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Old 10th October 2015, 08:36   #1
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Default Zuluk from the back seat

Well before you start thinking it yourself, I get it. This is sacrilege. Here I am at an automobile forum which claims that the members 'Live to Drive', and the travelogue title proudly suggests that it is depicted from the back seat. I plead you to hear me out.

"At its best, life is completely unpredictable." -Christopher Walken

Like most paper-pushers, almost 78% of the time I spend at office is spent looking at the calendar searching for the next holiday, and hoping it is a long weekender. By the beginning of August 2015, my sights were set on the 2nd October weekend, which was a 3-dayer. "This can't be wasted",I thought, "I have to drive somewhere". A lot of places came to mind. Bankura or Bishnupur districs of Bengal, Orissa forests, beaches of Digha or Mandarmani and all the usual go-to places which can be done from Kolkata on a long weekend. Somewhere down the line my manager noticed that my computer screen almost always shows Google maps, and asked me what I was up to. Told her the plan, and surprisingly, she was enthusiastic about having a road trip with her family, as her husband was an avid driver too! As she has a little kid, the long drives and the rough destinations were let go of, the last place standing was Puri. It was a shortish drive (8-9 hours maximum), the place had nice hotels, lots of choice to eat out, all the odds were stacked in favor of Puri. The plan was that I would drive my own car, on my own, and she would ride along with her husband and their child. This seemed good to me, as I would have the solitude of the drive, but the company when I reach the place. Little did I know what fate had in store for me.

Almost 3 weeks from the date of journey, one weekend, my manager called me up to let me know that she had to cancel the plan due to a family obligation. I was shattered. Called up one of my friends to ask if he wants to tag along with me (well what are friends for if not to give you company on trips where you originally did not include them?). He told me that he already has a Sikkim trip planned on those dates. Came to know that the trip was planned along with two people I know, TBHPian Sumitro (blackpearl) and Prasenjit (not a TBHPian, but very much a part of the TBHP Kolkata chapter scene). Sumitro was traveling along with his wife (Rajsri), my friend (Upal),and his colleague (Abhijit) on his White Tusker (Bolero 4X4). Prasenjit on the other hand was travelling with his wife (Riyanka) on his newly acquired EcoSport, christened Elessaar. I called up Sumitro to ask if he could spare another seat, and he was okay with it. His only request was that I should pack light.


"Failing to plan is planning to fail." -Alan Lakein

Nice quote, right? Well we sure tried. The WhatsApp group created for the trip had 500 messages daily on the average, and we had everything planned to the most minute detail.We met twice before the trip, once at a watering hole near our office area (tip: NEVER go to GoWhere at Sector V Salt Lake) and once at Sumitro's house which was less of a planning meet and more of a party. The owner of the homestay we were going to, I kid you not, owned a hill. Yes, a whole hill. So we planned to camp at the hilltop, which was already visited by Sumitro along with two other BHPians. Tents were bought, borrowed and brought down from lofts. Sleeping bags were rented. Foot long shopping lists were made and shopped. The car was loaded with petrol stoves and fish-grilling equipment. I went through the pros and cons of camping in the mountain. Sayantan, another BHPian, was tentatively joining with us, then finalized when his business travel was delayed, went back to tentative due to a family emergency, finalized again and then cancelled as he fell ill himself. In short we tried to plan the best we could, but in the end it was not worth much. Even the route we would take was a subject of debate till the night before the trip. Follow NH34 with all its potholes, or risk going via the longer route though Bihar at night during election season? Decisions, decisions! In the end we settled for the plan that everyone loves to follow, "We'll chalk things out on road".


"I had to face a lot coming through this journey, a lot of sacrifices, difficulties, challenges, and injuries." -Gabby Douglas

