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Old 15th March 2012, 10:22   #1
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Default Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

Ever since we got the delivery of the Bolero the itch to go for a long distance drive had started. On Wednesday afternoon it became unbearable and called up ADC da to find out if it is possible to do the old Silk Route in 4 days. ADC da does not say no to any travel and never says that something cannot be done, but when he takes some time to answer and says that it will be tight, it is better not to take that risk. He said that it is doable but permits have to be taken and can take time and I did not have any spare time. The next option given by him was to visit the Jainty River in Buxa forest near Indo-Bhutan border. So it had to be destination Buxa forest. Informed wifey that we would be going out that evening and she agreed immediately. Wrapped up the work at office by 6:30 p.m., got the new number plates fixed on the Bolero and started our trip at the stroke of 9. We went on this route about a month back and Incognito had put up a travlogue on that - http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...g-kolkata.html (A Himalayan Retreat aboard the Silver Blaze (Kolkata-Gangtok-Darjeeling-Kolkata ))
So it was a known road to us through Barasat, Krishnanagar, Moregram,Malda. This is the first time I was driving the Bolero over bad patches and I was unaware of it strengths and weaknesses. At first I was driving it like a sedan, trying to slow down when I saw a pothole or a small bump and I was getting very disappointed with the ride quality. We were being thrown around in the car. Then I suddenly remembered the golden words of a Jeep Thrills member, Ritik Kakoty, who has a 4x4 Bolero Di. He had told me once that "You don't have to slow down on rough road". I started telling myself not to slow down on the rough patches. The behaviour of the Bolero transformed after that. The road felt smooth and we made rapid progress. We reached Malda at around 3 a.m in the morning. After Malda I started feeling sleepy and wifey started driving. After about one hour, I woke up and saw that we had stopped at a huge traffic jam. The road was being built on the side and it was not paved, the lower foundation with gravel was there. Wifey (Rajsri) asked if she could take that road and I said no. Immediately saw a white sumo fly past us through that road. Before I could blink we were following the sumo. After about 2 kilometers there was nowhere to go. The was a field beside us about 7 to 8 feet below the level of the highway. Asked Rajsri to take that route but she was scared. Gave the wheel to me and I promptly got the Bolero down on that route. After about 500 meters we had to go back on the road and there was a 7-8 feet slope of about 35 degrees and the ground was slippery with gravel and stonechips. The Bolero could not go up that slope in 2wd mode and not even in 4H. A day before going out on the trip, I had learnt how to engage the 4H and 4L lever from Ritik and I never thought that the lesson would help me out so early. Engaged 4L and the Bolero came up the slope as if nothing happened. The truck drivers around were awestruck and clapped. From then on I started praying for traffic jams . Reached Siliguri at 9:30 a.m. Asked a few people for directions towards Guwahati, took the right turn at Sevok and after a few kilometers the scenery changed. It no longer seemed to be a place in the hills. The road was plain and on both sides there were lush green tea estates. Crossed Gorumara, Jaldapara, Khairbadi, Hanshimara and reached Buxa forest at 12:30 p.m. In between the road was extremely bad (even by Bolero standard) for about 30 kilometers after Jaldapara. I was driving on with this picture from ADC da in mind -

ADC da's Safari on the Jainty River
Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-adc_jainty.jpg

However when we got the permit at Rajabhatkhawa it was mentioned there that driving the car on the river bed was prohibited. The river bed looked like this -

Jainty River Bed
Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_3798.jpg

The river had dried up during this time of the year, but the place was beautiful. We planned to stay there for a night but unfortunately there was not a single room available in any of the lodges/resorts. The forest rest house had got burnt and was in complete ruins.

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc01476.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc01477.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc01479.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_3803.jpg

Some pictures en route to Buxa Forest -

Freshly laid tarmac
Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc01407.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc01418.jpg

Tea Plantations
Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc01423.jpg

Bad stretch of road after Jaldapara Reserve forest
Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc01454.jpg

So my dream of driving the Bolero through water and taking pictures like ADC da got shattered and we had no place to stay. Rajsri and I decided that we drive to Darjeeling as we were sure to find a place to stay there and Darjeeling is very close to both our hearts. But being close to heart does not bring Darjeeling closer on the map. It was quite far at about 270 Kms from Buxa. It was 2:30 p.m and we made some quick calculations. If I could drive fast we would be able to reach Darjeeling by 8 o clock in the evening. So we started without another word and reached Siliguri at 5:30 p.m. Rajsri got some food packed at KFC (Siliguri City Centre), asked a few people about the Pankhabari road and reached Darjeeling at 8:30 in the evening. Got accomodation at Planter's Club and almost 23 hours of driving came to an end after about 1100 kilometers.... I fell asleep within seconds and started dreaming about the adventures that await.

