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Old 24th May 2015, 08:22   #1
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Default Sikkim - Baptism by fire

"The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are." - Samuel Johnson.

Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t0.jpg


On February 19th 2015, we were blessed with a baby girl. Now, with the missus pre-occupied, it was just the window of opportunity I was looking for to plan and realize my first substantial road trip. The farthest I've driven before had been a dash to Mukutmonipur, around 300 kilometers in my 2010 Chevrolet Beat. The last time I left Kolkata was for a day trip to Bolpur in my new Ford Figo, but that was back in April, 2014 (mundane office tours excluded). So the urge was surreal.

There are many excellent travel stories of Darjeeling and Sikkim from stalwart BHPians, doing the trip in their Jeeps and SUV's to take inspiration from. But the real booster came from Samba's travelogue in which their group conquered North Sikkim in Sedans and Hatchbacks! Then in January 2015, Bhpian gearhead_mait drove up to Kaluk in his Eon, which meant, the question whether it would be prudent to do Sikkim in a hatchback was no longer res-integra.


Day 0 (16.05.2015) :
It was a half day at work. Got back home at 5:00 PM, filled diesel to the brim on my way back and checked the tyre pressure. Washed the car and loaded some trip necessities which included a tow rope, jump start cables, puncture repair kit and inflator, basic hand tools, duct tape, m-seal, packaged drinking water, etc. Wheel alignment was done a week before and the car had been to its 20000 kms scheduled service on 28.04.2015, just over a fortnight back.


Day 1 (17.05.2015) :
My cousin, and partner for the trip arrived at 0345 and we were able to start by 0400. The travails of our journey to Siliguri along NH34 has been documented in the appropriate thread here : http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...g-nh34-32.html (Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34). For the sake of brevity, I'm just posting some pictures of this part of our journey -

We start of in darkness :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t1.jpg

and then dawn breaks :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t2.jpg

invitingly fresh tarmac :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t3.jpg

we take an unknown diversion to avoid a big snarl near Bethuadahari :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t4.jpg

four laned bliss near Moregram :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t5.jpg

tea gardens near Bagdogra, concrete surfaced NH31 :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t6.jpg

We reached Siliguri at around 6:30 PM and checked into Hotel Tourist Inn on Sevoke Road. A little chitter chatter and early dinner saw us end the day with a sense of satisfaction. Tomorrow we head for the hills.


Day 2 (18.05.2015) :
We left Siliguri at around 9:00 AM and immediately hit the picturesque Sevoke.

Driving through Sevoke - one item ticked off the bucket list :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t7.jpg

We have our breakfast at Melli, just before crossing over to Sikkim. Tasty chicken momos with hot soup. Then we leisurely make our way towards Jorethang with the river on our side :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t8.jpg

Soon we are held up for some road work :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t10.jpg

Our ancestors keep a keen eye on the proceedings :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t9.jpg

We come across a beautiful valley :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t11.jpg

The road ahead is exciting :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t12.jpg

A narrow road with steep back to back hairpins take us to Zoom. The Figo wrestles its way up in 1st gear. A Bolero pickup coming downhill forces us to stop at the middle of a narrow steep hairpin to give way. The Figo refuses to move forward. We roll back down very carefully, with heart in mouth, gather some momentum and push forward.

We stop to catch our breath and pacify the nerves :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t.jpg

We traverse misty forests :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t13.jpg

and pose at curves :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t15.jpg

We reach our destination for the day, Ghonday Resort, Kaluk, West Sikkim :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t16.jpg

and soak in some views from the terrace :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t17.jpg

It is almost 4 PM as we check in to our resort at Kaluk. We are very hungry, but the hotel could only do Maggi at that time. We freshened up. The ambiance is exotic. The rooms are great with most modern amenities. Immaculately maintained too. After an hour we stroll up to the market area, nothing to see there really, we head back to the resort. We order some snacks and play rummy. The restaurant served us great tasting jeera rice with chicken and egg curry for dinner. We call it a day.

Last edited by mi2n : 24th May 2015 at 11:41.
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Old 24th May 2015, 11:15   #2
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Day 3 (19.05.2015) :
We wake up to a gloomy morning:
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t19.jpg

While strolling around the resort, I met the owner, one Mr.D.Gurung. We soon started a conversation. I cribbed about the approach road to the resort, which was in poor condition. He assured to rectify the same. He himself is an automotive enthusiast and drives a Tata Safari. We had aloo parathas with raita and pickle for breakfast and moved out.