If ours cars had voices, they would have said the same thing at the end of the first day. We started one and a half days early (on 30th afternoon) as we would need Inner Line Permit (ILP) to follow the old silk route from Rongli onward as it is very near to China border, and the SDPO office/police station at Rongli would be closed on 2nd October as it was a national holiday. Around 5PM on 30th we started from New Town, Kolkata, happily munching on some delicious sandwiches Rajsri had prepared for us.Good food, nice company, a very able driver (Sumitro) switching lanes along the smooth Durgapur expressway, life was bliss. Till 8 PM at least. That was when we reached Burdwan, and left the expressway to take a right turn towards NH34. We knew that the road would be bad, but this was something beyond that. Bad roads have potholes. Here we had potholes which had some roads between them. At one point we were about to cross a river bed by a precarious looking causeway, and there was a makeshift toll gate before that. The guy manning the toll gate took Rs. 10 as toll. When asked if the road ahead was safe to go on, he promptly answered "Na hole taka nichhi kano" (Why else am I taking the toll?). So emboldened by the power of ten rupees, we moved on. Bad roads went on almost till Farakka, where we reached at around 1 in the night. Near Farakka, a new sort of demon haunted us. Innumerable trucks were at standstill with no wish to go either way, the drivers sleeping under them, playing cards between them, having food, and doing everything that can be done, expect driving. Sumitro and Prasenjit, our brave charioteers took the shoulder of the road and passed the trucks. The huge GC of EcoSport, which many dismiss as a hatch on high heels, really shone at this point. The bolero on the other hand was in familiar territory, and led our two-car convoy confidently.

Finally after 45 minutes of bypassing trucks, we came to Farakka barrage. Guarded by CISF and with no-overtaking rule, the bridge took almost ten minutes to cross. We were hoping the road would be a bit better after crossing the barrage but it was not. While battling through Malda, Raigunj and Islampur on similar roads, Sumitro took a short break from driving while Rajsri took the wheel. About an hour and a half of much-needed break, Sumitro was back on the driver's seat. On the other car, Prasenjit drove with similar support from his wife Riyanka as well. The sun came up at 5.30AM, and within an hour we reached BP petrol pump Dalkhola, with minimal time taken to cross the infamous Dalkhola railway crossing. After a short break for tea and tanking up, we moved on. The EcoSport had upper hand on roads which were better than what we faced last night, and Prasenjit scorched along the tarmac. We went though Siliguri, and crossed it without stopping. Finally, at 9.30 in the morning we were at Sevoke Bridge,which is the unofficial starting point of the hills. We tanked up once again as we were not sure of the location of petrol pumps along the silk route.

"I listened, motionless and still; And, as I mounted up the hill, The music in my heart I bore, Long after it was heard no more." -William Wordsworth

Ah, the hills! Cross the Sevoke bridge, and as if by magic, you become fresher, the air feels cleaner (except for the spots where there has been a rock slide and repairing is going on), the people seem friendlier, and all memories of your tiny cubicle some 600 kilometers back fade from your mind. The mountains have a uncanny ability of bringing out the adventurer and the nomad in us. We just want to move on along the winding roads, listening to the river flowing along, climbing a few hundred feet with every passing milestone. The snow-capped peaks stay out of sight, but the hope is always there that at the next turn on the road, the green hills will part and you'll be greeted with one of the most beautiful ranges in the world, the Himalayas.

Romanticism aside, one thing that all of us noticed was the way river Teesta has changed with time. What we all remembered from our childhood trips was a foamy white flowing river was a slit-grey steady flow, almost at standstill. This was a side effect of a newly constructed hydroelectric project on Teesta, which must have provided electricity and other benefits to the people of the mountain, but has robbed the scenery of one of it's iconic sights.

Crossed Rongpo, which is the border of West Bengal and Sikkim and the roads became a little bad. A few end-monsoon showers had triggered a few rock slides and broken the road surface. We became a bit slower, but pushed on. As we reached Rongli at midday, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves as we had a lot of time in hand. Around an hour to get the ILP, and we'll be off to our final destination for the day about 35 km away with a lot of daylight in hand, get to the hill top, set up camp and dig in for the night, we thought. But it was not to be. As the SDPO office was closed so the local police station was the only place to get the ILP. As Prasenjit and Sumitro approached the police officers for permits, they were briskly rejected on the grounds that the vehicles were privately owned, and private vehicles will not be given ILPs. They said we have to get local taxis if we wanted to move further along he silk route. Sumitro contacted our host, Norden Bhutia who redirected us to his brother-in-law (his wife's sister's husband) Nadu Bhutia. Nadu ji worked for Sikkim police, so he had some knowledge of how things go around here. He suggested us to get ILPs for both cars with the owner and their spouses, and rent a third car for the 3 unrelated travelers (me, my friend and his colleague) who will get us through the first check post. As we had lost about 3 hours playing the waiting game, we arranged a third car from the local taxi stand (an Alto 800 with green wheel caps and a funny-looking driver, more on him later) as quick as we could. The plan was that he would take us to Kiukhola today (at the foot of the hill of our host), and take us to Zuluk and Kupup the day after tomorrow.

