Go Back   Team-BHP > Buckle Up > Travelogues


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 24th October 2013, 11:34   #1
BHPian
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 60
Thanked: 198 Times
Default Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!

Year was 2012.

A deskjob at Bangalore was taking it's toll

Questions as to the futility of it all was upmost in my mind (as happens every six months) and five years at the present job with no holidays (mine is a services industry) was not helping matters much. That's when a call was made to parents back at home who, as always, sifted through the grime to come to a conclusion that it was routine that was killing me!

Sage advise was provided to drop whatever I had my grimy fingers in and plan a trip back home during the festive seasons. So Durga Pujo vacations it was! After about a decade of being disconnected with the "Bong" inside of me!

Plans were next set afoot trying to get the leaves approved (applied in March for an October vacation - which almost got rejected at the last minute! - another reason work life balance at work never works out!) and travel arrangements made.

As usual, Bangalore to Guwahati was to be done by flight (too long a distance to drive - but even that's on the works! - some day for sure!) and I was staying over at my parent's place. As of now, the plan was to see the Durga Pujo celebrations, and make up plans as they come up!

Till now, we had no clue as to what further plans would come up!

Clouds

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-clouds.png

Hills

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-hills.png

Divinity

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_5919.jpg

And not to mention, killing the boredom beast!


Last edited by afunnynut : 27th October 2013 at 07:12.
afunnynut is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 24th October 2013, 22:02   #2
BHPian
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 60
Thanked: 198 Times
Default Killing boredom 15000 ft above MSL!

Guwahati was at it's prime what with the entire city decked up in a festive mood.

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-streets_festive.jpg

Pandals were a dime a dozen and we had a gala time pujo hopping from one pandal to the next.

Almost all pujo pandals were decorated uniquely with some protimas made of chalk and some having floating lanterns a la Harry Potter!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-lanterns.jpg

There was a pujo pandal that was decked up to represent the Chinese monarchy and this was replete with it's own water breathing dragon!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-chinese.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-chinese1.jpg

By and by the day arrived when Devi had to depart with the hope of another Pujo the next year

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-visharjan.jpg

This left us with about two weeks worth of vacations left and nothing much to really do. Brainstorming was the only way out, and brainstorm we did! The result was a mad dash to the railway station to check and see if there was any tickets available for NJP or New Jalpaguri or Siliguri!

Tickets were available and booked for the next day and packing was quickly done. Next evening saw a harried lot - Mom, Dad, Wife and Kid finishing a quick bite at the Naga Kitchen - Guwahati so as to be able to catch the 7:00 PM train

Typical Nagaland Cuisine/Menu
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-naga.jpg


We boarded the train and bid each other an early good night. Next day 5 AM brought NJP, and the first rays of the sun to help with the biting cold

Sunlight never felt so good!
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-sunrise.jpg

We exited the station and were soon arranging a taxi to take us to our destination - which is What you ask? Take a look below

NJP Railway station
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-kanchenjunga_railway-station.jpg

View of our destination from NJP railway station
Click image for larger version

Name:	Kanchenjunga_railway station.jpg
Views:	107
Size:	231.7 KB
ID:	1157220

It did not take us long to get a shared taxi (Tata Sumo) and off we went.

Destination
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-kanchenjunga_siliguri.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-njpstation.jpg  

afunnynut is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 25th October 2013, 19:41   #3
BHPian
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 60
Thanked: 198 Times
Default

The total distance from NJP to Gangtok is a mere 116 KMs and technically, should be a mere cakewalk for us Bangaloreans - but the roads were in pretty bad shape and we were forewarned that on a previous trip, the same taxi had taken close to 9 hours!

http://goo.gl/maps/Vt1fA

But then with views like these, we were not the ones to complain! The road meanders along some of the best mountain roads (in terms of scenery) I have seen,

The road follows the pathways of rivers like this one. This, I am assuming is the Teesta, and the river and roads play hide and seek the entire distance

