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Old 17th January 2016, 21:47   #1
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Default White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

Well, this will be more of a photologue. Doesn't warrant a writing but the sight of this well-known place in these conditions, I would like to share.

To start of with a few teaser images.

The Last hour of 2015

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Clear night sky of the first hour of 2016

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Being part of an organisation that works quite tightly coupled, the Christmas Vacation happens to come with a different set of responsibility for a few select individuals and as such, there generally wasn't much hope to head out anywhere much further from the home location.

But due to some sudden turn of events, an opportunity presented itself, but by that time, most destinations that we would have loved to visit, in a jiffy, would be overbooked and chock a block with noise makers. Sandakphu, however, would not be one of those destinations, confirmed by a quick phone call to Sherpa Chalet at Sandakphu.

Besides, this time the heart wanted to stay far away from Noise-making, Mandible displaying heartless celebrations and meaningless/mindless wishes on cellphones, which takes place year after year with no real benefit to anyone!

So off we were soon on the 30th, blasting on the NH34 (barring the nightmare that somehow never eludes me whenever I cross the infamous Kaliachak, even if I take measures to avoid it!).

On 31st Morning, after a good breakfast, it was Bon Voyage, it wont be rough waters, but very rough roads.

It was a uninteresting drive up through via the Mirik Byepass (why am I even writing anything in this travelogue!) and another uneventful drive up to Monebhanjan, steep climb to Chitrey and then a switch to 4WD for a 2km run to Lameydhura, our first stop since the morning!

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Anyone for a cup of steaming hot coffee?

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And its already Nepal

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and Guess who is peeping through right from the first step of the climb (at Lameydhura)

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Soon we were again onto one of the most heavenly and serene portion of track anywhere (something that is about to change, ironically thanks to some people like us)

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Some very light patches of overnight frosting

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That's Tumling (The first time we went to Sandakphu, this was our night halt, for acclimatization, but that time it was necessary for my parents)

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One very little depiction of what is visible while one is driving on a trail like this, compared to trekking/walking. This mainly, for quite a few folks who find it convenient to downplay the drivers who have driven up there, from the ones who take to their legs

While you walk up, this is what you see, a clear view of how the trail emerges at the bends.

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Whereas, when you are behind the wheel of a vehicle, this is the visibility on offer

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Soon we were at Kalipokhri

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Ready to start from Kalipokhri after a mandatory/customary stop

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The climb up from Bikheybhanjan, the Sherpa Chalet can also be seen from here.

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The climb as seen from the Drivers seat

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And we are at Sandakphu!!

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A snap with the famous Sherpa Chalet

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The four of us at the legendary landmark, which will unfold some fabulous sights as the time goes by.

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Last edited by 1100D : 18th January 2016 at 04:09.
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Old 18th January 2016, 02:50   #2
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Default re: White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

Well reaching Sandakphu was one thing, spending time there was a completely other item.

The idea was to just spend the night and come down on a fresh new year. But easier said than done. Seemed like driving was the easier part.

To articulate, no cell network, no data network, no social networking, no whatsapp, no TV, all of it seemed so liberating, for precisely 36 minutes (or 38.5 at most)

Soon added to the list of "no's" was "no visibility". A dense fog/cloud had engulfed the peak. The only timepass, a few large cups of tea/coffee till the people at Sherpa Chalet was bored serving us more! Yes, we spent the first 1.5 hours successfully.

It was getting pretty cold and with no central heating, it was quite painful. So we decided to hit our room and catch up on a movie under 3 blankets.

It kept getting colder and colder. Around 7:45pm we were called for dinner, the movie was still to complete, so we said will go a bit later, when the owner informed, "kya saab, bahar snowfall ho raha hai" (What Sir, its snowing outside!)

We went out and saw some flurries. Had a fantastic time gorging on Chilly Yak

White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration-img_6584.jpg

Yak done, Chicken done, quite well heated, dehydrated and all, we went back to the room to catch up on the remainder of the movie. The flurries meanwhile had dropped.

But after an hour when we looked outside, the little white cotton flakes had returned and how. Have a look yourself.

