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Old 8th October 2008, 15:45   #31
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Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Of course, do continue. 1100D is trying to hold you against the highest standard, like his American Travelogue. Meanwhile, I have written travelogues that sometimes hardly mention automobiles. For example, my own Sikkim travelogue here (Few days close to Heaven: The Dzongri Trek).

Your photography compositions are extremely good and narration is very engaging. So keep it going.
Thank you Samurai. Please do not ashame me by citing your Sikkim travelogue as an example because I am well aware of the your vast knowledge and the variance of threads you have written in.

And thanks to everyone who have supported me.

I also agree with 1100D. I have known him long enough to understand his passion for automobiles and as to why he has pointed out my travelogue as not being 'automotive enough'. I am glad he was honest in his opinion, though he did exaggerate a bit in his 'in a million years' statement. Believe me, I am not that bad!

I know the high standards of this forum. So in spite of being here for more than a year now, I did not register as a member since I was not sure whether I would qualify as one. That I have a passion for automobiles, which is slightly more than just appreciating the physical beauty of a vehicle (not only cars), cannot be proved when I have got no valuable automotive information to share at this point. But I like hanging around here and I learn in this process as well. The reason I created this membership is to get over the handicap of what I am unable to do as a guest.

Being part of the family, I found it apt to share my traveling experience. I have been to other travel destinations as well (including one in the fabulous Isle of Skye in a Merc, but again was chauffeured around.). This particular trip stood out because in its uniqueness, the uncertainty, something any travel bug could relate to, wheels or no wheels.

The story will continue.
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Old 8th October 2008, 15:54   #32
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Lumina, great account and fabulous pictures.

Are there still night driving restrictions in the Chalasa area? I remember being stopped while driving from Shillong to Darjeeling a few years ago on the pretext of there being insurgency and terrorist movements across the India-Bhutan border.

Will also appreciate if you give us a summary of the route you took, so that we can plot our drives accordingly.
Thank you hvkumar. I am not aware of such restrictions, maybe because we were not traveling late in these areas. And anyway, with trouble brewing, there could have been stop-checks at any point of time.

I am going to put the actual route information at the end of the travelogue.

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Originally Posted by Saurabh M View Post
I am myself a huge fan of the forests of Dooars and have been there consecutively for the last 3 years, 2005-07, (all in December). I can expect what is coming next. I have also spent nights on forest watch towers, looking out for the elephant or the bison herds.

One advice that I would like to give here is, if possible, when travelling to Dooars, try to avoid a driver from Siliguri. Try to get one from Chalsa or Madarihat area. They know the forests like the back of their hands. The drivers from Siliguri are too scared to venture out in the night, even on the Lataguri-Chalsa highway, let alone in the forest.
This was my first visit to the Dooars, and I intend to go soon on a second trip. Just waiting for the opportunity. December I gather is the best time to visit the forest when you have better chances of seeing the animals as they tend to come out in the open for the sun, am I right?

I know what you meant by the drivers. Fortunately the person driving us, Alam, is a rather experienced hand. He has been regularly driving in these parts. It was only that he had never been to the forest of South Khairabari before.

Last edited by Rehaan : 9th October 2008 at 16:16. Reason: Hi, Please use the MULTIQUOTE button instead of posting consecutive posts within 20 mins of each other. Thanks.
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Old 8th October 2008, 19:41   #33
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Originally Posted by Lumina View Post
including one in the fabulous Isle of Skye in a Merc, but again was chauffeured around.
Whats the big deal!!
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Old 8th October 2008, 19:49   #34
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@hvkumar : There are no blanket restrictions now in the Chalsa area for night driving. Some temporary ones may be imposed at times, due to local disturbances. I have driven at night both in the Chalsa/Chapramari area, and also in the Jayanti/Buxa area, with no problems. Had a tyre puncture in the middle of Jayanti at 11:30pm on a winter night with a thick blanket of fog and those who travel to forests will know how it feels

@Lumina: The best time to travel is mostly around late Nov to mid Feb. However, if you want to see elephants in good numbers, it better to visit around the time when the paddy is ripe. Thats the time when these elephants come down to the villages to have a feast. If you are open to the adventure, try visiting around that time (Sep-Oct) and spend a couple of nights around full moon in a village and you will never regret the experience.
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Old 8th October 2008, 22:36   #35
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Originally Posted by 1100D View Post
Whats the big deal!!
With all dues respect, this is not I would expect from any BHPian, let alone a DBHPian.

