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Old 3rd October 2017, 21:47   #1
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Default A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar

Dussehra/Durga Puja was round the corner and we had no plans to utilize the holidays. We were prepared to enjoy pujas in the 'City of Joy'.

As many of you may know, Durga Puja is celebrated in Bengal in a big way and it is worth roaming the streets of Kolkata during this time of the year.
Also, it is the time you can get at least 4-5 holidays, good enough for a road trip. We opted for the latter.

It had been three months since our last road trip and Bhavneet's (my wife) hectic work schedule had her craving for a trip to the hills. A week before the holidays, we planned our itinerary to North Sikkim as follows:

Day 1 - Kolkata - Siliguri - Mangan
Day 2 - Mangan - Lachung
Day 3 - Lachung - Yumthang - Zero Point - Lachung - Lachen
Day 4 - Lachen - Thangu Valley - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachen - Siliguri
Day 5 - Siliguri - Kolkata

However, this is not what we actually did.

Day 0/1 - Kolkata to Darjeeling

I finished with work early on Wednesday the 27th of September and got back home to pack our bags. We left from home in the evening. For various reasons we were in a very flexible state of mind about our trip. Sometimes we thought of cancelling our trip altogether since we were going to miss friends and family time. Also, Bhavneet had an early morning flight to catch on 3rd October which was turning us against the hectic itinerary for 5 days (28th Sept to 2nd Oct). In spite of these thoughts constantly coming up we went on.

We started from Azad Hind Dhaba on NH2 after dinner at around 8:30 PM. Drove through the night. Both of us felt sleepy as day light came and decided to take a nap at a petrol pump on the Botalbari route. Had a good sleep for 1.5 hours. Once we were near Islampur we stopped for breakfast and to refuel. The major highlights of the drive were the bad roads near Khargram to Panchgram - nearly 25 kms. And the road near Raiganj till the Botalbari road - nearly 20 kms.

We reached Siliguri and saw a board with directions to Darjeeling and suddenly we started making an alternative plan. We parked the car and asked the cops at the nearest crossing about the state of bandh at Darjeeling. We had heard about the bandh being lifted just a day back. The police did not say anything different from that. I called Sherpa Chalet, Sandakphu and then Dekeling Hotel, Darjeeling. Both confirmed that the bandh was lifted and it was safe to travel.

On Wednesday, September 27, 2017 The Gurkha Janmukti Morcha had called off the indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling after 104 days during which normal life in the hills remained paralysed. When we last left Kolkata on June 14, 2017 for a planned trip to Darjeeling we had to proceed to Sikkim instead because of the indefinite bandh called from Monday, June 12, 2017.

Here was an opportunity to start off again where we had left off. We decided that we would stay at Darjeeling for a day or two and then move to Sandakphu.

Darjeeling has a very special place in our life as my Grandparents had spent their entire working career there. My Dad and his brothers were brought up there. So if there is a holiday and a drive to the hills is a possibility, Darjeeling is a default destination for us. Listening to the age old stories from Dad never bores us.

We reached Dekeling Hotel at around 12 PM (28th September).

Why Dekeling? - I had randomly come across this place when we had planned to go to Darjeeling in June. I booked it and around then the talks of the bandh started. I was skeptical and called the management to confirm if it was okay to plan a holiday at Darjeeling then. Earlier they confirmed that it would not be a problem but a day or two before the trip they called us to cancel the booking. They were apologetic and told us to visit some other time. We were sad to hear that we could not go to Darjeeling and planned the old silk route instead. Therefore, when we now planned Darjeeling, Dekeling was the first to strike my mind.

The receptionist at the hotel gave us a warm welcome and showed us the choices of rooms they had. On asking for a car parking the receptionist told us about the Dekeling Resort at Hawk's Nest. We then thought of having a look at the rooms there also. We were offered a 30% discount as the bandh was just lifted and to probably attract customers.

The Resort was beautiful and one look at the room made us decide against going anywhere else. It is worth mentioning here that the Hotel itself is a very nice and clean place to stay. The resort is a bit more premium.

It was a moment of mixed emotions for me as I made the entry in the resort register. The last entry made was on the 14th of June, after which I made mine, dated 28th of September.

We were offered a welcome drink (Darjeeling tea) and soon had lunch at the Resort. We rested till around 5 in the evening. At 5 we asked them for a car to take us down to the market area. We did a bit of window shopping and then went to Glenary's for dinner. We got back to the resort by 8 PM and slept soon to be up early for the Tiger Hill visit.

Dad's school on the way to the Hotel
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170928_110422.jpg

The room at the Dekeling Resort
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170928_124153.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170928_124159.jpg

Welcome Drink
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170928_125729.jpg

Lunch with a view
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170928_143020.jpg

At Glenary's in the evening
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170928_190049.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170928_190802.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170928_195830.jpg

Streets at night
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0567.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0568.jpg

Day 2 - 29th September - At Darjeeling

As planned the day before, we got up by 3:30 AM and were off to Tiger Hills by 4 AM. We got confused with the route but finally followed a Tavera Taxi to the destination.

To our surprise there were more people there than we expected. We were not lucky enough to witness the sun rise or the Kanchenjunga peak. We took some pictures, had tea, chatted with few tourists and finally decided to head back.

At Batasia loop, we stopped in front of the Gorkha War Memorial to have the freshly made pakodas. They were delicious. We had another cup of tea and then thought of making a quick round of the War Memorial. There were local dresses being rented out at the War Memorial and Bhavneet tried one out. St Paul's School (where my uncle studied) was not too far from the resort. We drove to the school on our way back to the resort but were not allowed beyond the gate.

At Tiger Hill
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170929_055746.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0574.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0583.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0589.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0592.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0596.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0608.jpg

At Batasia Loop

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0610.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0618.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170930_122236.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0621.jpg

St Paul's School

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0644.jpg

We got back to the resort and rested. We planned to go to the Botanical garden and the Zoological Park in the afternoon.

We left at 1:30 after clicking few pictures at the resort.

Few clicks at the resort

The room door on the left and the parking on the right. This is after a steep climb from the main road.
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0655.jpg

View from the resort
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170929_132519.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170929_133445.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0660.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0661.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0662.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0668.jpg

Last edited by navsjab : 7th October 2017 at 14:51.
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Old 5th October 2017, 23:11   #2
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Default Re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh

We reached the botanical garden but were disappointed by the appearance of the entry. No maintenance had been done due to the long bandh and dussehra holidays. We headed for the Zoological Park and loved it. We had heavy snacks at Keventers in the evening and then went back to the resort.

Something about the Zoological park from Wikipedia

Quote:
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (also called the Darjeeling Zoo) is a 67.56-acre (27.3 ha) zoo in the town of Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal. The zoo was opened in 1958, and an average elevation of 7,000 feet (2,134 m), is the largest high altitude zoo in India. It specializes in breeding animals adapted to alpine conditions, and has successful captive breeding programs for the snow leopard, the critically endangered Himalayan wolf and the red panda. The zoo attracts about 300,000 visitors every year. The park is named after Padmaja Naidu (19001975), daughter of Sarojini Naidu. The zoo serves as the central hub for Central Zoo Authority of India's red panda program and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The Zoological Park

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0672.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0673.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0675.jpg

The birds just after entering

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0676_1.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0681_1.jpg

The herbivores section - includes the Markhor, Goral, Yak, Barking deer,
Himalayan Tahr


A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0685_1.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0692_1.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0702.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0704.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0705_1.jpg

The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute - There was also a museum opposite the institute but photography was not allowed there

Something about HMI from Wikipedia

Quote:
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI darjelling) was established in Darjeeling, India on 4 November 1954 to encourage mountaineering as an organized sport in India. The first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary sparked a keen interest in establishing mountaineering as a well-respected endeavour for people in the region. With the impetus provided by the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, HMI was established in Darjeeling. Tenzing Norgay was the first director of field training for HMI.

HMI regularly conducts Adventure, Basic and Advanced Mountaineering courses. These are very comprehensive courses. They are also highly subsidised to encourage mountaineering as a sport.
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0710.jpg

Leopard

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0713_1.jpg

Got a close view of the Tiger

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0714_1.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0717_2.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0719_3.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0722_4.jpg

At the Aviary

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0738_1.jpg

Himalayan Wolf

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0744.jpg

Himalayan Black Bear
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0745_1.jpg

The Red Panda
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0751.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0752.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0753.jpg

Lesser carnivores

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0756_1.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0759.jpg

Us

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0766.jpg

One beast outside the Zoo

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0768_1.jpg

Evening at Keventer's

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170929_164728.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170929_171103.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170929_171112.jpg

Last edited by navsjab : 7th October 2017 at 14:55.
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Old 5th October 2017, 23:12   #3
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Default Re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh

Day 3 - 30th September - Darjeeling to Kolkata with a bit more of Darjeeling

While driving around Darjeeling we witnessed quite a number of burnt vehicles, probably attributed to the activities during the bandh period. The toy train was still not functioning because of excessive undergrowth along the tracks. Work had started to clear the jungle so that the train could be restarted soon.

We started from the hotel after a very warm farewell from the Hotel Owner. A packet of Darjeeling tea was gifted to us as a token of thanks, and we were grateful too. We left the resort at 11 AM and planned to visit rock garden before heading home.

We drove to rock garden, clicked pictures, had momo and wai wai at the eat joint by the garden and then started on our way back home.

The good bye from the resort
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170930_102447.jpg

On the way to rock garden
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170930_105346.jpg

At Rock Garden
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170930_110308.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170930_110355.jpg

Momos near the enterance
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-20170930_113519.jpg

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0778.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0780.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0782.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0786.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0789.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0790.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0798.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0803.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0805.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0807.jpg
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dsc_0814.jpg

We were lucky once again, not to get much traffic on the way back. We were at Batasia loop at 12:45 PM, took a few stops for tea, refueling, then dinner at Azad Hind Dhaba and finally reached home at 2:30 AM (1st October).

Major heads of amount spent for the trip:
Fuel and toll: almost 9k
Hotel stay, 2 nights: 7,269/-

Last edited by navsjab : 7th October 2017 at 14:09.
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Old 8th October 2017, 15:06   #4
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Moving out. Thanks for sharing... - Support Team
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Old 8th October 2017, 18:51   #5
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Default re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar

How did Thar responded to steep climbs ? Any areas where you engaged 4wd low or high ?
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Old 8th October 2017, 19:26   #6
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Default re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar

Awesome travelogue Navtej. Thanks for sharing.

Darjeeling is always very close to our heart and its great to see Darjeeling regaining back its former glory.

It was very sad to see a place like Darjeeling not being visited by tourists due to political turmoil. Am really happy to see things going back to normal.
Darjeeling not only offers the great view of the Kanchanjungha, the place has its own charm backed by some awesome food available at places like Gelnary's/ Keventers etc etc.

Long live Darjeeling.

A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-img_8501.jpg

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Old 8th October 2017, 20:13   #7
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Default re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar

Superb pictures @navsjab. Great to see life in Darjeeling coming back to normality. Changing plans from North Sikkim to Darjeeling might seems strange to a few, but I think I would have done the same, the place really has that charm. It is truly the "Queen of the Hills".
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Old 8th October 2017, 23:25   #8
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Default re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar

Nice pictures and narration. It was really a brave decision to switch the entire planned tour to Darjeeling where the bandh was just called off. Even many a traveller was afraid of making a venture into Darjeeling even after the strike was lifted officially, aprrehending total non-coperation from police too in the tumultuous situation. Your short travel to the most desirable hill station for all the hill-lovers from Bengal sparks the quest for Hiamalaya-mania back in form. Nice to see Darjeeling reviving slowly to its own glamour.
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Old 9th October 2017, 11:10   #9
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Default re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar

Your travelogue is a breathe of fresh air. I had stayed once each at Dekeling Hotel and Dekeling Resort at Hawk's Nest. Whereas the Hotel is a typical one, its the Resort is of heritage category with high wooden walls, fire places - reminds of the era of the Raj. And the food of Glenary's and Kev's and a drink at Joey's Pub(though Phurba has passed away) - its a heady cocktail that makes you run in a loop!

Your travelogue reminded me of all these. Thank you.
We have already made our reservations for November!

Cheers,
Sayak
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Old 9th October 2017, 11:42   #10
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Default re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar

Very nice travelogue. Glad to see Darjeeling tourism returning on track. We had to cancel our trip twice during the bandh timeline to Darjeeling. We were in two minds during the Puja holidays regarding this travel but finally decided against it since we would have been travelling with our 2 year old daughter.

Glad that you not only made it, but also enjoyed the entire trip. Hope this region remains peaceful.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 9th October 2017, 14:20   #11
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Default re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar

Lovely travelogue Navtej !!!
I couldn't muster the courage and settled for Dooars (Murti & Gorumara) instead during 27th September to 2nd October. Although we did visit Jaldhaka/Paren/Bindu as a day trip from Gorumara on assurances from the locals that it was perfectly safe to visit.

Warm regards,

Siddhartha
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Old 9th October 2017, 22:10   #12
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Default Re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar

Excellent blog there Navtej. Loved every bit of the narration. I was going through the blog and was waiting for the moment where you did not completely discard Darjeeling.
Its great to hear you quote that beautiful places have been restored to their former glory. Darjeeling does have a very special spot in the heart of several travelers. I do follow your Red-Thar in PapaBravo's, Samba's and of course BlackPearl's social media posts. Justice is being served to a worthy off roader every time. Keep travelling and posting such wonderful blogs.

Here's a shot of the Duster awd while descending from that region last year.
A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar-dirty-duster-2.jpg
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Old 10th October 2017, 11:50   #13
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Default Re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar

Thanks so much for sharing this travelogue, navsjab!

We have also been the victim of Bandh in Gorkhaland this summer. Our trip to Bhutan and NE got cancelled just because of this issue because we weren't sure it was worth doing in possible case of any unfortunate happenings.

Well, there is always a next time! You have helped us adding a few more places into our itinerary for our journey, when it happens. Beautiful places, lovely pics. Cheers.
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Old 11th October 2017, 22:34   #14
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Default Re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar

That was a quick one! We left for the hills barely hours apart and your log is already published. Darjeeling is the hill station of dreams and your photos does portray her royalty supremely. Thanks.
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Old 13th October 2017, 14:08   #15
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Default Re: A short trip to Darjeeling immediately after the 104 day Bandh in our Thar

Quote:
Originally Posted by RBT View Post
How did Thar responded to steep climbs ? Any areas where you engaged 4wd low or high ?
Thar performed well throughout the trip. I had been on the pankhabari road and the road to rock garden last year in my Ikon 1.6. Was excited to drive the Thar on the same trail.

There was no need for engaging the 4L or 4H throughout the trip, apart from one instance where 4H helped. We had to cross the road divider during our return leg near Farakka as the road we were on had an endless line of trucks that was not noticeable earlier. This was a broad divider that had a gradient and was pretty high. So instead of trying it on 2WD I engaged 4H.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
Glad that you not only made it, but also enjoyed the entire trip. Hope this region remains peaceful.
Seems like we were very lucky. I was having a look at the news channel this morning and was sad to hear that the issues in Darjeeling started once again.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/nationa...le19851773.ece

Quote:
Originally Posted by ARAY View Post
Justice is being served to a worthy off roader every time. Keep travelling and posting such wonderful blogs.

Attachment 1683882
Thank you ARAY.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mi2n View Post
That was a quick one! We left for the hills barely hours apart and your log is already published. Darjeeling is the hill station of dreams and your photos does portray her royalty supremely. Thanks.
That is only because mine was a two night stay at Darjeeling. Yours is going to be a long one and I am sure it is going to have some good details.
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