Go Back   Team-BHP > Buckle Up > Travelogues


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 7th December 2013, 14:52   #1
Senior - BHPian
 
1100D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Calcutta
Posts: 4,179
Thanked: 2,360 Times
Default Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

The Challenge to starting a new story (a travelogue) is that, there could be new readers, who might not have been initiated with the earlier ones. A reference point has to be established afresh and that is where the folks who are already familiar with the documenter might begin to feel a sense of why is he beginning all over. So a Balance is required. Will try to do just that. Mainly to cut a long story short!

The hills of North Bengal and Sikkim, holds for me, a charm that I do not find elsewhere in the world. Till the present times, apart from a few town centers that have become crowded, attracting tourists seeking accommodation in thousands, the rest of the region still offers many places that are not so conveniently connected. Hence makes it relatively disturbance free. One can go to sleep in absolute silence from unnatural sounds, wake up early in the morning, shivering and yet unready to hide behind a blanket because you have a fabulous Kanchenjungha range greeting you with the first rays of red Sunlight. The proximity to the bordering country of Nepal, means the air is mostly filled with music that can find its origins from Nepal. But the charm of that music is that, it flies through the air from some distant settlement on a hill side somewhere and reaches ones ears. To add to this, as I mentioned, since most of these locations are not conveniently located, the journey to get there, gets exciting, with or without a 4x4.

Sillery Gaon is one such place. A place the locals lovingly call as "New-Darjeeling". But whether or not it lives upto that calling is what we shall find out.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_22791.jpg

However, there is an ancient and a very wise saying that, if one likes doing something, the best thing to do is to not do it too much, to take the specialness out. One trip, once a year is what we follow, the longing grows. As a result the feeling that's prevalent while driving past the coronation bridge or the Sukhia base camp, as an entry is made to the hills is priceless. But this year, the longing was somewhat getting a bit unbearable, even though we have had a Sandakphu-Phalut-Kolakham (Sandakphu Phalut Kolakham - Unleashing a Mahindra Scorpio on Land Rover territory) trip earlier this year. Leaves are a problem, moreover the bigger problem is to keep oneself connected (cellphone/E-mail) even on a vacation, which actually takes away the experience, to top that, the prospect of having to catch up on accumulated e-mails is nothing sort of a nightmare, so anytime off from work, is usually associated with a lot of pain either before the period and much more after it. Then, as destiny would have it, an opportunity presented itself in a very very unique way.

A very close cousin of mine, acted very wisely to choose a life-partner from somewhat the northern regions of our state, Raiganj. Interestingly there were 2 intervening days between her marriage day and the reception at her in-laws. Those unfamiliar, Bengali marriages are usually held over multiple days, the chief among them is the marriage day at the girls place and usually a reception at the Grooms place the day after next, allowing one day for the bride and groom to transition from one home to the other. In this case, the marriage happened on a Friday and the reception was to be held on Monday (instead of Sunday) to allow for the transition from one part of the state to another. Now since the reception at the Guys place was on Monday, a leave "had" to be taken on Monday to attend the reception and Tuesday drive back. It was this particular prospect that I decided to cash in on. Why not, start on the Saturday - drive to the hills on Sunday, come back to Raiganj on Monday
and drive back on Tuesday. Sort of clubbing both together. It almost worked perfectly. Almost because we had no idea about the road conditions being non-existent near Raiganj.

So here was the plan. Unlike other times, this time, it had to work out this way, because we had a reception to attend on the Monday at Raiganj.

Day 1 - Drive to Siliguri through the Dumka -Bhagalpur-Purnea route
Day 2 - Drive to Sillery Gaon - spend the afternoon and rest of the day there
Day 3 - Spend morning at Sillery Gaon - Ramitey top then drive down all the way to Raiganj attend the reception. On other trips we spend the day in the hills even after the usual 11am checkout time that most resorts resort to and come back to Siliguri for the night. But this time, adherence to the clock was important.
Day 4 - Drive back to Kolkata through NH34 Malda-Moregram-Siuri-Bolpur route
1100D is offline   (9) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th December 2013, 17:53   #2
Senior - BHPian
 
1100D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Calcutta
Posts: 4,179
Thanked: 2,360 Times
Default re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Day 1 Drive to Siliguri - Overconfidence leading to almost a disaster.