By the time we reached Kiukhola, sun was setting. Norden and Nadu ji's wives ran a fair price shop here, and welcomed us to the shop to have a cup of tea before starting up the hill to Bhutia homestead. After a long day, we happily obliged. We started up the private road about half an hour later, with Prasenjit following us in his EcoSport. Sumitro became pretty exited by the roads as it promised to give him an opportunity to engage the 4-wheel drive, and pushed forward. Soon we lost sight of the EcoSport at our tail. We were a bit concerned, but kept moving onward as Norden ji was not at home at that time and he would return later in the evening. If Prasenjit was stuck he would go back, and Norden ji would guide him up or make some other arrangement to reach the Bhutia house. When we reached the house (well technically we still were one switchback below the house), the last rays of the sun was being erased from the sky. When Sumitro switched off the engine and the the diesel clatter died down, we felt the silence. The Rangpo river flowed down below somewhere, crickets were calling all around, and the only sound we could hear was the sound of our breathing. That tranquility was worth all the bad roads we had faced all along the journey.
Went up to the Bhutia home after standing and enjoying the silence for a few minutes, and unloaded the car the best we could in the dark. We were ushered in a tin and wood kitchen at the top of the house, and served with hot tea again, along with corn chiwda (dried and flattened corn seeds). Though enjoying ourselves in the kitchen with its traditional earthen oven, sitting around the old dining table on a mismatch of chairs, stools and benches, we were waiting for some news of Prasenjit and his wife, if they have reached the fair price shop safely or not.

After 40 minutes, we heard some voices below the house. Nadu ji was back, and he had brought Prasenjit and Riyanka along with him in his 2WD Bolero. Prasenjit car could not make it up the hill after the first switchback from the main road as he had to slow down between two rocks, and after that the EcoSport could not get traction on the rock and mud.Even Norden ji's Bolero could not make it all the way to the house, and it was parked two switchbacks down. Few of us went down the hill to fetch the remaining luggage from our host's car. Though it was pitch dark, it must have been a sight. Us climbing the hill using the foot roads (which are much steeper than the car road, though shorter in distance) carrying pressure cookers and suitcases and grocery bags and whatnot. However, with a spirit that only the mountains can instill in you, we did pretty good. After freshening up a bit we set to cooking the pre-marinated chicken that Rajsri had bought all the way from Kolkata in a cooler. Chicken curry and rice was ready in a short while, and we had a hearty dinner. Our hosts had given up their two bedrooms in their earth and wood house for the couples in group, and us three amigos were assigned a plush drawing room with divans, sofas and a bed. We retired for the night.

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The white tusker on reaching the destination on day one.

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Roadside friends at the first check post after Rongli.

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Part of the team at the fair price shop. Abhijit, Rajsri, Upal and Sumitro.

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A GPS snapshot of our onward journey.

"The sun is new each day." -Heraclitus

No matter how late or how tired I go to sleep each day, I am usually awake by 6.30AM. That morning I woke up similarly. Tired, groggy but awake all the same.But it did not look like a good day. Clouds and fog were all around the quaint homestead and the mountain ranges that were visible in twilight last night was not in sight. A sight drizzle was on. No one from our group was awake yet, so I walked around the property with a rain jacket on, the household puppy Bruno nipping at my heels. A caution about Bruno at this point. If you are ever at this homestead, never, I repeat NEVER start playing with Bruno. Because you'll wear out, but he won't. He'll tug along your trouser cuffs and shoelaces while you walk around. If you are sat barefoot, he'll come and try to bite your toes. If you grab him and make him sit in your lap he'll turn his head around and try to bite your hand. I love dogs, but there's a thing called too much enthusiasm. After evading Bruno unsuccessfully for half an hour I went to the kitchen in search of tea. Rest of the team members were up, and the day was also clearing up. Soon, around 8.30AM, the sun was up in full glory and a crisp mountain air was on us. We had a team meeting over a big bowl of WaiWai (the mountain version of Maggi, with a lot more condiments), and decided to ditch the plan of camping. We would not be able to set up the tents before noon, and then next morning we would have to pack up everything and move towards Zuluk and Kupup. So we decided to eat some more (Nadu ji's wife served us with a delicious bowl of tuna curry prepared from canned tuna), and go up the mountain. There was another house of our hosts some ten minutes climb away (note the time specified), and about ten minutes from there was a gompa (a monastery). Me and Upal, with a skip in our step and music in our hearts, decided to walk up while Sumitro takes the car up searching for opportunities to engage the holy 4x4.
I don't know about others, but all the hikes and treks I have done has three distinct phases.
Phase 1: "Oh man, nature! The beauty! The sights and the sounds!!"
Phase 2: "Oh s***, I can feel my heart up my throat, why did I even try this?"
and just when I think of giving up and sitting on one stone until some kind soul comes to rescue me...
Phase 3: "We're there! Really?"

