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Old 1st June 2016, 20:53   #1
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Default Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby

On the 24th of February 2016 we were blessed with a Baby Boy whom we have named Mivann. His arrival makes our family complete and my 5 year old daughter Ishanvi simply loves his presence around her as it makes her feel a little more grown up to what she actually is. I suppose it's the sense of having someone younger than her in the family.

Sharing one of his initial pictures here as I would like to dedicate this Travelogue to Mivann :

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-_mg_1514-2.jpg


The idea of a road trip with a 3 month old and what made us choose Pelling (in West Sikkim) as our destination

Ever since Mivann was born, we had this thing of taking him on a road trip as we did earlier in 2011 when Ishanvi was born to us and was 3 months old then. That time it was Darjeeling, but this time my wife had something else in mind. Thanks to a Lonely Planet article which was published years back to which we had subscribed, she had come across this property The Chumbi Mountain Resort & Spa in Pelling (West Sikkim) which seemed amazingly beautiful and we had been thinking of paying a visit here; just to relax and unwind as there is nothing much to do. However, we had been trying to make a reservation at the said property for the past few years but unfortunately never were we able able to get a booking underway as it was sold out much in advance. Sharing a snapshot of the Lonely Planet article (instead of elaborating on the property) as to why we wanted to go to Pelling and specifically stay at this property 'only' :

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-about-chumbi-lonely-planet-2.jpg
Please click and download the image in case the write up is not clearly readable; it's interesting !!


How It Was Planned and What Shape did the Plan Take
A month and a half after Mivann's birth we had some friends over to our place to meet Mivann and my wife Eshita when everything was planned and we checked the availability at the said property in Pelling. To our luck, it was available and we immediately pencil booked all the 3 Suite Rooms that they had with them and paid up a night's advance after 15 days of making the pencil booking with the resort.

I was unsure of my travel plan due to a lot of things going on from all sides and was adamant on driving down to Sikkim keeping my options open if the trip had to be cancelled by any chance whereas others were hell bent on taking the train to NJP. Their tickets were booked in two trains showing Status WL/1 onwards at the time of making the reservation so we thought that the tickets would definitely get confirmed.


The Last Minute Twist
24th of May 2016 : Mivann turns 3 months old today and the four of us are all set to leave the next day before sunrise for Sikkim. I do not know if it was unfortunate or lucky for all of us that their railway reservation did not get confirmed till the last minute and that all the quotas were also full and sold out.

The twist comes in when my friend Abhisekh said that he will drive down with us in his Innova with his wife & kids along with his chauffeur and a domestic help for the kids. However, he was pretty keen on driving himself and let the driver be as a back up and support.

The other friend Gaurav was not too keen to drive all the way and preferred to be driven. Though he has driven all over Europe but even he knows what driving on Indian Highways is like. So he refrained from taking his car and his driver and at the last minute, rather in the 11th hour I managed to arrange for a 'Leased Driver Driven Innova' for him for 6 Days 5 Nights at a decently reasonable cost from an agency from whom we usually hire Taxi(s) for all our corporate requirements. So, now everything was set and that all of us were now driving up.


THE TEAM TO WEST SIKKIM : (a formal introduction of the travelers and their rides)

Myself with wife Eshita, daughter Ishanvi (5 years old) & son Mivann (3 months old) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0569-2.jpg

My trustworthy Ford Figo :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0378.jpg
This is the Car which did Ladakh last year in 2015 being a part of the group drive from Kolkata to Ladakh. Now, since it's going to rain Ladakh Travelogues this season, sharing a link of our Ladakh Travelogue for everyone's reference. Link : http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...kolkata-7.html (Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata)

Friend Abhisekh with his wife Shradha, son Raghav (5 years old) & son Arnav (3 years old) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0867-2.jpg

Abhisekh's Innova which has already clocked around 2,00,000 Kms :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0430-2.jpg

Abhisekh posing at the Driver's Seat all pepped up for his debut Himalayan Drive :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0484-2.jpg

Friend within the family Gaurav with his wife Rajni, daughter Aashi (6 years old) and daughter Urvi (4 years old) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0534-2.jpg

The leased Innova for Gaurav and family :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0385.jpg

As you can see that there is a very good mix of kids of all ages in the group and we were just dreading the menace that they all together can make during the vacation. But, on the contrary it ensured that they were busy amongst themselves without creating much fuss for their parents. There was enough water & food bought and packed for everyone in every vehicle and the ladies carried some lip smacking home cooked food with them so that we do not waste much time on the way. My wife Eshita is a pro at it now and accordingly managed the show by coordinating with the other ladies superbly.

Before I move onto the travelogue in my next post, I would like to share my past and current experience of travelling with an infant with everyone in the forum :

There is a lot of myth when it comes to travelling with an infant and I would like to mention that it is indeed not a big deal. A lot of people (rather parents) have this phobia that such road trips are not possible with infants and small kids. It is all a mindset and how you tune yourself and your kids to the situation. Instead I would say that it starts getting difficult with them when they start growing up. Infants do not bother you much. The motion of the car puts them to sleep more easily in comparison to when they are at home and that they seem better off while travelling. They just occasionally wake up for their feed, look around for a while and again catch up with their sleep. The diaper takes care of the rest of the things. However, there are limitations to it. Even they need to stretch themselves. After all how long can they confine themselves in a Carry Cot or a Car Seat ? Meaning to say that they also need their space. So if the drive is tiring for you, it will be double tiresome for them. Ensure to choose your route and daily distance wisely.