Those from the region will know, how much anxiety and uncertainty any drive from Kolkata to Siliguri is associated with. Two nerve centers of the state, but still, any self-driven journey over the years have always necessitated planning, investigation, information gathering and what not. Its only around 600 odd clicks away, but the variety of areas that needs to be traversed through and their varying cultures makes it highly uncertain. The NH34 route, the usual one, is known for roads in continuous state of dis-repair. The alternate route through Bhagalpur also has its fair share of tantrums. However the mistake I made, is to not invest time to figure out the conditions.

The plan was to take the Dumka-Bhagalpur-Purnea route to Siliguri, as we have kept religiously to, for the last few years. We had also seen a consistent
11hrs of drivetime with a actual end-end time of around 13hrs. It was this consistency alone, that lead to trouble and underestimation of random events that can throw the entire trip to jeopardy.

Usually the start time for these trips had been between 4-5 am. The plan was to do just that. But attending the marriage on the day before and coming back to pack the bags, ensured that we hit the bed around 2 am. Infact, had my parents not been travelling with us, the thought did cross my mind to start right then, without hitting the bed. Wouldn't have been too wrong that way. The consistency of the last few trips meant that at the back of the mind, there was a feeling that even if we start an hour late, it will just be one additional hour to reach. Left from home at 6am. I knew there would be more traffic, so added another 30 mins to the intended arrival time. But more or less, I was relaxed with the idea that we will reach around 6:30 to 7pm, taking it very easy.

There was no intention of writing this part of the travelogue. Earlier it was the NH34 route to talk over, then it became quite academic. Then for the first few occassions of taking this route, there were things to document. But now, all that is done, discussed to its death. So it will just be a uneventful journey, with some additional stops to accommodate my Mom's recent diabetic status.

Our first Jhatka was in driving to Bolpur from Bardhaman. Had been keeping a very relaxed pace, even through a very low on traffic Bardhaman-Bolpur route, only to come to terms with the reason, a few kms ahead of Guskhara. A culvert is broken on the route and its discontinuous.

Asked a few locals who pointed to a narrow dirt road (on right) that goes beside the canal that the aforesaid culvert bridges across. The local said its
quite long before you'll find another bridge to the left, follow the road after that, to rejoin the route. The problem is, when you take a route like that and there is no one else to cross verify the claim made by a first local, it gets eerie, especially knowing you have quite a distance to travel after this.

The dirt road kept going with no vehicle or human in sight, when suddenly there was a silver lining, a Bolero from the opposite direction. The silver lining was that the presence of the Bolero meant, there will be an opportunity to seek feedback regarding the route ahead. But, the bigger problem is, the
Bolero will also have to cross Marengo on this Narrow dirt road.(The light at the end of a tunnel, that of an approaching train) Needed 4wd to get tilted
on the embankment to give the Bolero a clean road to cross by. The driver also thanked us by saying that the bridge is about a KM up ahead, which it indeed was. Soon followed a village road to rejoin the road to Bolpur. Delay of 18 minutes. I just added that to the scheduled arrival time and continued in the previous mode, should have sped up.

Took a small (22 minute) restroom/tea break a few Km's ahead of Siuri, then stopped at Messanjore for a relaxing breakfast (37 minutes). Clock ticking by. Till then it was a perfect journey! But we had accumlated 1 hour 17 minutes of stop and delay time.

The drive to Pattabari was quite entertaining as usual but as soon as we reached there, saw a long line of trucks. Crossing them, came across barricades blocking the Dumka-Rampurhat route. A few locals, said that its a strike in the region and we should either stay put or go back. Somehow I kept crawling ahead, a tactic I always employ near blockages, its always such a slow crawl that people speaking to us dont realise the vehicle is moving. By the time the discussion finished, Marengo was already beside the barricade on the earthen shoulder, with a clear track ahead. But still we decided to stop, get down as if to honour the strike to make the locals shift focus to other things. A few moments later, we got into Marengo and slowly drove off with no one noticing.

The road to Dumka was perfect. The blockade ensured that there was no traffic, but this time, I had stepped up the tempo. Soon we were at Dumka at around half past 11 but here the Blockade was bigger, and much more tighter. We tried to reason but it did not work out, even after 20-25 mins of trying to persuade. One very kind local man directed us to another dirt road, to try our luck on, because it was also washed away at one point. A Bolero followed Marengo through this route and soon we were at the breakage. Shifted to 4WD on the move and we were in and out of the breakage in a flash with a little slipping and sliding. To add as an Ego booster when I looked back in the RVM to the fate of the tailing Bolero, it appeared to have gotten stuck and veered off-track. However contrary to my usual nature, decided to let the Bolero to itself.

