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Travel in India

How to Travel to Darjeeling, India
By:William Jackson

Few places on the planet are quite as unique as the foothills of the Himalayas. Not only are they the prelude to the world's tallest mountains, but they are also a cultural crossroads of Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and animist religions, of Indian, Pakistani, Nepali, Tibetan, Bhutanese and Chinese nations, of hill tribesmen and trekkers and scholars and farmers--to name a few. One "hill station" in the Indian Himalayan foothills is Darjeeling, perched at an elevation of 7,000 feet and positioned less than 80 miles from Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal--a true crossroads. Here's how to get there.

Arrive in New Delhi, India. Delhi is home to the region's largest international airport. Spend the night here (most likely you've arrived in the middle of the night anyway), as you've got a long day ahead.

Catch a plane to Siliguri. The plane option typically costs around $250 and takes about 4 hours before landing just outside of Siliguri in a town called Bagh Dogra. You can purchase your tickets online (see Additional Resources) or at the Delhi domestic airport next to the international airport at which you landed.

Catch a train. The train option takes about 20 hours and costs anywhere between several dollars and $100 (depending on the type of seat you purchase) but takes you straight to Siliguri. You can buy train tickets at the central train station in Delhi; any cab driver can take you there.

Find a shared jeep bound for Darjeeling. If you traveled by plane to Bagh Dogra, shared jeeps and taxis are waiting outside of the arrival terminal. Typically these costs you between 1,000 and 2,000 rupees to get you all the way to your destination. If you traveled by train to Siliguri, find a taxi or a jeep outside of the train station. The price will be about the same or perhaps a few hundred rupees less.

Drive to Darjeeling. This generally takes between three and four hours. You'll head across the open plain, into the jungle and up the windy roads that climb the mountains and descend the valleys until you reach Darjeeling. It's quite a ride!

Enjoy Darjeeling! Don't miss out on the Tibetan Refugee Center, peek into the Manjushree Center of Tibetan Culture, take a stroll around the Chowrasta, gaze at the world's third-highest peak in the distance (Kanchenjunga) and visit the Hindu temple (canopied by Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags) on Observatory Hill.

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