Transport in Darjeeling
Transport inside Darjeeling town mostly consists of jeeps and two wheelers. Yet, it must be admitted that walking is still the best mode of commuting inside the town; there is little scope for transport within the city limits. At the same time, transport accounts for a major share in business and economy in Darjeeling. It is one of the pillars on which the other two Ts - namely tea and tourism stand. Therefore, it is important that we go into the subject as thoroughly as possible.
We must remember that proper system of transportation is not only important for conveying tourists, but also for movement of goods to and from the plains. Indeed, Darjeeling produces finest tea, but to get proper value, it has to be transported to its market. What is more, since there is very little agricultural land in the surrounding hills every essential commodity has to be brought from the plains. Hence, it is important that the region must have good transport system in place.
Roads that connect Darjeeling to other places:Although NH 55, otherwise known as the Hill Cart Road, is the only road to reach Darjeeling, it is actually connected in the midway by other roads. For example, if you are coming from New Jalpaiguri, which is the nearest rail-head or Bagdogra, which is the nearest airport, you have four options in front of you. Of course, in all these cases you will first have to come to Siliguri, which is the biggest town in the area and is located right in the Chicken Neck. From there, you can take any of the following roads-
- The Hill Cart Road, also known as NH 55, begins at Siliguri and ends at Darjeeling.. Some important townships located on the way are Sukhna, Tindharia, Mahanadi, Gayabari, Kurseong, Sonada , Ghum etc. It is the longest route, but the gradation is very gentle and hence preferred by many
- The Pankhabari Road starts from Pankhabari and ends at Kurseong near Darjeeling. To reach Darjeeling one has to take up Hill Cart Road from here. The route is shorter, but it is very steep and should be avoided as far as possible.
- Rohini Road, which goes via Rohini Tea Gardens, also ends at Kurseong. It is also shorter than Hill Cart Road and at the same time, the gradation is gentler than that of the Pankhabari Road. Hence, it is preferred by many.
- Peshok Road starts from Teesta Bazar and meets the Hill Cart Road near Ghum. However, this road is mostly used for commuting to and from Kalimpong or Gangtok.
Darjeeling Himalayan RailwayDarjeeling Himalayan Railway starts from New Jalpiaguri and ends at Darjeeling. It is a narrow gauge line running along the Hill Cart Road all the way to Darjeeling. Some important stations on the way are Siliguri town, Siliguri Junction, Sukhna, Rongton, Tindharia, Gayabari, Mahanadi, Kurseong, Tung, Sonada and Ghum.
However, today the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has lost its commercial utility. Faster vehicular traffic has made journey by DHR a mere waste of time. Those who undertake the journey by train do so more for pleasure than out of compulsion. This railway line involving several loops and reverses offers not only great visual feast, but also a certain thrill that no other mode of transport can proffer. At the same time, the railway has been awarded heritage tag by United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization and hence this is an added attraction for the tourists visiting Darjeeling.
Airways in Darjeeling
Unfortunately there is no direct air service to Darjeeling. The nearest airport Bagdogra is about 88 Km away from Darjeeling town. It takes around three to three and half hours to cover this distance by car. There is also a helipad near Lebong. However, that is not open to general public under normal circumstances.
Ropeway in DarjeelingThe ropeway in Darjeeling is known as Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Passenger Cable Car. Since there was hardly any road to connect the tea gardens with Darjeeling town, the ropeway was born out of necessity.
However, with emergence of road, the service has more or less become redundant; now it mostly ferries tourists desiring to get a firsthand knowledge of the terrain.
Earlier, it covered a larger area. However, after an accident in 2003, it now offers services only up to Tukvar Tea Estate. Read More Here.