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Old 27th November 2008, 10:15   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SirAlec View Post
Its bit complicated. Its between sects. Tamang, Yolmoo, who are pure budhist don't, however beef is allowed, strange isn't it!!
Thanks for the clarification SirAlec. I didn't know this. Unfortunately, most of the Tamangs (and Sherpas and Rai/Limbu/Mongars) I have met in life have been converted christians. So probably they have lost parts of their ethnic and cultural identity. I am told that Lord Buddha died when he was offered pork by a blacksmith. Is this the reason why Tamangs don't take pork?

Regarding the GL number plates, I also found some WB and SK number plate taxis in the pictures. In fact I wanted to ask Anirban if he faced any problem in the hills because of his number plate. Of course it's not a taxi but still, you never know.

Waiting for the Dooars Jungle part of the story. And waiting very eagerly.
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Old 27th November 2008, 17:55   #32
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I dunno! i am not those religious types. but still pork 'ramro lagdaina'.

No they don't harash tourists. Local people especially young dude have started puting GL number plates.

anyway! its beautifullest of places. One should visit atleast once in their lifetime.
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Old 27th November 2008, 21:09   #33
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Please pardon me for not being able to continue with this today. What we see on TV today the 27th of November 2008 in Mumbai is too disturbing to be able to write/think about anything else.

May God help the people caught in the mayhem.
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Old 28th November 2008, 17:10   #34
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"No they don't harash tourists" - Nice to hear that the situation has
improved since last few months, otherwise tourist were the first
target of Harassment , whether its a wildcat 48 hours strike ,
or elderly couple dragged out from their vehicle and beaten up .
it all happened not so long ago only during last summer.

Cheers
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Old 28th November 2008, 18:39   #35
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I think he meant they don't harass tourists over the number plate issue if they are in their own cars. That harassment is reserved only for taxis from the plains. Otherwise, the main objective of all the agitations in the hills have always been to hit the tourism trade and create panic among tourists and those involved with the tourism trade.
By the way, welcome back to Kolkata Capt Dey.
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Old 29th November 2008, 12:26   #36
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1100D - Superb Photographs! specially the Ice peak one .
I fully agree with you driviing in india is more entertaining than any part
of the world, it has more shades of colors then anywhere else.

Any T-BHP member have idea about this new resort " The Riverwood
Forest Retreats " at Gorumara , which claims to be the first Elite forest
retreats in North Bengal run by our own Waxpol Industries from CCU.

Cheers
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Old 29th November 2008, 18:02   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captdey View Post
"No they don't harash tourists" - Nice to hear that the situation has
improved since last few months, otherwise tourist were the first
target of Harassment , whether its a wildcat 48 hours strike ,
or elderly couple dragged out from their vehicle and beaten up .
it all happened not so long ago only during last summer.

Cheers

We never faced any harrassment of any kind. But in this regard I will say that we have driven in the past amidst turmoil.

To get an example, on the cremation day of the Late PM Rajiv Gandhi, we were on our way, father at the wheel, me legally not allowed to drive, to Nagpur in the 1100d you see in my gallery. It was a part and parcel of my fathers previous job. It was only once that the Windscreen of the Jeep we were travelling in was smashed, that too by a naughty kid playing a prank.

Even on this trip our progress was interrupted but we still made our way. None of that credit, however, goes to me!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
I think he meant they don't harass tourists over the number plate issue if they are in their own cars. That harassment is reserved only for taxis from the plains. Otherwise, the main objective of all the agitations in the hills have always been to hit the tourism trade and create panic among tourists and those involved with the tourism trade.
By the way, welcome back to Kolkata Capt Dey.
It is like that elsewhere too. It might be that in the case of Hills of NorthBengal, which they prefer to call as Gorkhaland, they have a separate way of identifying cars from their area. But as far as Rajasthan, a vehicle from Jaipur could not be used for sightseeing in Udaipur. Same goes for Sikkim and many other states. Its like outside food not being allowed in a restaurant, but in that case the restaurant is the property of the owner. As for me, as long as I am in India, I should have the freedom to hire any vehicle from anywhere inside it and go anywhere, security considerations apart. But then, sometimes we ought to consider that Tourism is a major source of income in some parts like these, and be sensitive about not taking it frm them and giving it to smeone else.