Enlisting the things you must carry (keeping it handy and not in the boot) when travelling with an Infant :
  • Sun Shades - for the Car Windows as it becomes convenient if your wife is breastfeeding on the go
  • Light Shawl or Stole for the Mother - to cover herself up while feeding the baby
  • Carry Cot - an infant is too small for a Car Seat, so it's better to put him in a Carry Cot and use the Rear Seat Belt to tie the Cot firmly. It also comes in handy for carrying the baby when climbing steps etc.
  • Stroller - as it is not possible to carry the baby all along in your arms, so better to stroll it around in a light weight stroller
  • Thermos Flask - with sufficient warm water to make the odd top feed (milk) for the baby
  • Baby Bag - with their feeding bottles, diapers, bibs, wipes, bottle cleaning accessories and a couple of set of clothes of the day
  • Blanket - irrespective of the weather outside, I prefer to keep the AC on with the kiddo on the plains to avoid the dust. It's better to put a blanket around the infant to keep him warm and cozy
  • Hand Sanitizer - to keep your hands clean
  • Wet Wipes - comes in very handy while changing the diapers and to clean the poo
  • Tissue Box - for the odd use
  • Medicine Kit - for the infant which is recommended by the paediatrician
  • A couple of Home (Not Car) Cushions of size 14"x14" or 16"x16"

Other stuff carried which I usually always keep in the Car :
  • 1/4" Square Drive 42 Pcs Socket Set with the relevant tools
  • 8" Combination Plier
  • 10" Hacksaw Blade
  • Windshield Washing Fluid
  • 12V Car Charger for the Phones
  • Extra Set of Headlamp Bulbs
  • Extra Set of Fuses
  • LED Torch light with Magnetic Pick Up
  • Bottle of Groz GO20 Lubricant Spray
  • Bottle of Fire Extinguisher (which supposedly is mandatory in Sikkim)
  • Pair of Car Cushions for the travelers
  • Inflatable Neck Pillow for the travelers
  • Basic medicines to suit everyone with a First Aid Kit

Other Important Stuff :
  • iPad for my Daughter's entertainment which is given to her in intervals
  • 12 Bottles of Water for a per day consumption
  • Lots of food and some junk food as well for the kids

I needed to be back home latest by 07:00pm from work in order to give the final finishing touches to our packing and ensure that the luggage is all loaded in the Car before I go to sleep. Accordingly everything was packed, I had my dinner and got the vehicle loaded before going to bed at 09:30pm in order to catch up with some very required sleep as we had planned to leave @ 02:00am. So those 4 Hours of a super power nap was very required for me. Sharing a picture of the vehicle mostly loaded with 8 Pcs of Cabin Luggage in the Boot and rest had to be managed in the space within the car (Though we still managed to squeeze in some more luggage later) :

This hatch does gulp in a lot of stuff in it's boot space :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0369.jpg

Now, instead of buying more time on starting the Travelogue, moving to the crux of the Travelogue in my next post. I would like to give a disclaimer that some people might find the Travelogue to be a little extensive with numerous snaps than what usually travelogues are; but that is because this particular travelogue is very special to us on the personal front and I personally do not like to chase the destination and rush it out on a holiday. I am too lazy I guess and like to get soaked into the place by being just like one of the locals. Hope everyone enjoys every bit of it !!

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 4th July 2016 at 19:49. Reason: Changes
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Old 3rd June 2016, 17:04   #2
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Default re: Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby

DAY 1 : 25th of May 2016 : Kolkata to Siliguri Via NH-34 :

A very highly discussed topic on the Forum indeed. However, I find this route better to travel at night for a simple reason that I have my business network all along this route and feel happier taking this route in case if there is any assistance or help that I may require for my family. Other than that, I keep frequenting on NH-34 for the given reason and thus have my own comfort zone with it. Sharing a link of the Route Details : http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...ml#post3986879 (Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34) for everyone's reference.

At around 02:30 am we all departed from our respective homes and caught up in front of the Bartaman Office on E.M.Byepass and set sail @ 02:40am for Siliguri. Most of it went off smoothly barring the congestion as Kaliachawk which we could not avoid. Sharing some pictures of the day :

The first glimpses of sunlight "Subah Ho Gayi" :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0375-2.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0372-2.jpg

Looking into the Sun :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0376.jpg

The road from Islampur approaching Siliguri :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0386-2.jpg
Check the Tractor Driver calmly driving away while talking on the mobile phone

No Travelogue to this part of the country is complete without a picture of the Tea Gardens :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0389-2.jpg

My Figo posing with the Tea Gardens as the backdrop after a fresh downpour :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0390-2.jpg

We had booked up 3 rooms with Club Montana Vista located in the same compound as the City Centre, Siliguri which is a property of the Ambuja Group. We have good corporate relations with 'The Conclave' here in Kolkata (as we are members too) and asked the concerned person to book us our rooms at this Siliguri property of their's; just by a phone call and it was done. Based on the online reviews, I was unsure of the property that we had booked. But, to our surprise it turned out to be very impressive and to our liking.

Sharing a link to my review of the property for everyone's reference and also sharing some pictures as under :
https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...st_Bengal.html

The entrance :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0392.jpg

The view from our room :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0395.jpg

A rocking couch in our Suite Room :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0397.jpg

The bedroom of our Suite Room :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0398.jpg

The Club Grounds :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0409.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0411.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0418.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0423.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0424.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0425.jpg

At the end of the day, all you want to see is your family happy :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0405-2.jpg

Joyous Ishanvi :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0420.jpg

Notorious Raghav & Arnav :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0406-2.jpg

Pretty Urvi - glamouring herself up :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0413-2.jpg

Time passing with the camera in some free time :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0415-2.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0426-2.jpg

We had some visitors over to our Hotel during the later part of the evening and just relaxed having some fun filled times and prepped up the kids for the longish Hill Drive for the next day.

A gyst of the day's drive :
Distance Travelled - 583 Kms
Toll Paid - Rs.125/=
Travel Time - 11 Hours 15 Mins (including a 45 minutes dead lock traffic jam at Kaliachawk)

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 6th June 2016 at 11:54. Reason: Changes
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Old 6th June 2016, 11:48   #3
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DAY 2 : 26th of May 2016 : Part I : Siliguri to Namchi Via Bhanjyang :

Got an update from the local sources that the Melli-Jorethang-Legship route has been in tatters for sometime now and the continuous rains in the past few days have made the road full of slush etc. It was said that this route is taking approximately 6-7 Hours (or even more in some cases) for vehicles to cover 170 Kms in order to reach Pelling through this route. Now, considering the fact that we were travelling with family and kids, we did not want the journey to be uncomfortable by any means. Moreover, both the Innova's had drivers who had never driven on Hills before, thus taking them through challenging roads was not a good idea also. Thus we decided to go to Pelling Via Melli-Bhanjyang-Namchi-Ravangla-Legship-Geyzing which apparently was a better route and that we would be able to visit Chaar Dhaam at Namchi on our way to Pelling.

