Before we start our discourse on bus services in Darjeeling area we must clarify certain points. Although there is the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connecting New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling, for all practical purpose, the latter is the nearest railhead for the hill station. It is not only the destination for important trains such as Darjeeling Mail and Kanchenjunga Express, all trains heading towards the North East passes through this railway junction.
Similarly, the nearest airport is located at Bagdogra. Both these places are connected to Darjeeling through prepaid, post paid and shared taxis. However, if you want to avail bus services to Darjeeling, you will have to go to Siliguri, which is located 8 Km away from NJP and sixteen kilo meters away from Bagdogra.
To Darjeeling from Siliguri
Siliguri, located on NH 31, is a very important city in this region. Buses from different parts of the country ply to and from Siliguri on regular basis. Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal, too is connected to this town by regular bus services. All these buses terminate at Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus on Hill Cart Road. Buses for Darjeeling too start from here and hence those who arrive at Siliguri by bus can avail buses for Darjeeling from the same terminus. Since the Hill Cart Road is temporarily closed to traffic, buses now ply through the Rohini Road and each ticket cost Rs.60. Travel time is between three hours and three and half. One can also avail bus services via Mirik.
From Darjeeling to Siliguri
In Darjeeling, the bus terminus is located at Chowkbazar. Buses to different destination ply from this bus terminus. Therefore, visitors wanting to travel by bus on their return journey must come here for advance booking. Tickets can be bought from the ground floor counter at the Old Super Market Complex. Travel agents such as Kasturi Tours and Travels, Diamond Treks Tours and Travels (both located at Old Super Market Complex) and Samsara Tours Travels and Treks (located on Laden La Road) also arrange for bus tickets for Siliguri-Kolkata stretch.
From Darjeeling to Mirik
West Bengal State Transport Corporation operates a large fleet of comfortable buses to and from Darjeeling. Other than that, buses are also run by private agencies. These agencies not only ply buses from Darjeeling to Siliguri, but also run regular bus service to Mirik and Bijanbari. The bus for Mirik generally starts at 8 o’clock in the morning from Darjeeling Chowk Bazar bus terminus and leaves Mirik at 2 PM. Each ticket cost Rs. 40 and the journey takes around three hours. Other than that one can also shared jeeps; however, in such a case the cost will be slightly more.
From Darjeeling to Bijanbari
From Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling buses leave for Bijanbari twice a day. One starts at eight in the morning and the other at 10 AM. Buses leave Bijanbari for Darjeeling at 12 noon and 2 PM respectively. It takes around two and half hours complete one way journey.
Bus Services versus Taxis
Earlier buses also plied between Darjeeling and Kalimpong. However, that has been stopped due to various reasons. Right now, in Darjeeling and surrounding area taxis and shared jeeps are the best mode of travel. They have penetrated far flung areas and offer more frequent services. On the con side, the rates vary according to season and also on the influx of tourists. Contrarily, bus services in Darjeeling offer a more reliable rate structure and that is one reason why many prefer to avail their services.