A teaser pic of the Bolero at Sandakphu

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4258.jpg

To be contd..

P.S: Special thanks to ADC da for taking those innumerable calls and answering all the questions I could throw at him..

Last edited by BlackPearl : 16th March 2012 at 13:48.
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Old 17th March 2012, 15:21   #2
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Default re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 17th March 2012, 19:00   #3
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Default re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

Great, bring it on, will wait. Travelling like a vagabond is something many aspire for, but still end up making last minute plans and arrangements. Good that you were able to keep the spirit, especially in the heat as well as dust.
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Old 17th March 2012, 22:35   #4
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Thumbs up re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

Sandakphu is suddenly witnessing quite a change in the kind of vehicles that are reaching. Recently, a fellow bulleteer reaching sandakphu on a Bullet LB500. Heard about a new Bolero 4x4 from ADC very recently and was not really expecting a drive to Sandakphu. A most pleasant surprise it is. Bring on the rest and let it be a detailed writeup about Sandakphu as very little is known to most people.

Thanks for sharing. By the start you have given to the Bolero 4x4, I am hoping you will map more unchartered roads in and around Kolkata.

thanks again
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Old 17th March 2012, 22:50   #5
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Default re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

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Originally Posted by novice_alto View Post

Thanks for sharing. By the start you have given to the Bolero 4x4, I am hoping you will map more unchartered roads in and around Kolkata.

thanks again
Dont worry he and his Bolero will reach the moon. They will come back to post the travelogue
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Old 18th March 2012, 00:10   #6
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Default re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

Quote:
Originally Posted by novice_alto View Post
Sandakphu is suddenly witnessing quite a change in the kind of vehicles that are reaching. Recently, a fellow bulleteer reaching sandakphu on a Bullet LB500. Heard about a new Bolero 4x4 from ADC very recently and was not really expecting a drive to Sandakphu. A most pleasant surprise it is. Bring on the rest and let it be a detailed writeup about Sandakphu as very little is known to most people.

Thanks for sharing. By the start you have given to the Bolero 4x4, I am hoping you will map more unchartered roads in and around Kolkata.

thanks again
Thanks novice_alto. I will try to put up the rest of the travelogue and pics by tomorrow. With such a bad memory I will forget everything if I wait too long. The only problem is that I have to reduce the size of the pics before they can be posted on tbhp and it takes up a lot of time.

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Originally Posted by 1100D View Post
Dont worry he and his Bolero will reach the moon. They will come back to post the travelogue
Ha ha, wish I could do that. By the way, one of friends spotted a Mini Cooper in Kolkata that has come all the way from France.

Last edited by BlackPearl : 18th March 2012 at 00:12.
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Old 18th March 2012, 01:33   #7
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Default re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

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Ha ha, wish I could do that. By the way, one of friends spotted a Mini Cooper in Kolkata that has come all the way from France.
Some people have a lot of free time and freedom.
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Old 18th March 2012, 07:44   #8
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Default re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

I remember trying to reach Sandakpu in my Ind-Suzuki AX100 mobike in 1994. I started off on the first part of the climb from Mane Bhajang, fell down a couple of times, then finally landed the bike in a ditch. Since I was riding solo, I simply could not not lift the bike up on my own, so I gesticulated to a guy sitting way up the hill - and he actually came down, taking almost 10 minutes to reach me - and helped me lift up the bike. Thus, I abandoned my ride to Sandakpu, and to return down the hill, it was not easy since the dirt road was very steep - and I had to keep toggling the gear lever in first gear to brake & finally came down. In those days, the old African Safari Land Rovers were the only means of getting to the top, no other vehicles used to attempt the journey.
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Old 18th March 2012, 12:52   #9
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Default re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

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I remember trying to reach Sandakpu in my Ind-Suzuki AX100 mobike in 1994. I started off on the first part of the climb from Mane Bhajang, fell down a couple of times, then finally landed the bike in a ditch. Since I was riding solo, I simply could not not lift the bike up on my own, so I gesticulated to a guy sitting way up the hill - and he actually came down, taking almost 10 minutes to reach me - and helped me lift up the bike. Thus, I abandoned my ride to Sandakpu, and to return down the hill, it was not easy since the dirt road was very steep - and I had to keep toggling the gear lever in first gear to brake & finally came down. In those days, the old African Safari Land Rovers were the only means of getting to the top, no other vehicles used to attempt the journey.

