6 Best Hill Stations Near Kolkata, India: A Helpful Guide

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If you’re looking for a change of scenery – or want to escape the summer heat and humidity – you should check out some of the best hill stations near Kolkata.

These stunning places offer incredible scenery, cool and clean air, and plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy. The diverse range of natural beauty on offer in North-East India is simply out of this world. 

From towering snow-capped mountains with crystal clear rivers and waterfalls, to lush green tea plantations and temperate rainforests, you’ll find all this here and much more.

trekking-in-sikkim-horses-carrying-luggage-through-the-mountains

In this blog post, I will provide a detailed guide on some of the best hill stations to visit near Kolkata, what to see and do in each place, and how to get there.

Most of these hill stations are located in the state of West Bengal. A couple are slightly further afield, though are still fairly straightforward to reach. All would make a perfect side trip, whether you live in Kolkata or are simply passing through.

Get ready to be blown away by some of these amazing places.

Darjeeling (the most famous hill station near Kolkata)

Darjeeling is one of the most popular hill stations in West Bengal. Situated at an altitude of approximately 2,000 metres, the town offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas.

Hill-stations-near-Kolkata-Darjeeling

Darjeeling has long been a popular holiday destination, both among Indians and international tourists. It has a range of facilities, restaurants and accommodation options to suit all budgets.

This picturesque town is famous for its tea plantations and wonderful natural setting. If you’re looking to do some hiking or trekking, Darjeeling is also great place to base yourself.

As well as a number of hiking trails in the nearby Singalila National Park, Darjeeling is also a good place to organise a guide and the necessary permits to go trekking in the stunning North-East state of Sikkim. This is really awesome and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it!

If you’re looking for a peaceful and scenic getaway, Darjeeling is definitely worth a visit.

Things to see and do in Darjeeling

  • Watch the sun rise over the mighty Himalayas from Tiger Hill: After waiting patiently in the dark, the first rays of early morning sunlight begin to illuminate the surrounding peaks – including Kangchenjunga (the world’s third-tallest mountain), and, in the far distance, Mount Everest. The mountains then turn from pink to orange, to glistening white. This experience really took my breath away, it’s simply magical. Get there early to secure a good vantage point.
  • Click here to book a private driver to take you to Tiger Hill in time to catch the sunrise.
Sunrise-at-Tiger-Hill-Darjeeling
  • Take a ride on the iconic Toy Train: The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (AKA the “Toy Train”, or “DHR”) is a narrow-gauge railway that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. You can either travel the whole way, or do a smaller section of the route (called the “Batasia Loop”) as a round-trip from Darjeeling. It’s been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and riding on it is a fantastic experience!  Click here to book tickets.
  • Explore the Ghum Monastery: The Ghum Monastery is one of the largest monasteries in India and is home to over 700 monks. It’s well worth spending an hour or two exploring the monastery grounds and learning about the Buddhist way of life.
  • Stroll around Observatory Hill: Observatory Hill is one of the best places to get a panoramic view of Darjeeling. It’s also home to the Mahakal Temple, which is a popular Hindu shrine.
  • Visit the Peace Pagoda: The Peace Pagoda was built in 1972 by the Nipponzan-Myohoji Buddhist order. It’s a beautiful spot for some quiet contemplation and offers great views of Darjeeling.
  • Explore the tea plantations: Darjeeling is famous for its tea and there are many working plantations that you can visit. Many of these offer guided tours, so you can learn all about the process of growing and producing tea.
Ghum-Monastery-Darjeeling

How to get to Darjeeling

If you’re looking to visit Darjeeling from Kolkata, there are two main ways to get there.

  • By Train: The nearest major railway station to Darjeeling is New Jalpaiguri Junction (NJP). Long distance trains (including overnight sleeper trains) travel here from cities all over India. From Kolkata, the journey takes between 8-12 hours, depending on the service. Once you get to NJP, you need to take a taxi, bus, or shared jeep to get to Darjeeling. This takes 3-4 hours, as the mountainous roads are steep and winding.
  • By Air: Bagdogra Airport serves the area around Darjeeling. Several domestic airlines fly here daily from various places around the country, including Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore. Bagdogra is fairly close to NJP railway station, and it takes a similar amount of time to get from here to Darjeeling (3-4 hours, by taxi, bus, or shared jeep).