Soon we were on scenic roads :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t21.jpg

and we stopped to pose once more :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t20.jpg

took a diversion to see the Singshore Bridge :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t22.jpg

and crossed a beautiful ravine :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t23.jpg

we came across waterfalls :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t24.jpg

and waded across a few puddles :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t25.jpg

we stopped again for some introspection :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t26.jpg

and finally got a glimpse of our stay for the day :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t27.jpg

only to be greeted by leeches. Thousands of them!
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t28.jpg

Our stay at Ravangla was unpleasant. We were lured to this hotel by the rustic wooden cottages and they were well furnished too. But the hotel lacked basic facilities and had no backup power. The main building was poorly maintained and the staff were not very enthusiastic. To top it all, leech problem! I lost a few ml of blood myself! We headed up around 2.5 kms to the Buddha Park, had a very early dinner at the Ravangla market and returned to our leech infested cottages. We could not sleep in fear of losing more blood, so played rummy all night long. There were leeches in the washroom too!

Day 4 ( 20.5.2015) :
It had been raining all night long and we witnessed another gloomy day break. As the day progressed the clouds would clear up intermittently to reveal the snow peaks :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t29.jpg

We left the cottages in search for breakfast :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t30.jpg

and drove up to the Heli-pad for a better view :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t31.jpg

we posed with the snow peaks :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t32.jpg

we couldn't get too much of the majestic snow capped mountains :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t34.jpg

Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t35.jpg

Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t36.jpg

After breakfast we head towards Namchi. Soaking in scenic beauty throughout :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t37.jpg

we pay our tributes to Lord Padmasambhava at Samdruptse :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t38.jpg

and catch a glimpse of Namchi, our destination down below :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t39.jpg

We reach Namchi and have trouble finding our hotel. But we finally manage to check in :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t40.jpg

the rooms are cozy :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t41.jpg

and with great views :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t42.jpg
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t43.jpg

Last edited by mi2n : 24th May 2015 at 16:53.
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Old 24th May 2015, 17:18   #3
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Day 4 Continued (20.05.2015) :

We have fried rice and chilli chicken for lunch. We head towards Char Dham in the evening.

we are amazed by the towering statue of Lord Shiva :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t44.jpg

and the intricately detailed replicas of the Char Dham ( four prominent Hindu temples) :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t45.jpg

We have delicious Chicken dry fry, Lachha parathas and egg curry for dinner and sign off for the day.

Day 5 (21.05.2015) :
We wake up and catch a glimpse of Darjeeling from our room :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t46.jpg

We miss our family and want to cut the trip short. We order puri-sabji for breakfast and leave our hotel by 9 am. We head for the plains.

We bid adieu to Teesta:
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t47.jpg

We reach Siliguri at 1 PM and immediately decide to continue towards Maldah. We had a sumptuous Bengali lunch comprising of Daal, Aloo bhaji, Katla fish and rice at the outskirts of Siliguri and gun for Maldah at 2 PM.

By 6:20 PM we were almost there :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t48.jpg

We checked in at the Golden Park Hotel, Maldah at around 6:30 PM. This, now being the last night of our trip, we order for an even grander dinner with Chicken Biryani and Chicken Chaap. Food was served by 8:30 PM and we hit the bed by 9:30 PM.

Day 6 (22.05.2015) :
We leave the hotel at 5:00 AM sharp and head home. Crossed the infamous Kaliachak before 6:00 AM.
This is how Kaliachak looks when devoid of congestions. I think this would be a rare sight for commuters who frequent this stretch :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t49.jpg

We cross the Farakka Barrage and follow a "chhota haathi" onto a chhota bridge:
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t50.jpg

We feast our eyes on the four lane expressway dissecting the green fields of Bengal :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t51.jpg

and try our creativity on our dusty ride :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-sk.jpg

We have a late breakfast at Krishnanagar and buy some Taanter Sari from Fulia for the ladies at home.

We reach home safe and sound at 1:20 PM with the Tripmeter just tipping over 1500 kms :
Sikkim - Baptism by fire-t52.jpg

Until next time!