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-1.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-2.jpg

The cave like structures are from the hydro electric plant at Teesta and they have been carved through the base of the hill!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-3.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-4.jpg

Enroute, we stopped at Rongpo for refreshments. There was this chain of eateries on the left of the road overlooking the river, and we gorged on chappatti's with a mix veg curry that was divine! Unfortunately, missed taking a photo of the place


Sikkim Manipal University is visible as you cross the Teesta. The campus is on the banks of the river and makes for truly glorious surroundings!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-5.jpg

We reached Gangtok and had to change taxis. The long distance Sumos etc are not allowed within the city and we had to take a separate city taxi to take us from the Darjeeling/Kalimpong taxi and bus stands to Gangtok. We got a charming guy driving a Wagon R, and asked him for stay options. The taxi guy mentioned he had a suite that was just vacated in a hotel he knows off, which should get us decent accommodation, and the price we save in lodging, we can substitute for food or sightseeing! Which made sense (or none, depending on the rooms he was about to show us) and we asked him to take us there. We reached MG Road (beats all other commercial streets in India in terms of the sheer cleanliness and attention to detail that has gone to make this a walker's paradise!) and right at the end of MG Road, we took a left and we could see Sukhim Guest House.

A quick check and we had two suites that indeed were vacant. The rooms were at the top of the guest house, and one bedroom could be entered through the other. Each has it's own attached bath, curved wooden ceiling, and a skylight and was perfect for our purposes. Being just after Durga Pujos, the rooms were given at off peak rates and at Rs.900/- was a bargain!

Hotel Sukhim. Clean rooms, good service, and best part - walking distance of the MG Road!
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-10.jpg

Our Hotel Room - Got a suite since this was off season!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-6.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-7.jpg

MG Road! Traffic is not allowed on this road and more pictures that follow shows the road in all it's glory!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-8.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-9.jpg

It was almost 3 PM and after a quick lunch at a nearby hotel, we had the same taxi guy drop in for a sight seeing tour. Tours are divided into "Points" So you have the 3 point tour, 5 point tour etc and we settled in for a tour that would take us to the flower show, GaneshTok etc which was a customized tour as we opted to leave out a couple of places like the ropeway etc as we were unsure we had enough time as it gets dark pretty soon in these parts

Last edited by afunnynut : 27th October 2013 at 07:17.
afunnynut is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th October 2013, 14:27   #4
BHPian
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 60
Thanked: 198 Times
Default Killing boredom 15000 ft above MSL!

Below are some of the pictures of the Flower show. The Gangtok flower show is hosted in a different venue each year but there is a separate permanent flower show that you can visit year round

http://http://www.internationalflowershowsikkim.com/

Entry is charged at Rs. 10/- per head and is worth every penny!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-11.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-13.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-14.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-15.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-16.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-17.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-18.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-19.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-20.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-21.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-22.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-23.jpg

The flower show is set on it's own grounds that open up to a wonderful park if you climb the stairs to the top of the flower show ground! Walking around the park with it's uncluttered, lovely ambiance with the afternoon sun beating down upon you to help alleviate some of the chill in the air is a feeling worth it's weight in gold!
afunnynut is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th October 2013, 15:39   #5
BHPian
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 60
Thanked: 198 Times
Default Killing boredom 15000 ft above MSL!

The next stop over was Ganeshtok. Ganeshtok is a Ganesh Mandir situated on a hillock that presents a commanding view of Gangtok. You can see the entire city spread out in front of you, and the stately pine trees, prayer flags and the mighty, majestic Kanchenjunga playing hide and seek in front of your eyes amongst the clouds is a sight that needs to be seen to be believed.