Note: The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (Toy Train) also travels from NJP station to Darjeeling. This is a much longer option, taking 6-8 hours (assuming it doesn’t break down en-route, as happens periodically…!). 

But if you have the time, this train journey is one of the most scenic in the world.

Alternatively, click here to book a private transfer from Bagdogra airport direct to your accommodation in Darjeeling.

Kalimpong

Kalimpong is another stunning hill station in West Bengal. It is set on a ridge at an altitude of 1,250 metres and offers spectacular views of the Himalayas.

Although slightly quieter and less busy than Darjeeling, the town is still well geared up for tourism. There’s a good range of accommodation options here, from simple budget guesthouses all the way up to exclusive luxury hotels.

Hill-stations-near-Kolkata-Kalimpong
Kalimpong is one of my favourite hill stations near Kolkata

Kalimpong is surrounded by emerald green hills, with a backdrop of magnificent snowy peaks. The town itself is home to some beautiful monasteries and temples, as well as markets selling traditional handicrafts.

Things to see and do in Kalimpong

  • Visit the Lepcha Museum: The Lepcha Museum is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the Lepcha people, an indigenous tribe that live in this area. It’s a small but fascinating museum, and well worth a visit.
  • Stroll around Rishi Bankim Chandra Park: Rishi Bankim Chandra Park is a beautiful park with manicured gardens, fountains, and a small lake. It’s a great place to relax and take in the views of Kalimpong.
  • Visit the Zong Dong Palri Fo Brang Gompa: The Zong Dong Palri Fo Brang Gompa is one of the most important Buddhist temples in Kalimpong. It’s a beautiful building, with intricate paintings and sculptures.
  • Explore Deolo Hill: At an altitude of 1,780 metres, Deolo Hill is the highest point in Kalimpong. There’s a small temple and a few other attractions (including a paragliding school) at the top, but the main draw is definitely the panoramic views of the mountains and valleys below.
  • Durpin Dara Hill: The Durpin Dara Hill offers some of the best views in Kalimpong. You can hike to the top, which is well worth the effort. This is a lovely place for a picnic or just to relax and take in the scenery.
  • Stroll around Lava: Lava is a small town located about an hour away from Kalimpong by car. It’s a popular spot for hiking and there are several Buddhist monasteries in the area.
  • Neora Valley National Park: The Neora National Park is home to an incredible variety of plants and animals, and is a wonderful place to visit, especially if you’re interested in nature photography. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a rare red panda!
Deolo-Hills-Kalimpong

How to get to Kalimpong

Kalimpong is located about 80 kilometres from Siliguri, which is the nearest major town. To get to Siliguri, you can either take the train to New Jalpaiguri Junction (NJP), or fly to Bagdogra (see above section on Darjeeling).

The best way to get to from Siliguri to Kalimpong is by shared jeep. These tend to hang around outside both NJP and Bagdogra airport, so it’s easy to organise a ride once you arrive. The journey takes about three hours and is quite scenic, as you wind your way up into the mountains.

You can also take a bus from Siliguri, but this is a slower option and takes at least four hours.

Alternatively, if you’re coming from Darjeeling, there are buses and shared jeeps that make the journey in about two hours.

It’s also possible to visit Kalimpong as part of a guided tour day trip from Darjeeling. Click here for more information and to book.

Kurseong

Kurseong means “The Land of White Orchids” in the Lepcha language. The town, which lies at 1,450 metres above sea level, was given this name on account of a rare variety of orchid that only grows at this altitude.

Kurseong-hill-station-near-Kolkata

Kurseong is sometimes also referred to as the Land of Glorious Sunsets, due to the incredible view out to the mountains in the west from here.