It took three sentences, but in reality it was about two hours. The road was mesmerizing. Unknown mountain flowers and plants by the roads, the clear blue of the sky, the shining sun and the cool mountain wind made the hike a beautiful experience. But frankly, 40 minutes in the trek I lost all senses and trudged along like a zombie, occasionally stopping to catch my breath while pretending to take a picture. Then after what seemed like miles, both of us reached FangLong gompa at the top of the mountain. And if I say the view was breathtaking, it would be an understatement. From the top you could see the second Bhutia home, three waterfalls on a mountain opposite to us, little rivers running along in gorges below, and our Bolero in distance and down below, which started about an hour after me and Upal started climbing.

The rest of the team reached us in half an hour, as they climbed a part of the route, keeping the car at a place where it could be turned around. The bade papa (father of Norden and Nadu ji's wives) had come up with our friends, and he informed us that the weather would turn foul soon. Though it seemed perfectly fine to us, we decided to go by the sixth sense of the weathered man of the land, and started climbing down. Me and Upal climbed down along with the Bhutias, along a 'shortcut', which in my opinion was enough to cut my lifespan quite short of I slipped. Somehow we managed to reach the house within 15 minutes, and the rest of the party in Bolero was down shortly. True to the old man's words, we could hear the rains approaching us pretty soon. It came upon us and the weather went back to the way it was in the morning. As we went back to the kitchen, we were informed that our hosts would treat us tonight. We spent the rest of the evening talking to the family, and were called up for the gala dinner at around 9 in the evening. I don't remember it all due to the effects of an idle evening in the mountains (you know we did), but it was sumptuous. With our heart and our belly full, we went to bed for the night. Tomorrow was the day we go for Zuluk's famous switchbacks and Kupup lake.

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Clicked the Bolero while having a walk in the morning.

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Upal with Bruno.

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Our homestay. Pic courtesy Upal.

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The beautiful trekking trail.

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Another view from the trail. Pic courtesy Prasenjit.

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The full team along with bade papa of Bhutia house at FangLong gompa.

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FangLong gompa.

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Another shot of the team along with our hosts. Pic courtesy Prasenjit.

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Bruno resting at Sumitro's leg that night.

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Bruno sleeping with a shoe. Pic courtesy Upal.

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The team at the quaint Bhutia kitchen. Nadu ji, Norden ji,Upal, yours truly, Sumitro, Abhijit, Rajsri, Riyanka. Pic courtesy Prasenjit.


"Kya hay yahan pe? Kuchh bhi nahi!" -Raju Chhetri
"What is here? Nothing at all" -Raju Chhetri

Raju Chhetri. The driver of the green-wheeled Alto. Philosopher. Meteorologist. The man of day 3. But let me begin at the beginning.

As the EcoSport was down below at the fair price shop, and Sumitro's bolero could fit only 5 along with luggage, some of us had to go down to the foot of the hill on Nadu ji's 2WD bolero with some luggage. Me, Upal and Abhijit decided to go down with him. Just one switchback down we got stuck in a particularly slushy section of the road. It was muddy when we came up, but Sumitro's extra-wide bolero tires had effectively cultivated the place, and last day's rain had done the rest. True to the idiom, we were stuck in a rut. Nadu ji tried his best to get the car out, and the morning air was soon heavy with the smell of burning clutch. Sumitro had come down with his car in the mean time, and he tried pulling the 2WD sibling out with a rope (not a dedicated tow rope). However, the rope snapped as it was not thick enough. Some workmen who work for the Bhutias came and cut small channel to drain the logged water. Little pieces of stone and rocks were put in the tire tracks. We tried pushing and pulling the car manually, but it still was stuck. While doing these things, I came by two nuggets of knowledge.