coming back to the story

Day 5 - Wednesday 19th November

Waking up was a problem this day, although a target was set by my Father, we had no intention of keeping to it. We checked out from the Darjeeling tourist Lodge and was on our downhill run to Siliguri, we will drive eastwards from there on the NH31 to Batabari and take a left turn there and drive 3 kms to WBFDC (West Bengal Forest Development Corporation) forest rest house at Murti, beside the river Murti.

The downhill run was uneventful till Kurseong which we must have reached under an hour working through the traffic and the congestion. However this time the traffic police on guard at Kurseoung directed us to take the Pankhabari road on the leg to Siliguri stating that the hill-cart road that we took on the way up was a one way up only.

Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture1.jpg

We were stuck in Kurseong for sometime as college/school students were directed to march shouting that they want Gorkhaland. A demand for a separate state may be justified but what beats me is the name "Gorkhaland", would non Gorkha's be allowed in Gorkhaland. Given the recent developments and the martyrs of our country fighting for the cause of fellow countrymen irrespective of religion, tribe or background, the name Gorkhaland does not seem politically right in our great country but thats just my opinion.

The Pankhabari road slope was like childsplay after Rock Gardens. But, we were stuck behind a convoy of spacio's. One of which indicated to me to overtake, this time I did, but then there were far too many. So started taking it easy, once on the plains the Ikon stretched its legs. We reached Siliguri in about 2 hours and took a left turn from the Tenzing Norgay statue on the NH31 towards Guwahati.

Tanked up at Bharat Petroleum right after the station road. The attendant used a wire on the petrol tank filler to keep the flap from closing. Although visually the fuel meter would have demanded around 18 litres, the attendant managed to sneak in 26 (140 kms later the gauge was still showing full!!)

The car had done around 940 kms till then from home

We had Lunch at Appolo hotel just beside the pump. Its a 3-star facility with a good restaurant, food was tasty. Although Sinclairs (just opposite and a few metres back) is said to be the recommended one.

Post lunch run from Siliguri, involved a lot of traffic. It cleared up within a few kms after which the road surface was fantabulous for lovely three digit runs. This actually gave us a rude shock at Sevok Bazar due to sudden appearance of craters everywhere. The craters continued through Sevok a few kms down.

Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture2.jpg

As we crossed the Sevok bridge we found good ashphalted surface interrupted by craters. Thanks to a Army truck and an Innova, we soon touched good stretch for a few kms til Damdin.

From Damdin, the road surface was bad but not in the way we had encountered so far. It wasn't potholes, but the top-layer missing at certain places. From Chalsa it was smooth top and 3 minutes (5 kms) later we were at Batabari to take the left turn. The smooth village road lead us to the Murti forest bunglow, Banani, situated beautifully beside the Murti River.

Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture11.jpg
My Green and Golden Bengal.
Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture12.jpg
Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture13.jpg

ishpeed
Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture4.jpg
Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture3.jpg


The view from Banani (taken next morning)
Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture14.jpg

A few glimpses of the Banani.
Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture6.jpg
Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture7.jpg
Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture8.jpg
Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture10.jpg
Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture9.jpg
Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture15.jpg
Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture16.jpg
The Manager, Mr Chakraborty, a friendly person was instantly friends with my father as he informed that the next morning we will not be able to enter the Gorumora National park as safari rides to that park is closed on Thursdays. He enquired around if we can see the nearby Lataguri forest. He also suggested the ways to spend the next day.

Turned out that the Lataguri forest was open. We were not comfortable taking our own car into the forest so had to look for a hired car. Moreover the accompanying forest dept guard would have no place to sit in my car. First thing Dad asked was "petrol gari chahiye". It was an unusual demand for some of the facility people, but the manager knew what was being talked about. A few phone calls "Pettol gari milega etc" an OMNI was found.

The evening was to be spent amongst the forest serenity, but unfortunately for us, these guys were camping there that evening/night.

Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.-picture5.jpg

Thus reducing any chances of elephants visiting the water during the night or morning. But given that these folks are the prime factor behind us comfortably writing/reaing this travelogue without fears of agression from our boundaries, we were not as disappointed (turned out that luck was indeed on our side the next morning).

Went to sleep amongst foresty sounds intertwined with sounds of their generator. (Yes a complete mess)

Last edited by 1100D : 29th November 2008 at 18:06.
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Old 29th November 2008, 19:20   #38
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1100D, those were fabulous pics! I enjoyed reading your travelogue to the hilt, and admire your guts to take on steep slopes like Tiger Hill on your Ikon, with a weak clutch.

Seeing many of the pics stirred up nostalgic memories of my very first LTC in service way back in 1984,when I visited Darjeeling with my brother. Those days we could spot only Jongas and Rovers there, apart from Jeeps. Even the M800 was not seen there. Only those SUVs could do the Tiger Hill bit, and Amby's could not, I was told. It is one of the steepest climbs I ever saw. Even the road to Mirik had several steep gradients, which gave me a 'sick' kinda feeling at the end of the day.

Kudos to you! Keep the pics coming!
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Old 29th November 2008, 20:54   #39
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Every now and then comes a write-up that grabs all your attention and transports you to the place being written about. Post Tirthankar's adventure, this one got me gripped.

Anirban, I do not know if in this lifetime I will ever drive down or even go to Darjeeling but I was virtually there for the entire hour that I have been reading your post.

Amazing pictures, nice flow of writing and looking forward to more.

Couple of things:

The path where it was slippery and full of stones - what on earth made you convince to keep going ? I would have turned back

Why didn't you engage the services of the Versa guy for the sunrise drive ?

And i hope your little one was feeling better and cheerful.

Cheers
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Old 30th November 2008, 08:33   #40
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Anirban, loved the pics so far. Since we are experiencing Dooars here, let me tell you that there is a very nice place to stay, just after the Coronation Bridge (Baagh Pool), as you enter NH31. The place is called Mongpong and has only 4 cottages by WBFDC. It is around 5kms from the viewpoint from where you have taken the bridge pic. It has an excellent Sal forest in front of it (you cannot see the cottages from the road) and the cottages overlook the Teesta valley.

The place is mindblowing in its tranquility and makes up for a very nice stay for one night. Next time if you drive to Dooars, do not stay at Siliguri overnight, but drive for another 35 odd kms and spend the night and next day at Mongpong. After lunch, you can drive out to Chalsa/Lataguri/Murti. You would simply love it.

I am really getting tempted to post my Dooars experiences here. First the travelogue from Lumina and then this one, I guess I wont be able to hold myself back from sharing my experiences in a writeup. Lets see if I can find out some time for it.

Till then, awaiting your Dooars experience.
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Old 30th November 2008, 12:49   #41
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The view of the plains and Teesta hitting the plains from Mongpong can be lovely. But generally they almost always have a serial/film crew staying there !! Sharing the same resort with a film crew from Calcutta can be nightmarish.
If Anirban travelled on this road he couldn't have missed Mongpong. I loved the walk through the small saal forest infront of the resort. I never stayed there though.
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Old 30th November 2008, 13:24   #42
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great pics and excellent travelogue as usual. This is the first winter after 4 years that I will be missing a drive to the Himalayas , but thanks that your travelogue was a bit of a consolation
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Old 30th November 2008, 13:32   #43
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Anirban, truly an awesum witeup, great pics too.
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Old 30th November 2008, 14:26   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
Seeing many of the pics stirred up nostalgic memories of my very first LTC in service way back in 1984,when I visited Darjeeling with my brother. Those days we could spot only Jongas and Rovers there, apart from Jeeps. Even the M800 was not seen there. Only those SUVs could do the Tiger Hill bit, and Amby's could not, I was told. It is one of the steepest climbs I ever saw. Even the road to Mirik had several steep gradients, which gave me a 'sick' kinda feeling at the end of the day.
Around that time, for the records, the Fiat 1100d you see in my gallery had done the Tiger Hill without a hiccup. The road surface I was told was better, and the car wasn't as loaded though.


Quote:
Originally Posted by vij4all View Post

Anirban, I do not know if in this lifetime I will ever drive down or even go to Darjeeling but I was virtually there for the entire hour that I have been reading your post.
Please Sir, if you get a chance, visit Darjeeling, the sights sounds are all but special. But dont visit it during the tourist season.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vij4all View Post
The path where it was slippery and full of stones - what on earth made you convince to keep going ? I would have turned back

Why didn't you engage the services of the Versa guy for the sunrise drive ?
You bet it was more logical to do that, but then certain things can't be explained by logic. Infact when my mother volunteered that they all get down to reduce weight, it was quite logical, but bullheadedness prevailed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurabh M View Post
The place is called Mongpong and has only 4 cottages by WBFDC. It is around 5kms from the viewpoint from where you have taken the bridge pic. It has an excellent Sal forest in front of it (you cannot see the cottages from the road) and the cottages overlook the Teesta valley.

The place is mindblowing in its tranquility and makes up for a very nice stay for one night. Next time if you drive to Dooars, do not stay at Siliguri overnight, but drive for another 35 odd kms and spend the night and next day at Mongpong. After lunch, you can drive out to Chalsa/Lataguri/Murti. You would simply love it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
The view of the plains and Teesta hitting the plains from Mongpong can be lovely. But generally they almost always have a serial/film crew staying there !! Sharing the same resort with a film crew from Calcutta can be nightmarish.
If Anirban travelled on this road he couldn't have missed Mongpong. I loved the walk through the small saal forest infront of the resort. I never stayed there though.

Ah Mongpong! Infact as we were driving past the checkpost, my Father was mentioning about it, as it could be a great night halt.

At this point let me mention, on the way eastward, just after Mongpong Checkpost, the NH31 tempts you with a clear run till the Horizon, a long stretch of great Tarmac lined with the Sal forest you mentioned. However let me forewarn, the entire Dooars region is not conducive to speed testing as you may end up having a chance encounter with local wildlife.

Driving Westward, right after this above mentioned stretch, you take a curve and is faced with the shock of having a speedbreaker right before the Checkpost. The Local wildlife is smart, they would probably see the speed and act accordingly, but the dumb speedbreaker wont budge an inch, its the front shockers that will get the shivers.

So speeds have to be guided by individual judgement of stopping ability of the vehicle being driven and depending on the load being hauled.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
great pics and excellent travelogue as usual. This is the first winter after 4 years that I will be missing a drive to the Himalayas , but thanks that your travelogue was a bit of a consolation
Yeah, but winter isn't over yet, is it? Come back, as it is, it appears you are missing a lot, but before I say anything else, contact your friend (of the flame fame).

Quote:
Originally Posted by me_sid View Post
Anirban, truly an awesum witeup, great pics too.
Thankyou.

Last edited by 1100D : 30th November 2008 at 14:30.
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Old 30th November 2008, 17:27   #45
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@1100D : tell me, you must have noticed the shiny piece of head in your right rear much later as you were scanning through the pics, isn't it? Piece of luck you decided to shoot at that angle (not that I am seeing this angle of composition for the first time. though one shouldn't be surprised going by the looks of those gorgeous tyres. I love them!)
I am still waiting for the tusker encounter. the excitement so obvious by the camera shake, or was it the motion of the vehicle in reverse gear?

@Saurabh, I do hope you do find time. It's so obvious that you are tempted to put in your experience in these travelogues, so why not have one of your own? We can never have an overdose of Dooars, it's impossible to do so, and everyone has a different experience in the forest. More for you as you have been a regular to these parts.

I am already missing the place, and it's not even 6 months I was there. Reliving every moment of it through this travelogue.
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