I can see that you know her and there's some story thats not on TBHP but this amounts to attacking a fellow member. She found the Isle of Skye fabulous so be it. Its a beautiful place that she went to and traveled in a Merc. For me (and I am sure many others) it is a big deal!

I would again request you to keep your personal story outside of the travelogue.
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Old 8th October 2008, 23:25   #36
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Both of you folks are right.
You are saying that we are right; but haven't bothered to address what I specifically stated about this forum being open to:

"International Automotive Scene" and "Shifting Gears" that are way off the mark - by your definition.

Let me also say once again:
After all, redlining in the context of automotive only means 'pushing to the limits' and not redlining as in 'containment'.

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Originally Posted by 1100D View Post
what we need to agree on is what does team-bhp represent. A collection of people associated with the passion for things automotive and driving. What does the passion for driving endow us with? The ability to travel. When we do that travel, what do some of us do? Write a travelogue, take nice pictures etc. Thats why we have the travelogue section in Team-bhp. Its like a by-product of driving.
Travelogue doesn't need to be a by-product of driving - simply put, the word "travelogue" need not be redefined. Travelogue can remain exactly what it means and how that has been interpreted in this forum for long.

As I have said before, this forum is extremely healthy - and tightly and rightly moderated. I wouldn't vote to restrict what a travelogue should or shouldn't contain based on your interpretation.

"what's the big deal?" doesn't sound good, particularly when that comes from a "Distinguished-BHPian"
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Old 9th October 2008, 00:13   #37
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Originally Posted by Saurabh M View Post
@Lumina: The best time to travel is mostly around late Nov to mid Feb. However, if you want to see elephants in good numbers, it better to visit around the time when the paddy is ripe. Thats the time when these elephants come down to the villages to have a feast. If you are open to the adventure, try visiting around that time (Sep-Oct) and spend a couple of nights around full moon in a village and you will never regret the experience.
Elephants apart, that time is also known to have a clear view of the Kanchenjunga range. Not to mention the Southern sky aligned Sunrise at Tiger hill looks fabulous.

But then as @Lumina mentions, the monsoons and the smell of wet mountain has its own charm. Driving into the clouds with limited visibility like there is nothing ahead and nothing in the past. Suspended at an altitude is the feeling.

I guess its also time to post the photoshoot with the Sumo Gold.

Last edited by 1100D : 9th October 2008 at 00:24.
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Old 9th October 2008, 01:30   #38
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Peace, peace guys!

Now, let's forget the episode and get back to where I had left of, a long time back. Continued after post 18.

Day 5

We had now caught up with our schedule and could carry forward with our original plan. Today we were to leave for Jaldapara. The problems in Beerpara on the day before had different things playing in our minds. Never knew where or when would the next problem erupt from. Dooars which till now had always been thought to be out of the purview of the problems in the hills was no longer so.

It had rained during the night and hence had been comfortable without electricity as well. These are the times which make us realise how much we have got used to what we think as very basic, electricity and telephones. They are taken for granted, but take them out of life, and we are as primitive as ever.

Since the check-in time at Hollong was at noon, we had the morning to ourselves. The plan was to visit Chilapata forest near Hasimara (another 12 kms from Madarihat), return to Madarihat and then enter Jaldapara. This was something we gained from being in South Khoirabari. Something I doubt we could have afforded if our actual plan was in place.

We started after breakfast.
The forest road to Madarihat, which we had traveled a couple of nights earlier, was all visible now. In the light of the day, it no longer had that eerie feeling to it. The forest was quite new and sparse. Needless to say, it had started to rain as soon as we started, though fortunately it was a drizzle and not the normal Dooars’ rain.

Beerpara was calm when we passed through the area and everything appeared normal. Our first stop was at Madarihat from where we had to get our entry permits to Chilapata. An official guide would accompany us.

A few leopards were kept here as well. These animals were caught while drifting into human territory, treated of any injuries and let out into the forest again or to the rehabilitation centre in South Khoirabari if required.

This particular one developed some interest towards my little niece. She was enjoying the attention as well.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-53.jpg

Chilapata is one of the most dense forests in Dooars. Throughout the route, the guide kept us telling stories about the elephant attacks in the nearby villages, mostly at the time of harvest. Alam had joined in with his experience as well. The guide was a friend of his and they had been together in many earlier visits to Chilapata.

On hearing the stories I was convinced that the elephants are the most common sights in the Dooars, and you can see them at every nook and corner of the forest area (though we hadn't seen even a single one till then, that was the only contradictory part). We were confident we could have a glimpse of a herd, at the least.

The first check post at Kodalbasti.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-54.jpg

Entering Chilapata
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-55.jpg

Chilapata checkpost.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-59.jpg

Some photo shoots taking care that we don’t wander into the grass. The experience with the leeches was not yet forgotten and even with no pain, blood oozing out is not a pretty sight.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-60.jpg
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-58.jpg

Our first encounter with wildlife. A loner in the grassland.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-57.jpg

And that was the last in Chilapata. These are domesticated elephants.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-56.jpg

We kept on hearing stories about elephant herds being sighted when Alam and our guide were there together the last time. There were about 30 of them together. And the other occasion when a man had tried to photograph a loner and was almost trampled to death. But these were stories. For us, it was only the forests which were to be enjoyed, and needless to say they were awesome.

The monsoon had already started to take its effect on the forest. The roads asked for a four wheel drive. The Spacio managed to struggle through. An elderly person, traveling with his wife was waiting with his Alto in the hope of making it. He was requested not even to try it.

The stop at the ruins of Nalraja.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-61.jpg
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-62.jpg
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-63.jpg

I would have prayed for dear life if I was standing alone here. Sunlight doesn’t filter through in these dense forests (though you can see the sky in the pictures, it was dark). I was afraid to turn my back to the forests lest anything should pounce upon. My brother would have grabbed the photographic opportunity though.

I had a mind to get in there and explore. Only if my mother allowed.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-64.jpg

Many of the tracks inside the forest were not roadworthy for the normal vehicles plying on them. We had to return half way from one and even then got stuck.

Freed at last.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-72.jpg

Without the sight of much wildlife, we started back for Madarihat.
But somehow it was not all disappointing. The forests were something worth the experience.

We stopped at a roadside ‘hotel’ for lunch. Our next stop was Hollong.

As we were signing into the Jaldapara wild life sanctuary at the entry point, we heard the news of a bus full of tourists being attacked at Malbazar. Chalsa and Odlabari were erupting as well. This was alarming news as we had to eventually return to Siliguri in a couple of day’s time. Before entering the sanctuary, we made a few calls to friends and family as there would be disruptive cell phone connection inside. Everyone was worried as we were in the middle of the trouble. So were we, not sure what was going to happen next.

More sophisticated entry road to Hollong
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-65.jpg

At Hollong.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-66.jpg

The Hollong forest bungalow is located at the fringe of the forest with a water canal flowing in front of it. A salt mound is kept on the grassland in front of the bungalow for the animals. Within a few minutes of us settling down a rhino moved in with its baby.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-67.jpg
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-68.jpg

Too much trouble, better to leave.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-69.jpg

Outside visitors are allowed entry inside the premises till the afternoon. As we sat there, waiting for another glimpse of wild life, the crowd gradually started to disperse. The sun was setting on the forest, and slowly dusk decended.
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-70.jpg
mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-71.jpg

And with it came on thousands of lights. The grassland in front of us was sparkling with the lights emitted from glow worms. It was a clear night and the stars were complementing the effect.

The sight was amazing and it could have been a moment to savour, had the sound effects been equally natural. What we found amusing was in a place like South Khairabari, which is devoid of any substantial wild life, the lights are put out by 10pm to create a natural ambience and not to disturb nature. Here at Hollong, in the middle of the forest, it felt like a New Year eve’s party with children screaming at the top of their voices and equally balanced by the booming voice of some male member of the family. The TV was blaring full blast with modern Hindi songs adding to the annoyance. I have no idea what it is like on any other day, but on this particular one the kind of guests putting up there were not at all welcome. It showed what money without any taste or culture can do.

The animals must have been used to these kinds of commotion because at about 10pm, just about when we were finishing our dinner, my brother ran in to tell us he had heard something splash on the water canal. The caretaker rushed with the search light. There were four full grown rhinos at the salt mound. One of them for some reason got irritated on its companion and chased it away. It felt like watching something on the National Geographic, well maybe not that grand, but more than enough to be happening right in front of our eyes.

Sorry folks, no pics in the dark mainly because I was not carrying my camera. I have to see if I can get my hands on the few my brother managed to shoot under the search light.

I was too excited to go to bed at that point and wanted to sit under the open sky, in the darkness and relish the atmosphere a little bit more. The commotion was starting to recede by then. But frankly speaking, I was somewhat scared. What if something breathed down my neck in the darkness, or worse, have a better use of my neck. Persuaded my brother to get indoors as well.

This had been an exhilarating day, a first time experience in the wild for me. The day ended by going to bed amidst the sounds of the forest. For some reason I had stopped worrying about the trouble lashing the Dooars region. I was wondering about the elephant ride we would take the next morning.
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Old 9th October 2008, 01:46   #39
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Lumina debi, bishon bhalo travelog,

Please continue, OFF TOPIC - say Sam also travelled to Germany by Public transport (air travel) and wrote a fantastic travelogue. It wont be correct to blame someone for writing his/her own travelogue if especially its a rare lady's post on this forum.

At the end of the day its the fairer species which matters to us. :-) no offence to any one just a point of view.

regards

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Old 9th October 2008, 01:49   #40
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If you are open to the adventure, try visiting around that time (Sep-Oct) and spend a couple of nights around full moon in a village and you will never regret the experience.
This does sound tempting!

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At the end of the day its the fairer species which matters to us. :-) no offence to any one just a point of view.
That's discrimination!
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Old 9th October 2008, 01:56   #41
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This particular one developed some interest towards my little niece. She was enjoying the attention as well.
Attachment 57575
Ah Autofocus!! Shooting a caged animal demands that you take control.
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Old 9th October 2008, 02:04   #42
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Ah Autofocus!! Shooting a caged animal demands that you take control.
Sorry Mr Expert! That was not autofocus. It's pure manual, if you notice the leopard was almost rubbing it's nose against the wires. I have tried to keep the eyes in focus (which was difficult) at max aperture. I was zooming as well, but for obvious reasons the cage could not be faded. This was the best I could get.
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Old 9th October 2008, 03:05   #43
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Excellent pics...fantastic. Marvelous shot of the flocking birds.

IMHO, Chilapata is one of the best forests, with the narrow paths and dense trees, very few forests come close to it. You were lucky to see elephants there.

Here's a shot of a barking deer that chanced to cross the road at Chilapata.

mountains, forests, rains and a little trouble-barking-deer-large.jpg


Quote:
Here at Hollong, in the middle of the forest, it felt like a New Year eve’s party with children screaming at the top of their voices and equally balanced by the booming voice of some male member of the family. The TV was blaring full blast with modern Hindi songs adding to the annoyance. I have no idea what it is like on any other day, but on this particular one the kind of guests putting up there were not at all welcome. It showed what money without any taste or culture can do.
I am not sure why these guys come to the forests, with their TVs on at full volume and raising a cachophony all the time. The animals are better behaved than they are. I feel that TVs should be banned from the forest rest houses. I remember, once I asked an elderly man to shut up, as we were sitting on the Chapramari watch tower, watching a herd of elephants, and this man was loudly discussing his LIC policies and retirement plans with another mate of his.

Last edited by Saurabh M : 9th October 2008 at 03:07.
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Old 9th October 2008, 07:49   #44
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Lumina, shubho bijaya.

Nice write up. Lovely photograph. Waiting for more.

It's a nice travelogue. There's no driving story. So what about it? We have seen this in the past as he mentioned here..
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Please continue, OFF TOPIC - say Sam also travelled to Germany by Public transport (air travel) and wrote a fantastic travelogue.
Anirban, I'm waiting for your private message.
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Old 9th October 2008, 08:21   #45
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Great. Simply great.
In fact, my words will not do any justice in praising this wonderful thread.

1100D's leg pulling of Lumina gave this thread some necessary spice too.

Lumina, Keep it up! Keep it up!
Can't wait for the rest. Popcorn packets ain't that cheap these days, you know?

Last edited by Aditya : 9th October 2008 at 21:24.
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