With kids on board, nothing can move as planned and when you have 6 of them all together, the situation just becomes worse. My navigator for the day had changed i.e.- instead of my wife, it was my daughter :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0433.jpg

We finally managed to leave our hotel post breakfast at around 09:20 am and reach the Melli Bridge at around 11:20 am after being held up in traffic. Sharing a pick of the enroute traffic :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0427.jpg

The Teesta now completely docile after the dam being constructed :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0447.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0434.jpg

There was a bottleneck to get onto the Melli Bridge due to utter mismanagement of traffic. There was nothing much to do so clicked some snaps. Could see the Melli bridge, but not get onto it - so close yet so far :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0483.jpg

All thanks to some monkey business :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0457.jpg

Some random shots of goats grazing :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0494.jpg

Watching some River Rafting happening on the Teesta River :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0488.jpg

A part of the Girl Gang posing for a desired snap :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0485-2.jpg

The congestion lasted for around 50 Minutes and we finally managed to get onto the Melli Bridge at around 12:10 pm and move ahead towards Bhanjyang after crossing the Composite Check Post at Melli. We took the Melli-Turuk Road towards Bhanjyang which was apparently a much shorter route apart from being a much steeper route also. Half way up, I saw two Mahindra Bolero Goods Carriers coming from the hill on my left waving hands to us. Inquisitively, I slowed down to a stand still with the 2 Innova(s) behind me before the next left turn and waited for them to come alongside us to understand what has happened or what they had to say.

They said - "aapka gaadi nahi jayega !" (your car will not go) - now that is not something new for me. Have heard hill drivers saying these words numerous times in various parts of the country.

I said - "Kyu nahi jayega?" (why will it not go)

The reply put me in a dilemma - "Ek Mahindra Marshal raste ke beech mein breakdown ho gaya hai. Right mein gaadi jaane ka jagah nahi hai aur left mein khai hai. Gaadi gir sakta hai" (a Mahindra Marshal has broken down in the middle of the road and there is no space for you to pass across it from either sides)

I said - "Aap kahan se aa rahe ho ?" (Where are you coming from)

The reply - "Wahi se" (from there itself)

I said Thanks to those helpful Bolero drivers and moved on thinking that if a Bolero with a wider carrier than the vehicle's width can have enough space to cross the "obstacle" why can a Figo or an Innova not do it ? Instead of being in two minds, just went ahead with the gut feeling that 'it will go' and moved on; the Innova(s) followed suit.

Went ahead saw that a Marshal named "James Bond" was stuck in the middle of the road on a steep incline and there was just about space enough for cars to pass by from the Left Side being on the edge of the cliff. We parked our cars and went for an inspection of the situation. The only issue was that there was no tarmac left on the Left Side of the road and that the soil was loose and muddy. On top of that, the incline was such that losing momentum would/ could have worsened the situation.

A picture of the scenario :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0499.jpg

I asked Abhisekh's Driver Mahesh Ji to do the required spotting for me as I headed the risk by off-loading all my family members from the car and giving it a shot. Driving a front wheel drive vehicle, I went through by keeping closer to the Marshal and the Figo just breezed past the marshal without much fuss. Abhisekh was now confident and followed with his Innova with just a little bit of rear left hand side wheel spin which was not a botheration. The 2nd Innova did get in some Drama happening by taking a wider approach angle and managing to bump the front left wheel off the soil. Thankfully he was on full throttle and the wheel came up as the rear wheels now started to spin big time and the Innova was almost dancing. But, finally it also managed to come on track and we were all good and safe. The situation was such that I did not have the courage to take any more pictures or videos of the said situation. Though I might find a Dash Cam Video if recorded by Abhisekh and shall share it later.

We moved ahead to the small town of Bhanjyang and took a small power break :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0505.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0504.jpg

It was now around 01:40pm that we reached the beautifully done up town of Namchi. It was a well organised place with disciplined traffic. The police does do a good job here. We were extremely hungry and thought that instead of wasting further time, we should headed straight to the touristy Char Dham Temple where we knew we'll get all the basics - which includes toilets and food.

Crossing the Under Construction "Baichung Bhutia Stadium"
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0511.jpg

Flagged Road to Char Dham :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0512.jpg

The Yatri Niwas Hotel which is located in the premises of the Char Dham Temple :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0517-2.jpg

Good pure vegetarian food @ Rs.300/= per head with unlimited refills. Moreover, kids food is not chargeable :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0515-2.jpg

Mivann takes a stroll as we look on :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0521-2.jpg

"Har Har Mahadev" Lord Shiva's Larger than Life Idol at the Char Dham :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0560-2.jpg

Dham 1/4 : The replica of the Rameswaram Temple :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0538-2.jpg

Dham 2/4 : The replica of the Dwarka Temple :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0559-2.jpg

Dham 3/4 : The replica of the Badrinath Temple :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0562-2.jpg

Dham 4/4 : The replica of the Jagannath Temple,Puri :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0564-2.jpg

Brother-Sister love :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0553-2.jpg

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 7th June 2016 at 09:43. Reason: Changes
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Old 7th June 2016, 10:15   #4
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DAY 2 : 26th of May 2016 : Part II : Namchi to Pelling Via Ravangla-Legship-Geyzing :

It was around 03:50 pm that we were done with our 'Char Dham Darshan' and somewhere we all knew that we were running extremely behind our schedule. So, it was time that we got the wheels rolling. The ECO-HIGHWAY from Namchi to Ravangla was via Damthang and indeed it was a brilliant road to drive on.

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0595-2.jpg

The beautiful road :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0593-2.jpg

The picturesque road from Ravangla to Legship :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0612-2.jpg

Some cloud cover in places :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0606.jpg

Pretty Roads :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0621-2.jpg

There was a burning smell coming from the Innova(s) and we took a short break almost nearing Legship to let the brakes cool down. Both the drivers were novices in hill driving and this was a lesson learnt :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0611-2.jpg

The Figo raring to go and looking onto the road ahead :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0615-2.jpg

The milestone at Legship :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0616-2.jpg

The 16 Km road from Legship to Geyzing was in utter tatters. Most of it was extremely rough and damaged/ broken. You can say that literally the roads were non existent.