One, in such scenario when a car is stuck, and it is not a dedicated offroading meet, stay away from the action.

Two, even if you are in the action, while pushing the car, never do a full stretch and push the car. I did both.

A disclaimer to my fellow travelers, if a certain video surfaces on the internet, I am not responsible for the safety of any of your cars.
Long story short, I fell down in mud and water while pushing the car out, and it got traction suddenly and went back.Anyway, after a good forty minutes of effort the car came out. We went down to the fair price shop and loaded Prasenjit's car again. Mr. Raju Chhetri was waiting for us. The road to Zuluk was beautiful, and it's beyond words, I'll let the pictures do the talking here. The only disappointment we had that there was a lot of cloud cover, and the full set of switchbacks (32 in total) could not be seen from the top. Also, from Thambi view point one gets a view of Kanchenjunga peak on a clear day, which we also missed out.

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Stuck Bolero 2WD. Pic courtesy Upal.

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The Bolero between Kiukhola and Padamchen, at a rest stop.

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The EcoSport after Padamchen. Pic courtesy Prasenjit.

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The Bolero a few kilometers after the baba mandir.

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Zuluk switchbacks at Thambi view point.

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Zuluk switchbacks. Pic courtesy Prasenjit.

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The beautiful Kupup lake.

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EcoSport on the Silk Route.

Raju kept us entertained with his words and actions.

When Prasenjit was leading our convoy, merely 30 seconds after following him Raju will say "Poora pickup bigaad diya humara" (He's making me lose my pickup) and do a blind overtake.

When Raju is leading he's not driving, he's flying low. If he takes a turn and the other cars miss it, don't you are telling him he should have been slower - "Pehle bolna chahiye tha" (You should've told me before).

When you ask him to stop at a random turn just to take in the view and click some pictures, Raju will say - "Kya hay yahan pe? Kuchh bhi nahi!".

The situation reached its peak when we asked him to stop at a point some two kilometers away from Baba Mandir. He simply said "Nahi" and drove on.

When Raju drives through fog, he has to drive slow. Once he passes the fog, he'll tell the other cars are slow. If you tell him there is fog on the road behind, he'll say "Abhi fog nahi hay" (There's no fog there now).

On our way back we ago also visited Nathang in Nathang valley, which we had a view to on our way to Kupup lake. There is a very small, but very old (circa 1600) monastery here which despite it's small size and housing only 2 monks, is incredibly serene.

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Nathang valley gompa.

At the end of the day, we decided to come back down to Rongpo. Staying at the Bhutia homestead would make the journey back too long, and going to Gangtok to stay would take a lot of driving. Made a short stop at the fair price shop, and bid goodbye to our generous hosts.

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Cute Kizangla and her didi, the Bhutia kids.

We came down to Rongpo and got accommodation at a Sikkim government guest house. Asked around for a good place to eat out, and was pointed to Ricki's on the banks of river Rongpo which was thirty seconds walk from our guest house. To our surprise, it was a proper club sort of restaurant with stage for live music (though there was not any that day), ambient lights, cozy anterooms and a choice menu. Once again, for obvious reasons I do not remember what we ate, but we ate a lot and the food was really good. If anyone is ever staying the night at Rongpo, do have your dinner at Ricki's. You'll not be disappointed.

"Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts." -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The last day of the trip would be very much like the first day, except for the joy that we are going to have a trip, we had a contentment. It was not exactly how we planned it would be, but it was really great in it's own way.
We started at 7 in the morning, and by 11 we were in the plains.

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A waterfall while coming down from the hills.

Except for a longish (45 minutes) lunch break at BP Dalkhola, we did not take any breaks. We decided to avoid NH34 and came back via Purnea-Bhagalpur-Dumka-Siuri-Bolpur-Burdwan route. It would be longer, but the road was supposed to be better so it would be a less stressful drive for all of us. The road was definitely way better except for a few bad patches. We also lost some time due to some spot checks by police as it was election season in Bihar, and a white bolero packed with bags and a bald driver wearing black aviators definitely raises suspicions. We had to unpack almost all bags at one checkpoint to show them, and even explain what medications we were carrying. However, the cops were not rude or misbehaving, just doing their duty.

