A city in the sub-Himalayan foothills of the Darjeeling district, Siliguri is one of the most important cities in the entire North-East of India due to its strategic location. The burgeoning city is a commercial and transit hub of the North East. You can’t travel to North East India by road or rail without crossing the city. The city is also the entry point and business hub for Darjeeling, Sikkim, Bhutan, Dooars, parts of Nepal, Bangladesh, Bihar, and Assam.
Well connected by Air, Road, and Rail to all the important Indian cities, Siliguri is a starting point for travellers to explore the Bengal-Sikkim area. Siliguri is also the gateway to Bhutan through Dooars. Direct road connections to Bhutan and Nepal and other North-Eastern states have prompted Siliguri to become a buzzing modern international trade centre.
History of Siliguri
Till about a century back, Siliguri was a small village on the banks of river Mahananda. The only significance of the town was its rail station which used to operate the toy train to Darjeeling. When the British left India, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was created. This resulted in large-scale migration across the border which continued for the next three decades. A large number of Hindus from across the border came and settled in North Bengal and thus the small village of Siliguri transformed into a town. The partition also created what is known as the Chickens' neck of India. On the southern fringe of the town at fulbari is the border of Bangladesh. And on the northern fringe of the town is the forests of Mahananda WLS and the hills. Hence Siliguri covers a small tract of land that connects the rest of the North East to the Indian mainland. This critical factor leads to major economic development and large-scale migration from all over the country. Soon Siliguri became one of the most important cities in Eastern India.
Although Siliguri is a typical modern city, it does not lack tourist attractions and natural beauty either. The city itself has limited offers for a tourist. But half an hour's journey in any direction takes you to innumerable natural tourist destinations. Be in Sevok or Sukna to its North, or Gajoldoba and Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary to its East, Bangladesh border to the south, and Panighatta and Nepal border to its West. The distinct view of the snowy range of Mount Kanchenjunga on a clear day can mesmerize any visitor to the town.
Siliguri offers several options for a day outing. Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary, Shorea-forest recreation centre, Sevok Coronation Bridge, Madhuban Nature Park, and Panighata are some of the major tourist spots lying within a 25kms radius of Siliguri.
Shopping in the city is another reason for visitors from all over the region to congregate here. The City Center at Uttarayan township and Cosmos Mall are the two most popular modern shopping malls. There are many more concentrated around the Sevok road area. Bidhan market is the largest market in the city with about 3000 shops within it. Another shopping area is concentrated around Hill Cart Road and Sevok road.
Entertainment and Night Life
Entertainment and nightlife. There are several nightclubs, bars, and a few discos in town. Zorb, Nasha, Devils, and Sizzler are some of the nightclubs and discotheques in town. There are innumerable restaurants and bars spread throughout the city. The town also has half a dozen movie theatres and a few modern multiplexes including Cinemax and Inox. The multiplexes are located in popular shopping malls, and the more traditional movie theatres including Biswadeep, Bishal, Meghdoot, Urbashi, New Cinema, etc. There are several cultural centres in the city, the most important is the Town hall and its Dinabandhu Mancha which hosts regular cultural programs. Mitra Sammelani hall is another famous hall in the town. The city centre organizes regular cultural events and programs.
By Air: Bagdogra, the nearest airport, is only 15Km from Siliguri. It has direct daily flights to many major Indian cities such as Kolkata, Delhi, Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Bangaluru, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Chennai, etc. as well as international flights to and from Bangkok, and Paro.
By Rail: Siliguri is the junction of the NorthEast frontier Railway Grid. New Jalpaiguri, popularly known as NJP is one of the most important rail stations in the Northeast and is just 4 km from Siliguri. NJP is connected with direct trains from New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, etc.
By Road: Siliguri is 650km from Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal,
760 km from Kathmandu, the Capital of Nepal
350 Km from Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.
Siliguri to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim is 120Kms
Accommodation in Siliguri:
Being a business town, there is no dearth of accommodation in Siliguri. From budget to luxurious, all types of accommodations are available in the town that suits all tastes and pockets.
The budget accommodations are located either in the Pradhan Nagar area or in the new market and Sevok road area. These are hotels that depend on local travellers coming down to Siliguri regularly from the hills of Sikkim, Darjeeling, and Bhutan. As well as business visitors. Occupancy is high, word of mouth is important and the tariff is low here.
The more experiential hotels targeting higher-end tourists are spread on the Northern side of the town either on Sevok road or Hill cart road. In the recent past, international hotel brands have also set up hotels here. The more famous hotels in town, include older hotels such as Sinclairs Hotels, Cindrella (sic) Hotel, Royal Sarovar Portico, etc, and newer hotels such as Mariott courtyard, Lemon Tree, Saffron Crest, and others.