Below are some pictures of Ganeshtok and it's surroundings

The walkway leading out of the flower show

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-walkway-outside-florwer-show.jpg



Prayer flags! A sight that you get used to seeing if traveling in the north eastern states and areas dominated by Buddhists

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_flag

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6151.jpg


The mandir from the extreme end of the parking lot

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6154.jpg

You can see the inscriptions on the flag from this angle

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6156.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6157.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6158.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6159.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6160.jpg


Gangtok in all it's glory in the afternoon sun

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6164.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6165.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6170.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6171.jpg


This was the Kanchenjunga view point (can't remember the actual name) that has a observatory and a curios shop at the top. This was en'route to the next destination a monastery within the periphery of the City.

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6179.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6180.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6182.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6185.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6189.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6201.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6205.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6206.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6207.jpg

Tried my hands at a slow shutter speed to see what would happen. Surprisingly, the effects came out rather well! There is a rope way crossing on top of this falls for people who want to attempt something as foolhardy as this (not due to the lack of bravado and courage by any means, but for the simple reason that the set up seemed to be pretty basic and archaic. Not sure of any safety precautions present at all!)

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6209.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6213.jpg

This was the final shot of the day after reaching back to our hotel. The fading sun lightling up the Kanchenjunga for one last hurrah before darkness finally prevailed and took over.

Name:  DSC_6218.JPG
Views: 3253
Size:  10.1 KB

Last edited by afunnynut : 26th October 2013 at 16:01.
afunnynut is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th October 2013, 17:35   #6
BHPian
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 60
Thanked: 198 Times
Default

The next day came, and brought with it (hold your breath!) our taxi guy! Bang sharp at 5 in the morning. And why on earth would that be, would you ask? Especially with the mercury outside not showing any encouraging signs of climbing to a degree that warrants anyone to even move in their blankets, let alone climb out of bed?

Well the answer to that, would be the almost one single reason that brings people to Gangtok in the first place - Nathula Pass, Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathu_La

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Tsongmo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_Harbhajan_Singh

But first, we had to feast! (Literally, considering there are no eateries en'route, and my parents have this fetish for rice and fish!)

So feast we did, at the taxi stand that goes to Tsomgo lake [yes, there are multiple taxi stands, yes, they are a fair distance away from the center of the city, and yes, getting a cheap taxi involves luck, patience, devotion to your God and haggling - (not bargaining mind you!) skills!]

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6232.jpg


The road, or the non existance of one (in patches) are thanks to the earthquake that had hit sikkim recently and the funny part is, if you look at the mountains ahead that take you to Tsomgo and beyond, the earth seems to have slipped exactly above and below the actual roads cut into the mountain. The damage, also, seems to be worse towards the Nathu la road as opposed to the actual city itself (thank God for that!)

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6256.jpg

As you move out of the city, you are greeted with enough signs and insignia to firmly keep you rooted to the fact that you are now reaching the fringes of India and are about to toe into Chinese territory

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6268.jpg

But then, there are some consolations that remind you that all is not lost, and remind you of home!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6274.jpg


As you move on, roads become more or less non existent and you have the uncanny urge to peep over the edge of every ravine and shudder!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6294.jpg
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6296.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6297.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6299.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6306.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6307.jpg

And then, you reach the traffic log jam place. This is a U turn where the roads are so damaged that only one vechicle can move at a time,resulting in a traffic pile up that, for people from Tier 1 cities, should feel like home!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6309.jpg

But then as you move forward, and check out the roads ahead, all is forgotten ,just the sheer anticipation of what lies ahead!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6324.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6328.jpg

As you move ahead, you soon reach a hill beyond which there is a bend and you begin to descend into a valley. Looking ahead, you see unmistakable signs of habitation. Roads are full of U turn bends and as you move towards the settlement, you see a waterfall almost at the edge of the plateau.


Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6346.jpg

This is the Baba temple.

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6352.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6355.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6356.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6357.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6358.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6359.jpg

There is a cafe there (cafe 14000 ft) that serves refreshments (we had veg momos and coffee) and it's best to have a nibble here, as food is scarce and the only decent food you can get is back at Gangtok!

