Resting in the Himalayas’s lap, the small hill station of Bagdogra is one of the most peaceful and untouched places in West Bengal. Mesmerising clouds on top of mountains, lush green tea gardens rolling for aeons as far as the eye can see, the homely town itself – uninfluenced from human pollution and rapid urbanisation – it’s all a sight to behold. Often regarded as the gateway town to North-East India and the Himalayas mountain range, it is one of the most popular hill stations of the Darjeeling district.
But why so? What makes the place so special?
To answer that question of yours, we have compiled a list of tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss while visiting Bagdogra to get the most out of your experience.
Like any other place in India, one can find a blend of cultures at Bagdogra – from the authentic food of West Bengal to the worship places of various religions. The locals celebrate a variety of festivals with a great deal of enthusiasm and zest. Some of the essential festivals include Kenduli Mela, Jalpesh Mela, Gangasagar Mela, and Naba Barsho (the Tibetan New Year). During this festival, travellers get to witness the rich traditional heritage of Bagdogra. There is a distinct Buddhist influence that only adds to the calm vibe of the town.
When it comes to languages, most of the local population converses in Bengali, Hindi or Nepali. However, usage of English, Tibetan, Bihari and Assamese is also prevalent.
While Bagdogra is more or less, a base for the tourists travelling to Darjeeling, Sikkim, Nepal or Kalimpong, there’s plenty of local attractions for it to be a travel destination on its own. Here’s a handful of them:
A ten minutes drive from the Bagdogra airport or the railway station, and you’ll be standing before the massive cream-coloured estate that is City Centre Mall.
Besides fulfilling all your shopping needs, the mall offers a plethora of entertainment options for almost all age groups. Choose from an assortment of best-selling books and comics from Crosswords or enjoy a cheap, yet scrumptious meal at Cafe Box Office, it’s all up to you. Movie theatres, game parlours, bars, salons, etc. are also scattered around the mall generously.
The remnants of the Jalpaiguri Rajbari serve as a major sight-seeing spot for both tourists and locals. The palace gate is a large unreinforced concrete structure which flaunts the excellent architecture and designing of the yesteryears. Jalpaiguri Rajbari consists of a palace building, portico, two temples and a garden flanked by the palace pond, called the “Rajbari Dighi.” This palace was once the refuge of the Raikats, the kings of Baikunthapur estate.
The Coronation Bridge, also known as Sevoke bridge, offers a breathtaking view of the lush greenery and was made to connect Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri. Just 37 kms away from Bagdogra, this bridge offers its tourists to experience the grandeur and capture the panoramic view of the sparkling blue waters of River Teesta flowing underneath. Adventure junkies will be found rafting in the river to enjoy a different view of this engineering marvel while the locals visit it to get some respite from the buzz of the city life.
Surya Sen Park
Bearing the name of the Bengali freedom fighter, Surya Sen Park is a very well known picnic spot for locals. Located at Mahakal Pally in Siliguri, around 16 km from Bagdogra, it is a hub of recreation and entertainment. The park also offers exhibitions and is an eco-friendly place to hangout with your friends and family. The river Mahananda flows through it and enhances its beauty making it a delightful spot for every nature-fancying tourist.
Restaurants to get a taste of the local cuisine
Plenty of multicuisine restaurants have come up in Bagdogra during recent years. The Bagdogra Airport Cafe has become increasingly popular among travellers. The local food of Bagdogra is unique and makes for a great experience. The menu at Bagdogra reflects diversity as the place hosts various cultures and traditions. The staple food is rice and potatoes. Not surprisingly, tea is a significant beverage in this town. Great restaurants in Bagdogra include Marina’s Restaurant, Rasoi, Bagdogra Airport Restaurant etc.
Nearby destinations to visit
Darjeeling is one of the most beautiful hill stations in Eastern India. It is widely known across the globe for its quality tea production. A popular summer retreat for the then Britishers, it is in abundance with valleys and tea plantations, and the mesmerising view of the Mt. Kangchenjunga.
If you head north, like most tourists, Darjeeling is a 3-hour uphill journey by road. En-route, make time for a stopover at Kurseong to sample one of the world’s most expensive teas at Makaibari Tea Estate. This is one of the best places to visit in Bagdogra, or if you love tea, you can even bed down at their charming but straightforward homestay. You can also visit the Glenburn Tea Estate which is situated approximately two hours from Darjeeling. But if you have time on hand, skip the road and take the Darjeeling Himalayan Mountain Railway from the New Jalpaiguri (NJP) railway station. The narrow-gauge train service has been in operation for over 120 years and is easily among India’s most beautiful train journeys and has earned the UNESCO World Heritage status – rightfully so!
You can also hop on for a simple joyride. Take the three-hour jungle safari train from Siliguri to Rangtong and back, which cuts through the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. Alternatively, it is a two-hour, 14km round trip from Darjeeling to Ghum, which covers some beautiful sights and stops.
Situated just 60 kms away from Bagdogra in the northern part of West Bengal, this hill station is known for its maiden beauty and is situated on the foothills of the Shivalik ranges. It is the perfect destination for touring throughout the year because of its pleasant weather. However, the best time to visit Kalimpong is either March to May or September to November.
The tourist attractions in Kalimpong range from monasteries to beautiful sights of nature. Here’s some of them: Catholic Church, Relli River, St. Theresa Church, Samthar Plateau, Jang Dong Palriffo Brang monastery, Thongsa Gompa monastery, Kalimpong Arts and Crafts Centre, Neora National Park, Samco Ropeway and many more.
Mirik is another hill station situated fairly close to Bagdogra, and thankfully, it’s not as big on the tourist map yet. Nestled in the serene hills of Darjeeling, attractions include boating in the Mirik Lake, watching the sun-rise from atop, or exploring the Hillside Village among a ton of other activities. If you drive further to the east, you will arrive in Sikkim, the ‘Valley of Rice’, orchids and the omnipresent Kanchenjunga.
We hope this guide helped you paint a clearer picture of Bagdogra, and the memories that you can make therein. Stay safe, and wishing you a happy journey!