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Old 1st January 2018, 22:31   #1
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Default Year-end in the hills : Kolkata to Sikkim in a Maruti Swift

I have a candid confession to make. I have never written a travelogue this quickly. The photographs (uploading process has been super smooth) – they are still okayish, but dear reader, I will admit ,perhaps, this has compromised with the quality of the writing. This is more of a narration of where we were and what we did and what we ate.

After the Old Silk Route drive in November, we had initially planned to stay put in Kolkata in the year end. But as the year end approached, the itch started. See how everyone were planning their vacations and enjoying their lives and we were sitting like morons. That very thought was painful and the pain was only increasing as the days passed. So unable to bear any further, we decided that we will go "somewhere" in the hills of North Bengal or Sikkim. Leaves weren’t a problem, so slotted in the last week of the year - Christmas Eve to the 31st of December. Some doubts remained though - like the weather, political situation and accommodation. But then, felt that it should work out in the end with the right intentions.

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Kanchenjunga summit pyramid from Elgin Mt. Pandim, Pemayangtse.

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Rabdentse ruins

Talked to our office admin (they have tie ups with the Elgin Group of Hotels) and wanted to explore if there are any accommodation available in their hotels. Was skeptical because the year end is actually a high season and getting rooms just two weeks away was even more challenging. But, we kind of hit the jackpot here - we got 3 days in Pelling and 3 days in Darjeeling. Was wary about Darjeeling though, but then, the town was calm for quite some time.

Bags were packed and on the dawn of 23rd Dec we left home. Saw a LTD stickered XUV500 on the Kona Expressway. Reached Bagdogra after a 12 hours marathon run. Malda town continues to be a nightmare took exactly an hour to cross it.

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Reflections on glass.

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Batasia Loop

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Christmas was in the air and with Christmas trees and gift boxes and red ribbons and the smell of cakes and pastries – we were elated.

Next day started from Bagdogra at 11.30 AM. Travelled through Melli-Bhanjyang-Namchi-Ravangla-Legship and reached Pelling (the resort is actually at Pemayangtse) at 6 PM. Excepting the broken stretch between Melli and Bhanjyang, the road was excellent. Deep pine forests, views of the Rathong-Kokthang and Kanchenjunga, beautifully dotted villages in the hill sides and deep, deep green forests, it was invigorating.

That evening was a special one with bonfires, Christmas decorations, clanking of glasses and cutleries and a sumptuous buffet spread of Roasted Chickens and Grilled Fishes.

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The next day we woke up late and lazed around before finding the way to the breakfast table. Watched Kanchenjunga looming ahead and consumed cups of tea and time went by in a jiffy. In the afternoon, we went to a restaurant, Melting Point (https://www.tripadvisor.in/Restauran...im_Sikkim.html ) , for lunch and ordered for Fried Rice, Thukpa and Chicken Manchurian. Did not find the place worth the 4 stars of TR.

In the evening we went to the Pemayangtse Monastery. Dined at the Kabur Restaurant at night and returned to the hotel around 9 in the evening.


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Breakfast stop at BP, Morgram.

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View from Helipad.

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Mustard fields ripening.

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Christmas celebrations and decorations.

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The next day was the last day at Pelling. We drove down to the Rabdentse Ruins (2 kms) in the morning and hiked to the palace complex. The hike took around 25-30 mins with my toddler son and it was good that he didnt need much support. While returning back we were famished and went to a place Big Bowl for lunch. Had rice and egg curry and dal for lunch. Later we went to the helipad ground from where we watched the sunset on the Kanchenjunga range and visited a local fair. Called it an early night.

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Lunch at Glenarys, Darj.
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Last edited by Rudra Sen : 6th January 2018 at 09:50. Reason: Post edited. Please go through TBHP rules (#11)
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Old 1st January 2018, 22:42   #2
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On 27th Dec, we checked out of The Elgin Mt. Pandim and started for Darjeeling. Everyone advised us to avoid taking Legship-Jorethang-Melli road/Legship-Jorethang-Darjeeling road in the Swift. So, had a take a long detour through Ravangla-Namchi-Melli-Teesta-Peshok-Darjeeling.

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Darjeeling town

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The Peshok and Lopchu tea gardens wore a ghostly look- the manicured gardens resembling a jungle of unkept wild grasses and ferns hanging from the ends of the hills. Enroute stopped for momos and noodles and tea at Melli.

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The Elgin, Darjeeling , overexposed shot

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After reaching the hotel, freshened up quickly and went to the Mall. Saw that the ‘Teesta Rangeet Festival’ was going on at the Chowrasta. It felt that Darjeeling had finally come alive after months of unrest and uncertainties. Locals and tourists thronged and danced like there was no tomorrow.