Anyway, a few hundred yards ahead we met a paved road, with a tractor parked. Asked directions from the gentleman in a lungi on the tractor and told him about the stuck bolero to help him out. The paved road took us into Dumka town. Looked like our troubles were over as we were moving quite freely inside Dumka as we head towards the tower-chowk through the non-main routes, asking for directions at every turn (even though the GPS was on, the intent was to avoid the main routes). Filled up at tower-chowk Indianoil pump and as soon as we got out towards Bhagalpur, was the third blockage. There were government/police/army vehicles that were peacefully observing the strike. They asked us to wait till 2-2:30pm (it was around 12:20 then) as the blockage is most likely to be lifted by then. We decided to not just wait but find alternate ways to get around. Came back to tower chowk a local asked us to turn right towards the Gandhi Maidan and take a right turn through another dirt road beside a water tank, we did. Followed a local tractor on just gut feeling. When it rejoined a paved road, asked for directions to Bhagalpur, the people looked perplexed. The GPS asked us to turn back, but then having seen what GPS does, decided to ignore it, turned out to be a super decision.

A km up ahead, saw another tractor going through a dirt road on right, followed it, when suddenly the GPS recalculated route to affirm that the route was indeed correct. Asked the tractor wala, he said that the road goes to Dumka-bhagalpur route alright, but there is an under construction bridge, vehicles can only go to one side of it. I asked if tractors can cross, he said yes. So hit first gear without taking anymore inputs from him. Soon we were at the so-called under construction bridge. 4WD was called for again as we started descending into the path to the bottom of it, a slushy ground with a very steep descent and then an ascent. Thankfully we managed, even sensed the MLD (Mechanical Locking Differential) coming to action with a khat sound. When we stopped on the other side, mainly to engage reverse and get out of 4wd mode, the tractor wala said, that its clear track to the Bhagalpur route up-ahead.

But no! A few kms uphead is a fork at Sarsabad, that comes up right after a railway underpass, that fork was blocked. This one looked like was going to stop us, because there was seemingly no more routes to go back to. As there was this elevated railway line that acts as a perfect retainer. Stopped, asked a local lad. He pointed to a bunch of trees beside the railway embankment, saying, if we get to cross the gathering of trees there is another dirt track that will take us to the road that goes left from the fork. Easier said than done, a little walk recce was needed, the vehicle will have to travel tilted on the embankment on actual grass (no trail), which it did and soon we were at the road that lead left from the fork (the Sarsabad-Jama road). But going back to the fork would be of no benefit. Asked a few guys about joining the Bhagalpur route, they said nothing apart from going through the fork. But waiting was not our option, so instead of going towards the fork, we headed the other way and soon drove into a path leading to a few hutments. Then onto a field, then onto a Sandy path slipping to 4WD, through courtyards of people who have never seen a vehicle in front of their homes, confirmed by one local. He pointed to a vague direction to join the Bhagalpur route and we did so at 1:18pm.

A very rough-crude indication of the offroad route

Name:  Untitled.jpg
Views: 5835
Size:  51.6 KB

The intention was to cross Jharkhand as fast as possible, which we did at Hansdiha 35kms away. We were around 1.5 hours late.

But were the troubles over, no, there was a local "Haat" where cattle were being brought to be sold and the going beyond Hansdiha wasn't as fast as we would have liked. Then the roads leading to Bhagalpur started deteriorating as we got closer and closer to it. The target was to have lunch at the Vaibhav inn just after crossing the Vikramsila Setu. But from the condition of the roads inside Bhagalpur, it appeared that its still a long way to get to Vikramsila.

Vikramsila Setu itself had a very bad road surface. After crossing the Vikramsila, we encountered the worst road thus far, but still, had to endure on second gear to Vaibhav inn. However if Vaibhav inn stop was not targeted, there is a road parallel to this same road, the entry point of which is just after crossing the Vikramsila setu, on the right.

Vaibhav Inn stop was quite refreshing and probably a very well timed rest stop at 3:55pm. The food was quick (we were in and out within 50 mins) and quite good, the restrooms good. Then it was time to hit the road again, the target was to cover as much ground before having to use headlights. The 6kms to the NH31 was endured in second gear. The moment we hit NH31 the surface was great, speeds went up, Purnea was 73 kms ahead. Wanted to cross the 2 laned section before the lights go out, at 5ish, we still had time, but the Sun actually went double fast down at 5:15 with a few more kms to Purnea.