We left from there on to Nathula SEZ (forgoed the pass for the next time) and started back into civilization

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6362.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6363.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6364.jpg

Near Nathula SEZ, we have a hill that literally echoes what's in our hearts!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6371.jpg

Beyond is the SEZ where chinese vehicles come down to trade

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6373.jpg

We go down to the SEZ in Tsomgo but there's nothing worthwhile to write home about, and thus, we move on, reaching Gangtok back in the evening.

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6378.jpg
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6387.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6401.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6402.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6423.jpg

Last edited by afunnynut : 27th October 2013 at 08:50.
afunnynut is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th October 2013, 17:56   #7
BHPian
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 60
Thanked: 198 Times
Default Killing boredom 15000 ft above MSL!

Evening was fun. Remembered to take my camera along this time and talked everyone to come down and watch the throng of people assemble at the MG Road and surrounding areas. Every evening feels like a festive time what with flower decorated roads, shops selling everything from curios to food, and you can have a time of your life! The only drawback? Night life pretty much shuts itself down after 9 PM!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6433.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6434.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6435.jpg

As cozy as can get! Nights are chilly, you see!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6437.jpg


Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6453.jpg
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6454.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6462.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6466.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6467.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6469.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6471.jpg

Ah! Pedro!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6472.jpg

And Opium!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6495.jpg

Which, actually, is good, considering you can be bright and early for what the next day has in store! Which is? Why, the ropeway, of course!

This looked interesting!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6482.jpg

The ropeway essentially takes you to the highest point of the corner of MG Road and connects you to the center of the town bazaar down below.

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6497.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6498.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6503.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6512.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6520.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6522.jpg

We went in and were pretty much blown away with the feeling that all you have in terms of not falling to your deaths below, is a carriage that's sprung on steel cables! But the sights are worth it, especially the sigh of the ever present traffic jam and the fact that no vehicles break the line. Bangalore's road sense have gone to the dogs, thanks to the call center cabs and the drill down effect it has on the general population around - who all now seem to drive around trying to beat every other cabbie within sniffing distance

Anyway, reached back (on the Big Bazaar building) and we see a board that seems just so inviting!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6544.jpg

So a quick check on expenses and vitamin "M". A quick look at the calender! Well, why not!
afunnynut is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th October 2013, 18:59   #8
BHPian
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 60
Thanked: 198 Times
Default Killing boredom 15000 ft above MSL!

Things to do when packing out of a hotel

1. Checking and ensuring your teeth are well polished for what ever "eats" you get on the way - check
2. Ensuring you have had a good bath so what ever dirt you pick up on the way, you can rest assured they are freshly minted ones - check
3. Ensuring all your stuff is packed - you don't want to come back a hundred kilometers just because you have forgotten your toothbrush - check
4. Ensuring your near and dear ones - read kid, wife parents etc are within line of sight - you don't want a "Home Alone" episode replayed live - check

So we cleared out the bill, called up our favourite taxi who was more than happy to take us to the Kalimpong/Darjeeling taxi stand.

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6546.jpg

The taxi stand was a beehive of activity and there are two ways you can get conned - take a shared taxi/tempo ticket that almost always is late by a good three hours or haggle with a local Wagon R guy to take you along on a separate vehicle.

We did both - booked a shared taxi - waited two hours, went for a walk, came across a private taxi stand a level above the shared taxi stand, casually started small talk with a group of taxi drivers loafing around, and pretty much striked a deal immediately!

Dad wasn't too pleased with the fact that we were paying twice, but then we talked everyone into agreeing to our point of view

1. Own hired taxi was more comfortable
2. We could stop the taxi whenever hunger called (which was often!)
3. Most importantly and the deal clincher - we could cajole the driver into playing songs of our choice!