Sharing some snaps of the road condition (though could not click many snaps) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0603-2.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0624-2.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img20160531wa0074_1-2.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img20160531wa0073-2.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img20160531wa0078_1-2.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img20160531wa0087-2.jpg

Somewhere near Geyzing :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0625-2.jpg

After reaching Geyzing, there was a steep inclined road from the Market Area which goes onwards to Pelling which was about a 7 Km drive to our Hotel. The drive from this junction to Pemayangtse Monastery (junction) which was a 4 Km drive was indeed pretty steep and all throughout we had to keep the 1st Gear engaged. However, the problem was not the climb up. The problem was that it had become dark and there was dense fog on that incline which came out of nowhere after we had started our climb up and that there was no one on the road apart from our 3 cars. The visibility was not even a couple of meters and stopping on that kind of an incline would not have been a good idea. I kept the climb up speed within 10-20 kmph for the Innova(s) behind me to keep pace with me and once we crossed the junction of the Pemayangtse Monastery; thankfully the fog was all gone and we used the human GPS to find the the exact location of our Hotel.

Finally reached @ 06:30 pm !! The entrance to our Hotel :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0626.jpg

The hotel lit up in the evening :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0627.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0628.jpg

Buddha seated :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0649.jpg

Prayer Wheels at the property :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0651.jpg

The Trio of Stupa(s) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0653.jpg

A semi amphitheater at the property :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0985.jpg

This property has 3 Suite Rooms - The Rabdentse Suite, The Yuksom Suite & The Raj Suite. We had booked up all the three suite rooms out of which I got the Raj Suite which was more British than Sikkimese in comparison to the other two suites. Sharing some snaps.

The dining area in our room :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0629.jpg

The sitting area in our room :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0642.jpg

Our Bedroom in our Suite Room :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0639.jpg

The work desk in our bedroom :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0640.jpg

Large Windows in our room :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0644.jpg

The most important - The Washroom :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0635.jpg

No treasures through :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0631.jpg

The property itself was very beautiful and the sight of it let go of our tiredness and we were all charged up for a fantastic evening. You can check my review of the Hotel at the given Link : https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...ECK_RATES_CONT

To our luck, immediately after we checked in and off loaded our luggage from our respective vehicles there was huge thundering followed by extremely heavy rainfall. But, unfortunately the hotel did not have provisions for the accommodation of the two drivers and the domestic help and it was somehow not possible to go searching for a place in the given weather conditions. One of the Hotel Staff (probably the gate keeper) offered them to go to his residence and spend the night there and instead look for a hotel the following day. Amazing isn't it !! That's the hospitality at Sikkim for you !!

A Gyst of the day's drive :
Siliguri to Melli Bridge - 57 Kms in 2 Hours
Melli Bridge to Char Dham @ Namchi Via Bhanjyang - 38 Kms in 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Char Dham, Namchi to Damthang - 17 Kms in 30 Mins
Damthang to Ravangla - 13 Kms in 30 Mins
Ravangla to Resort @ Pelling - 49 Kms in - 2 Hours 10 Mins
Total Distance Travelled - 174 Kms in 6 Hours 40 Mins
Toll Paid - NIL

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 16th June 2016 at 15:39. Reason: Changes
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Old 7th June 2016, 11:31   #5
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DAY 3 : 27th of May 2016 : Part I : A Blissful Morning at Pelling :

There is nothing better than waking up to the sight of the Kanchenjunga Range before your eyes from your room when you are in this part of the country. But what is even better than than is to wake up before the Kanchenjunga with different species of birds chirping all along to wish you a very good morning. The sounds were pretty alien to me; but very soothing. The reason being that our hotel was situated amidst a Bird Sanctuary where various migratory birds are seen during the earlier part of the day.

It was around 06:30 am and wifey was already up with Mivann and was sipping on her cup of Darjeeling Tea as she rushed and called upon me to see the beautiful range before us. Pictures are never enough and it really gets difficult to choose the best of the lot to share with family & friends. Took a while to sort them and sharing a few of them here :

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0666.jpg

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Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0671.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0672.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0673.jpg

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As it's said "Nothing Lasts Forever" neither does this pot of freshly brewed Darjeeling Tea :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0712.jpg

The clouds took charge and started to cover the Snow Peaks :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0678.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0720.jpg

An interesting fact about the Kanchenjunga Range (Came across this somewhere in Pelling itself) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0932.jpg

Rajni and Eshita posing :
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The ladies in all different moods :
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Lush Green Town of Pelling - Majestic Views - Courtesy the overnight downpour :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0676.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0677.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0726-2.jpg

The Hotel Grounds in the surrounding :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0708.jpg

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Some Flora at the property itself (though that's pretty common in this region) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0797.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0798.jpg

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Saw the Spa was open and went in for a look !! Must say it looked pretty inviting :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0781.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0782.jpg

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Thinking to ourselves that we could definitely give the Spa a shot someday in the evening, we headed back to our room to see Mivann up and up in style :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0738-2.jpg

The SRK pose by my Little Blue Santa Claus :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0737-2.jpg

His sisters flocked around him :
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Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0747-3.jpg

Are you done with Tea Daddy ? The day has just begun :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0757-3.jpg

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Old 16th June 2016, 16:58   #6
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DAY 3 : 27th of May 2016 : Part II : A Visit to the Singshore Bridge and Surroundings :

We all got ready and enjoyed the sumptuous breakfast and started for our 'Touristy' Sight Seeing Day. The agenda was to drive down to the Singshore bridge which is about an hour's drive (approx 24 odd Kms). I think it was almost 12:15 pm when we started from our Hotel after getting all the Kids ready. A late beginning to the day !!