But then!! Your Bike did not have 4 Wheel Drive!!
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Old 18th March 2012, 12:57   #10
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But then!! Your Bike did not have 4 Wheel Drive!!
Oh yes, it had!
When the going got tough, I got out, engaged the bike in first gear and pushed it - so that makes 2 wheels + 2 legs or 4WD, isn't it? But alas, even despite such techniques, I still could not make it up that steep ROCKY path of a road!
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Old 18th March 2012, 13:53   #11
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Default re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

Second day was spent in Darjeeling and just chilling out. An excerpt from the road guide on Darjeeling by Fabolia Jacob -

Quote:
Perched literally on the roof of the world, Darjiling (also spelt Darjeeling) is one of the most magnificent hill resorts in the world. Situated at the height of 2134 meters in the shadow of the mighty Kanchenjunga, this queen of the Eastern Himalayas is surrounded by high green hills covered with coniferous trees.
The name of the town has been derived from 'Dorje Ling', the place of Dorja, the mystic. It was the name of a Buddhist monastery which once stood atop Observatory Hill, around which Darjiling grew. The name also has a Tibetan origin, meaning where Indra's thunderbolt or weapon rested (Dorji - thunderbolt, Ling - place). In Sanskrit, the name is derived from the word 'Durjay Ling', meaning Siva of invincible prowess, who rules the Himalayas.
The best time to visit Darjeeling is April-June and September-November.
A few random pictures taken in Darjeeling -

Inside Planters' Club (Established sometime in the 1800s and open to guests in 1879)

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-darj1.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-darj2.jpg

View of Kanchenjunga from the Planters' Club

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-darj3.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-darj4.jpg

Darjeeling Tea, one of the finest in the world if not the best

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-darj5.jpg

Some of the good things in life

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-darj6.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-darj7.jpg

On the third day morning we woke up at 3:30 am and started by 3:45 am for Tiger Hill.
Quote:
Tiger Hill (11 km from Darjiling)
At an elevation of 2,590 m, no finer place exists to provide a view of the grandeur and beauty of towering snow capped mountains. Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, is also visible from this point. About 135 km away is Tibet's Chomal Hari mountain, said to be the world's most beautiful peak.
We gave ride to three coffee vendors and reached Tiger Hill at 4:20 am. The sunrise was at 5:56 am, but the peaks were visible much before that. The place was hustling and bustling with visitors and coffee vendors. It was extremely chilly with gusts of wind blowing every now and then.

Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_3929.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_3985.jpg

The peeping sun

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_3977.jpg

People from all walks of life trying to get a glimpse of the magnificent

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_3981.jpg

Traffic jam while returning from Tiger Hill

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4000.jpg

We started at 6:45 am from Tiger Hill and since there was nothing to do for the rest of the day, we started contemplating about a drive to Sandakphu.
We had no idea about the direction, looked at a map and started asking people for confirmation. People were looking at us suspiciously. Most of the sumo and bolero drivers would not answer at first. They would look down at the front wheels of my Bolero and then ask if it was 4wd. Only on confirmation they would give the direction. I started becoming suspicious but kept mum fearing that the trip might get cancelled if Rajsri hints at something too dangerous

Direction to Sandakphu at Maneybhanjan

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc01585.jpg
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Old 18th March 2012, 21:11   #12
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Default re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

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Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
We started at 6:45 am from Tiger Hill and since there was nothing to do for the rest of the day,
Hi,
There are some lovely walks in that area.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 19th March 2012, 00:25   #13
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Default re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

About Sandakphu from wiki
Quote:
Sandakfu or Sandakphu (3636 m; 11929 ft) is the highest peak in the state of West Bengal, India. It is situated at the edge of the Singalila National Park in Darjeeling district on the West Bengal-Sikkim border, and is the highest point of the Singalila Ridge. Sandakphu has a small village on the peak with a number of hostels. The peaks of Kanchendzonga and Everest can be seen from its summit.
From Sandakphu the best view of the mountain Kanchendzonga is possible, which is known as the sleeping Buddha or the sleeping Shiva.
From Fabolia Jacob
Quote:
In Darjiling, trekkers who are too old or don't have time to walk seven hours a day for the allotted time of five to ten days, can always trek upto Sandakphu by Jeep or Landrover. The journey is memorable and tests both the mettle of the driver and the intensity of the vehicle.
The road to Sandakphu is unlike any other road that I have encountered before. It is so steep that Pankhabari road (my steepest climb before this) seems like child's play. I am not sure if it happens to all or only to me, I was quite comfortable going up, but the moment we started descending the steepness seemed to have increased several folds. Here is a map that will explain the route that we had taken -

Map of Sandhakphu area taken from Google

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandakphu_map.jpg

We started from Tiger Hill, so we were near Ghum and took the Lepchajagat-Sukhiapokhri-Manebhanjan route. From Maneybhanjan to Chitre the road is moderately steep. From Chitre to Lameydhura the gradient starts increasing rapidly. Just before Lameydhura, the paved road ends.

