Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Travelog # 31 - Getting to Darjeeling

Getting to Darjeeling, and to Kalimpong, Gangtok and many other places in the North East of India..
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Bagdodara Airport is the gateway to many places in North East India including Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Gangtok, places we visited in the last few days (in Gangtok now). Bagdodara is about an hour hop from Kolkatta and is connected by Indian, Jet Airways and Air Decan. But, the connections from Chennai weren't that great and we had to languish in Kolkata for about 5 hours before catching our flight to Bagdodara.

Like few other airports in India, Bagdodara airport is also functioning out of an Airforce Station and the only connectivity seems to be to Kolkata. From here, we traveled by road to get to Darjeeling which is the fastest way to get there.

Train share the narrow roadways up the hill to Darjeeling
Narrow approach roads to Darjeeling
Darjeeling, the queen of Indian hills is less than 110 kms from the Bagdodara Airport, but it took us over 3 hours to get there. Its a shame that the only road connecting Darjeeling to plains is narrow and poorly maintained. On top of it, the narrow stretch is shared by the rail road. It requires special skills and nerves of steel to navigate through the highway and it is highly recommended that you do not attempt to drive to, or for that matter in Darjeeling.

Hill car plying infrequently to Darjeeling rom Siliguri..
If you have a time on hand and would like a leisurely ride up the hill, then train is an option. The lines were first laid by British and that's pretty much what you get even now. Darjeeling is connected to Siliguri by train and take over 8 hours to cover a distance of about 110 kms.

New Elgin Hotel, Darjeeling
New Elgin Hotel, Darjeeling
We stayed at New Elgin Hotel in Darjeeling. Touted as a heritage hotel, it does offer good views and ample car parking, a rarity in Darjeeling. Also, it is right in the center of Darjeeling and is very close to Chowrasta, the happening place. However, we weren't happy with the room we got. We got a rather small room for 4 of us and more than that it was smelly and squeaky.

More photos in flickr