The North Frontier Railway will operate a tri-weekly train service to the Queen Of The Hills from the plains
Every traveller in India loves the idea of the Queen of the Hills –Darjeeling – located at an average elevation of 2,045 metres in the Eastern Himalayas. There is something infinitely attractive about this hill station in West Bengal with its bracing weather, beautiful landscapes and interesting food.
Now there is a new way to get up to Darjeeling from the plains. The North Frontier Railway (NFR) is operating an air-conditioned passenger train between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling thrice a week. This train comes with the added draw of a vistadome coach and a restaurant car to ensure that passengers will enjoy stunning views and good food on their meandering 88-kilometre journey up to the hill station. The air-conditioned vistadome coach has 15 seats and the restaurant car, which doubles as the power car, will be able to accommodate eight diners at a time.
A senior official of the NFR revealed that the new train is expected to boost tourism in the hills especially in the Diwali period.
The train was flagged off by Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs John Barla in the presence of the NFR General Manager Anshul Gupta and other senior officials.
Train No. 52539 will run from New Jalpaiguri at 10 am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays to reach Darjeeling at 6.30 pm, while Train No. 52538 will start from Darjeeling at 9.10 am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays to reach New Jalpaiguri at 4.35 pm.
On both journeys, it will halt at Siliguri Junction, Sukna, Rongtong, Tindharia, Gayabari, Mahanadi, Kurseong, Tung, Sonada and Ghum stations.
Temporarily suspended after a landslide between Rongton and Tindharia, the toy train service (above) between Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri has also been restored.
Things To Do In Darjeeling
The bracing mountain air is its main draw, but the Queen of the Hills has much else to do as well. Don’t miss a chance to catch the sunrise from Tiger Hill, and to visit a tea plantation. Make the time to visit a few monasteries – the Bhutia Busty Gompa houses the original copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead (though you need prior permission to visit), and the Yiga Choling Gompa cocoons a five-metre-high statue of the Maitreyi Buddha. Darjeeling Zoo - officially called Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park - is home to rare Himalayan fauna such as red pandas and snow leopards and well worth a stroll through, especially if you are travelling with children, while adventurers might enjoy a visit to the prestigious Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, which offers mountaineering courses, as well as adventure activities such as trekking, camping and rock-climbing. You can also go white-water rafting on the Teesta and Rangeet Rivers between September and November, when the rapids are at their best.
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