The Cars queued up :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0777-2.jpg

The road to Dentam :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0811-2.jpg

The Waterfall enroute Dentam :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0818-2.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0836-2.jpg

Time for some pictures - Abhisekh & Shradha :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0822-2.jpg

It's Us :
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Shradha with her elder son Raghav :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0833-2.jpg

Shradha posing alongside the Figo with the Innova(s) queued up behind :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0830-2.jpg

The Dancing Cock oooopss or should I call it The Dancing Rooster :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0844-2.jpg

The Road Ahead (a shallow water crossing thanks to the waterfall) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0847-2.jpg

I Love these flags for no rhyme or reason :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0857-2.jpg

The colourful town of Dentam :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0860-2.jpg

Some home grown flowers (captured from the Car without permission) :
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The Singshore Bridge :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0907.jpg

Driving to & fro the bridge and posing :
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Time to walk on it and feel the buoyancy forces working on the Hanging Bridge :
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Some customary snaps - Gaurav & Family :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0874.jpg

Me with my family :
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I like such protocols :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0884.jpg

Helped the locals to cook a better Maggi (basically with a bit of more Masala) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0894.jpg

Mivann staring into the Camera :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0889.jpg

What more does a 5 year old want other than Maggi & a Cold Drink - Happy Ishanvi :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0886.jpg

The visit to the Singshore Bridge was nothing very great according to me. In fact I feel it's way to overhyped by the locals. There are also not many Food Options here. A Tourist Cafeteria which was mostly sold out. The other shacks werebetter off with more variety to offer such as packed food, Thukpa, Soup & Maggi.

We planned to pay a visit to the Alpine Cheese Factory which is a 1.5 Kms away from the Main Dentam Bazaar. However to our luck it was closed for some good reason. The clock showed it's 03:00 pm and they are done with the day's work !! What a "Majja Aani Life" these guys have. I really envy them.

Sharing a picture to the entrance of the Factory :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0909.jpg

However, my wife had seen a Retail Outlet in Dentam Bazaar which sells Alpine Cheese and we headed straight to Dentam Bazaar to see if we get lucky in procuring some freshly made Cheese from the Alpine Cheese Factory. Luckily they did have it at the cost of Rs.180 for a 230 Gms Pack. Since we were 3 families, we bought 6 of them gladly.

Sharing a picture of the outlet :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0911.jpg

Always a relaxing stop - beside a flowing river with magnificent colours (enroute Pelling Town) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0914.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0913.jpg

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Old 17th June 2016, 10:51   #7
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DAY 3 : 27th of May 2016 : Part III : Strolling Around in the Evening :

Back from our Local Sight Seeing, we sent the kids back to the Hotel with the Drivers and the domestic helps and I parked my car at the closest available parking space near the Police Booth at Pelling Town and we all decided to go for a walk. We were looking for some Local Sikkimese Tea with some Tea Snacks and the Lotus Bakery was the right place for it as per our research. It was a couple of Kilometers walk from where we were and started our evening stroll towards the Lotus Bakery.

This Armada definitely ads some zing in the picture - "Ladakh Guest House in Pelling" :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0924.jpg

Beautiful :
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The sun was lowering down to set :
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A DSLR Selfie :
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Walking through the woods :
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Sunshine at the end of the road :
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Once you see this, you know are you are close to the Lotus Bakery which is located beside it :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0944.jpg

The Shack which is the Lotus Bakery :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0943.jpg

The contemporary board with a touching message :
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The Sikkimese Pie :
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The Stand Out "Coconut Cookies" best with some Sikkimese Tea :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0957.jpg

Walked Back to the place where we had parked the car and drove back to the Hotel. The Flags were fluttering :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0965.jpg

The Figo did not have much to play with today; just a short drive and now resting :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0962.jpg

It was time for us to hit the Base Camp :
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To try some locally brewed Chhaang served in a Tongba :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_0970.jpg

A Group Picture to end the day :
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A Gyst of the day's drive :
Pelling to Singshore Bridge - 24 Kms about an hour's drive
Singhshore Bridge to Alpine Cheese Factory - 6 Kms drive through Dentam Bazaar
Alpine Cheese Factory to Hotel - 20 Kms
Total kilometers driven for the day - A mere 50 Kms
Toll Paid - NIL

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Old 17th June 2016, 12:32   #8
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DAY 4 : 28.05.2016 : Part I : Mornings Are Always Special :

Expecting to see the mighty Kanchenjunga Range yet once again, I woke up at around 04:30 am in vain not being able to see anything because of the cloud cover. The wait made me impatient and getting back to sleep is never an option in such cases. So thought of driving around the town of Pelling in quest of some piping hot cup of 'Masala Chai'. Woke up wifey and asked her if she was interested; the answer was an obvious yes. As we were about to leave, saw that Shradha was also awake for the same reason and was also interested to step out for a Cup of Tea.

The Overcast Sky :
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Sunrise breaking into the dark cloud cover :
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It was time to step out :
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The Figo Parked at the Hotel :
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Goodbye to the Stupa(s) at the Hotel (the lights still on) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1016.jpg

As we reached the main chawk, asked where we could find some Tea. The answer was very disappointing - "Yahaan sab der se uthte hai. Abhi Chai nahin milega". However, we moved on towards Middle Pelling and then Lower Pelling; there was no trace of any soul there. Moved a little further ahead and saw a few Taxis parked in a queue and something within said that yes we'll find something here. To our luck a small Cafe was open and was serving Hot Tea with some Butter Toast. All we could ask for !!

Figo parked in front of the Cafe :
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The cup of Tea :
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That smile on her face - Priceless :
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Had enough time in hand for some "Car Photography" :
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A bit of Pigeon Photography as I may call it. Look at them in the "Attention" mode :
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The one that caught my eye :
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Went back to the Hotel to see the beautiful sanctuary all around it :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1052.jpg

Heard a bird which was pretty loud and could manage to get a snap after sighting it from the naked eye :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1052-1.jpg
Sorry for the poor picture quality as this was very far away and the telescopic shot also needed cropping

I thought I saw a sparrow with some strange colours (correct me if I am wrong) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1052-3.jpg

Soon it had some company :
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A customary snap of the Figo parked :
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An insect on the glass of our room window :
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You guys cannot leave me and go like this early in the morning - Frowny Face :
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Now it's Papa Time :
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Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1058-2.jpg

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Old 17th June 2016, 14:47   #9
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DAY 4 : 28.05.2016 : Part II : Local Sight Seeing and Relaxing :