Ok! time to actually put the powerful headlights to use, which I had been complaining earlier, of not being able to put to real use. Initially it was brilliant. But at one point, realised that I am still being troubled by lights from other vehicles. Driving upto the back of an i10, it dawned on us that the lights have gone into a motorcycle mode, with one headlight completely out. Kept cursing myself for not carrying a spare for the first time. However, in high beam, both lights were working. So was using the flasher to mostly warn other vehicles of Marengo not being a motorcyle, as well as to visualise the road conditions ahead. Like this, we entered BP Dalkhola at a little beyond half past 6.

While tea was being made, took an opportunity to check the bulb connections, turned out that the connector was loose. Pressing it in, both the lights were fine. After tea, it was time to hit the NH31 (40 mins stop), would be a smooth sail, I assumed, given that I now have fantastic beams on what is going to be a great surface. But that too was not so. The top-surface from Dalkhola to Kishangunj had peeled off at many many places, making the drive less than smooth, but thankfully the depth of those peels were only upto a cm or two deep, so just stuck to the left side of the road, on the shoulder side where it appeared a little better. From Kishanganj onwards the roads cleaned up. We drove into Siliguri, WBTDC Hotel Mainak at 9:16pm (exactly 2 hours from BP Dalkhola). A full 15 hour ordeal (12.5 hrs drive time), but could have been worse, much much worse.

However, it was a baptism by fire for my new Mercedes AMG Petronas driving shoes and it did come out as fantastic.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_20111.jpg


Anyway, the Moral of the story is to respect the randomness/diversity of the Kolkata-Siliguri travel. Start early as much as you can. If we started an hour earlier, we would have cleared the blockade without even knowing it. Read up news sites from Jharkhand and Bihar the day before. If you reach Siliguri early, relax there, instead of taking time off during the drive.

Last edited by 1100D : 8th December 2013 at 00:53.
1100D is offline   (8) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 8th December 2013, 01:32   #3
Senior - BHPian
 
1100D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Calcutta
Posts: 4,179
Thanked: 2,360 Times
Default re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Day 2 The "New Darjeeling" beckons.

Since we had to return the very next day, it was imperative that hill-time is maximised on this day. A complementary breakfast is served at Mainak from 8am, so our plan was to leave just after that, around 8:30am. But a very stupid reliance on a cellphone, that had gone out of charge, to give us a wakeup call ensured we were around half an hour late. Then there was a delay at the dining hall and at the Petrol pump. So by the time we setoff from Siliguri it was 9:40 am.

The route to Sillery Gaon (Our destination), was simple. According to the manager of the resort/homestay we were booked in, we needed to drive to Kalimpong and needed to come "seedhe" (straight) from there. Can it be more simple than that.

Questions to "seedhe" on which direction, was also answered with "ekdum seedhe" (absolutely straight). Thankfully he mentioned Algara and that Sillery Gaon would be before Pedong. So had a starting point.


The road to Kalimpong this time greeted us with good surface, painted road barriers and a blue watered Teesta held by the Teesta Barrage downstream

A customary shot

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2008.jpg

The Teesta Bridge

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2023.jpg



Kalimpong was despatched in a little under 2 hours from Siliguri. Thankfully the board to Algarah was right at the Kalimpong market, indicating around 14 kms to it. If one misses the board at Kalimpong, it will be wise to ask directions to Algarah/Lava or Pedong and Algarah will be around 14 kms from the Kalimpong taxi stand.

We also reached Algarah effortlessly. There is a fork at Algarah, the road on right goes to Lava and the road on left goes to Pedong, this is the one we have to take. The local taxiwalahs informed that the offshoot to Sillery Gaon would be 3kms from Algarah fork, on the left. They also mentioned it to be quite rough, the final climb. I actually thanked them sincerely much to their surprise.

Anyway, since we had made it to Algarah double quick and Silery gaon being within single Digit distance (measured in KMs). The decision was made to have Momo's at the Algarah chowk. These turned out to be extremely delicious, though they served only the veg variety.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2025.jpg

Momo done, the route to Pedong taken, within 3 kms there was a direction to Sillery gaon, a rock lined kuchcha road without much of a gradient but was very rough. So decided to get into 4WD-Low, to allow for very low speed crawling without having to tax the clutch. Asked a local, he said 3 kms. The road entered into the pine forest and soon the Sillery plantation that rents its name to the place were becoming evident.


3kms done, but no sign of any settlement, but thankfully there was a Bolero, that had come with passengers to this point, learnt that this is the point for the Tinchuley viewpoint trek, (vehicles can't get to Tinchuley, so I was naturally not interested), Sillery Gaon would be 2 more kms from this point. So its 5 kms from the point where it leaves the Algarah-Pedong road. Indeed after 2kms the "New Darjeeling" came to our view.

Our stay would be at the Nirmala Resort, that has the highest vantage view of all the homestays of the region. Painted in a bright flourescent green, it offerred an interesting sight, though might bring in mixed emotions.

Some pictures of the resort.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2099.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2098.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2069.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2071.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2142.jpg

The property is managed by Dilip Tamang, he and his family is extremely helpful and accomodating, given their honest to the village homestay infrastructure and capability. But their approach is that of progressive addition of features and capacity and would continue to evolve.

They met us with a welcome cup of tea, from the finest Darjeeling leaves.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2060.jpg

A glimpse of the view from the resort.

This is where the Kanchenjungha is most likely to make an appearance

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2059.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2070.jpg
1100D is offline   (5) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 8th December 2013, 13:12   #4
Senior - BHPian
 
1100D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Calcutta
Posts: 4,179
Thanked: 2,360 Times
Default re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Day 2 continued - Sillery Gaon


A travel brochure of Sillery Gaon, if such a thing existed, would probably mention visiting a few points for a person who would like to explore the Pedong region with Sillery Gaon as a base. However being mostly interested in an interesting drive, our choice of places to visit was dictated by the potential driving excitement a place offered. Besides many points they mention, are separate destinations within themselves. Here are some of them


Tinchuley viewpoint - A narrow path on the road to Sillery gaon, interrupted at the beginning by a narrow footbridge, so Marengo could not make it through, so wasn't interested in taking my folks for a walk on what was only a 1 night hill stay. However, this point offers Paragliding opportunities.
  • Damsang Fort - Again on the same road, wasn't too interested to find out depleted ruins.
  • Silence Valley - We drove by it.
  • Rikkisum - On the Algarah - Lava route - So will save it for a Rishop trip sometime later
  • Sangchen Dorjee Monastery and Cross Hills - In Pedong, will save it for a Pedong trip - besides, these hardly offer a driving destination
  • Aritar Lake - Probably some other time
  • Ramitey - This was the reason to visit Sillery Gaon!
Ramitey is a viewpoint beyond Sillery Gaon following the same rocky road through the forest. It offers a vantage view of 14 bends of Teesta (the longest seen from anywhere) as well as on a clear day top that view with a snow capped Kanchenjungha. So this was the point for which we had chosen Sillery Gaon as our destination.

So Naturally, the first thing I did on reaching Silley Gaon was ask for distance, directions to Ramitey. The resort manager's brother said that the road cannot be driven on, confirmed by one or two other people. However, that is exactly what people kept on telling me on the entire trip to Sandakphu-Phalut (even on the way back). What was disappointing was that no one could tell me the exact distance. Then only one old man said, that the road is slippery but if the vehicle is 4x4 it will go, but one has to be very careful. He said it was only half a kilometer, but he was absolutely wrong.

Anyway, we had reached Sillery Gaon around half past 1 in the afternoon on a nice sunlit day. In recent times, we can't recall when was the last time we have had a proper lunch at a proper lunch-time, but somehow we had felt grumpy by this time and the homestay food was not only welcome but tasted fabulous. Post lunch, it was time to explore the place a little, though at the back of the mind, it was an itch to just drive off on the Ramitey trail to find out.

The pictures in the previous post were shot during this phase.

The way Sillery Gaon is oriented, it stays within a shadow of the mountain behind it, in the afternoons, it was beginning to get cold. Infact its this orientation alone that makes the place quite colder than its surroundings, as it receives the first suns rays late (tinchuley hill locking morning rays), as well as the last suns rays early.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2078.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2081.jpg

The point of waiting for the drive-off to Ramitey was to catch the Sunset from there. But now, it was time to find out. The trail lead into a very dark forest and within no time half a km was over with no sign of the road coming to an end. The road kept on going, so did we. Only the rocks were sharper, higher and since the track receives limited sunlight and it had rained a few days back, it was slippery, the track was also narrow. On many boulders, the 2.5 ton vehicle would slide sideways outside on the slope side. At one or two points the track was too narrow, that we felt that there could be a risk of subsidence if Marengo stayed on it long enough. However since there were trees everywhere, there was a very limited risk of the vehicle falling off the slope. There was no human in sight. It was only after traversing around 2kms, the road emerged into a clearing.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2103.jpg



There was a narrow trail going up from it, leading upto a few rocks, however the narrowness of the track means you can only drive halfway upto it. But one would have to reverse back. So makes better sense to park in the clearing and walk up the slope (its just a few meters anyway).

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2107.jpg

However, till this point, at the clearing, one does not get to really appreciate the potential of this area, not even as one is walking up, till the very last moment, when one reaches the final rocks at the summit. That is the only spot from which Ramitey presents to you the view it is known for. So for people visiting the region, dont give up till you reach the final rock on the summit, for that is when Ramitey will reward you.

Here goes - Note the flowing river below from left to right (Thats the longest view of Teesta that can be seen from anywhere)

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2129.jpg

On the top burnt part of the picture was a sunset that was taking place like this!

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2133.jpg

Thats the best I could do to capture the sunset alongwith the river below

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2130.jpg

Probably thats why people say, pictures can't capture what the eyes can see and feel. Can't capture the absolute silence.

Some more random clicks at Ramitey

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2114.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2119.jpg

Having done this, it was time to head back to Sillery Gaon.

The evening was spent with a nice camp fire to bring some much needed warmth.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2151.jpg

The sky above was absolutely clear and I am not sure if I have ever seen so many stars so close by to each other before, which my humble little camera could not capture. Anyway some tasty smoked desi chicken.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2189.jpg

Followed by a hot simmering dinner. We drew back to our blankets on a very cold night. We wished for warmth, but was also enjoying the cold, knowing this is what we came to experience and will probably only last the night.

The Conclusion of a nice day is not only what it has shown on it, but also the potential it brings for the next one. Had heard that the Kanchenjungha was not visible the day before, but tonight the sky was crystal clear. Besides, my old man likes to say that Kanchenjungha shows itself to him, wouldn't want him dissapointed.
1100D is offline   (7) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 8th December 2013, 17:51   #5
Senior - BHPian
 
1100D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Calcutta
Posts: 4,179
Thanked: 2,360 Times
Default re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Day 3 - Whatta Morning - Marengo's Third Birthday!


And boy, did the night deliver. The cellphone rang at 5:45 and right through the room window, here it was

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2205.jpg

Pre sunrise view of the mighty K

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2220.jpg

It was time to go down to Marengo,the birthday horse, to greet it and take the opportunity of shooting it against the peak.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2273.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2266.jpg

The First red rays makes itself visible

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2231.jpg

Grandeur

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2239.jpg

Time was ticking by but we could not help just letting the scenery in. It was time to also head to the Ramitey top to see if it actually is, what they say "14-Bends of Teesta with the Khanchenjungha on top."

The track today was more slippery due to the early morning dew, we slipped more, slid more, but kept the momentum going, and soon we were at the top, top of the world.

Look!14-Bends of Teesta with the Khanchenjungha on top. If this is not splendid, what is?!

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2304.jpg

Yes the picture can't capture the essence, there is so much to see from this point. Lets componentise to get a better understanding. The following pictures are shot standing at the same location.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2323.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2324.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2325.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2337.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2338.jpg

Now just integrate all the above pictures in the same mental frame, being seen from one point, you'll get the drift, or simply look at the first panoramic shot.

Anyway, it was time to head back to Sillery Gaon for a few parting pictures

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_23581.jpg

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2363.jpg

However, for a few hours, we did forget that we had a wedding reception of a fabulous person to go back to at Raiganj. Our initial plan was to start the return leg at 9-9:30 am but the majestic views kept us held at Sillery Gaon till around 10:40am. As we drove with a heavy heart downwards, the Kanchenjungha was still there playing hide and seek through the pine trees.

We were soon back at Algarah. However, just for the sake of maximising the hills, decided to not trace back the same route we came from. So we took a left turn at Algarah, towards Lava and its fantastic scenery. From Lava it was a lovely drive through the tea gardens to Gorubothan as we bid adieu to the hills and the lovely flags.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2364.jpg

Eventually we met NH31 again at Damdim, this added almost an hour extra to our journey to Siliguri. After a very fast lunch at Siliguri, it was time to make a splash and dash to Raiganj.

We knew that we have a Dalkhola crossing to tackle, so was driving a little enthusiastically to start with. However, as in some other thread, there was an
indication of a Bengal-Bengal route that starts a little after Islampur and joins the NH34 just prior to Raiganj. So decided to give it a shot, as a local jeepwalah, at the entrypoint of the route, mentioned that only the first 10 kms or so is bad, beyond that, one will get a good road. He was indeed right, but the first 10kms was questioning our minds as to whether it has been wise to take this road. After around 45kms from start of this route came a junction, we were advised to take a left turn on a road that goes to Botolbari (on NH34) 17Kms away. This road was too narrow, usually out of bounds to trucks, but they were everywhere. At one point there was a Jam caused by two heavy vehicles facing each other. Some very very precision manuevering on their part made sure that we were not stuck for ever. Soon we were at Botolbari.

The fun started here, the so-called national highway, the NH34 was totally non existent, no signboards, nothing, craters that can sink cars, trucks with
broken axles every half a kilometer. Travelling at 10kmph was seeming too much, no sign of any tarmac whatsoever. Learnt later that it is like this on the entire stretch from Dalkhola to Raiganj. Thankfully our night halt was at Raiganj tourist lodge but the 13kms to it from Botolbari took over an hour. When we reached Raiganj we were quite late, but then was able to attend the reception.

Had we not taken the Bengal-Bengal route from Islampur to Botolbari, or even disregarded local advise and join NH34 a little ahead at Karandighi, we would
have missed the reception. Infact some trucks are reported to be taking 6 hours for the 45 km drive from Raiganj to Purnea more on NH31. Its that bad.

Last edited by 1100D : 8th December 2013 at 17:55.
1100D is offline   (6) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 8th December 2013, 18:12   #6
Senior - BHPian
 
1100D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Calcutta
Posts: 4,179
Thanked: 2,360 Times
Default re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Day 4 - painful drive back

The next day we anticipated it to be a long day, which it was. We were taking a route thats known for infamous Jams, hold-ups and bad roads. We had everything. Part of it is documented in this thread, (Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34) so wont repeat. (if one reads the sequence of posts one would know that Marengo had an interesting experience of towing a tractor!)

It was aroun 9pm that we reached back home.

It was a conclusion of a very short, fabulous and eventful trip. Technically it was a one night in the hills trip, but still showed quite a lot in even that limited timeframe.

Thanks for reading and bearing with me! For now, its Bye from Me and My Marengo.

Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"-img_2367.jpg
1100D is offline   (10) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 9th December 2013, 17:25   #7
Team-BHP Support
 
Rehaan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Bombay
Posts: 22,381
Thanked: 22,610 Times
Default re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) section. Thanks for sharing!
Rehaan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th December 2013, 18:01   #8
BHPian
 
Samba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Kolkata
Posts: 897
Thanked: 4,940 Times
Default re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Let me be the first one to congratulate you on yet another fantastic travelogue on North Bengal and Sikkim. I was waiting for this to come up! Asusual, beautiful write up with some very good pictures and very informative too.

Last edited by Samba : 9th December 2013 at 18:26.
Samba is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th December 2013, 00:57   #9
BHPian
 
himadrimondal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Kolkata
Posts: 418
Thanked: 859 Times
Default re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Fantastic set of photographs. The sunrise on KZ was amazing. Interesting the fair share of offroading that you were supposed to do in the hills had to be done on the plains. Hitting the dirt track was a bold decision.
How did you enjoy the dalkhola-raigaunj road? This year just after pujas I took nh34 from Kolkata and it took me 24 hrs straight to kalimpong. I sweared never to return till the entire stretch is ready.
Work is supposed to start from 1st jan 2014.
himadrimondal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th December 2013, 11:14   #10
Senior - BHPian
 
1100D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Calcutta
Posts: 4,179
Thanked: 2,360 Times
Default re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
Let me be the first one to congratulate you on yet another fantastic travelogue on North Bengal and Sikkim. I was waiting for this to come up! Asusual, beautiful write up with some very good pictures and very informative too.
Thanks very much, especially since you liked the pictures, incidentally oblivious to me, the camera was somehow moved to a lower resolution mode, in anycase its just a basic one!

Quote:
Originally Posted by himadrimondal View Post
Fantastic set of photographs. The sunrise on KZ was amazing. Interesting the fair share of offroading that you were supposed to do in the hills had to be done on the plains. Hitting the dirt track was a bold decision.
How did you enjoy the dalkhola-raigaunj road? This year just after pujas I took nh34 from Kolkata and it took me 24 hrs straight to kalimpong. I sweared never to return till the entire stretch is ready.
Work is supposed to start from 1st jan 2014.
Its still quite a bit of time before NH34 can consistently be used to traverse between the north and south of the state, right now there are too many parameters of uncertainty.

Regarding Dalkhola-Raiganj, I used this route to partially avoid taking this route

http://goo.gl/maps/f2ipf

But yet, the little bit I could not avoid, Botolbari-Raiganj, for 13 kms, showed me how wise it was to have used the other route. Looked like the entire route was carpet bombed by something.

Anyway, have captured the experience on this post.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...ml#post3311152 (Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34)

In short, it was horrible.
1100D is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 10th December 2013, 15:19   #11
BHPian
 
Sandman689's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Kolkata/Blore
Posts: 44
Thanked: 25 Times
Default re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

My favorite was the photo of your victorious Marengo at Ramitey and against the backdrop of Kanchenjanga. It was a real joy to read.
Sandman689 is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 10th December 2013, 19:15   #12
Senior - BHPian
 
1100D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Calcutta
Posts: 4,179
Thanked: 2,360 Times
Default re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandman689 View Post
My favorite was the photo of your victorious Marengo at Ramitey and against the backdrop of Kanchenjanga. It was a real joy to read.
Thanks very much Sandman. However, Marengo (or for that matter any other vehicle) could only go to about 50 yards of the absolute Ramitey Top. So I guess you are speaking about the picture of Marengo with the Mt K as a backdrop, those are shot in Sillery Gaon.
1100D is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th December 2013, 19:50   #13
BHPian
 
Samba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Kolkata
Posts: 897
Thanked: 4,940 Times
Default re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1100D View Post
Thanks very much, especially since you liked the pictures, incidentally oblivious to me, the camera was somehow moved to a lower resolution mode, in anycase its just a basic one!
Anirban Da more than the quality of the picture i see what the picture portrays and the composition of the pic. Thats why i loved your pictures. If you would have taken the same pics with a costlier camera then the result would have been different. I believe in case of camera also its the same as a car, the man matters. Let it be behind the wheels or behind the lens! And needless to say you are good at both!

Anyways looking to be Leh'd in 2015 and hope to make the road trip together.
Samba is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 11th December 2013, 17:46   #14
Senior - BHPian
 
1100D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Calcutta
Posts: 4,179
Thanked: 2,360 Times
Default Re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
Anirban Da more than the quality of the picture i see what the picture portrays and the composition of the pic. Thats why i loved your pictures. If you would have taken the same pics with a costlier camera then the result would have been different. I believe in case of camera also its the same as a car, the man matters. Let it be behind the wheels or behind the lens! And needless to say you are good at both!

Anyways looking to be Leh'd in 2015 and hope to make the road trip together.
Thanks Samba, that was quite a compliment! Lets see how the Leh/Ladakh plans pans out.
1100D is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 11th December 2013, 21:31   #15
BHPian
 
novice_alto's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Kolkata
Posts: 73
Thanked: 94 Times
Default Re: Marengo goes to Ramitey Top & Sillery Gaon - The "New Darjeeling"

Nice writeup and great pictures to boot. memory got refreshed, had visited Sillery Gaon last year.

On a different note, I got a little confused. Did you have to use 4L for Sillery Gaon also..??

Actually, we had taken this road on a Punto loaded with 5 people just fine. Also, from your past travelogues, curiously I had seen that you had engaged 4L while going to Reshi khola. I had negotiated the same stretch in my Alto in 2009. I guess it is more to do with "better safe than sorry".

Pointed it out just for the sake of others who might think that going to these places requires 4x4. though.

Otherwise, I have always enjoyed your travelogues. Especially, the Sandakfu one was a favorite.

Regards
novice_alto 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
(Gur)gaon Quick Meets Thread phamilyman The Team-BHP Meet Section 1186 16th October 2017 15:49
Marengo: Rocky Beige Mahindra Scorpio mHawk 4WD & MLD. 4 years & 1 lakh kms up! 1100D 4x4 Vehicles 228 17th August 2017 12:30
"Cayenne" we "XC-eed" in our "Endeavour" to "Safari"? Taking powerful metal off-road SS-Traveller 4x4 Excursions 55 10th November 2016 22:56
Marengo conquers the Marsimik La - The Ladakh episode 1100D Travelogues 69 19th June 2015 10:05
Top Gear 2006 Survey : Fiat zooms into top 10, Honda, Skoda top list. amit The International Automotive Scene 10 8th March 2007 12:31


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 10:07.

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