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This was almost our New Year transition moment. No phone calls, no shouting people, just this.


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Soon we went back to our literraly chilled in room and bade Marengo (Our 2010 Mahindra Scorpio mHawk 4wd) a farewell for the night

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However, with all the internal excitement, yak and too many layers, sleep was hard to come by, especially in the eerie quietness (we realised that the term sound sleep, generally involves an external sleep inducing sound).

But thankfully so. Was wide awake, despite being quite tired and somehow through the top of the curtain on one of the windows, slowly some stars started to show themselves. Told myself, that if I start counting those, sleep wont be far.

But wait a second! A few minutes back, there were flurries, fog, cloud and what not, how can I see stars now?! A sudden realisation. Jumped up from the bed and from underneath those blankets, with the wife praying to God that probably the high altitude has made my mind go bonkers. Took the camera out and here it was.

The party continues


White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration-img_6630.jpg

A white Sandakphu, with a clear sky and most importantly, a clear view of Mt Kanchenjungha lit only by Moonlight.


the second shot in this sequence was used in the first post!

Last edited by 1100D : 18th January 2016 at 03:09.
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Old 18th January 2016, 03:07   #3
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The morning started with a rooster that resides inside a cellphone at 5:45am, surprisingly in the silence, the cellphone rooster woke up his flesh/blood brother who has probably never seen this sight in his life for a full 24 hours.

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One look westward to confirm if the peak was still there. Yes it was and with snow in the foreground, background, middle ground, it all appeared as an extension of each other.

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A panoramic from the viewpoint (though not a true Panorama, because just prior to this my tripod gave away, probably due to temperature fluctuation fatigue). Mt Everest range on the left and the Mt Kanchenjungha (sometimes locally referred to as Mt K) on the right.

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A closer view of the Mt Everest range, peeping in white through a horizonal rainbow! (This does not happen with the Mt K, due to its directional orientation)

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The first Golden Rays on the Mt Kanchenjungha from the very first light of 2016 on 1-Jan-2016

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A snow covered observation tower.

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The village of Sandakphu seen from the Observation tower, spot the Marengo!

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The Sherpa Chalet and the Sandakphu Board

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Marengo savours the sight.

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Last edited by 1100D : 18th January 2016 at 04:14.
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Old 18th January 2016, 03:25   #4
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Default re: White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

As the day revealed itself. A few pics in just a random sequence

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My little Daughter Anoushka, this is my first Travelogue since she turned 10.

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A little Village walk, no not in Switzerland!

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Look who we met again, WMX 217

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She was with us even on our first outing and also the second

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post3095235 (Sandakphu Phalut Kolakham - Unleashing a Mahindra Scorpio on Land Rover territory)

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A view from the washroom of the upper room at the Sherpa Chalet

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One pic taken from the Dining hall, before bidding Sandakphu another Goodbye

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So we start our homeward journey, will halt at Darjeeling for the night, mainly for its food.

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Some snow covered sections

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Some slipping and sliding

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The settlement of Kalipokhri seen from the distance, note that all roads leading to and from it are white!

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Kanchenjungha seen even from the crossing at Tumling

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Yes at some points, as was pointed earlier by bhpian Pawan Bajpai, the trail has narrowed quite a bit, due to rock falls.

White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration-img_7084.jpg

But soon, we were on more familiar terrain at Chithrey while our life continues with the uncertainty of limited forward visibility!

White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration-img_7085.jpg

Last edited by 1100D : 18th January 2016 at 03:41.
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Old 18th January 2016, 03:58   #5
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Default re: White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

Some additional pictures to end this Travelogue

A chilled bottle of Cola at a chilled place!

White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration-img_6466.jpg

Of no special significance

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Objects inside and outside the mirror are closer than what they appear!

White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration-img_7011.jpg

Marengo sings "Aaj mein upar, Mt Kanchenjungha Neeche!

White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration-img_7044.jpg

Some customary posing before saying goodbye to the highness.

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But all said and done, this is how the big peak (Mt Kanchenjungha) looks from Darjeeling.