After the brilliant morning, it was time for doing some local sight seeing and being amongst the locals to enjoy the local food and simply just relax it out. The first in the Agenda was the Sangchen Penayangtse Monastery :

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1130.jpg

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The stacked prayer stones :
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Not the best place to park though, but enjoyed how it looked :
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The Innova Twins Parked :
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Entrance to the Monastery :
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The Utensils being cleaned and shined :
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The Backyard of the Monastery which is even more beautiful :
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The Girls having some fun together :
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This monastery is in three levels. You may call it G+2 !! If you think you are done by being in the monastery just by entering and exiting it, it is not so. As you go onto the higher levels, you get awed by the beauty of it. The second floor is to watch out for as it is more than beautiful. Unfortunately there is CCTV installed within the monastery and clicking pictures is strictly prohibited and yes they are pretty serious about it unlike many and have penalties attached to it. So unfortunately I cannot share the more mesmerizing part. Gaurav and Rajni decided to meditate for a bit while we had some fun with the kids outside the monastery premises causing no disturbance to the peace and the tranquility of the place.

The next in the agenda was the Rabdentse Ruins - The remains of the Palace of the Ancient (Second) Capital of the former kingdom of Sikkim which now is under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India.

For the unfit and the faint hearted, the walk from the entrance to the ruins is a 1.5 Km walk on a stoned pathway which at numerous places is steep and slippery. It can get pretty tiring for the ones who are not pretty regular with their morning workouts.

The stoned pathway to the Ruins :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1136.jpg

The first glimpse of the ruins :
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Daughter Ishanvi delighted to finally reach the destination :
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The girly gang :
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Marking the Ruins Site :
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Walk up straight to the Temple on the Top which is the highest point here; for the best views :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1168.jpg

The Ruins of the Palace with the Room Walls :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1172-2.jpg

The Stupas :
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Raghav and his naughty innosense :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1180.jpg

Eshita - how much I wanted to click this pic :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1183-2.jpg

Yours Truely - AJ-got-BHP :
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Where everyone had a tough time walking to and fro the ruins, this young lad was enjoying being strolled :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1189.jpg

We left the ruins site after munching on some local food i.e.- Chops, Sandwiches, Maggi etc. which was located at the premises itself and cooked by the gorgeous home cooks. It was time to hit the town for some nick-nack shopping and refueling for the next day.

Gaurav and Rajni - All Smiles :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1206.jpg

The Figo parked with the beautiful backdrop :
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It stares into the tarmac :
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The only Fuel Station at Pelling and which closes at 6:00pm :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1218.jpg

Done with some strolling around in the town, found some Thukpa being made and feasted on it :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1220.jpg

We headed back to the hotel and put the kids into the Lido Cinema (a 50 seater miniplex of the hotel) to watch Kung Fa Panda. Yes, you heard it right. The Hotel has a Miniplex of it's own and has shows every evening from 06:00pm on complementary basis for it's guests. What a relief it was to be away from the kids for sometime :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1252.jpg

In the meanwhile, we hit the Curio Shop at the hotel which had some really good stuff :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1264.jpg

We had booked up for massage at the Spa and the tranquility of the place was very relaxing and serene :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1247.jpg

Relaxed after the massage as the day comes to an end :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1241.jpg

Post dinner, we were blessed to have some discussion with Mr. Atul - the General Manager of the Hotel who is a Punjabi by birth, but came to Sikkim as a traveler in 1991 and ever since has settled in Pelling. It's been 25 years and knows every nook and corner of Sikkim - An Avid Traveler himself.

Why I mention his name here is because we wanted to avoid taking the same route on our way back to Siliguri the next day and had planned a visit to The Temi Tea Gardens and then to Siliguri Via Singtam & Rangpo. However, he suggested us a completely different route whereby we could cover much more of West Sikkim (in depth) and move onward to Siliguri accordingly. The Route was Via Dentam - Hee Patal - Kaluk - Daramdin - Jorethang - Melli - Siliguri and we really started to look forward to the next day's drive !!

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Old 24th June 2016, 13:01   #10
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DAY 5 : 29.05.2016 : Part I : Pelling to Rinchenpong Via Hee Patal and Kaluk :

A difficult day as we needed to wake up early in order to pack up and bid Pelling a goodbye. However, Pelling failed to disappoint us yet once again as it gave us the opportunity to get the last view of the Mt. Kanchenjunga in the morning before we set sail. Sharing a couple of pictures :

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1291-2.jpg

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We managed to depart from our Resort at around 09:00am and headed towards Kaluk via the town of Dentam following the directions :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1303.jpg

Roads from the above junction upto Kaluk were a mix of good and bad. Sharing some pictures :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1306.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1314.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1322.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1326.jpg

Enroute Kaluk there is a diversion for going to the Hee Patal Caves where they worship the Deity of their Tribal Lord. We thought that it would get difficult to manage with the kids in the caves, thus opted out. However, can be paid a visit sometime in the future.

Flowers growing :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1327.jpg

The Stupas at Kaluk Bazaar :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1336.jpg

After reaching Kaluk Bazaar, we headed straight for Rinchenpong Bazaar which is a short strolling drive of about 4-5 Kms from the Bazaar. At Rinchenpong :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1338.jpg

Our agenda was to visit the Rinchenpong Dak Bunglow which was ahead of the Bazaar and climb up was ? I would say exciting !! Steep, initially rocky and later on slushy. Sharing some pictures :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1341.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1383.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1386.jpg

Finally we reached the Rinchenpong Dak Bunglow at 10:45am. Figo parked at the entrance :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1346.jpg

Daughter Ishanvi in a joyous mood :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1348.jpg

The Rinchenpong Dak Bunglow is a place of tourist importance as it is said that Nobel Laureate Rabindra Tagore wrote the last bit (a few verses) of the Geetanjali here being inspired by the beauty of this place. This place is now under the supervision of the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation. However, it was strange to see that there was not even a single soul in this mystically beautiful place. It was completely isolated and deserted; thus calm, tranquil and peaceful.