Stopped near a Gumpha just before Lameydhura

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak1.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak2.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak5.jpg

Gumpha near Lameydhura

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak6.jpg

Patches of rocky road before Lameydhura


Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak4.jpg

Reached Lameydhura and stopped for a coffee break

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak9.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak7.jpg

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Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak13.jpg

The Maneybhanjan-Sandakphu route is ruled by the Landrovers. Most of them were manufactured during the 1950s. A Landy driver told us that it takes about 3 hours to reach Sandakphu from Lameydhura.

A 1954 Vintage sporting a Mahindra DI engine

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-landy1.jpg

Inside view of the Landy taken with permission from the owner

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-landy3.jpg

The road from Lameydhura was relentlessly rocky and steep. From Meghma one take either of the two roads, one going through Nepal and the other through India. We took the road through India under directions of a Landrover driver. He mentioned that the Nepal side is shorter but more rough. We went through the Singalila National forest.

Inside the Singalila National forest

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak15.jpg

Don't know this flower but it was everywhere inside the forest

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak16.jpg

Another beautiful flower

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak18.jpg

A strange tree that has only flowers and no leaves!

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak17.jpg

Last edited by BlackPearl : 19th March 2012 at 00:50.
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Old 19th March 2012, 01:20   #14
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Default re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

The last stretch of road to Sandakphu was incredibly steep and had to be done in 4L 2nd gear. The Bolero or The White Tusker as named, was able to go up most of the slopes in 2wd mode. But problems occurred when a Landrover came from opposite direction on one those steep slopes. From a standstill I was not able to go up even in 4H. 4L was the only option on those slopes. I am not saying that these slopes cannot be done by a 2wd SUV, but I don't think I am capable enough to do it. Either it will need to maintain the momentum or use some technique unknown to me.
We reached Sandakphu at around 11:30 a.m.

The Kanchenjunga Range

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4163.jpg

Kabru South and Kabru North Peaks

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4178.jpg

Kanchenjunga (8586m) - third highest in the world

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4190.jpg

So happy to be able to map most of the peaks on the postcard

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4196.jpg

We wanted to go till Phalut as we were not aware of the distance of Phalut from Sandakphu. But a trekker returning from Phalut told us that it was about 21 Kms and would take two and half hours to reach there. It was already 12 noon and if we chose to go to Phalut we would have to stay there. Going back on this route at night is same as committing suicide and we did not have enough clothes required for a stay at Phalut. So we made the wise decision to go back to Darjeeling after taking some snaps and a promise to be back to that amazing place as soon as possible.

The White Tusker posing

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4210.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4214.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4219.jpg

The road not taken - leads to Phalut

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4249.jpg

Returning to Darjeeling

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4252.jpg

The roads looked menacing while descending. A few pictures of the slopes though it is impossible to capture the steepness -

The right after the first left looks like a passage to hell

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-road1.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-road2.jpg

Steepness everywhere

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-road3.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-road4.jpg

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-road5.jpg

A true zig zag

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-road6.jpg

Roads divide, one goes through India and the other through Nepal

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-road7.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 20th March 2012 at 13:19. Reason: As requested
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Old 19th March 2012, 02:27   #15
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Default re: Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut

We started at 12:30 p.m. from Sandakphu and reached Darjeeling at around 5 o clock. Kudos to Rajsri that she never complained of any ache after a total of 7 hours of travel through that torturous route from Mehgma to Sandakphu and back. Full marks to the Bolero for not developing any squeaks/rattles. A few random pictures without any sequence -

The road looked smooth and inviting from a distance

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak14.jpg

One of the check-posts where one has to write down the details like car reg. no, driver's license no, purpose of visit, etc. The army personnel are very friendly and eager to help..

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4065.jpg

One of the stretches that we took through Nepal

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak20.jpg

Singalila Forest check-post. We had to pay Rs. 300 here (100 per person and 100 for still camera)

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-sandak19.jpg

The White Tusker

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4357.jpg

Locals securing an RX 135 inside a Land Rover

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4304.jpg

Kalapokhri most probably. I am not sure but others familiar with this route can help

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4426.jpg

Yet another steep slope!

Destination Sandakphu, the Land Rover territory. Update - another trip till Phalut-dsc_4333.jpg
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