About the town
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 traveling 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 traveling to Darjeeling. After Independence and division of the country, the small town found its geographical position unique. That it is located in an area commonly referred to as the “Chickens neck” and it becomes almost impossible to reach the North-East without traveling 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 the country.
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 North East India. Today 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 traveler used to be the Hong Kong Market. The market was known to sell foreign goods mostly brought in through illegal channels. As the 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, Vishal 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 a 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 tea gardens 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 tea gardens.
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, Shovelers, 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 an ideal nesting place for migratory water fouls like Rudy shell, Mallard, open bull stork and much more. Best time to visit the place is December - February.
Shorea 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 treetop restaurant is built by the forest department with help of the forest villagers to provide a nice cool environment and delicious food to the daily visitors.
Recreation Center (Madhuban): A popular picnic spot and lovers point, Madhuban is 15 km north on the way to Mirik-Siliguri highway. A park is created on the natural environment of Mahananda wildlife 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 are 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 km 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 nature. More
Dudhia: A common tourist spot on the Siliguri-Mirik highway.
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 tea gardens. Dhulabari, a famous foreign goods market in Nepal, is only half an hour drive from here.