Sharing some pictures :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1351.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1352.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1373.jpg

A bit of Macro stuff :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1370.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1372.jpg

A group pic is a must at such an astoundingly beautiful place :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1368.jpg

Me with my Kiddos :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1378.jpg

While the Innovas left, we were busy setting up the kids. Once we left, we bumped into a Local (Sumo) Taxi who was washing his car on the road. We asked him about the over 350 year old Cedar Tree in Rinchenpong. He was clueless if anything of that sort even existed !! He asked us why we were there and we responded by saying that we had come to see the Dak Bunglow. He was amazed and exclaimed "It's Haunted" !! We locals avoid coming here post late afternoon

Me and Eshita looked at each other and shared a smile and said to ourselves - Thank God that the rest of the group did not get to hear that or else they would have killed us !!

We left for Kaluk from Rinchenpong at 11:20am and disappointed not to have found a cup of tea in Kaluk, we left for Sri Badam at around 11:40am.

Simply love these welcoming gates :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1387.jpg

Some really rough road in patches after leaving Kaluk :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1391.jpg

A happy couple - Abhisekh & Shradha :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1392.jpg

Signing off from this part of West Sikkim :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1393.jpg

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DAY 5 : 29.05.2016 : Part II : Rinchenpong to Daramdim Via Kaluk-Sri Badam-Soreng :

By far the best drive of the trip, if I can say so. All through the terrace farms where mostly Corn Cultivation was happening. There were numerous back to back hair pin bends and with the handling capabilities of the Hydraulic Power Steering of the Ford Figo, it was just an amazing drive. Lush Green and picturesque !!

Sharing some pictures :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1399.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1400.jpg

A short photo break with the convoy lined up :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1410-2.jpg

The flower of the Banana Tree (popular in Bengal as it is used for cooking some delicious recipes) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1411.jpg

Beautiful serene (untouched) valley :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1412.jpg

Corn Growing :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1415.jpg

A close up Macro Shot :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1416.jpg

Abhisekh & Shradha posing :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1413.jpg

A flowing stream enroute :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1430.jpg

Roses, Roses and Roses Everywhere :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1441.jpg

West Sikkim is known for the cultivating various species of flowers in abundance. It is from here that a lot of flowers are shipped to various parts of India to meet up the requirements. However, the town of Daramdin is said to have the largest cultivation of Roses in this zone. A glimpse of it could be seen as we drove through !!

As you drive downhill from Sri Badam and then from Soreng, the straight road will take you to Jorethang. You need to take a sharp U-Turn for Daramdin. I would like to mention that G-Maps recognizes this small town of Daramdin and helps to take you there with ease if you are using the GPS Navigation System.

We reached the town of Daramdin @ 01:15pm. The secluded village of Daramdin houses just a few inhabitants. No Hotels, no restaurants, not much of shopping and no hustle and bustle of the tourists. This place seemed to be in complete peace with itself. To add to that, there is a Sai Baba Mandir in Daramdin which stores all that peace between it's walls. One cannot miss this temple while driving from the junction (mentioned above) to Daramdin Bazaar as it is on the main road. A visit to this particular Temple was in our To Do List and yes we were awed by the beauty of this place.

Some pictures of the Sai Baba Mandir @ Daramdin :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1443.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1444.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1445.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1447.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1448.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1449.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1450.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1451.jpg

If you like what you see, I must tell you that these pictures are of the common area of the temple. What lies within is even more majestic. Photography within the Mandir is strictly prohibited. I clicked whatever I could manage convincing the priest there. The priest was a very nice person to talk to. He gave us an insight on the ideologies and the beliefs of Sai Baba and took us around the temple for a bit. He even suggested us to visit the Rose Nursery and sent a devotee worker of the Mandir along with us to show us the way to the Nursery. This gesture again truely reflects what Sikkim is all about !!

One has to cross the Daramdin Bazaar to find a small rocky road going up. That road though initially rough takes you to the Govt.Senior Secondary School where you need to park your car in order to visit the Nursery. It is a 3 Km drive from the Sai Temple to the School crossing the Bazaar.

Our Cars Parked at the School Premises from where the Nursery was a small walk. Nice message behind the Cars :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1467.jpg

Don't know what is growing in solitude :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1457.jpg

The School :
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Kids at Play :
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The Rose Nursery in a beautiful set up :
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Inside the Nursery :
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Ishanvi matches her Jacket with the colour ofthe Rose :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1461.jpg

Beautiful landscape :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1459.jpg

What is this ? Remains a question :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1460.jpg

We headed back to the Daramdin Bazaar. As said before, the small town of Daramdin has lots yet very little to offer to the tourists. No Food Place in Daramdin !! Shocking indeed. We all were very hungry; specially the kids. However, we found this store which was a certified Patanjali Dealer selling all sorts of Patanjali Products and where we saw a few table chairs lined up. On enquiring and requesting, the lady owner agreed to make some Maggi and Momos for us; that also from scratch.

A picture of "The Food Place" in Daramdin Bazaar :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1468.jpg

Our Cars lined up at Daramdin Bazaar :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1469.jpg

They took good 45 minutes or so to get our food ready. In the meanwhile, something else started cooking. Abhisekh got a call from his cousin who resides in Siliguri and I got a call from BHPian Samba, both mentioning that there is a traffic bottleneck for the past 48 Hours between Maldah and Farakka and that the traffic has not been moving at all. After a lot of permutation and combination we thought that it is best to take the Bhagalpur route back to Kolkata and if possible start off from Daramdin and head straight to Bhagalpur instead of Siliguri.

It was all a hush-hush rush-rush which was going on. We thought it is best to drive to Siliguri and then take the final call. The food got ready amongst all this discussion. The Momos were the best I have had till now. I would not refrain from saying that the freshness of the Momos may put shame on the Momos of the Kurseong Tourist Lodge and the Momo Sauce was the best that I have ever had in any part of the world so far. I can go back to Daramdin just for this !! Chased it up with some piping hot tea and we were good to get going.

