Wednesday, March 16

Trip to Shillong, Cherrapunjee (Sohra), Kaziranga, Guwahati Darjeeling Part III

Trip to Shillong, Cherrapunjee (Sohra), Kaziranga, Guwahati Darjeeling Part I 
Trip to Shillong, Cherrapunjee (Sohra), Kaziranga, Guwahati Darjeeling Part II  

Trip to North East - Day 7, 8, 9 Darjeeling

Welcome to Organic Holidays
Call now for bookings and more details - +91 7018319485, +91 8588849825

Now this trip should not have been planned this way because from Guwahati it is a long journey of over 12 hours to reach Darjeeling. But as the luck would have it I had booked air tickets for peanuts from Guwahati to Bagdogra. The Go Air ticket cost me Rs 1200 per person from Guwahati to Bagdogra even less that a taxi if I had hired. 

The nearest airport from Darjeeling is Bagdogra. It is a small town in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal and perpetually is surrounded by tea gardens. What is more exciting about Bagdogra is that it is part of the Greater Siliguri Metropolitan Area. Bagdogra is well connected by air from most of the cities of India including Guwahati, Delhi and Kolkata. Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri are the closest railway station to Bagdogra. Bagdogra Airport is the only airport in North Bengal which happens to be the nearest airport from Sikkim as well. It is now an International Airport

We reached Bagdogra in the afternoon and as in Guwahati airport here also you will find number of taxi drivers from Sikkim and Darjeeling looking for the passengers. The prepaid taxi from Bagdogra to Darjeeling at the airport will cost about Rs 1700. It is better to get a good bargain outside the airport. A driver from Darjeeling or Sikkim will finally settle at Rs 800-900 to drop you at the respective places. I found a decent looking driver here who finally agreed to drop us at Rs 800. 

His name was Bhupendra Subba and he belongs to Darjeeling. The man was talkative and I realized that he was intelligent too. I was impressed with his one liner when he said “People come here as tourists but go as friends” The two and half journey was enough to understand that Bhupendra Subba was a nice gentleman so we booked him for the next day as well. 

It is an irony that living in Delhi has changed our mindset and at times we perceive that people in other parts of the country are also the same. I am living in Delhi and I love my place but after so much of travel all across the country I have realized that the first impression for a tourist coming to Delhi at the New Delhi Railway station, ISBT or airport is not very good. Here you will find so many people trying to befool the tourists and charging whopping and unreasonable fares. 

Anyways if you are planning your trip to Darjeeling I would recommend that you contact Driver cum Owner of Taxi Bhupendra Subba for any help. Please do bargain with him as well. Even if he is already booked Bhupendra Subba will definitely help you out. He can recommend a good hotel in Darjeeling. 

Contact Number of Bhupendra Subba in Darjeeling for any kind of Taxi and other travel related help– 09733028764 (mobile)

We stayed in Hotel Broadway at Darjeeling. The experience was good staying in this hotel. The all wooden rooms of Broadways hotel are excellent and the food is also not bad.

Hotel Broadway is centrally located in Darjeeling
Contact Details – 0354 – 2253248, 2256270
Mobile - 09733022208
The next day we had planned to go to the Misty Tiger Hills to get the glimpse of Sun Rise. We were fortunate to see the sunrise which was indeed a divine experience. The lush green of Darjeeling is contrasted by fiery red of Lamas at the beautiful monasteries and Japanese Temple which has larger than life images of Budha. There are many places in Darjeeling where you can visit and have fun.
The first site after you enter Darjeeling is like travelling back in time to the days of the British Raj, a vertical Victorian London - like town populated with oriental faces. Church spires and brick chimneys dominate the skyline.

Welcome to Organic Holidays
Call now for bookings and more details - +91 7018319485, +91 8588849825

Best Places of Interest in Darjeeling
Dhoom Gompa, Darjeeling
It is located about 7- 8 kms from mid town Darjeeling. An attractive statue of the Maitrayie Buddha is situated in Dhoom Gompa. In the Monastery you would be amazed to see that some of the rare handwritten Buddhist manuscripts are still preserved here.

The Mall:
Just as any other hill station there is a Mall Road here where you can shop around and find some Tibetans selling hand-knitted sweaters and souvenir shops chock-full of Himalayan artifacts and both real and imitation antiques. The Mall in Darjeeling will further lead to Chaurasta, a square, which doubles as a bandstand, a pony riding arena for children and a haven for lovers.

The Chowrasta, is a Hindi Nepali word that means crossroad, is a hive of commercial activity. The Mall Road originates and culminates at the Chowrasta. You will get to see the British impressions here and Victorian Darjeeling. You can also get some Bhutanes touch here are will see Bhutanese sellers display their wares. Woollen garments, tribal ornaments, Thankas, rosaries, brass statuettes and Gorkha daggers are kept on display for sale. Foreign goods are also available in some shops. Local handicrafts are much in demand.

Obeservatory Hill:
This is one of the oldest sites in Darjeeling. The hill here is know as “Makal-Babu-Ko-Thaan”. According to legend, a Red Hat Buddhist Monastery called Dorje Ling, or 'place of the Thunderbolt', stood at this very spot. The Nepalis destroyed it in the 19th century. The Shivas and Buddhists share the temple that stands there today.