White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration-img_7179.jpg

Thanks For watching this space. Goodbye to a memorable 1 January, the 40th of my life.

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The dessert! Hope you enjoyed the journey.

White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration-img_6629.jpg

Last edited by 1100D : 18th January 2016 at 04:02.
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Old 18th January 2016, 07:34   #6
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

Thats truly a beautiful transformation! All we hear and read about this place is members debating how difficult it is to reach here with normal 2WDs so on and so forth. And argument continues on that front. But this, is truly mesmerizing! Never saw this place in such a light.

Brilliant!

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Old 18th January 2016, 10:03   #7
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Default re: White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

Beautiful narration, and even more stunning captures. Your drives are making you evolve as a photographer too, Anirban. Great. (Wishing Anushka, a belated happy birthday). Rating 5 stars.
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Old 18th January 2016, 10:24   #8
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Default re: White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

The Tumling's gradient is Me likes

Thanks for sharing the photologue, if you give permission will tag with you someday. Letting her grow a bit to savor the sights.

[My daughter around a month back [5 months old] did ~800kms trip of which I did 385kms in 6 hours & she loved the driving part at night because of lights]
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Old 18th January 2016, 11:09   #9
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Default re: White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

Wonderful Anirban Da. The pictures are mind blowing. I think this must be one the clearest views one can get of Mt K from WB. Unfortunately I could not get the same vistas as yours due to bad weather. Also, your click of that rock gives a perfect picture of how narrow the trail becomes. The wheel arches of Duster are a pain in these situations.

Regards,

Pawan
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Old 18th January 2016, 11:59   #10
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Default re: White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

White Sandakphu looks so amazing. Lovely photos and narration.

Switzerland is easier to reach I believe than Sandakphu .
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Old 18th January 2016, 12:32   #11
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Default re: White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

Mind blowing pictures
Felt like I was there. People like me can only dream of getting to these kind of places.
Hats off to you and your family that you opted to spend the new year in such solitude and cold!
Awaiting more details on this location and how you got there. Would also like to know how the Scorpio performed in these conditions.
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Old 18th January 2016, 13:10   #12
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Default Re: White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

Excellent stuff as-usual. The photographs are mind-blowing with beautiful narration.

Hats off to you for clicking those night pics of snow at Sandakphu! It really need some guts to do that! Now you can only answer which was more challenging, driving Marengo on snow or clicking the night pics in minus temperature at Sandakphu! If some one do not love photography and driving from the very core of his heart, this kind of combo package is never possible.

Over all what ever i write wont do justice to the effort you have put in! You and your family are rewarded with a life time memory!

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Old 18th January 2016, 13:37   #13
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Default Re: White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

Awesome write up Sir! Some pictures totally left me speechless! Especially the picture of Mt. Kanchenjunga in the night and the picture which shows the steep gradient covered with snow. I had my lips clenched just by looking at that pic. Driving through the same in real life must have been very, very challenging. Hats off! I hope that someday I become as good a driver, a photographer and a writer as you are.

Ciao,
Neel

P.S: Marengo looks absolutely fabulous in some of the pics. Hard to believe that he celebrated his 5th birthday already.
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Old 18th January 2016, 15:06   #14
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Default Re: White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

As everyone has pointed out and written. Mindblowing pictures and excellent writeup. Superb use of exposure and angle for those surreal images.
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Old 18th January 2016, 15:53   #15
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Default Re: White Sandakphu - Our quiet New Year celebration

Absolutely stunning 1100D !


Both , for the visual delight as well as the measured diction.

I mean, how can you travel to such places ? It gave me goosebumps just to think of the treacherous nature of the road that is amply on evidence in the pictures. 4WD or 2WD, the trek seems utterly undrivable. You must be one heck of a daredevil to attempt this, or i am just a complete novice !

Having said all this, it's quite a treat reading this travelogue. The photographs, esp the night sky of the first day of 2016 is just a classic by itself. It reminded me of the magazines of yore, Life ( closed now) for one.

Kudos to you 1100D ! Keep clicking & posting !
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