A Gyst of the drive from Pelling to Daramdin :
Pelling to Rinchenpong Dak Dunglow - 42 Kms (Via Dentam-Kaluk) - 1 Hour 45 Mins
Rinchenpong to Daramdim Sai Temple - 38 Kms (Via Sri Badam-Soreng) - 1 Hour 40 Mins

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 4th July 2016 at 18:21. Reason: Changes
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Old 4th July 2016, 11:51   #12
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DAY 5 : 29.05.2016 : Part III : Daramdim to Siliguri :

We started from Daramdin at around 03:45pm and took the route via Malbasey, Jorethang and Melli towards Siliguri. The road conditions were brilliant in some stretches whereas extremely poor in some. I would let the pictures do the talking here :

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1470.jpg

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Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1477.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1480.jpg

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Fresh re-layering and carpeting of the tarmac in some stretches :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1490.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1491.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1494.jpg

We reached Siliguri at around 07:15pm and all the kids were getting sort of cranky now. Thus, the idea of pushing it upto Bhagalpur was out of the question and we impromptu checked into The Royal Sarovar Premier Hotel at Siliguri. Thanks to Abhisekh's cousin, we got a good corporate deal for our stay.

Some pictures of the Hotel :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1500.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1502.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1503.jpg

Sharing a link of my review of The Royal Sarovar Premier @ Siliguri for everyone's reference :
https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...ECK_RATES_CONT

A Gyst of the drive from Daramdin to Siliguri :
Daramdin to Siliguri - 99 Kms (Via Malbasey-Jorethang-Melli) - 3 Hours 45 Mins

Though the drive time from Pelling to Siliguri through this route was slightly/ marginally longer, the drive was scenic and had lots to gather from a traveler's point of view. This last bit was indeed the exploring West Sikkim part which I personally cherished a lot.


DAY 6 : 30.05.2016 : Siliguri to Kolkata Via Bhagalpur-Deoghar-Dumka :

05:30am in the morning and everyone was assembled for departure to Kolkata. Both my Figo and Abhisekh's Innova was getting loaded with luggage whereas there was no trace of the driver of the leased Innova.

Our Cars Parked at the Hotel's Porch :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1504.jpg

My Happily Family :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1512.jpg

Shradha with her son Raghav (still in the sleep mode) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1514.jpg

Finally the leased Innova came - with a flat tyre :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1518.jpg

She exclaimed - "Our's is fine Daddy !!" :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1519.jpg

We managed to leave the hotel at 06:00am. However, all we did was cross the road to get the tyre of the Innova fixed at a Local Tyre Shop right opposite our Hotel. While it took around 30 minutes to sort it, we had our early morning tea at a local tea stall nearby and had some of the breakfast packed for us by the hotel. Finally we started off from Siliguri at 06:30am. Still a good time to begin the journey back home.

I started the lead as usual; however this time giving the disclaimer that I shall not see my ORVM before Bhagalpur at all. Spiritedly we reached Bhagalpur (via Purnea-Naugachia) in 3 Hours 40 Mins. Sharing a couple of pictures :

Brilliant roads :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1521-2.jpg

Good that the Vikramshila Setu was free from Traffic :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1522-2.jpg

We reached Bhagalpur at 10:10am and had to take a big hault for almost an hour for refueling and to get food packed for everyone (specially the kids) from Abhisekh's relative's house at Bhagalpur so that we had enough food on us up to Kolkata. At around 11:10am we started from Bhagalpur and took the road via Amarpur-Banka to Khatoria.

Some bad accidents sighted immediately after leaving from Bhagalpur :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1523.jpg

Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1524.jpg

Road to Khatoria :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1525-2.jpg

We reached Khatoria at 01:00pm and took a short break of 20 minutes for Tea. It was getting really dark as the monsoon clouds covered the sky. We rushed up and left Khatoria at 01:20pm and now there was no plans to stop up to Siuri. However, the rain Gods were not showing any mercy and the moment we left Khatoria, there was tremendous downpour with mighty strong winds all throughout our journey. Given the circumstances, we did not give in and kept driving as we crossed Deoghar, Dumka and finally reached Siuri at around 04:15pm

The rain and the storm :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1530.jpg

Extremely poor visibility :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1532.jpg

Beautiful roads through the forest :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1536-2.jpg

Finally some sunshine at Siuri :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1539-2.jpg

We took a break on the stretch between Siuri and Guskhara to show the Kids the Rainbow (they were delighted) :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1543.jpg

A parting shot of the Figo soaked in rain with the rainbow in it's backdrop :
Exploring West Sikkim with a Baby-img_1544.jpg

A Gyst of the day's drive : (Though already shared a link of the relevant thread for this route in the 2nd Post of this thread)
Siliguri to Dankuni Toll Both - 685 Kms (through the mentioned route) - 11 Hours 45 Mins
Toll Paid for the day - Rs.391/=

That's all from my end from this amazing trip to West Sikkim with my 5 year old daughter and my 3 month old son. Another 3 months down the line have something bigger planned with the kids. Already excited and planning for it from now. However, will have to give the Figo a miss for the next trip. It will be a different road trip, in a different car to a different place for a different purpose altogether. As I plan my next trip, hope this travelogue of mine ads value to the Forum

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 4th July 2016 at 19:57. Reason: Changes
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Old 5th July 2016, 07:19   #13
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 5th July 2016, 10:47   #14
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Spell-bounding !! Fantastic Travelogue AJ. Your narration is perfect & pictures even better after all you are the official photographer for HULK.

Your family looks lovely together. I can imagine the fun you guys must have had.

Your trip made me nostalgic since we did the same trip the other way round (starting from Kaluk & ending in Namchi) in our Brio. We almost covered the same parts as you did. Looking at your pictures it seems the hills are calling. Shall be there soon.

Attaching two pics of my erstwhile companion, Brio in the same places as in your photographs.

Rating 5 *

Regards,

Pawan
Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ-got-BHP View Post

The Waterfall enroute Dentam :
Attachment 1518762

Attachment 1518763

Brio at the waterfall

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The Road Ahead (a shallow water crossing thanks to the waterfall) :
Attachment 1518769

Crossing the same stretch

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Old 5th July 2016, 10:56   #15
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Dear AJ-got-BHP,

I have given you the fully deserved 5 stars.
I have been to Sikkim with family. I have very pleasant memories of that trip.
Luckily or unluckily (depends on how you look at it) I have not visited most of the places mentioned.
As and when I take my family there, I think - I will bother you for tips!

Thanking you for the beautiful report and thanking you in advance for the help which I will take from you for MY TRIP!

Girish Mahajan
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