So off we were!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6560.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6567.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6571.jpg

Roads were narrow by any standards, and the Wagon R, which the designers might never have dreamt of the vehicle being used to ferry five and a half well endowed humans through a 40% incline, would have been weeping tears of sheer unbridled joy at the way the vehicle was handling.

We stopped at the "Lover's Point" for a wonderful view of Teesta and another river down below.

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6573.jpg

We could just make out a resort with camping down below (note to self: might come in useful on the next trip!)

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6574.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6579.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6581.jpg

We stopped midway for puris and in the backyard, spied a pigsty complete with a mother and tiny tots!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6583.jpg

After food, off we went again. The weather, which was cold to begin with, now took up a mind of it's own, being cold, clammy, dark, windy, rainy and sudden fog that brought down visibility to drastically low levels.

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6595.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6596.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6605.jpg

The narrow roads were not helping - though the roads were clean, cobbled and a joy to drive on!

At the outskirts of Darjeeling is Dalai Lama's monastery and this looks imposing as you take a turn to reach the city

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6613.jpg

We reached Darjeeling and elected to stay somewhere near the Mall Road

http://goo.gl/maps/O75Me

After searching around, we reached Hotel Mansarovar. Two rooms with attached balcony at Rs. 900/- a night with no taxes sealed the deal immediately! The icing on the cake was the view outside the balcony! A scene to die for!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6617.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6618.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6621.jpg

It did not take long for us to quickly unpack, wash up and make a beeline for the exit. Night here we come!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6623.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6624.jpg

The Mall Road is the topmost point of Darjeeling town center and encompasses a road that essentially goes round the hill top with shopping malls (British times) on either side. It has a cultural stage build on top near a flat plateau that has a stage that has culturan activities that start at about 6 PM for about an hour.

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6625.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6628.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6629.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6638.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6640.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6641.jpg

Just off to the left is a small road that are lined with small shops that sell everything from momos to thalis! But more of that later!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6660.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6597.jpg  

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6668.jpg  


Last edited by afunnynut : 26th October 2013 at 19:04.
afunnynut is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th October 2013, 19:54   #9
BHPian
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 60
Thanked: 198 Times
Default Killing boredom 15000 ft above MSL!

Next day brought with it hunger! So off we went first filling up our tummies, and post that, a tour of Darjeeling.

Darjeeling, unlike Gangtok, is a city of extremes. The weather, especially if you are perched on top of the hill like you invariably will be,on the Mall Road, is a lot cooler, which is expected considering you are on the side of the hill that pretty much overlooks the Himalayan ranges.

It is also a lot more commercialized than Gangtok, but that does not take away it's charm. The city is a labyrinth of intertwining narrow lanes, that are best traveled on foot.

There are shops (Nathmulls, Habeeb Mallick) that have been around since ages and there are also petty shops selling everything from beads to gold and everything in between.

The city is dotted with monuments that are a throwback to the old British days, but slowly and surely, the city is slowly losing out to commercialization and modernization.

So on one hand you have places like Glenary's that serve tea - black and bakery items to die for, and you have places that sell Cashmere silks and knick knacks.

Most of the eateries are TripAdvisor rated 8 and above and entering one, whether for breakfast, snacks or dinner, makes you realise at once as to why exactly they score so high

We tried out the momos and street food from the off road that shoots from the Mall Road and the food was awesome.

While Darjeeling boasts of paragliding, trekking, tiger hill visits to see the sunrise, for us, nothing beat the morning and evening walks along the Mall road, where we had an unhindered view of the Himalayas and shopped till we (literally) dropped.

While the kid enjoyed her horse ride and shopping for curios, I was there for the food!