Last edited by mi2n : 24th May 2015 at 18:05.
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Old 24th May 2015, 19:51   #4
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Default Re: Sikkim - Baptism by fire

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

Beautiful photos in there. Sikkim is one of most the beautiful places to visit!

Last edited by ampere : 5th June 2015 at 18:31.
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Old 24th May 2015, 21:01   #5
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6 days in a beautiful land captured so lovingly in this photo log. Really makes me want to go visit the Northeast soon....
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Old 25th May 2015, 11:59   #6
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Kudos! for the successful completion of the journey.
The road from Jorethang to Zoom needs special mention. I see that the weather was a but gloomy at Kaluk, but you can't predict what Himalayas would present yourself with and when.
The pictures are awesome.
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Old 25th May 2015, 12:20   #7
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Default Re: Sikkim - Baptism by fire

Beautiful set of pictures. Thanks for sharing

Quote:
Originally Posted by mi2n View Post
We had a sumptuous Bengali lunch comprising of Daal, Aloo bhaji, Katla fish and rice at the outskirts of Siliguri
Could you please provide with location help? Need a place like that for food.
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Old 25th May 2015, 12:51   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheel View Post
...Could you please provide with location help? Need a place like that for food.
Sadly, we did not pay much attention so will not be able to pin point the location. However, this is near the Mall with the KFC outlet (City Centre?) you find to your left before entering Siliguri city from NH31 and just after the Toyota and other Showrooms. While getting back from Siliguri, the outlet would fall to your left, it is quite unambiguous from the outside but is air-conditioned and has some vacant space in front for parking.
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Old 25th May 2015, 12:52   #9
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Fantastic thread, rated 5 stars. North bengal/sikkim always makes me nostalgic. While I easily go 600+ kms one way here,down south in a single day: I was wary of such a feat in WB. Your pics are giving me hope
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Old 25th May 2015, 18:17   #10
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Excellent Set of Pictures and your Figo looks snazzy with those Silver Stripes !! Keep posting such amazing travelogues !!
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Old 25th May 2015, 18:52   #11
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This travelogue made for a really good evening read with the weather in my city playing around. This is awakening the traveller bug inside me again. No...control yourself. Dad's busy!

Anyways, great travelogue and dare I say even greater pictures. Sikkim is on our cards after the Fiesta completes running in.

OT, are you coming to the TBHP Kolkata meet scheduled to be held on 28th of June.

Cheers,
Neel

Last edited by ampere : 26th May 2015 at 08:13. Reason: Typo fixed
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Old 25th May 2015, 21:51   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gearhead_mait View Post
The road from Jorethang to Zoom needs special mention.
Yes , I'm never climbing that slope again. Atleast not until I get hold of a SUV, with a crawler gear!

Quote:
Originally Posted by petrolhead_neel View Post
This travelogue made for a really good evening read with the weather in my city playing around. This is awakening the traveller bug inside me again. No...control yourself. Dad's busy!

Anyways, great travelogue and dare I say even greater pictures. Sikkim is on our cards after the Fiesta completes running in.

OT, are you coming to the TBHP Kolkata meet scheduled to be held on 28th of June.
Show Dad the travelogues posted by Samba and gearhead_mait. He'll surely find time.
I'm silently keeping a tab on the meet thread. However, my profession bugs most of my Sundays with conferences. I hope to get an opportunity this time, more so, to personally thank a few bhpians who helped me in this trip.
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Old 25th May 2015, 22:24   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mi2n View Post

While strolling around the resort, I met the owner, one Mr.D.Gurung. We soon started a conversation. I cribbed about the approach road to the resort, which was in poor condition. He assured to rectify the same.
The approach road was steep as well. A snap:

Sikkim - Baptism by fire-img_4454-1024x575.jpg
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Old 26th May 2015, 00:42   #14
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Excellent travelogue with some magnificent pics! Must confess, i have never seen such beautiful pics of Figo before! With the racing strips and the overall ambiance it looks super hot in almost all the pics!

As you are already bitten by the Himalayan bug, am sure more such beautiful travelogues will follow soon !

Last edited by Samba : 26th May 2015 at 00:50.
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Old 26th May 2015, 09:13   #15
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Wonderful travelogue compiled with beautiful snapshots. With the Eon and Figo both mastering the hills of North Bengal, I plan to take my drive to the hills some time soon. Can you tell me if the Figo faced any GC issues during the entire trip?
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