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The offspring cribbed for a balloon and I found one balloon seller after some difficulty. Later checked into Glenarys and ordered Mixed Grill and Chicken Cutlets and additional beverages. Glenarys was packed to the hilt and the guests and waiters made it lively and exciting.

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When we were returning back to the hotel, the Mall market had wound down, the fest had ended for the night, roads were deserted excepting some police forces who were huddled in a check post. And it was cold and we could see the stars through the branches of the trees in the periphery of the mall.

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Thukpa

To appease my son, we had planned to go to the Zoo the next day. But the Zoo was closed since it was a Thursday, so we drove down to the Batasia Loop where we spent time watching a couple of toy trains come and go and ate some oranges under the blue sky with no clouds and a sun that resembled summer rather than December.
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Pelling valley from Pemayangtse

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But son was still disgruntled that he couldn’t go to the ‘animal fair’, so we took him to Glenarys again for lunch and he felt happy with the Black forest cake and the Gratin fish. We spent the evening sitting in the Chowrasta and watching the ongoing rock concert.

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At Glenarys

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Last edited by sayakc : 2nd January 2018 at 22:45.
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Old 1st January 2018, 22:49   #3
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Default re: Year-end in the hills : Kolkata to Sikkim in a Maruti Swift

Next day, after a wholesome breakfast, we went to the Zoo and son was happy despite walking the steep inclines. Finding the parking was however a problem for me and I had to park the car around half a kilometer from the zoo.
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Had lunch at one of the nearby shops and by the time we reached Tiger Hill it was around 4 in the evening.

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Tea shop near Zoo

Watched the sunset from Tiger Hills with minimal commotion and descended fast through the loops.
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Repeated the routine from the past couple of days i.e. Dinner at Glenarys and went in to sleep early knowing that we leave the hills the next day.

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View from Glenarys

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Left Darjeeling around 10.30 in the morning and took the Mirik road to Matigara. Several stops along the way ensured that we were late in reaching Bagdogra.

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Lunched at Khanna Hotel near Bagdogra exit and from then on it was fast dash towards Dhantola. But darkness had descended and with cattle and goats and young children and frequent cars coming on the way , the progress was slow.
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Gained time once we were back on the highway and stopped at Golden Park for the night.
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And next day it was an early morning dash towards sweet home.

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Didn't find a worthy picture of the car. So here goes one. Not very picturesque though.

***THE END***

Last edited by sayakc : 2nd January 2018 at 22:39.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 07:50   #4
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Default re: Year-end in the hills : Kolkata to Sikkim in a Maruti Swift

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 3rd January 2018, 11:36   #5
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Default Re: Year-end in the hills : Kolkata to Sikkim in a Maruti Swift

Super quick travelogue and absolutely stunning pictures! Samba has got competition Rated 5 stars. After seeing the close up shots of the peaks I have realised what a blunder I had made by not taking the zoom lens in my last trip
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Old 3rd January 2018, 12:07   #6
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Default Re: Year-end in the hills : Kolkata to Sikkim in a Maruti Swift

Hi Sayak,

Wishes for the new year. What stunning photographs! It more than makes up for the short (but crisp) write up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sayakc View Post
Didn't find a worthy picture of the car. So here goes one. Not very picturesque though.]
Well, I have got one for you

Year-end in the hills : Kolkata to Sikkim in a Maruti Swift-2017_1227_065127_004.jpg

Actually, I was at the same place same time. Unfortunate that we were standing at the same place and yet could not meet! Just saw a TBHP sticker on this car and clicked this picture. Glad that I can make it reach to the owner!

Regards,
Saket.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 13:40   #7
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Default Re: Year-end in the hills : Kolkata to Sikkim in a Maruti Swift

Hi Saket,

Thank you! Really close miss it must be Can you tell me where was this photo taken - I am at my wits end (not able to locate at all) as to where I had parked the car in this photo.

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Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
Well, I have got one for you

Actually, I was at the same place same time. Unfortunate that we were standing at the same place and yet could not meet! Just saw a TBHP sticker on this car and clicked this picture. Glad that I can make it reach to the owner!

Regards,
Saket.
Well, BlackPearl, I am sure not to give Samba competition in the future. But this time I will be out of town in mid-Jan , so thought of writing it up as quickly as possible.

And yes, a telephoto lens comes very handy in photographing the peaks. But even without them, your sunrise photos were excellent I must say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Super quick travelogue and absolutely stunning pictures! Samba has got competition Rated 5 stars. After seeing the close up shots of the peaks I have realised what a blunder I had made by not taking the zoom lens in my last trip

Last edited by sayakc : 3rd January 2018 at 13:45.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 14:35   #8
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Thank you! Really close miss it must be Can you tell me where was this photo taken - I am at my wits end (not able to locate at all) as to where I had parked the car in this photo.
This was clicked at the Helipad area on 27th morning in Pelling! Was there to witness the sunrise.

Regards.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 15:50   #9
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Default Re: Year-end in the hills : Kolkata to Sikkim in a Maruti Swift

Fantastic TL Sayakc. Was this the third trip to Sikkim this year ? The "K" photographs are amazing. Unfortunately we did not get such views when we visited West Sikkim in August. We had been to Rabdentse ruins 4 years back in monsoons & it was a beautiful trek. Why don't you join for the Winter meet. I am sure we will have many stories from your side.


Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
This was clicked at the Helipad area on 27th morning in Pelling! Was there to witness the sunrise.

Regards.
When do we get to read a TL on that ?

Regards,

Pawam
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Old 3rd January 2018, 17:39   #10
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Default Re: Year-end in the hills : Kolkata to Sikkim in a Maruti Swift

Hi Sayak. Absolutely jaw dropping pictures accompanied by crisp and brief narration of a wonderful trip. Rated 5 stars.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 19:03   #11
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Default Re: Year-end in the hills : Kolkata to Sikkim in a Maruti Swift

What a lovely travelogue this has turned out to be! Am always a fan of your writing style and photography. Rated 5*.

Till date being a lazy and comfort loving person i avoided visiting the hills in winters thinking the weather to be chilly cold. So i always preferred sea sides during winter. But seeing the view of the Kanchenjunga and the sunny weather you have got, now am tempted to visit hills in winter too!

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Super quick travelogue and absolutely stunning pictures! Samba has got competition
Actually i travel once or twice in a year, so my travelogues come out fast, but there are people like you, who hit the Himalaya's in monthly basis, for them it may take some time.

Last edited by Samba : 3rd January 2018 at 19:21.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 21:50   #12
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Fantastic Tlog Sayak. Rating it a welll deserved 5*.
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Old 4th January 2018, 11:09   #13
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Default Re: Year-end in the hills : Kolkata to Sikkim in a Maruti Swift

Super sayakc !! You just made me relive all the trip that I have made to this region over the years. What a way to celebrate the onset of a New Year

The photographs are superb as usual. The snow capped mountains, good food and good properties to stay in are the best ingredients of a relaxing and a comfortable getaway road trip and your travelogue just reflects that. Rated a well deserved 5* for all of this.
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Old 4th January 2018, 12:23   #14
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Yes Saket, I had been there on both 26th and 27th because the view from the Helipad ground is more open. On 26th the gate was open and I took the car to the helipad itself and on 27th the gate was closed and you captured it much better than what I could.

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Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
This was clicked at the Helipad area on 27th morning in Pelling! Was there to witness the sunrise.

Regards.
Thanks Pawan. Actually this was the second trip to Sikkim this year. Weather was fantastic and it really doesn't require photography skills when nature itself is so beautiful. Would like to be a part of the Winter meet (checked out the thread) and hope to see you.

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Originally Posted by PapaBravo View Post
Fantastic TL Sayakc. We had been to Rabdentse ruins 4 years back in monsoons & it was a beautiful trek. Why don't you join for the Winter meet. I am sure we will have many stories from your side.
Thank You Dada! You know the uncertainties that were there before we started with son being not well . But in the end, the trip turned out to be quite satisfactory.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Safedriver76 View Post
Hi Sayak. Absolutely jaw dropping pictures accompanied by crisp and brief narration of a wonderful trip. Rated 5 stars.

Thanks Samba! Weather was God send actually. Bright and sunny and whole day you could see Kanchenjunga looming ahead. I knew that November was the best month for the hills, but December was a greater surprise. You should plan something soon!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
What a lovely travelogue this has turned out to be! Am always a fan of your writing style and photography. Rated 5*.
Thank You Dada! Saw your travelogue on the Kol-Del run and liked it too
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Originally Posted by ALTIMAed View Post
Fantastic Tlog Sayak. Rating it a welll deserved 5*.
Thanks Arav. I read your travelogue on Pelling a number of times before leaving for the trip and in the hindsight were an inspiration - very detailed and informative. You are right - the gorgeous weather, great food complemented the vacation highly.

OT: I am not quite sure, but have seen a White Figo parked near the Rabindra Sarobar Lake a few times. Do you frequent the area?

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Originally Posted by AJ-got-BHP View Post
Super sayakc !! You just made me relive all the trip that I have made to this region over the years. What a way to celebrate the onset of a New Year

Last edited by sayakc : 4th January 2018 at 12:25.
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Old 4th January 2018, 13:25   #15
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OT: I am not quite sure, but have seen a White Figo parked near the Rabindra Sarobar Lake a few times. Do you frequent the area?
If it's in the morning hours, then it must be me for a morning walk around the Lake for sure !! A white Figo with Red ORVMs with the Team-BHP Stickers on either sides is my car
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