The town has a pleasant climate throughout the year, and is home to some beautiful colonial-era buildings, as well as a number of monasteries and temples. There are also several scenic hiking trails in the area.

Things to see and do in Kurseong

  • Visit the Dara Hills: The Dara Hills offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. There are a number of excellent hiking trails in the area – head to the tourist information lodge in the centre of the town for more information.
  • Eagle’s Crag: Walk up to Eagle’s Crag, for stunning panoramic views of Kurseong and the surrounding Himalayan foothills, with glistening white peaks in the distance.
  • Take a tour of the Makai Bari Tea Gardens: One of the most famous tea estates in India, Makai Bari produces some of the best quality and most expensive teas in the world. You can take a guided tour of the factory, learn about the production of this world-famous export, and taste and buy some tea for yourself.
  • Learn about the history of the area at the DHR Archive: The DHR Archive is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history of Kurseong and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The archive contains an extensive collection of documents, photographs, and artefacts relating to the construction of this engineering marvel.
Darjeeling-Himalayan-Railway
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway links several of the hill stations near Kolkata

How to get to Kurseong

Kurseong is located approximately half way between Siliguri and Darjeeling.

Coming from Kolkata, most people either choose to fly to Bagdogra or take the train to New Jalpaiguri (NJP). From either of these places, it takes about 2 hours to travel up to Kurseong by taxi, shared jeep or bus.

If you’re already in Darjeeling, it’s easy to arrange transport to Kurseong, whether by private transfer, taxi, bus or shared jeep.

Alternatively, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (Toy Train) which travels from NJP station to Darjeeling also stops at Kurseong, so you can use this to make the final leg of the journey, coming from either direction. This takes longer than travelling by road, but is extremely scenic and well worth it.

Mirik (one of the most off-the-beaten-track hill stations near Kolkata)

Mirik is another small town in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. It’s located a mere few kilometres from the border with Nepal, and lies at an altitude of 1,770 metres, on the shores of a beautiful mountain lake.

This is one of the most off-the-beaten-track hill stations near Kolkata. It’s much quieter and less touristy than most of the other, larger destinations in this guide.

As a result, accommodation options here are a little more limited, but you still shouldn’t struggle to find somewhere comfortable to stay.

Mirik is one of my favourite hill stations in North-East India. It has a very quaint, relaxed vibe, and is a perfect place to come and escape from it all. Its peaceful lakeside location is also really stunning.

Things to see and do in Mirik

  • Sumendu Lake: The obvious standout feature of Mirik is Sumendu Lake (also known as Mirik Lake), on the shores of which the town is built. It’s extremely scenic, tranquil, and is a lovely spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll. There’s also a place where you can hire little boats, if you fancy getting out on the water.
  • Visit a monastery: The area around Mirik is home to several monasteries, including the Bokar Ngedon Chokhor Ling, where you can watch Buddhist monks performing rituals and ceremonies.
  • Hike in the nearby hills: There are a number of scenic hiking trails in the Mirik area, perfect for getting some fresh air and enjoying the wonderful mountain views.
Sikkim-forest

How to get to Mirik

Mirik is about 50 kilometres north-west of Siliguri, which is accessible either via Bagdogra airport or NJP station (see above).

Once you get to Siliguri, you can take a taxi, bus or shared jeep up to Mirik, which takes about 2 hours.

Gangtok

Okay, so Gangtok is a little further from Kolkata than some of the other places in this guide, but it’s still an amazing place to visit and worth including.

View-of-Gangtok-from-aerial-cableway

The capital of the tiny, mountainous North-East Indian state of Sikkim, Gangtok is a picturesque city that was established by Buddhist pilgrims in the 1840s. Gangtok (along with the rest of Sikkim) only became a part of India in 1975, and remains an important centre for Tibetan Buddhism and culture today.

Home to large Tibetan and Nepalese populations, Gangtok is full of Buddhist temples and monasteries. The whole place feels much more like the neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bhutan than the rest of India.

It’s a really unique, fascinating place to visit – I’ve never seen anywhere quite like it.