For foodies out there

Breakfast - Hasty Tasty (Dosas anyone?)
Lunch - Pine Ridge (Awesome lip smacking Chicken/Pork/Fish thalis)
Dinner - Any of the Tibetian restaurants just after Opium on the MG Road
Snacks - The food street off Mall Road

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6669.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6674.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6677.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6687.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6694.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6700.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6706.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6733.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6734.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6735.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6744.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6746.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6748.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6754.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6761.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6763.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6792.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6802.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6806.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6903.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6916.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6918.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6922.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6925.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6979.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_6995.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7016.jpg

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7045.jpg
afunnynut is offline   (3) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th October 2013, 20:32   #10
BHPian
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 60
Thanked: 198 Times
Default Killing boredom 15000 ft above MSL!

Soon, it was time to say adieu to the hills and think about going home,

So we engaged a Wagon R and payed the advance to take us back to NJP via Kurseong. Morning came, and the Wagon R never came. On calling, we found that the driver had taken ill, but he had sent one of his friends to take over. The deal? We were to go in an Innova and since we had booked a Wagon R, the deal was just a hundred rupees extra to the Rs. 1100/- we had booked the Wagon R for!

So off we went.

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7086.jpg

The roads passed through the training grounds of the Gorkha Regiment. If pictures below are anything to go by, we know just why Gorkhas have always been a symbol of courage, dedication, commitment to their cause the world over, anywhere they have had the privilege of being deployed

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7092.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7093.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7095.jpg

Roads through Kurseong were even narrower (if that were possible) than the roads from Gangtok to Darjeeling.

We stopped just outside the city for a last glimpse of Kanchenjunga, before we were off again.

Breakfast was on the way just after hitting the plains (I don't remember the exact name of the place, but the driver stopped at a Marwari joint that made the most heavenly puris and potato curry I have had in a long long time. To add to it were the Samosas!

We passed cobbled streets just after exiting Darjeeling which, I was told, was to enhance road grip for days when the winter temperature ensured there was enough dew and ice on the roads to make driving even more fun!

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7096.jpg

We crossed a train running on meter guage (mere sapnon ki rani anyone?) and the roads were just adjacent to the now defunct Darjeeling Toy Train - which is a pity considering it's one of the icons of Darjeeling we will be losing should the train be permanently withdrawn.

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7097.jpg

Below is the sad plight that the once iconic Toy Train service is in.

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7100.jpg

We now have a modern diesel engine that ferries passengers between Kurseong to Ghoom

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7107.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7108.jpg

Descending the hills of Kurseong, we come across acres and acres of Tea cultivation

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7124.jpgKilling boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7128.jpg

Roads are treacherous

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7138.jpg

Just before reaching Siliguri, we pass by an army base that houses second world war artifacts

Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7155.jpg

We reached NJP and took the Rajdhani back to Guwahati thus ending our wonderful jaunt on the hills with a promise to go back some day - after all we have an appointment to keep with Nathu La if nothing else!

Pictures shot from the train:

Paddy Fields
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7175.jpg

Entering Assam
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7250.jpg

Boats or what passes off as boats in these parts!
Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!-dsc_7252.jpg

This brings me to the end of our sojourn in the hills and already has me salivating to go back once more! Being just a night journey away from home, sure is inviting!
afunnynut is offline   (7) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 28th October 2013, 11:35   #11
GTO
Team-BHP Support
 
GTO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Bombay
Posts: 47,758
Thanked: 89,465 Times
Default Re: Killing boredom 15000 ft above sea level : Clouds, Hills & Divinity!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
GTO is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Tirthan Valley – A slice of divinity predatorwheelz Travelogues 20 22nd February 2017 22:18
Washed out from 18,000 odd ft to sea level - Photologue Coooolcat21 Travelogues 18 1st February 2011 17:47
Fuelled by boredom, Saudis race all night dadu The International Automotive Scene 46 14th March 2009 03:51
Any Gadget(watch) which comes with MSL(mean sea level) calculation? deepclutch Gadgets, Computers & Software 21 15th December 2008 15:43
volvo bus rams into truck and catches fire killing 22 people adityapd Commercial Vehicles 39 22nd January 2006 23:09


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 05:09.

Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks