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Old 30th May 2017, 08:15   #1
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Default Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR

As customary, a few photos to set the mood.



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Even though I have been a member since 2014 but somehow havenít managed any roadtrips till date. The farthest i had driven ever was 350 kms from kolkata to jamshedpur. I would never get any companion for the trips and my beat somehow never gave me the confidence to travel long distances.
Finally did a trip with teambhpian himadrimondal and others to Borong which seeded this idea of a roadtrip.
Then got a wagonR for my parents. Though i still like to drive the beat but the wagon r was a lot more reliable car. Liked it somehow. Since then got married last November and visited Tadoba for our honeymoon but the urge for a roadtrip was always there.
So on my birthday in April decided to spend it Team-bhp style - with a roadtrip. And whats a roadtrip without a drive to the hills?

Finalised the plan over dinner on a weekend and hastily checked out hotels and booked them. We would be travelling alone , just my wife and I. Arranged leaves and planned acoordingly. Discussed with ROAD Member Pushanda about the route and finalized the simple plan::
Day1 (22 April): Kol to Siliguri
Day2 (23 April): Siliguri to Rabangla
Day3 (24 April): Hang out at rabangla.
Day4 (25 April): Rabangla to maldah
Day5 (26April): Home sweet home

Primary objective was driving in the hills and lazing around for a day. This was going to be my first solo long distance drive and my first drive to the hills, so decided to take it slow with lots of breaks. Was so excited that couldnít concentrate on work for the last couple of days, Car serviced, essentials stocked, cameras ready and we were all set for the 22nd of April.

Day 1 - 22 April 2017

Stated from home at 3:40am. Plan was to start at 2 but we took it slow. A very enjoyable and uneventful drive to Moregram Through Burdwan and SH7. Reached Morgram BPCL at 8:30am. Had a hearty breakfast. Note: toilets at BPCL pump was spotless and we were very pleased about it.
Next holdup was at Dhulian, the single lane bridge was holding up truck traffic but we manged to weave torugh the truck lines and got through fairl wuick with losing only 30 minutes. The entire stretch till Maldah town was slow.Took a break after Maldah at 12:40, tanked up again.As we were nearing Raiganj, it started raining heavily but we maintained good speed and were at botolbari by 2:15pm.
The narrow road was empty because oft he rains and we maintained good speed. We reached dhantola at 4:00pm and stopped for a cup of tea and to enjoying the rain drenched countryside. The rest of the stretch to Siliguri was uneventful and quick. We savored the fantastic roads and the rain washed roads and reached Mainakh Tourist Lodge at 5:4pm. Called it in early.
Day 1 driving 568.5 kms , time taken : 14.12 hours, petrol: 29.8ltrs,Mileage : 19.077, Tolls Rs293.
Hotel Mainakh was decent with good clean rooms, thought the ac was not working on the first room alotted but quickly got it changed. Food was fine, nothing much to write about and reasnably priced. Hit the bed early with the satisfaction of having driven the longest distance of my life.


The Trip starts
Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR-sikkim_roadtrip044435.jpg

Fantastic stretches on SH7
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Bypassing the truck traffic before Dhulian
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A very wet Botolbari Dhontola Road
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Resting after Dhontola
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End of a long days drive - Reached the Ghoshpukur toll - Awesome Feeling
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Day 2 - 23 April 2017

Started from Mainakh Tourist Lodge at 6:30am with a light drizzle accompanying us. Was tremendously excited and tensed at the same time. Every time i had visited the hills before, always wanted to drive on the green canopied Sevoke road. Finally my dream was coming true but was tensed about driving in the hills. The drive was uneventful till Melli and both me and my wife were busy savoring the wet greenery outside. So not many photographs were taken.

Just after Melli got my first scare. Waggy got stuck in some loose wet rocks on an upward incline. Revved hard like we do in the plain but it only led to wheelspin and clutch burn. Slowly reversed a fair distance and then tried with first gear and with a bit of momentum glided through the broken patch this time.


Sevoke Road
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Right after Melli
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Took two hours for us to reach Bhanjyang. It was raining quite heavily and the mist brought down visibility to a few meters at stretches. Had breakfast at hotel Kanchenzonga at Bhanjyang ( chilli chicken for breakfast ) and moved on. Rest of the drive till Rabangla was smooth and uneventful.


We had planned to stay at Hilltop Rabong Resort, three kms from Rabong town on the Kewzing road. But the resort was a good 1.5 kms up a steep track from the road. Having driven for 4 hours I somehow didn't have the nerve to take the wagonR up the track but the resort owner y assured me and himself took the car up. Finally reached at 11:30am. The resort was fantastic and the forest cover around was just awesome. Rested for the rest of the day sucking in the mountain air and enjoying the clouds from our window.

Hilltop Rabong resort
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Getting a well earned rest

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View of Tathagata Tsal at night
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Last edited by shantonob : 2nd June 2017 at 07:34. Reason: day 1
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Old 31st May 2017, 07:40   #2
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Day 3 - 24 April 2017


We opened our eyes and didn't believe what we saw. Lying on our bed we were witnessing the mighty Sleeping Buddha with all its glory basking in the rising sun.

