The town of Siliguri is the most important
town in the Sikkim-Darjeeling-Dooars region. This is where
you are most likely to start your tour if you are travelling
to this region. Both the major railhead NJP Station as well
as the Bagdogra Airport are here. The town in itself is not
an attractive tourist destination, but it is the most important
and sensitive city in the entire Eastern Himalayas due to
its geographical location.
Siliguri is well connected with the rest
of the country by rail, air and road. Bagdogra
airport nearby is the major airport catering to North
Bengal and Sikkim region.
New Jalpaiguri rail station, the main railhead for the region
is just 8 km from town. It is perhaps the only station having
all three types of rail track network (broad gauge, meter
gauge and narrow gauge) and directly connects New Delhi, Kolkata,
Chennai, Mumbai and most other important cities of the country.
Just a century back Siliguri was a small
village inhabited by a few. The only importance of the town
was as the originating point for the train travelling to Darjeeling.
After Independence and division of the country, the small
town found its geographical position unique. That it is located
at an area commonly referred to as the “Chickens neck” and
it become almost impossible to reach the North-East without
travelling through this town. The map below explains this,
as can be seen easily the 10 km wide Siliguri corridor is
the only way to connect North East India with the rest of
As a result of its unique geographical location
coupled with other factors such as migration and immigration,
lack of job opportunity in the hills etc. lead to high growth
in Siliguri and within few decades after India’s Independence,
the town became one of the most important cities in the North
East India. Totay the city has become a modern cosmopolitan
and is known for three 'T's - Tea, Timber and Tourism.
The main attraction of Siliguri for the
traveller used to be the Hong Kong Market. The market was
known to sale foreign goods mostly brought in through illegal
channels. As Indian economy opened up and foreign goods became
available through legal channels, the Hong Kong market also
reinvented itself and today it is known as the market for
electronic goods. The market remains quite popular with locals
as well as with tourists.
Other attractions for tourists in the city
include its shopping malls, temples, parks etc. the town has
several shopping malls which are some of the largest and the
best in North East India. The shopping malls in Siliguri include
Cosmos shopping mall, Orbit Mall, Bishal Megamart, Kolkata
Bazar and many others. The ISCON temple is the largest temple
in the area and is a tourist attraction.
Siliguri is the gateway to 8 north-eastern
states and also Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Tibet. With
the Balason and Mahananda rivers flowing through it, the town
is not devoid of natural beauty. The distant view of Kanchenjunga
on clear day is very attractive. The forest-covered foothills
also present a panoramic sight. The myriad flora in the Terai
to the north and the agricultural flats, along with teagardens
to the south combine to form beautiful vistas, uncommon around
most other cities of India. Half an hours drive in any direction
from Siliguri will lead you to the natural environ, be it
hills, forests or teagardens.
Gajoldoba on Tista Barrage: An hour's
drive from Siliguri through the Baikunthapur forests will
take you to Gajoldoba (25 km) an ideal place for bird watchers.
The place has been a boon to the migratory
water fouls after a dam was constructed for irrigational purposes
on river Tista.The reservoir, surrounded by dense forests
of Baikunthapur, invites a large collection of water birds
from Ladakh and Central Asia. Spend some leisurely hours on
the spur with a binocular and watch the Brahmini ducks, Bar
headed goose, Poachards, Pintails, Shovlers, mallards, black
Ibis, and many species of storks, cormorants and ducks.
Fulbari barrage: 15 km away on Siliguri-Jalpaiguri
highway is lesser-known artificial water body - Fulbari. Here
Mahananda, the most important river of Siliguri forms a huge
marshy land which provides ideal nestling place for migratory
water fouls like Rudy shell, Mallard, open bull stork and
much more. Best time to visit the place is December - February.
Forest Recreation Center: Just 15 minutes drive on NH31
towards Gangtok lies a recently established eco-tourism center
- Shorea. The name has been derived from the botanical name
of Sal tree 'Shorea Rubusta' as the place is situated amidst
the dense high sal forests of Baikunthapur division of Mahananda
Wild Life Sanctuary. A unique tree top restaurant is built
by the forest department with help of the forest villagers
to provide a nice cool environment and delicious food to the
Recreation Center (Madhuban):
A popular picnic spot and lover'spoint, Madhuban is 15 km
north on the way to Mirik-Siliguri
highway. A park is created on the natural environment of Mahananda
wild life sanctuary. A large number of city dwellers visit
the park, which also holds a small zoo inside.
Sevoke, Kalijhora, Mongpong: A popular
day out for tourists in Siliguri combines Sevok, Kalijhora
and Mongpong. The places
are within 8-10 km from one another and is about within 30
km from the city. Situated on the foothills of Kalimpong
and surrounded by forested hills and vast river basin, all
the three places provide a much desired break from the chaotic
urban life. The coronation bridge of Sevoke, built by the
British before independence, is a piece of unique architecture.
The sevoke kali temple, placed on top of a steep rock, provides
a grant bird eye view of Tista. Surrounded by Sal and Teak
forests, the Mongpong forest rest house presents a great panoramic
view of Tista valley and Mahananda forests.
Rohini : 25 kms on the way
to Mirik, Rohini is another attractive tourist spot. There
is a tourist accommodation at Rohini where tourists can spend
a night among the nature. More
Dudhia : A common tourist
spot on the Siliguri-Mirik highway. more
Panighata and lohagarh: About 25 km from the town,
both places are located on the bank of river Mechi on the
Indo-Nepal border. A nice camping place, with beautiful landscape
combining forests, low hills, rivers and teagardens. Dhulabari,
a famous foreign goods market in Nepal, is only half an hour
drive from here.