby the Druk Thupten Sangag Choling Monastery include Tharpa Choling Monastery, Lepcha Museum and St. Theresa church.

We were lucky enough to have a beautiful clear morning, watching the sunrise reflecting off the Himalayas is an experience you will never forget!

Darjeeling, a gem of a place which is known for its youthful vibe with modern as well as colonial charm. Darjeeling is a travellers delight and is frequented by tourists year after year. Apart from the pleasant weather and scenic beauty, there is a lot to see and do in Darjeeling. 

Articles credited to Darjeeling Tourism and HolidayIQ
Photos credited to Kit 
Photos cross-process in photoshop by me


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