Just before Bhagalpur we crossed the long and narrow Vikramshila bridge. The semi-dried riverbed was full of white kash flowers, and in the afternoon sun it was a sight to behold.

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Kash on the river.

After Burdwan, we were back on Durgapur expressway, though this time it was chock-full of trucks. Sumitro and Prasenjit kept their cool on this final stretch of our journey, and we reached NewTown at 2AM in the night.

There you have it. Though I live and love to drive, I did a 1600 km long trip to one of the most beautiful roads India has, the Silk Route, on the back seat of a bolero. And you know what, I enjoyed it! I would definitely be back there someday, hopefully very soon, and this time I would be in the driver's seat.

Last edited by cr4nkshaft : 10th October 2015 at 12:02. Reason: added gps log
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Old 10th October 2015, 18:49   #2
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Default Re: Zuluk from the back seat

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 10th October 2015, 19:19   #3
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Excellent narration! I envy your writing skills! The pics you have shared are awesome, specially the view from Thambi view point & the Kupup lake takes the cake!

Now i know if i plan this trip later on, whom should i a bug for knowing the procedures to get the permit!

Congrats to all the team members on completing this beautiful yet adventurous trip without any hassle!

Last edited by Samba : 10th October 2015 at 19:23.
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Old 10th October 2015, 21:24   #4
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Great travelogue, very well written with nice photographs. Mother nature at its best! That's the beauty, richness of our country.

Zuluk switchbacks looks like 3D painting.
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Old 10th October 2015, 21:38   #5
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Indeed excellent write up, and an avid reader! I loved the sync between your narration and the quotes. Lovely photographs, served an excellent garnishing. The last photograph of kashful from Vikramshila Setu is indeed beautiful and full marks to you for snapping it, this is one place we all try to pass through with a very tensed heart.
Thanks for sharing!
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Old 10th October 2015, 22:10   #6
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Thanks for the kind words guys.
Adding another set of pic, mod please append this to original post if this counts as double post.

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Elessaar from distance.
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The charioteers.
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Riyanka and Sonam.
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The tusker feels at home.
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Zuluk roads.
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Zuluk roads.
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Baba mandir.
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Doesn't she look a bit like Queen Elizabeth, meeting dignitaries?
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Old 10th October 2015, 22:40   #7
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Thumbs up Re: Zuluk from the back seat

What a beautiful travelogue. You write really well, Cr4nkShaft; your writing has the remarkable quality of being able to take the reader along, as a fellow traveller on the backseat of the White Tusker - with all the ups and downs! The wonderful pictures completement the writing beautifully and really brings the place alive.

Originally Posted by cr4nkshaft View Post
Sayantan, another BHPian, was tentatively joining with us, then finalized when his business travel was delayed, went back to tentative due to a family emergency, finalized again and then cancelled as he fell ill himself.
Having read all the little incidents, the trip seems no less than an adventure; and no matter how much I regret having missed such a fantastic trip; on a hindsight, it was probably a right decision. The dose of adventure might have been too much for my feverish body and spoilt the show for everyone!

Originally Posted by cr4nkshaft View Post
A disclaimer to my fellow travelers, if a certain video surfaces on the internet, I am not responsible for the safety of any of your cars.
Such little incidents do make a trip memorable, for a long time, and brightens up many evenings thereafter! I intend to make it my mission to have a look at this video. I believe that I will do a great service to mankind if I can manage get it online

The travelogue is quite informative too, with the information on ILP and road surfaces. Some current descriptions and information about ongoing repair works on the return route would be great.
Originally Posted by cr4nkshaft View Post
We decided to avoid NH34 and came back via Purnea-Bhagalpur-Dumka-Siuri-Bolpur-Burdwan route.
I really enjoyed reading the piece, it brightened up an otherwise dull and humid Saturday evening; and I do wish to meet Bruno sometime in the very near future! Rated the thread a well deserved 5 stars.