We leapt out of our beds, grabbed our cameras and clicked a few pictures before it was veiled in clouds. That was the only time we saw the snow capped peaks in our 3 day trip but these 15 minutes were worth it.


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We had planned for a lazy day and after some birding had our breakfast and decided to hike to Tathagata Tsal (8kms from our resort). The weather was clear with clouds covering just the peaks.


A pair of Red billed blue magpie !
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Green backed Tit
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Verditer Flycatcher
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Rufous-backed Shrike
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Red vented bulbul
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The walk was the best part of the trip. Walks bring you close to nature and the local culture. That's what satisfies me the most in any trip.


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Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR-sikkim_roadtrip0158.jpg

Tathagata Tsal was fantastic. Blissful i would say. But we didn't walk down all the stairs to the statue as my wife had knee problems. Sat there for quite a while till it started raining, and then made our way back to Rabangla. Did some shopping and had our lunch at THE Taste of Sikkim. Fantastic place with awesome food. We were entertained by a impromptu singing gig by some nice people who were preparing for some local competition.Got back to the hotel around 5 pm and were pretty tired. We called it a day and hit the bed early.

Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR-sikkim_roadtrip2704.jpg

Last edited by shantonob : 31st May 2017 at 10:20.
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Old 31st May 2017, 08:12   #3
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Day 4 - 25 April 2017

Checked out after a heavy breakfast and hit the road at 7:40am. The weather had cleared and the bright sun was out. But sadly no view of the snow capped peaks. The drive down to Siliguri was uneventful and filled with fantastic views. Had lunch at Vega Mall in Siliguri, rested a while and hit the road again at 1:30 pm after loading up on pineapples for home .Tea stop at Raiganj and we were at Golden Park,Malda at 6:50pm.

Drive: 346.8kms, Mileage: 16.59 kmpl, time taken : 11 hrs

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Goodbye to the hills!!
Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR-sikkim_roadtrip0418.jpg

Last edited by shantonob : 31st May 2017 at 08:22.
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Old 31st May 2017, 08:21   #4
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DAY 5 - 26 April 2017


Started at 5:30am to avoid both Maldah and Farakka jams, and luckily we breezed though both. Reached Moregram and had a hearty brunch.
Once we got onto SH7,google maps momentarily misled us and got us on the Suri/Bolpur route instead of Burdwan. Lucky we identified the error within 5 kms and got back on track only to be caught in a jam on SH7 at Panchgram. Made good speed for the rest of the way and was home by 1:30pm.

The final Odo Count.
Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR-sikkim_roadtrip132552.jpg

Distance covered: 346.8 kms, Mileage: 16.04kmpl(100% AC), Time taken: 8 hours.

Our trusted Waggy performed flawlessly and gave me the confidence of undertaking more such awesome trips. South Sikkim was as usual fantastic and I realized I was in love with this part of the world. Our entire return journey was spent discussing on places to visit next and plan for future road trips.
In all a fantastic birthday well spent in the hills with wonderful memories of the 5 days.

Signing off till the next trip!
Drive Safe, Explore Far.

Last edited by shantonob : 31st May 2017 at 10:22.
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Old 2nd June 2017, 17:35   #5
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 2nd June 2017, 20:36   #6
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR

Quote:
Originally Posted by shantonob View Post

We had planned for a lazy day and after some birding had our breakfast and decided to hike to Tathagata Tsal (8kms from our resort). The weather was clear with clouds covering just the peaks.
Congrats shantonob on your travel and boy you birding pictures are stunning dude

I am a bird photographer myself and I did not know some of these birds, like Red billed blue magpie, are actually in India. Can you please some more "Birding" snaps that you got during your holiday, along with the gear that you have used?

Thank you once again
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Old 2nd June 2017, 20:56   #7
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR

Congrats on your maiden voyage to the hills. Reminds me of my Darjeeling trip a couple of years back:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...g-dummies.html (Darjeeling for Dummies)

This travelogue is short and sweet. I am sure this have given you a confidence boost to embark on more journeys to the mystic Himalayas ! Waiting for more stories from your side. Rated 5 stars
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Old 2nd June 2017, 21:31   #8
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Wonderful narration Shantonob, exquisitely matched by some stunning photographs.
You have your soulmate now as your partner cum navigator for all the drives henceforth. Congratulation on your maiden drive to the hills and hope to see you two traveling together through each every corner of our country. And thanks again for the route update before my trip to Dooars!
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Old 2nd June 2017, 23:11   #9
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR

Amazing photos in there. The first road trip to the hills is a memory we will all cherish for a long long time. Luckily, the very aptly named "Duratorq" did save me from too much embarrassment on my first climb.

Thumbs up!!
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Old 3rd June 2017, 10:00   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vik0728 View Post
I am a bird photographer myself and I did not know some of these birds, like Red billed blue magpie, are actually in India. Can you please some more "Birding" snaps that you got during your holiday, along with the gear that you have used?

Thank you once again

A few more pics of the Magpie. Even we had difficulty identifying it. We had to refer to the book 'Birds o the Indian Subcontinent' to get a possible ID.

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A tree full of Babblers. The cloud cover and bad light with the rain didn't provide a good birding oppurtunity this time.

Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR-sikkim_roadtrip2610.jpg


Red billed Leiothryx - My first birding experience was in Borong in April 2016. Was using a tamorn 16-300 and d3200. Thanks to Himadri da, the birding bug caught on from then.

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A few from our trip to Tadoba in Dec 2016.

Spotted by Spotted owlets:
Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR-tadobad720020161204dsc_0998.jpg


Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR-tadobad720020161204dsc_0862.jpg


A majestic Indian Roller posing just for us.

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Maya and cub jousting

Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR-tadobad720020161205dsc_1302.jpg

Choti Tara's cubs

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Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR-tadobad720020161205dsc_1481.jpg

I use a 200-500 f5.6 with a D7200 and a 16-300 tamron with a D3200 as a walkaround setup. The red vented bulbul in the earlier post was taken with the tamron and d7200.

Please share some of your birding photos and your gear.
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Old 3rd June 2017, 10:09   #11
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samfromindia View Post
Congrats on your maiden voyage to the hills. Reminds me of my Darjeeling trip a couple of years back:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...g-dummies.html (Darjeeling for Dummies)

This travelogue is short and sweet. I am sure this have given you a confidence boost to embark on more journeys to the mystic Himalayas ! Waiting for more stories from your side. Rated 5 stars
Thanks a lot. What about more stories from you? Been long you made a roadtrip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gearhead_mait View Post
Wonderful narration Shantonob, exquisitely matched by some stunning photographs.
You have your soulmate now as your partner cum navigator for all the drives henceforth. Congratulation on your maiden drive to the hills and hope to see you two traveling together through each every corner of our country. And thanks again for the route update before my trip to Dooars!
You were the inspiration boss. Your adventures with your steed gives us mere mortals the courage to explore. Keep the travelogues flowingn

Quote:
Originally Posted by mi2n View Post
Amazing photos in there. The first road trip to the hills is a memory we will all cherish for a long long time. Luckily, the very aptly named "Duratorq" did save me from too much embarrassment on my first climb.

Thumbs up!!
I was wishing i had the diesel beat there but for the rest of the trip the wagon R was awesome.
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Old 3rd June 2017, 12:40   #12
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR

That part of the country is a birder's paradise! Lovely little travelogue and pics

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Originally Posted by shantonob View Post
A tree full of Babblers.
Aren't they Red Avadavats?
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Old 3rd June 2017, 20:21   #13
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR

Quote:
Originally Posted by shantonob View Post
Our trusted Waggy performed flawlessly and gave me the confidence of undertaking more such awesome trips. South Sikkim was as usual fantastic and I realized I was in love with this part of the world. Our entire return journey was spent discussing on places to visit next and plan for future road trips.
Congratulations shantonob on your maiden trip to the hills. Yours photographs are very beautiful. Driving more than 550 kilometers in a day along Kolkata-Siliguri route is an achievement itself and it definitely requires some amount of stamina. Keep driving!

Wish both of you very very long drive ahead in life!

Best,
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Old 3rd June 2017, 22:07   #14
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Good to see a fellow Waggy owner post a TL. A lucid post with some beautiful pictures.
This is the car which actually showed me quite a lot of this country and I have loved every bit of that.
Even if I upgrade in future, I'll never forget the journeys this car took me to.
Hopefully will post my TL soon
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Old 5th June 2017, 10:04   #15
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Default Re: Maiden trip to the hills : Sikkim in a WagonR

Quote:
Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
That part of the country is a birder's paradise! Lovely little travelogue and pics
Aren't they Red Avadavats?
You are absolutely right. They are finches for sure. To my knowledge Red Avadavats are mainly found in grasslands and that threw me off. They might be rosefinches, but they were pretty far off and the mist made it difficult to ID. they were flying around in groups.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gmhossain View Post
Congratulations shantonob on your maiden trip to the hills. Yours photographs are very beautiful. Driving more than 550 kilometers in a day along Kolkata-Siliguri route is an achievement itself and it definitely requires some amount of stamina. Keep driving!

Wish both of you very very long drive ahead in life!

Best,
thank You gmhossain, you have been an inspiration too. Your frequent TL's to the hills are perfect for people like me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Avalanche2409 View Post
Good to see a fellow Waggy owner post a TL. A lucid post with some beautiful pictures.
This is the car which actually showed me quite a lot of this country and I have loved every bit of that.
Even if I upgrade in future, I'll never forget the journeys this car took me to.
Hopefully will post my TL soon
I never did like the wagonR before i got it.Parents liked it for its height and space. But for the price it gives you a lot. quite a lot of Space, short wheelbase, good airy cabin and nice view all around. Only grouse i had was with the low end torque. Still it can cruise down highways doing 100kmph all day. Gave me decent mileage too.

Last edited by shantonob : 5th June 2017 at 10:05.
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