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It is a fact that taxi services in Darjeeling provide the very foundation on which its transport system is running. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is more of a tourist attraction than an effective mode of transport. Bus services in Darjeeling cover mainly the Darjeeling-Siliguri route. A few buses also ply on the Darjeeling-Mirik and Darjeeling-Bijanbari route. However, the buses in these routes are few and far between. Most other parts of the hill district are connected solely by taxi services. Let us therefore, look into the types of taxis available and services offered by them.
Different Types of Taxis in Darjeeling
Taxi services in Darjeeling can be categorized into three classes – pre-paid, post-paid and share taxis. As in every other city, under prepaid services, there is no monetary transaction between the passenger and taxi owner/driver. The passengers are required to pay the full amount at the pre-paid taxi booth at the starting point. In return, they are provided with a money slip. On reaching the destination, the passenger is required to hand over the slip to the taxi driver. There is no scope for over-pricing or bargaining.
Contrarily, the shared taxis are cheapest mode of transport. On the con side, they are always jammed packed with passengers; consequently, they are the least comfortable mode of transport. Then again, there are the post paid reserved taxis. They are comfortable, but the rates vary depending upon seasons, availability of taxis and inflow of tourists. Yet, for an average traveler, they are the most comfortable mode of travel. What is more, while the shared taxis ply on fixed routes, the reserved taxis are willing to cover even the most offbeat places.
Another important point to note is that taxis are essentially of three different makes. There are small cars such as Marutis and Santros as well as bigger ones such as Scorpios and Tata Sumo while the third variety consists of Jeeps and Landrovers. Indeed, these World War II relics are still found to be ferrying passengers to and fro Darjeeling.
Taxi Services from Bagdogra Airport to Darjeeling
There is no shared taxi service from Bagdogra airport to Darjeeling. As already indicated, taxi fares in the post paid reserved section generally varies from season to season. It all depends upon the demand for the service. When the demand is higher the fare naturally goes up. However, the rate chart of the pre paid section can be an indication of the prevailing rates. For a small car, one may expect to pay a little above Rs. 2000. For bigger cars, the amount will naturally increase. Moreover, if you are interested in going via Mirik, the rates will naturally be higher.
Taxi Services from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling
From New Jalpaiguri railway station, one can get pre paid, post paid as well as shared taxis up to Darjeeling. The fare chart for both post-paid and pre-paid taxis is almost identical to the Bagdogra – Darjeeling route. The shared taxis are naturally much cheaper. It cost around Rs. 160 to reach Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling from NJP station. Some taxis may also take you to Gandhi Road Taxi Stand in the upper echelon of the town.
Taxi Services from Siliguri to Darjeeling
Taxi services to Darjeeling are also available from Siliguri. The taxi stand is located next to Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus on the Hill Cart Road. To reach Darjeeling at a reasonable rate one can avail the service of shared taxis from here. In general, each seat costs around Rs. 130. Though the rate is higher than bus fare, it turns out to be far cheaper when compared with post paid or pre paid taxis.
Shared Taxi Services in Darjeeling
Shared taxis can be cheap, but that comes in lieu of passenger comfort. Usually a jeep carries ten or more people per trip and the situation becomes worse when one has to travel for three to four hours at a stretch. Moreover, they will not start unless all those ten seats are filled. Therefore, one may have to wait a while before the taxis start. However, the seats generally fill up pretty fast and so this is not at all big issue.
At the same time, one may solve the other problem simply by buying extra seats. If you buy all seats in the row, you will be able to travel more comfortably and yet the journey will cost much less than what a full taxi will.
Taxi Services from Darjeeling to Kalimpong
To reach Kalimpong from Darjeeling one has to go via Teesta Bazar. It takes about two and half hours to cover this distance. To avail shared taxi, one has to go down to Chowk Bazar. The service, which costs around Rs 75 per seat, is available from eight in the morning to two o’clock in the evening. Here too, each taxi carries around ten passengers and so to buy comfort one may purchase more than one seat. For a more comfortable journey one can avail the services of reserved taxis. In such a case, it may cost something in-between Rs 1500 to Rs 2000.
Taxi Service from Darjeeling to Gangtok
It takes around four hours to reach Gangtok. Shared taxi services from Chowk Bazar Taxi Stand are available from 8 Am to 2 Pm. It cost around Rs 175 per seat. One can also avail the service of reserved taxis for Rs. 2500 or more.
Taxi Service from Darjeeling to Kurseong
Taxi fare to Kurseong costs around Rs 50 per seat. One can also reserve a whole taxi for around Rs. 1000. It generally takes around one and half an hour to reach Kurseong by road.
Taxi Service from Darjeeling to Mirik
Shared taxi services to Mirik are available for Rs 100 per seat. The service starts from eight o’clock in the morning. Taxis can also be reserved for a day trip to Mirik for Rs 2000. The Pashupatinath Market at Nepal border is generally covered by this trip.
Taxi Service from Darjeeling to Manebhanjang
Shared taxis to Manebhanjang costs around Rs. 50 per seat while reserved taxi services can be availed at Rs 1000 for a one way trip.
Taxi Rates in Darjeeling
It is to be noted that the above mentioned rates are only indicative. As has been already mentioned, they generally vary from season to season as well as on the influx of tourists. Ever rising cost of fuel is also another factor. Therefore, it is best to verify the rates before embarking on a journey. Moreover, reputed travel agents also offer this service. Their rates are generally higher; but on the pro side, the vehicles supplied by them are generally well maintained.a