Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:21 PM
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will be in india in late may and want to go to darjeeling. has anyone had experience traveling there?
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 10:36 PM
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My daughter went there in October and loved it. We wanted to go back in December, but the logistics just didn't work for us.

You have to take the train to siliguri or fly into Badogra and then take have three ways to get there. The choices are a 3 hour shared jeep ride up the mountain (about $50), the toy train, or take a helicopter for about $250. She said she'd get a group together and do the helicopter if she had a choice as the train is really long and not that comfortable and the twisty, winding roads can be scary if you get an aggressive driver. Washouts are not uncommon in the rainy season too.

She said there were some great temples and museums and great places to hike. Very Tibetan looking from her photos.

If you have specific questions, I can email her.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 05:06 AM
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I went to Darjeeling on my first trip to India (1994-5). It was early April. I took the toy train. And it did take a long time - but it was a fabulous journey. Depends what you want - to get there as fast as possible - or to relish the getting there.

The train arrived several hours late. I remember it was just getting dark and it's a fair walk uphill from the train station to those areas in the town where you would go to find somewhere to stay. It wasn't easy to see through the thick mist - we were walking in the clouds.

Found a place to stay and loved my time there, including the power cuts! You can visit a Tibetan monastery close by; walk as much as you chose; and you must get up really early to watch the sunrise over Katchenjunga.

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Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 03:49 PM
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I spent a week in Darjeeling in January 1981 and loved it despite the rain and the intense cold at that time of year. Speaking to people who have been there in more recent times, I find that our experiences of the place are not that different, even though there are many more tourists and hotels now.

I travelled up by shared jeep. Be warned that local people are very prone to travel sickness. Almost as soon as you start the journey you are travelling through tea plantations. I returned by train and it is one of the great train journeys of the world. Sadly, I hear that the steam engine has been replaced by a diesel engine, even though you got covered in black smoke and soot in the ladies compartment, which was just behind the engine. If you decided against making the full journey by train, I would recommend taking the train down to Ghoom just for the experience of the Ghoom loop, where the line doubles back on itself and to visit the very old monastery at Ghoom.

There are lovely walks in and around Darjeeling. You can visit the Tibetan Refugee Centre or a tea plantation. Take tea at Glenaryís where I ate pretty much every evening because they had an open fire where I could thaw out.

Itís definitely high on my lists of places I want to return to although I think that I will be going a bit more upmarket than the youth hostel with its fantastic views at 5 rupees a night!

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Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 11:24 PM
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Just to let you know www.airdeccan.net has some good prices ex Kolkata & Delhi to Bagdogra (closest airport to Sikkim)for Darjeeling. We've just purchased & paid by visa on the net, for two return tkts from Delhi for US121 p.p. however you'll need to book asap to get the best fares! Happy travels!
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Old Mar 6th, 2006, 04:08 AM
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Darjeeling is a beautiful hill-station and May is ideal as climate will be good. However it has become very crowded and dirty.

I have found that the better alternate is Kurseong, which is on the way to Darjeeling (half-way between the airport and Darjeeling). This is a smaller town but with hill-walks, tea gardens and nature surrounding.
My friends who visited Darjeeling spent a night at a hotel Kurseong called Cochrane Place(www.imperialchai.com) which they loved and said served the best food they had eaten in India.

The Steam-engine hauled school train leaves Kurseong at 6:15 a.m. and it reached Darjeeling in 3 hours which is a good time to have breakfast.
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Old Mar 6th, 2006, 06:50 AM
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I also enjoyed Kurseong, and rode the steam train from there up to Darjeeling - although it took me four hours because of some unspecified mechanical problem. Kurseong is a school center, and flooded with kids in school uniforms every afternoon. I thought the experience of riding a train down the main street of a small Indian town was "priceless" but if you demand comfort (and frequent toilets!) it may not be for you. You do need to be flexible - the lower section of the tracks had been washed out when I was there and I had to ride a bus to Kurseong. Also, the mechanical problem kept the train from going back down in the evening.

In Darjeeling I stayed at the Windamere - http://www.windamerehotel.com/ - again, a wonderful experience, but it's not your standard international hotel. Do go - the views of the mountains are to die for!
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Old Mar 6th, 2006, 04:32 PM
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We enjoyed our trip to the North East in 2002. We flew via Calcutta to Baghdogra. From Baghdogra we took a helicopter to Gangtok - because it is subsidized it is probably the cheapest hel ride you can do int he world. We spent 2 nights in Gangtok at a run down but charming hotel called the Norkhill then went by road to Darjeeling. I preferred Gangtok in general to Darjeeling except for the hotel - we also stayed at the Windamere and it is one of my favourite hotels in the world. I plan to go back there some year to celebrate xmas as they have a special xmas new years week. I would highly reco staying at the Windamere and enjoying the hotel and hikes if you do go to Darjeeling - much better than the crowded town will be in May esp.
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