Ropeway in Darjeeling
Officially it is still known as Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car. At one time, the ropeway did run from its base at North Point in Darjeeling to Singla Bazar on the bank of river Ramman; but not anymore. It now runs only up to Tukvar, which also goes by the name Puttabong. Incidentally Puttabong too is a part of urban agglomeration of Darjeeling.
Rangeet Valley and the Rope-way:Now, one may ask, if the ropeway ran up to Singla Bazar in Ramman Valley why it was named Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car! The answer is simple. In spite of the facts that the ropeway provided views of both Ramman and Rangeet Valley and the last stoppage was located on the bank of River Ramman, the scenic beauty around river Little Rangeet is by far more beautiful.
The geographical features of the region:However, it will be more helpful if we take a look into the geographical features of the area first. The Singalila Mountain ridge in West Bengal runs from north to south separating the mountainous region of the state from other Himalayan ranges. Incidentally, two important peaks in this region are Sandakphu and Phalut. However, let us turn our attention to the valleys.
Two important rivers that have originated from this ridge are the Ramman and Little Rangeet. There is also a Greater Rangeet; which originates from Mount Kabru in Sikkim and flows down to meet river Tista near Melly in West Bengal. The Ramman and Little Rangeet flow down from their origin at the Singalila Ridge to meet the Greater Rangeet before it unites with River Tista.
Among them, little Rangeet flows through the lush green Bijanbari area. The river is full of fishes like trout while the valley is famous for its wildlife including birds and butterflies.
Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car
Let us go back to the ropeway now. Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway was first installed in 1968 by the Forest Department of West Bengal Government. The aim was to connect the tea gardens located in the valleys with Darjeeling town. At that time, there was hardly any roadway in that region and hence, the ropeway was born out of necessity. It was only later that it began to serve as tourist attraction.
In the initial stage, there were five stations in all. In between Darjeeling North Point (Singamari) and Singla Bazar in Ramman Valley, the cable cars stopped at Tukvar, Burnesbeg and Singla Tea Estate . The total distance between the two end stations was 8 Km and it took 45 minutes to cover it. One could get down at any point for a close look at the valleys and continue with the journey any time later.
The journey was indeed a memorable one. The mountain ridges covered by dense forests did present an awe-inspiring scene. Added to that, were the waterfalls, tea gardens as well as flowing rivers amid the green valleys. However, it did not last long; the operation had to be stopped because of a tragic accident and later re-opened with many safety measures.
Proper Precautions at the Darjeeling-Rangeet ValleyAll the necessary precautions have been taken. Devices such as limit switches, rope-catches and guards are now electronically operated. It has been made sure that if there is any flaw in the system, the entire service will be automatically halted. This system not only takes the edge off any human error that may occur anytime in future, but makes sure that tragedies such as the above do not ever take place.
Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car now operates only up to Tukvar valley. It takes about ten minutes to reach the valley from Darjeeling. Tourists can take a ride to Tukvar and come back in the same car. It will enable them to have a bird’s eye view of the region. Moreover, on a clear day, one can also have clearer view of the Kanchenjunga. One will definitely be mesmerized by what he/she is going to see.
Services at Darjeeling Rangeet Valley
Alternately, they can get down at the spot and enjoy a walk around the lush green tea gardens there. It will also give the tourists an opportunity to watch life at tea gardens from close quarters. Those who are interested in fauna and flora of the region will also find such a walk interesting. Indeed, those who want to know hills more intimately, will find the trip very much rewarding.
We have already mentioned that the Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car starts from North Point in Singlamari region of Darjeeling. To get there, it is best to take a shared taxi from Chowk Bazar. Depending upon the condition of the traffic, it will take about 15 minutes to reach the cable car station.
How to get to Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley
The Timings:Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car operates from 10 Am to 4:30 PM in summer. In winter it operates only up to 4 PM.
The service generally remains closed on the 15th of every month for carrying out maintenance work.