Delhi to Darjeeling by way air or rail (Bagdogra or New Jalpaiguri)
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Dec 5, 2012 5:58 AM Last Post By: anthonyjohnson
Dec 4, 2012 6:26 PM
My question is what is the upside of the 20-25 hr train ride to New Jalpaiguri? We are a couple of adequate means that believe that getting somewhere is a lot of the fun. Therefor, we feel that a 24hr train ride to decompress after the cities of Agra, Delhi and Jaipur might be a welcome respite. However, we are also practical and being as how the pricing that we have calculated thus far puts the cost difference at $150/each to fly and $95/each by train, we have considered just getting on with it. We realize that a better use of time might be to fly to Bagdogra and then take the Toy Train to Darjeeling, if we are dead set on scenic rail travel. The financial difference is not an issue and the time on the train isn't a deal breaker, provided there's something to look when it's light out (yes we realize most commonly you board the train at night and there would have 12 hours of darkness).
What is the train ride from Delhi to Jalpaiguri like? Is it scenic or in some way endemic of an India we wouldn't see any other way? Is it one train transfer after another? Are the first class cars (dining and sleeping) relaxing or confined (by rail standards)?
Dec 4, 2012 9:19 PM
The Toy Train in Darjeeling wasn't operating when I was there a couple of years ago: part of the line was out of operation due to a mud slide, and there was a strike of public servants on what was left of the line. I'm not sure what the situation at the moment is, but I think these problems are fairly common, so that this train isn't something you can rely on.
The trains in India are an iconic part of that country. There is a whole culture and way of life on the trains that forms a particular aspect of India. Personally, I find train rides in India fascinating. The scenery's interesting enough - it's fairly flat all the way from Delhi to NJP, but there are plenty of rivers and villages and cows and shrines and mayhem going on out the window to keep you occupied. Indian trains are great places for bird watching - you can often see Sarus Cranes while staring out the window of the trains passing through Uttar Pradesh. If the idea of a 24 hour train ride appeals to you, you'll probably enjoy one through India.
To be able to relax, you're going to need to be in the AC sleeper classes. I've never personally traveled in any of these classes; I imagine you'll miss out on a lot of the mayhem which makes travel in the non-AC classes rather interesting, but you'll also probably be able to sleep. There should be direct trains from Delhi to NJP (New Jailpaguri), meaning you shouldn't have to change unless you want to. There are plenty of interesting places along the way, in case you wanted to break up the trip.
Dec 4, 2012 10:01 PM
Dec 5, 2012 1:08 AM
Dec 5, 2012 5:23 AM
4http://dhr.net.in/dhr-time-table-n-services.html will give you the options available if full services resume. You could opt for the joy ride from Darjeeling for 2 hours if you do not want the full journey. and this has been functioning.
Since your time is limited,probably better to spend more time around the Darjeeling area.and fly
Dec 5, 2012 5:58 AM
As a previous poster states - train rides are a fascinating part of the Indian experience
I took the Delhi to NJP train two years ago. That was a great trrip - I ended up in a 2nd class AC compartment with 2 Bhutanese buddhist monks and a Bhutanese consulate employee on their way home for a holiday. It was great having the time to chat and wouldn't have happened on a plane.
I've travelled in first, second and third AC classes previously. 2AC and 3AC are fine. 2AC is more comfortable (4 rather than 6 people). First is a bit expensive if the other AC classes are available. Also first is comprised of closed compartments so the socialising aspect is reduced. Have a look at indiamike.com regarding the various classes if you haven't travelled AC previously. I'd also recommend trying to get on a Rajdhani train as these are faster and catered (food included in the ticket price). I just checked on cleartrip.com and a 2AC ticket on the 10:45 Dbrt Rajdhani train from Delhi to NJP is US$45. Great value.
If you do decide to take the train, you'll probably have difficulty booking tickets outside of India. You could try cleartrip.com when the tickets go on sale - about 90 days in advance (best check up as I'm not too sure). But the following should work - on your arrival in Delhi go to the tourist booking agency in New Delhi train station (upstairs, on the left hand side of the station - I've been there three times in the last two months) and try to get a tourist quota ticket. I get my tickets in Delhi and it's always been straightforward. (As long as you aren't travelling around Diwali.) If you get your tickets a week in advance then you should be fine, The booking office is open 8am - 8pm (2pm on Sundays) and it's best to go as early as possible as it can take a few hours later in the day.
In fact, I'm in Hampi and am travelling to Panaji in Goa tomorrow morning on a ticket I bought in Bangalore last week so the tourist quota method has worked well for me.
I'd recommend getting a train to NJP and attempting to get the toy train up to Darjeeling. In any case, toy train or not, Darjeeling is a great place and even the jeep trip is ace albeit a little squashed. :-)
Hope this helps and have a good trip.
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