Things to see and do in Gangtok

  • See the Do Drul Chorten: The Do Drul Chorten is a beautiful Buddhist stupa on the edge of Gangtok that was built in 1945. It’s surrounded by 108 prayer wheels, which you can spin as you walk around the stupa.
  • Explore the Rumtek Monastery: The Rumtek Monastery is one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world. It’s also home to the largest statue of the Buddha in Sikkim.
  • Take a cable car ride: Gangtok is located at a high altitude, so taking a cable car ride is a great way to get around and avoid getting too tired! The views from the cable car are also stunning.

How to get to Gangtok

Gangtok is located about 500 kilometres from Kolkata. Until 2018, the only way to reach the city from the rest of India was via a very long, winding drive across the mountains from either Siliguri or Darjeeling.

Sikkim-shared-taxi

However, today you can fly here direct from Kolkata (and Delhi) with SpiceJet. Pakyong Airport is one of the highest airports in India, and one of the most scenic in the world.

Flights are generally fairly affordable, although bear in mind that schedules can sometimes be disrupted due to bad weather in the mountains.

I use – and recommend – Aviasales to find the best deals on flights.  Their search engine is really easy to use and often picks up on promotions and discounted fares that are missed by other comparison sites.  You can search across a range of dates, and it suggests the best dates and times for you.

Alternatively, click here to book a private road transfer between Gangtok and Bagdogra.

Shillong

Another hill station that’s a little further away from Kolkata… Despite being in the North-East state of Meghalaya, I included Shillong here because it’s actually very easy to reach from Kolkata.

Shillong is often referred to as “The Scotland of the East” because of its rolling hills and misty weather. It’s the capital of Meghalaya state, and is home to a number of interesting tribal communities, such as the Khasi people.

The city has a laid-back, small-town feel, and is a great place to base yourself when exploring more of this fascinating region.

Things to see and do in Shillong

  • Visit the Elephant Falls: The Elephant Falls are a series of waterfalls located just outside the city centre. They’re a popular spot for picnics and there are several hiking trails in the area.
  • Hike to the top of Shillong Peak: Shillong Peak is the highest point in Meghalaya and offers stunning views of the surrounding emerald hills and countryside.
  • Explore Mawlynnong Village: Mawlynnong Village, close to the border with Bangladesh, is often called the “cleanest village in Asia”, or “God’s Own Garden”. It’s inhabited mostly by the Khasi tribe, a matriarchal society that’s believed to have a 100% literacy rate.
  • Marvel at the Living Root Bridges: These incredible bridges in and around Mawlynnong really need to be seen to be believed. Made by joining the roots of enormous rubber trees, and used to cross the river, some are over 100 years old.
Living-root-bridges-in-Meghalaya
  • Try the local cuisine: Meghalaya food is unique and delicious. It features simple, locally-produced ingredients, including fresh bamboo, peppers, smoked banana flowers, soybeans, local spices, sometimes with fish or meat, and plenty of chilli to give it a kick.

How to get to Shillong

There’s at least one direct flight per day from Kolkata to Shillong, and the fares tend to be relatively affordable. The flight takes about two hours.

Check Aviasales to find the best value fares. 

Alternatively, you can take an express train from Kolkata to Guwahati and then a bus or shared jeep from there to Shillong. Just bear in mind that, in total, this journey will take at least 24 hours.

There are also a number of long-distance buses that operate between Kolkata and Shillong, but these can be quite uncomfortable and I wouldn’t recommend them unless you’re on a very tight budget.

Final Thoughts On The Best Hill Stations Near Kolkata

There you have it – a guide to the best hill stations near Kolkata. As you can see, there are several great options to choose from.

All of these destinations offer stunning scenery and plenty of things to see and do. So if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway in beautiful surroundings, be sure to check out one of these hill stations.

I hope you found this guide helpful, and that you have a great time exploring these beautiful places.

Hill-stations-near-Kolkata-sunrise

What’s your favourite hill station near Kolkata? Is there anywhere else you think I ought to include on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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