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Old 1st February 2014, 13:21   #1
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Default Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha

How often, on the night before a possible trip, does one get to post an FB status message that goes like this :-

Quote:
People make plans, reservations for transport, accomodation and what not, before embarking on a vacation. All I can say, as I go to sleep tonight, is that a 4 day escapade could "possibly" start early morning. Destination too, undecided. "Experience uncertainty!"
Additionally

Quote:
To take it a level further! I have not yet decided which car to take!


The whole experience is very difficult to put in words. But from the time after posting on the FB, till the time I actually went to sleep, a decision was made.

We wanted to visit a lesser known place, mainly because being almost a long-weekend, there would be rush at all well known places. To go to a lesser known place near the Ocean would mean that, in event of "no vacancy" one would have to resort to a non-sea side destination for the night. We dont have such problems on the mountain! You dont get accomodation at one hill station, the alternate site will also remain a hill station! Moreover, I was just finding excuses to myself to not visit a non-mountain destination.

As I had mentioned in an earlier travelogue, that the hills of North-Bengal/Sikkim has a special charm for me.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2565.jpg

For going to such a destination, one would have to traverse our state from the Southern reaches to its North (Kolkata to Siliguri). People who know, would appreciate that the diversity of terrain and road conditions, with some absolutely horrible stretches, is not very Sedan friendly. Besides this, most
lesser known places on NB/Sikkim would involve driving through rocky roads for miles through forests and some steepness, which is what SUV's want to enjoy.
So the choice of vehicle came back to Marengo.

So atleast the plan was to go to Siliguri on Day 1 and drive back from Siliguri on Day 4. How the Days 2 and 3 would unravel is anyones guess, including
mine.

However this particular snap on my fathers FB album, was giving me pointers.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-1483584_10202360528908025_550146094_o.jpg

But the challenge was to find new-ness, because I knew exactly where this particular direction board was situated, did not want to take a known route at all.
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Old 1st February 2014, 13:35   #2
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Default re: Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha

Day 1 - Drive to Siliguri


Anyway, the night passed by. By the time we hit the road, it was 5:40am in the morning. We did have a very eventful drive last time, was hoping that we
dont get to see half of that today. However, a little away from Howrah, it was fog that greeted us on the Durgapur expressway. Visibility was very very poor. So any prospect of hot-footing the first stage of the drive on the DGP xpressway to Burdwan was ruled out. Infact, it took us the longest time that
we had experienced to reach the branch-off road to Bolpur.

Even on the route to Bolpur, there is a broken culvert near Guskhara, which requires a 4km detour through earthen village roads. First two kilometers of
which is not actually a road but a DCB. Driving a Kilometer into it, there was a broken down truck facing the opposite direction, but the path was only wide enough for one vehicle to pass. Had to go off-off-road to rejoin after the truck. I am really surprised at the number of times 4X4 actually aids me in
getting across our state without holding us back for long. Probably one of the reasons why, I do report easier reach to tricky destinations than what many
others experience after following my feedback. The Guskhara diversion set us back by 15 mins.

But thankfully, this time, for a change, the rest of the journey was uneventful. Or maybe, I was strategising my driving based on the conditions that I had
seen 2 months back. To add to that, minor patchwork had made the going smoother.

A pic from my Daughter's camera to break the Monotony (ignore the date as the camera date setting was way off)

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2470.jpg

We drove into Siliguri WBTDC Mainak Hotel after 13 hrs with a 11 hr drive time. The booking was arranged by my father in conversation with someone.

But even as we checked in and got comfortable or even hit the bed at night, there was no decision on where to spend the next night. But the direction board kept on haunting my senses, that I haven't yet done the popular tourists spots of Rishyap (Rishop - as many people also call it) and Loleygaon.

Somehow, sleep was also eluding me, when a suddenly a story that I had heard not too long ago crossed my mind. That story was part of a discussion
regarding Sandakphu and the steep, narrow, rocky trails leading to it. Someone mentioned having visited Loleygaon sometime back but while returning from it, the road to Kalimpong from Loleygaon was blocked due to Landslide. The person narrated how a local Jeep brought him down through a desolate narrow, very steep foresty trail and that he still reached Siliguri a little over 4 hours through a place called Bagrakote on the NH31. He also mentioned having tea at just one settlement in the whole descent of 3 hours called Chikhim (Later I came to know this was Chuikhim).

So there it was, our halt for the next night would be Loleygaon, but instead of taking the usual paved Sevok-Kalimpong-Relli-Loleygaon route, my route will
be Sevok-Bagrakote-Chikhim-Loleygaon. Will do a little check on Googlemaps in the morning and we should be all set for an exciting drive to Loleygaon.

Somehow the sleep setin right after that.

Another interesting observation from Daughter's camera of Ambulances taking a joy ride (Probably the only time in their lives) - Although the way she put it is that Small Ambulances on Large Ambulance

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2482.jpg
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Old 1st February 2014, 14:56   #3
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Default re: Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha

Day 2 - Drive to Loleygaon - Well Almost!


First thing to do in the morning was to get the exact coordinates of Bagrakote with respect to the Sevoke bridge on Googlemaps and then try to trace the
left turn and the route to Chikhim. Bagrakote could be spotted to be 14kms after crossing Sevok/Coronation bridge, but to my surprise, the Road on left
though indicated was terminated within a few yards, beyond that, there was nothing, no Chikhim nothing.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-untitled.jpg

Thought for a moment on whether we should drop the idea of going to Loleygaon through this alternate route. Then decided that since Bagrakote is only 14 odd kms from Coronation bridge, lets just give it a shot, if something turns up fine, if it doesn't, then will drive back and head for Loleygaon the usual way, or drive further up to Damdim and drive upto Lava and Rishop!

Marengo set out of Mainak Tourist Lodge, almost cursing its owner, probably silently muttering expletives, since it did not have any clue what it was going
for, neither did the driver! A good horse atleast deserves to know what he should be excited about.

To make matters worse, there was a huge traffic jam at the Sevok Military camp on account of two trucks having broken down opposite to each other. We reached the Coronation bridge in about an hour. Since there was delay, I had decided that if the road from Bagrakote to Loleygaon does not seem a reality,I will not drive back to Sevok and go upto Kalimpong, rather I am going to push further on to Damdim and go to Rishyap for the night.

Bagrakote came up, there was a Road on left which soon crossed over railway tracks. There was an autodriver, asked him whether this road can take me to
Loleygaon and his expression was initially perplexed, then suddenly something struck him, he said, yes. I will need to go to Nimbong first which is about
25 kms and then from there to Loleygaon. The name Nimbong did seem familiar. However asking about Chikhim, he corrected me to Chuikhim.

He asked us to take a right at the next fork and continue on the bad forest road from there. But taking right at the next fork, soon lead us into an Army compound. Was asked by the Gatekeeper to drive back, take a parallel road to join back the same road a bit upstream. Drove back, turned right again at the fork and was looking for a parallel right turn, there was one, but I could clearly see gates, so drove on till we reached a dead end, beside a school, amongst beautiful surroundings. Will have to drive back and ask again. Seemed that the
second gate that I ignored was just a checkpoint gate, passing through it, i was on the actual route.

The climb was moderately steep right from the onset, with a very rocky surface, but we were gaining height rapidly with every tight hairpin. This would become the flavour of the drive with no one in sight, no route markers, no milestones, not a single vehicle on either side for a full one hour.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2516.jpg

Infact there were instances where I was begining to question whether we are on the right path at all. But since it was a trail, one that I was being able to drive on, it would definitely lead to something, that thought alone kept me going. Half an hour, lead to 45 mins and questions started hitting the mind. What if I have to retrace the same route back.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2517.jpg

As the first hour drew to its conclusion, so did the rocky road turn into a paved one, must be Chuikhim coming up.

It indeed did. It was evident that we had climbed up quite a bit. We thought of having some tea, but then, decided not to waste any time, since there was
uncertainty ahead. However, asking about Nimbong, they did not have a clue as to what I was talking about.

The road after Chuikhim was paved and after 14 kms of driving another settlement came up, asked a local about the name of the place, he said "Nimoong", then suddenly a board caught my eye, "Nimbong". Asked back, where is Nimbong? He pointed right at the point and said "Nimooong" (the extra "o"s intentional). So they write Nimbong but say Nimoong.

Asked him about direction to Loleygaon. Though, my preference would have been to get this from a different personality type, but we were pretty restricted by our options. I did not get to decipher what the few chickens in the area were trying to tell me.

Anyway, coming to this very direction instruction, which actually influenced where we ended up spending the night. According to him, there will be a
"turning" up ahead within 2-3 minutes, I will not have to take the right. Okay, then after that, there will be another turning, where one "rasta" will go left and another (you guessed it) right. But what he explained next regarding what we have to do here, eludes my mind even now, infact it wasn't even clear. Once he said not to take the right, once he mentioned not to take the left. Anyway, I decided to move ahead anyway, will probably deal with it on site.

The first fork ("torning" in local dialect) came up within promised 2-3 minutes, there was one road going straight, another going an acute left. There were no humans in sight, so asked a local dog, he went towards the road on left, wagging its tail, so we followed it, rewarding him with a proper cookie, which even he did not like much.

Kept going, the second fork did not turn up soon, but we did see a non descript trail going to the right at a point, but since we were on a paved road,
assumed this narrow, steep rocky trail to something local, followed the paved road till it came to an abrupt end around 2-3 kms down. At this point one
trail was going down on the left, another up on the right. Going by the locals advice (at Nimoong, which is written as Nimbong), it seemed that we do have to take a road that climbs up, so took up the road on right and slowly a few settlements appeared within 1-2 kms.

The settlement had small homestays, so we did reach some spot of tourist interest, the place was known as Charkhole.

So kept driving up to "Loleygaon" when I did see the path leading into a gate, I knew that moment, we have probably veered wrong way. But still drove through the gate and a turn later, it was a dead end with space to take a u-turn.

But right at this point we were in a compound, as we had crossed a gate, there was a reception nearby, besides had read about Charkhole being an upcoming spot so decided to stop and check.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2558.jpg

A few flight of stairs and this is what greeted us

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2660.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2539.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2509.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2508.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2505.jpg

A nice reception, lovely statues, but no one in sight. Knocked around for a bit, honked for a bit. About 2-3 minutes later, as we were about to leave, a
bengali looking person turned up. Turns out, he was the manager. Asked him about this place, if it has potential Kanchenjungha sighting zones, asked him
about the cottages. Then somehow, decided to ask him for the, all important, if we could stay over for the night here. To which the answer was affirmative.

Although he informed that Loleygaon will be 1 hour drive from there, we decided to stay here itself. In anycase, we did not have accomodation arranged at Loleygaon and here is a complete resort all to ourselves. Food would be a problem he mentioned. However he himself suggested that he could make us some veg chowmein if we did not mind. Who were we to refuse.

The full Dining area and the hall below was ours for the evening!

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2656.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2655.jpg

So here we are at Charkhole, our destination for the afternoon, evening and night.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2512.jpg



Things to do at Charkhole would be to take nature walk across the trail and the scenery was full of Yellow, Red and Green.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2570.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2514.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2516-2.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2575.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2590.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2596.jpg


It was getting colder in the evening and my daughter, who had fever two days earlier was starting to feel uncomfortable. But then the evening was spent at the reception/cafetaria all to ourselves, watching TV, reading , some fabulous Chicken Pakora's, great tea and a lovely chill.

The night was clear. As we hit the bed, we set ourselves for a morning greeting with the Mt Kanchenjungha right from the cottage.

All in all, not only did we take a lesser known route, we reached somewhere with an intention of reaching somewhere else, we are not complaining! What a night!

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2624.jpg
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Old 2nd February 2014, 01:50   #4
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Day 3 - Drive to Lolaygaon - Oh No! Not Again!

The predominant attraction and motivation of making a visit to North Bengal and Sikkim is, lets face it, the snow clad peak of Mt Kanchenjungha. Enthusiasts who visit the region frequently, come back dejected,if the mountain decides to stay within a veil of clouds and fog. The big peak usually makes itself visible in the early few hours of the day, when the air is heavy. With the rising sun, one can see a progressive growth of a bright red spot on the peak and turns the entire mountain come alive with a golden glow, before settling to a whiteness and then disappearing within the clouds or fog. So naturally, for visitors to this region, a very early wake up, to witness the mystic phenomenon, is more than a ritual. I dont think there would be many folks who would prefer to wake up late and ignore this.

So our cellphone alarms went off at 5:40am. It had been a clear starry night last one, so the prospect of the famous mountain showing up was very bright.

As I glanced through the window, was shocked to see a foggy outsides. Could not beleive my eyes. Checked the glass for dew deposition, yes the view increased but only just. Lat night I was told that the peak can be viewed right from within the room. But having seen nothing, decided to move outside to see a panoramic, just to eliminate the chance of missing out due to a restricted view. Nothing.

Waited for around 15-20 mins, no improvement of situation. Went back in dejected. We have had an unblemished record of spotting the mountain for the last 5 years,but today, I guess its time for the law of averages to catch up on us. Went under the sheets again cursing all those people who said January is a great month for peak spotting. The chill wasn't comfortable for my little daughter, on whose insistence we made this trip, despite her being unwell for the past one week. To top that, no peak.

Must be about an hour later, my wife went out for a stroll and to oversee the breakfast arrangements. She came back asking if there is a faint something in the sky. We went out to see this.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2640.jpg
Trust me there is a faint Mt Kanchenjungha in this pic. All you need to do is concentrate hard on the section above the chair.

Here are two pics of the same. It was much more evident to the naked eye than the camera.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_26392.jpg
Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2665.jpg

So the record actually stands. Mt Kanchenjungha did keep her word. A silent whisper asking us to savour the other beauties of the region and not just divert all attention to her. So we bowed to the highness and decided to move on after breakfast. But not before a few lazy shots like these

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2641.jpg

Not her usual mood though

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2642.jpg

Since we had the whole day ahead of us, we still decided to try making it to Lolaygaon through the alternate route.

The manager told us that, the road to Lolaygaon would be straight at a fork, going upwards and would be a rocky road (this alone was a pointer to which fork), the road on right will go down to Nimbong (ofcourse the same condition applies to the second fork also).

We did drive down, was soon at this fork as described, similarly, no human in sight to confirm the direction. Decided to take the route anyway. Again, no route markers nothing. Just a long, lonely, rocky, trail drive. Hopefully there will be something at the other end after 12 kms of driving at low 15kmph.

My co-driver for the day!

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2670.jpg

If we reach Lolaygaon, we would have to go to two places of interest, the Jhandi dara viewpoint and the famous Canopy Walk. The former is a viewpoint that allows witnessing both the sunrise and the unfolding of the dramatic play of light on the Mt K. The Later is more of a elevated walk through pine trees. However, finding our way to these spots would be a task at hand, once and if we manage to reach Lolaygaon.

At the moment, we were actually savouring quite a dense foresty drive. Lovely foresty sounds and the only grouse was Marengo's diesel clatter.

Some pics from this lovely route, though we were not really sure if it was taking us in the right direction!

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2692.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2693.jpg

About an hour of unsurety we suddenly passed a fork with an acute left turn. To our surprise, there were handpainted arrow directions on some rocks.

A little close inspection and it was clear, that it was direction to Jhandi Dara!!

We have finally made it to Lolaygaon. The alternate route does exist. So it was time to check the viewpoint out.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2676.jpg

A narrow path lead to the viewpoint

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2680.jpg

And an elevated watchtower is what is required to allow for an allround glimpse. But the area was under dense fog, so no snaps from the watchtower.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2678.jpg

So one point out of two done, makes our job easier when we finally reach Lolaygaon. So with this though, started rolling again, was soon at the fork with the handpainted direction and then took the road away from the one we came from, within a few minutes, saw a couple of parked tourist Sumo's, so this must be another spot of tourist interest.

Out of sheer, instinct, asked for Canopy walk, and indeed the heads nodded. Could not beleive it, we are yet to reach Lolaygaon, a few minutes back we were unsure of even making it to Lolaygaon, and now, we have made it to the 2 points people see while at Lolaygaon!

The Sumo wallahs asked out of curiosity where did we emerge from, given that they did not see us head into the forest from Lolaygaon. Just to trick them, mentioned Siliguri!

The expressions were priceless. Pure disbelief that we took this route to come to Lolaygaon from Siliguri.

Then I broke another bombshell on them by asking for directions and distance to Lolaygaon.

Anyways it was time to park Marengo and enjoy what this spot has in store for us.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2694.jpg

A few frantic strides from the entry point is this elevated rope suspended walkway through the forest. Its around 200 meters long. The Canopy walk.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2723.jpg

A few pics.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2702.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2714.jpg

This being done, it was time to head back to Marengo, we still had the whole afternoon ahead of us and Lolaygaon is all but done, even without reaching it!

Cntd...
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Day 3 cntd - Still reaching Lolaygaon

So much done, and yet we were about to reach Lolaygaon. However this time, Lolay was only 2 kms away and there were no new hurdles in finally reaching it, although only for academic reasons!

On reaching Lolaygaon was inside a mobile network coverage, so took the opportunity to call back the folks back at home that we have finally reached Lolaygaon. They were very concerned that we have almost exhausted our timelimit and now all we have time left for is a drive back. The previous night, I did use the managers cell to inform them that we reached a different point and not Lolaygaon. So there were obvious rantings of not following a tried and trusted route, given the short timeframe we had at our disposal and all that. Hung up smiling siliently.

Anyway, since we were at the Lolaygaon Jeep stand, it was time to let ourselves to some Momo and Tea (wasn't too good though)

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2735.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2728.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2731.jpg

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2734.jpg

But coming to think of it, it was almost about 1:30pm and all we had time for is probably a drive back to Siliguri before it gets dark. So was contemplating a route to take on the return journey, retracing back was not my choice, neither was going through Kalimpong.

But then,on the positive side of things, there is light for atleast 3.5 hours prior to that. The fickle side of me, was anyway irritated for having missed out on Rishop/Rishyap, a tourist destination they say, that is blessed with pristine views and serenity away from the tourist din and all that. I probably kept it aside for a separate dedicated trip altogether. But the prospect of not taking either the Kalimpong route, or retracing back the route I followed till Loleygaon, brought me to an interesting probability, the third option, the road through Lava. Taking this third route through Lava and Damdim, would allow me to pass from a point from which Rishop will be a 3 kms detour/climb. So if I reach Lava or this detour point fast enough, we will stand an outside chance of atleast getting a glimpse of the place called Rishop, so that I can set my expectation accordingly when I make my separate Rishop/Rishyap plans.

Just quickly asked a few Jeep drivers, they said it will take 3 hours minimum as the road to Lava from Lolegaon is in the same state as it is from Charkhole to Lolaygaon. Then asking for alternate ways to reach Lava through Algarah, one old Jeeper mentioned that if I can make it fast enough to Relli and then almost to Kalimpong, I can reach Algarah a little above an hour as the road is paved and in Good condition. Just what the ears wanted to hear.

So off we set in the direction for Kalimpong, through Relli (20kms away).

We did manage to hot-step till Relli, after that it was the usual climb to Kalimpong, to almost within 4 kms of it with a very bad surface. This is where there was a right turn to take a bypass to Algarah. Another 2 kms later came the actual route to Algarah-Lava. A route that I have driven on earlier. So it will just be a spirited drive to Lava and 7 kms before that will be a road on left to climb upto Reshi.

But what was not helping matters was the fog and visibility. The falling light was also a challenge, we obviously did not want to reach Rishop under darkness, it would be pointless.

Just for illustration this was the condition, though this was taken at Lava later on.
Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2768.jpg

Kept on driving, in anycase if I have to return to Siliguri, it would be the same route. By 3:20pm and a very dim light, we were at the turn-off for Rishop. A left turn and a climb for 3 kms would take us to Rishop.

Thankfully as we started gaining altitude, the light was getting better by the minute. Soon we were at Rishop, the new found tourist spot, away from Tourist din!


Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2764.jpg

One of the attractions was to visit the cottage that was used to shoot the Bengali movie Shobdo. It was the Neora Valley Resort. Asking about, we were told that we have to drive down a bit. But driving down through the Rishop settlement it appeared to be a cluster of ugly looking hotels claiming to be Resorts, including an Orange hotel that was painted unimaginatively Orange.

We were pointed to a clearing where the Neora valley cottage is located, this was it. The place must have really been serene and calm earlier.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2747.jpg

Here is the cottage, and from the looks of it, its not very frequented, and rightly so.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2745.jpg

From this cottage, was able to spot a "Sonar Tari resort" down below, wanted to check its location, so drove down further. Here is a picture of the road to Sonar tari, taken on the way back, it was the narrowest and steepest section on the Rishop leg.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2755.jpg

On reaching Sonar Tari, on expressing a little disappointment, we were pointed by a local to drive down a kilometer more to a "Megher Bari" Resort.

This one had a little bit of the North-Bengal-ness to it.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2749.jpg

Sonar Tari on the way back from Megher Bari!

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2751.jpg

All in all, Rishop was a disappointment, probably with views of the Mt K, people overlook the absolute ordinary conditions there, Sillery Gaon was far more mystic and unexplored. Rishop turned out more commercial than "Eco"

On the way back, took the opportunity to bid adieu to the Sun on its last rays near Tiffin-Dara.

Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha-img_2767.jpg

After this, it was a simple drive down through Lava, Paharkheti, Goribothan and Damdim to Siliguri, under lights. The initial section from Lava has road works going on so for the first 15 kms or so, it was dirt road, a slip slide drive down the hill under powerful offroad lights.

Driving into Mainak tourist Lodge again, it did not appear that we had left this compound just the previous morning!!

Day 4 - A painful long drive back

The drive between Siliguri and Howrah always takes mentally longer on the way back, even if the elapsed time could be less. But this time, we encountered the worst fog as we started at half past 6 in the morning. The Fog was with us for all of 150kms upto almost Purnea. Needless to say, the going was slower than usual and each light vehicle I overtook during this stint, took the opportunity to queue up behind Marengo. So by the time Marengo was crossing Dalkhola, it had atleast 6 vehicles tailing it!!

Rest of the drive back was a painful drive back, with memories of what passed by within a whisker in just 2 days.

Hope you liked the story. Although tried my best to keep the texts as concise as possible, but still, sorry if this had wasted a bit of the mental bandwidth, and ofcourse the headache!

Last edited by 1100D : 2nd February 2014 at 13:08.
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Old 2nd February 2014, 14:04   #6
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Default re: Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha

Thread moved to the Travelogues section, thanks for sharing!
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Old 2nd February 2014, 14:43   #7
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Nice log, and superb photos as usual sir.
Alternate routes always rock !!
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Old 2nd February 2014, 19:10   #8
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The place in Charkhole is nice. Went there in May 2012 with tbhpian Debarshim. Hot water was a bit of a problem as far as I remember.
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Old 3rd February 2014, 00:08   #9
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Default re: Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha

Am still confused whether i was reading a travelogue in Team Bhp or watching a Hollywood adventure thriller in Inox! I hope Team Bhp provides a 3D specs next time while reading your travelogue.

As-usual great write up backed up by some good pictures. What i love about your writing is the suspense you portray in it. I can clearly make a guess of the adrenaline rush you had all the way while driving. The joy of taking the path less traveled is always priceless.
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Old 3rd February 2014, 13:02   #10
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Default re: Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha

Quote:
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Nice log, and superb photos as usual sir.
Alternate routes always rock !!
Thanks a lot. Alternate routes always have something main routes dont
show up.

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Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
The place in Charkhole is nice. Went there in May 2012 with tbhpian Debarshim. Hot water was a bit of a problem as far as I remember.
Hot water wasn't a problem, the cottage had a Geyser.

But the spookiness of the setting was, especially towards the late evening, when a few facts dawned on us.

Did you go there with the intent of going there? Which route did you take.

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Am still confused whether i was reading a travelogue in Team Bhp or watching a Hollywood adventure thriller in Inox! I hope Team Bhp provides a 3D specs next time while reading your travelogue.

As-usual great write up backed up by some good pictures. What i love about your writing is the suspense you portray in it. I can clearly make a guess of the adrenaline rush you had all the way while driving. The joy of taking the path less traveled is always priceless.
Thank You!

I guess by 3-D you mean a Doubtfilled Daunting Drive!
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Old 4th February 2014, 04:44   #11
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Did you go there with the intent of going there? Which route did you take.
Yes, this place was recommended by Debarshim's friend and avid photographer Siddhartha Goswamy. We had followed his directions, so cannot remember the route. Maybe Debarshi Da can help if he views this thread.
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Old 4th February 2014, 17:06   #12
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We had followed his directions, so cannot remember the route.
So you drove behind Debarshi and don't remember the settlements/areas you passed by.
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Old 4th February 2014, 17:07   #13
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Default Re: Journey is the Destination - Charkhole, Lolegaon, Rishop and Mt Faintenjungha

1100D, beautiful pictures and location. I totally understand going to a place away from crowd with you family for a weekend. It's begining to get tough to find lonely places like these in India. Wonder if there are any places like these around Chennai.
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Old 4th February 2014, 17:40   #14
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So you drove behind Debarshi and don't remember the settlements/areas you passed by.
Yes followed Debarshi da from Lava. I can visualise the places we drove through. There was a bridge on a stream and we got down to the stream. It was beautiful, but can't remember the names of the places
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Old 4th February 2014, 17:48   #15
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Yes followed Debarshi da from Lava. I can visualise the places we drove through. There was a bridge on a stream and we got down to the stream. It was beautiful, but can't remember the names of the places
Relli Bridge? How long was the bridge? How far down below the bridge was the stream?
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