Darjeeling Zoo and The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute:
The Himalayan Mountaineering institute was established by the legendary late Tenzing Norgay, who was the first person to conquer Mt Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary on 29 May 1953. A display of equipment used on the climb is one of the highlights. Adjacent to the institute is a zoological garden where you can see lots of endangered and high altitude animals and birds such as Macau, Golden Pheasant, Black panther, Snow Leopard, Bears, yaks, Siberian tigers and red pandas who call the region their home.

Darjeeling Rangeet Valley Passenger Ropeway:
If you wish to get the aerial view of the darjeeling tea gardens then go to the North Point about 3-km from the town. Here you will find thefirst passenger ropeway of India. The 20 minutes downward journey will take you to the Tea Factories through the tea gardens all over.

Tibetan Refuge Camp,Lloyd's Botanical Garden:
Tiger Hill: The Sunrise Point
One of the most famous places in Darjeeling is The Tiger Hill which is located an altitude of 2,590m. It is some 12-13 km from main town. The mesmerising view of the Kanchenjunga and the sunrise early in the morning is a visual treat. If you are lucky enough and the sky is clear which is a rare possibility Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, is visible also from here.

Kurseong is mid-way between Siliguri and Darjeeling. The way from Darjeeling to Kurseong is generally open through out the year. So, the toy train is not coming to Siliguri then one can come up to Kurseong. This place is equally beautiful and is full of natural splendour.
Siliguri / New Jalpaiguri:
The twin Cities of Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri are the departure point to Darjeeling, Sikkim and the North Eastern States. Being the nodal point this place has become very busy and crowded. Siliguri also acts as a transit point for Nepal. Tourists come to Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri mainly to change bus or catch trains. Kalimpong:

Kalimpong is within Darjeeling province and is a sub-division of Darjeeling. It is a small but bustling town in the Himalayan foothills of West Bengal - Kalimpong is at an altitude of 1,250m. This bazaar town was originally a part of Bhutan but later it was taken over by the British and finally it settled down with West Bengal.

Batasia Loop, Darjeeling
This railway loop is an interesting example of engineering. At this loop the toy train takes a very unique turn. This loop is just five kilometer from the main town of Darjeeling. This place also has a very good market where you can buy the purses, bags and other decorative items made by the local women at very reasonable price.

Happy Valley Estate, Darjeeling
We all start our day with tea but we seldom know how the tea is processed. Here one can watch the tea from the gardens being processed. One can spent a few hours here. Entry is only allowed to persons who have permission from any officer of the estate.

Natural History Museum, Darjeeling
A great place to be at, for all those who have great interest in knowing about the history.The museum has a collection of over 4300 specimen . Established in 1903, this natural history museum packs in its folds a rich collection of fauna found in the Himalayas and in Bengal. Among the attractions are included the estuarine crocodiles. This unique museum also has a good collection of butterflies. The mineral forms of various stones are displayed in a very attractive manner in the museum.
Monasteries in Darjeeling

Monasteries in around Darjeeling generate tremendous interest among visitors, be it in the form of architectural extravagance or the spiritual message embodied in them.

Bhutia Busty Monasteries, Darjeeling
Founded in 1879, this monastery follows the Vajrayana school of both Kargyud and Nijingmapa order, known as red hat.

Samten Choling Monasteries, Darjeeling
This Monasteries belongs to the Gelukpa sect of Vajrayana Buddhism, also known as the yellow hat. This is the seat of ven. Dromo Geshe rinpoche, the second. A 26 ft. tall stupa has been built recently in memory of Lama Anagarika Govinda, a great scholar from Germany well known for his book on Buddhism.

Day 10 MIRIK
On the ninth day evening we reached MIRIK which is about 45 kms from Darjeeling. I got a very good room at Hotel Ratnagiri in Mirik. The lake facing wooden Cottage at Ratnagir Hotel is a delight. Contact number that I have is 0964041955, 09832010013.
Places of Interest in MIRIK
Mirik is 45 km from Darjeeling and about 50-km from the nearest Airfield of Bagdogra. Mirik is being developed as a new hill station in the mountains. Tea estates, orange orchards and cardamom plantations surround Mirik. It has all the facilities to fulfill the needs of a tourist.
Mirik Lake: Samendu Lake surrounded by huge and beautiful lush green pine trees. The lake has boating facility.

Just a 20 minutes walk from the lake is Kawlay dara View Point “Rameetay”. The sunrise and sunset from here along with the view of kanchenjanga and Nepal Border is a visual treat.
Helipad and Swiss Cottage from where there is an amazing view of the small town and Mirik lake.
There is a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery about one Km from lake. Don Bosco Church is about 1 km.
Do not miss that Thurbo tea gardens and factory in Mirik. Then there is Orange Garden about 2 kms from the lake.

Pashupati:Further afield, in Pashupati on the Nepal border, one can purchase foreign goods at reasonable prices, view wildlife such as the endangered one-horned Rhino, Deer, Gaur, and wild boar while seated atop an Elephant's back at Jaldapara Game Park; learn of the Lepcha legend at the confluence of the Teesta and Ranjeet Rivers; relive Kalimpong's past glory as a trading post by visiting the market filled with traditional Tibetan medicine, spices, musk, wool and silk; or for the truly adventurous-hire some ponies and a crew and take to the hills. 

Finally our journey was about to end and we came back to Bagdogra from Mirik and boarded our onward journey flight to Guwahati from where we had a connecting flight to Delhi. The Spicejet flight from Bagdogra to Guwahati cost us Rs 1199 per person.

No comments: