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Old 14th January 2008, 04:43   #1
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Default 10 Days - Darjeeling, Kalimpong,Gangtok and North Sikkim

It had long been decided between me and my wifey that we would again go to the hills this december (to make it thrice in as many years.. lol ) unless something major came up. We had decide that we would leave on 24th night from Kolkata and come back on 1st Jan. But suddenly the plan changed on 18th December when my cousin and his wife came up with an excellent idea. They told us that they had nowhere to go this Christmas as all the places were booked and also not getting any reservation in trains. We sat together and altered the plan and decided to start on 20th night (thursday) after office and head straight to Darjeeling.

On 20th evening after returning from office I had thought of taking a small nap but there were so many pending works that it was not possible to take any rest. We started at 12:45 am from home and decided to go non stop to Darjeeling via Siliguri. But there seemed to be a problem in the car while taking turns. A strange sound was coming from somewhere whil taking turns which I could not understand for a while. After some investigation it turned out that the car had become so heavily loaded that the metal strips in the mudflaps were scraping the tarmac during turns and resulted in the strange sound. Satisfied that it was not a major problem and praying that the road ahead should be good enough to cross with the even-lowered ground clearance we resume our journey. Reached Panagarh (150 Kms) at 3 'o' clock, had a 10 minute break and went ahead. After Bakreshwar (225Kms) we encountered a patch of bad which slowed us down. But it was nothing serious if driven properly. We reached Moregram (300Kms) at around 6 'o' clock. The road was again bad for about 10 Kms till a Relaince A1 Plaza on the left. After that the road was very good (though two way) and we reached Malda (415 Km) at 7:30 am.
New bridge before Farakka -


We tanked up there and the car returned an FE of 14.5 Kmpl.

Broken Bridge on NH34 -


We reached Bagdogra at 10:30 am, had our breakfast ome lunch. It was quite a big halt of about 1 and 1/2 hours. After that we went to Darjeeling non stop except a few stops for photoshoots. The trip meter read 761 Kilometers at Darjeeling. We stayed at Hotel Plaza near Mall. The hotel was quite good with all the required amenities and it cost only 550 per room (as it was off season).
Kanchenjungha from Darjeeling -




Non veg foodies must visit Darjeeling and particlarly the restaurant called Keventers which is over a 100 years old. Then there is Glenary's which is famous for its buns and chocolates. We also visited a restaurant called Penang where the chilli pork was awesome .
We started for Kalimpong on 23rd December afternoon. Tanked up in between and it returned an FE of 12 Kmpl.
Enroute to Kalimpong via Sevok-




We stayed at Hotel Hilltop on 23rd and shifted to Morgan House on 24th. Visited Delo form Kalimpong which was quite nearby.
Morgan House -


Left Kalimpong on 25th for Gangtok. Had a tire puncture en route. It was very irritating to unload everyhing from the boot and take out the stepney. So it was almost evening when we reached Gangtok. We had arranged for a packaged tour to North Sikkim and the car arrived next morning at 10 'o' clock. It was a 7 year old Armada Grand and was in immaculate condition. We headed for Lachen through some very rough mountain roads and reached Lachen at 5:30 pm.






Next morning we started for Gurudongmar Lake (17,100 Feet) at 5 am and it was teeth-clattering cold. Sonam, the guide and driver tried to clean his vehicle in the morning and poured a bucket of water on it. The result was a thin sheet of ice on the roof . We had our mandatory breakfast at Thanggu (mandatory as tourists are not allowed to go there without breakfast as it creates some sort of problem at those heights due to lack of oxygen).
Gurudongmar -










Stayed for only 20 mins at Gurudongmar (also known as Mini Ladakh) and started for Lachung. Next morning at 6:30 am we started for Yumthang. The real beauty of Yumthang is during March-APril when the valley is full with orchids and is called Switzerland of the east. We missed that view and went on towards India-China border called Zero Point where the road ends. After that there is no man's land between India and China.







We started our return journey towards Gangtok and reached there in the evening (28th December). Stayed at our company's guest house on 28th and 29th. Packed up and started for Kolkata on 30th morning at 7:30 am. Got held up at Chitre for 1 and 1/2 hours as there was a landslide. Reached Siliguri at 10:50, had breakfast and tanked up. Got an FE of 11.5 Kmpl. Had our lunch at Dalkhola and reached Malda at 3:45 pm. Filled up at Malda and got a dismal FE of 10.5 due to some spirited driving. Reached Kolakata at around 12 'o' clock midnight after a few halts en route. An awesome tour came to an end and had to attend office on 31st :-( . Will post some more pics later.

Last edited by BlackPearl : 14th January 2008 at 04:54.
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Old 14th January 2008, 07:26   #2
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Very nice trip report Sumitro. It's nice to see that you're still enjoying spirited driving with old tyres.

By the way, have you put on some weight or it's those winter clothing?
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Old 14th January 2008, 09:25   #3
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Nice writeup and excellent pics BP, and as Rudro da indirectly said, "Your baby is crying for a change of Rubber/Alloys", start your saving from Day1 of the year...

Abhi
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Old 14th January 2008, 09:34   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
Very nice trip report Sumitro. It's nice to see that you're still enjoying spirited driving with old tyres.
Thanks Rudra Da, the tires are just 43K old, should go another 5K

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen
By the way, have you put on some weight or it's those winter clothing?
yup, gained quite a lot of weight thanks to the lovely food of Darjeeling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy
Nice writeup and excellent pics BP
thanks akroy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy
and as Rudro da indirectly said, "Your baby is crying for a change of Rubber/Alloys", start your saving from Day1 of the year...
I am thinking of not posting any travelogue till the tires are changed...
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Old 14th January 2008, 10:15   #5
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A very nice and detailed writeup polished dome. Nice pictures too. But, please get a new set of shoes before your next road trip!
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Old 14th January 2008, 10:21   #6
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naish triplog boss. Very enticing I must say.
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Old 14th January 2008, 10:33   #7
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Arrow Graphic Puctures

Hai,

Nice short travelogue with graphic pictures. Thanks for sharing that.

--Ramky

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Old 14th January 2008, 13:23   #8
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Great account, BlackPearl.

How bad were the roads to Moregaon? Is the road widening after Dalkola a well-managed mess?

I guess they still have this racket of not allowing private vehicles (only "conducted tours") to Yumthang and Lachung. By any chance, do you have the route coordinates after Mangan? I have been allowed only upto Mangan checkpost after which they shut the CP bar on private vehicles? Are there any chances of private vehicles being allowed through?

And di you take the Ghoom-Teesta route to Kalimpong or the Siliguri-Sevoke-Teesta route?

And how was the acco in Lachen and Yumthang?

Sorry for the multiple Qs. And thanks in anticipation of replies.
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Old 14th January 2008, 13:31   #9
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Marvelous report! Never been to these places myself, but been longing to plan a trip for long!
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Old 14th January 2008, 14:10   #10
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Great pics BlackPearl. Looks like you are really bitten by the travel bug!
If i remember correctly, you drove down to Hyd not so long ago.
It has always been my cherished dream to visit Yumthang, etc, though I did vist Gangtok / Tssangpo in 1994 and Darjeeling in 1984. My kids were very small , so I could not visit N Sikkim.
I am not sure about present days, but night driving between Siliguri and Calcutta was very dangerous those days. There were many instances of buses being waylaid by dacoits, and even my brother was once deprived of his wrist-watch in one of those N Bengal buses.
Things could have improved now, but it looks like you had a smooth journey.
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Old 14th January 2008, 14:11   #11
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Answers in line in bold ...

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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Great account, BlackPearl.

How bad were the roads to Moregaon? Is the road widening after Dalkola a well-managed mess? Approx 30 Kms out of 670 Km from Kolkata to Siliguri was bad, but nothing compared to that of last December. In December 2006 the entire stretch was in horrible shape and even volvo buses were breaking down, let alone the heavy trucks. This time it was very good except those stretches. Kolkata-Bagdogra took us only 9 and 1/2 hours at a moderate pace.

I guess they still have this racket of not allowing private vehicles (only "conducted tours") to Yumthang and Lachung. By any chance, do you have the route coordinates after Mangan? I have been allowed only upto Mangan checkpost after which they shut the CP bar on private vehicles? Are there any chances of private vehicles being allowed through?

Yes, they still don't allow private vehicles after Mangan. After Mangan, you have to head towards a place called Chungthang from where there are two roads, one leads to Lachen and the other to Lachung.

And did you take the Ghoom-Teesta route to Kalimpong or the Siliguri-Sevoke-Teesta route?
While going from Siliguri we took the teesta-ghoom route and while going from Darjeeling to Kalimpong we took the teesta-sevok-rangpo route.

And how was the acco in Lachen and Yumthang?
Lachen is the halting place for going to Gurudongmar Lake and Lachung for going to Yumthang and Zero Point. There is no place to stay in Yumthang. The acco at Lachen was quite good, but that in Lachung was quite bad and we paid them less because of that . The total package was 14,500 for 4 adults for 3 days.

Sorry for the multiple Qs. And thanks in anticipation of replies
arre baba, just ask whatever you want to know because the memory is still fresh. after a few days I wont be able to remember most of the things .

Last edited by BlackPearl : 14th January 2008 at 14:12.
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Old 14th January 2008, 14:17   #12
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@ Black Pearl - Please define "moderate pace". So, Calcutta - Siliguri do-able? Road wise? How bad is it actually?
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Old 14th January 2008, 14:51   #13
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@ Black Pearl - Please define "moderate pace". So, Calcutta - Siliguri do-able? Road wise? How bad is it actually?
yup, Kolkata-Siliguri is very much do-able in under 12 hours taking a number of halts. moderate pace means we touched max speeds of about 100-110 kmph, but were able to maintain a steady speed as it was early morning when we crossed Malda. Malda can get very congested after 10 in the moring till 9 in the evening. You can easily lose 1-2 hours there if you dont plan properly. If you dont intend to reach Darjeeling or Gangtok on the same day and prefer a halt at Siliguri, then the best time to start from Kolkata would be 6 a.m sharp. You will reach Siliguri by 6 p.m. Take a night's rest and head towrds the hills next morning.
I am not aware of the Kolkata-Krishnanagar-Moregram route which the buses take, we take a slightly longer route - Kolkata-Panagarh-Siuri-Moregram (about 60 Kms more). The total distance to Siliguri taking this route is about 670 Kilometers out of which only 30 Kilometers is bad, but nothing serious. One can easily avoid the potholes if he/she drives carefully. During that stretch the average will be around 30 kmph but you can easily make it up afterwards. Moreover Shuvd - if you plan to take the Peted Octy, then you can pretty much calculate what timings you are looking at
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Old 14th January 2008, 15:13   #14
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Very nice account of the hill trip and lovely pictures to boot. your one lucky fella to be getting so many days off for such heavenly trips
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Old 15th January 2008, 01:43   #15
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Excellent travelogue Sumitro! Will hear about it first hand from you when we meet.
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