Last edited by GhostRider28 : 10th October 2015 at 22:42. Reason: Trying to avoid multiple posts.
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Old 10th October 2015, 23:13   #8
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Default Re: Zuluk from the back seat

Wonderful travelogue and pictures cr4nkshaft. It is so nice to have a different perspective of the trip. If I had penned down the travelogue it would have been so much different, firstly because I don't have the writing skills like you and secondly it would have been all about 4 wheeling my way up to the place
I must also say that it was a privilege to have you as a passenger along with Abhijit and Upal whom I have known for a long time. I can hardly say that I gel with people so easily but your nature made it easy. Also as you had said during the trip that I start the day on a soft note asking people if they are comfortable, had a good night's sleep or not, if breakfast was fine, but as the day progresses I get into a filthy mood So it is not easy to handle a person like me on a trip and still remain friends after coming back, or at least I hope we are still friends...
Jokes apart, really well written travelogue and that too your first one. Rated a well deserved 5 stars.

Also a few lessons/takeaways from the trip -
1. Need to have a plan B when it comes to ILPs. We could have easily been denied permit at Rongli had it not been for our host's efforts.
2. A tow rope is a must in those areas specially if it rains. The recovery of the Bolero 2WD would have been much easier if we had not left the tow rope in the Ecosport.
3. 4WD is a boon to have in the hills. You never know when it might come handy.
4. Renewed faith on my Bolero LX 4WD, it indeed is a flawless performer in the hills.
5. October start is not the right month for a camping trip. There were too many leaches around. If we had stuck to our plan of camping we would have come back with few litres of less blood.

P.S: Please post the videos of the recovery of the 2WD Bolero. I will try to post the videos from my dash cam.

Last edited by BlackPearl : 10th October 2015 at 23:26.
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Old 11th October 2015, 11:05   #9
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Default Re: Zuluk from the back seat

Fantastic writing skills, humorous and picturesque. Really enjoyed reading every word of the travelogue.

And you guys did have a fantastic trip! With its own share of adventures and delights. Bruno does seem like a little bundle of joy, would like to meet him soon before he grows into a big and strong mountain dog.

How does one book this homestay? Is it solely through Ironman travels , or is there a way for mere mortals like us to book directly?
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Old 11th October 2015, 19:09   #10
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Default Re: Zuluk from the back seat

Hello cr4nkshaft.
Amazing amazing travelogue. You are a great writer, good enough to write a best seller novel !! Rated it 5 stars.

And great photographs too !!
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Old 11th October 2015, 23:06   #11
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Default Re: Zuluk from the back seat

A few pictures of the vehicles from my side -

Zuluk from the back seat-dsc_3992.jpg

Zuluk from the back seat-dsc_4047.jpg

Zuluk from the back seat-dsc_4217.jpg

Zuluk from the back seat-dsc_4227.jpg

Zuluk from the back seat-dsc_4235.jpg

Zuluk from the back seat-dsc_4054.jpg

Last edited by BlackPearl : 11th October 2015 at 23:08.
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Old 12th October 2015, 12:34   #12
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Default Re: Zuluk from the back seat

Brilliant writing. So, that's half hour of work that I was supposed to do that didn't happen.

Thanks for sharing. The picture of the switchbacks is amazing!

You should sell your writing skills as the passenger for adventure rides. Free ride and you get the team a wonderfully written travelogue.
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Old 12th October 2015, 13:06   #13
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Default Re: Zuluk from the back seat

Excellent narration coupled with equally good photographs. Every time I see a travelogue on Himalayas, I can't stop reading it in one go.

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Old 12th October 2015, 13:54   #14
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Default Re: Zuluk from the back seat

Beautiful pictures and the place looks heavenly. Your Tusker looks comfortable in his home turf. Zuluk felt like a breath of fresh air after visiting multiple travelogues of Leh/Ladakh (which indeed is place one should visit). Again, thanks for capturing and sharing all the beautiful snaps.
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Old 12th October 2015, 14:15   #15
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Default Re: Zuluk from the back seat

You have got great writing skills cr4nkshaft and it feels like travelling with you. Requesting you to share more pictures as this part of Sikkim is truly beautiful.

If I have not misunderstood, for your onward journey you have taken SH7 from Burdwan till Moregram. As for people in Kolkata it’s a big challenge to reach Siliguri via road, Can you share bit more details of the current road condition.
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