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Old 5th March 2019, 00:20   #1
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Default A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

Since we bought the Duster AWD, I had the itch to hit the Himalaya.

On 1st March the Duster turned 6 months. So i wanted to celebrate its rice ceremony at Sandakphu. But god had some different plans! It snowed so heavily that the road to Sandakphu was closed and we celebrated it at white snow laden Tiger hill! Will come to that part later on this travelogue.

The itinerary

27th Feb - 28th Feb- Start by 6 Pm from Kolkata, drive to Darjeeling & enjoy good food. 584 km

1st March - Visit Tiger hill, Jalapahar & Rock garden. 44 km

2nd March - 3rd March - Start from Darjeeling by 11-30 Am and drive back to Kolkata. 598 km

The Team-

Team Duster Awd - Me with wife.

Team Thar - Mr. Avrendu Majumdar (Team Bhp handle- avrendu)

Team Grand i10 - Mr. Debarshi Chakraborty, Mr. Subhasish Mukherjee & Mr. Arindam Bandopadhyay (Team Bhp handle- Arindamxeta)

Few teaser pics-

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9135.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9142.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9140.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9058.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9073.jpg

And a teaser video-


Last edited by aah78 : 5th March 2019 at 23:30. Reason: i -> I
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Old 5th March 2019, 01:36   #2
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Default re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

27th to 28th February

Just few hours before the trip it started raining heavily with thunder storm. The incessant rain continued and the road in front of our house got waterlogged. Getting the Duster out from the garage and loading the luggage became a hard task in the rain. Somehow i managed to get all sorted and got drenched in-spite of having an umbrella. So again changed my clothes and was finally able to start our journey by 6-15 pm. With the wipers and headlights on, Duster easily waded through the waterlogged streets forming waves in the front!

All the three cars were scheduled to meet at Azadhind Dhaba at 7pm, have dinner together and start our journey. Due to heavy rain all the three cars finally managed to meet up by 7-40pm. After a sumptuous dinner with butter naan and chicken tikka masala we started at 8-30pm. By then the rain had reduced to drizzles and the weather was cool.

Crossed Burdwan by 9-30pm and we were soon cruising on Sh7. The traffic was less and we were lazily driving at around 70-80 km/hr. We crossed Moregram by 12am in midnight and was heading towards Farakka. Farakka is infamous for prolonged traffic jams. 20Km before Farakka, local policemen instructed us to take the wrong side. Soon we saw huge number of trucks stranded on the other side. But we were lucky enough not to get stuck and cross Farakka in one go.

After crossing Farakka we took a small break and had some light food we carried with us.

From here the journey was smooth with sparse traffic. We crossed Raigaunge at around 3-30 am and entered Botolbari by 4 am.

Witnessed the sunrise in the back drop of tea gardens at Bagdogra around 6 am. We refueled our cars. Duster returned an amazing mileage of 20.6 km/L!

Soon we crossed Matigara and the mighty Himalaya welcomed us.

At the start of the hills-

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_8946.jpg

We took Rohini road and reached Kurseong in half an hour. Soon the weather started to get chilly & foggy with slight drizzles. After Sonada i could hear some ting tong sound on the car roof and it was a hail storm!

Our booking was at Sterling resort in Ghoom. We reached our hotel by 8-30 Am. The entrance of the hotel was challenging! The left turn can easily be missed and if you manage not to miss it, the road is too narrow and later its quite steep, though any car can make it.

Getting out of the car was getting difficult. It was windy, drizzling and foggy. It was too cold. Temperature outside was around 2*c.

Checked in to our respective rooms and it was comfortable with the heaters on.

We got ourselves freshened up and had a heavy breakfast. After a whole night drive all of us were tired, so decided to take a power nap.

Had 2 hours of sleep and woke up to see, it's all sunny outside and Kanchenjunga was clearly visible!

View from our room-

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_0247.jpg


Soon we walked to the hotel's Kanchenjunga view point. It gave us an amazing view.

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_8955.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_8956.jpg

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Duster at the hotel parking

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_8979.jpg

In the afternoon we decided to visit the Darjeeling mall and have dinner at Glenary's. Parking our car at Darjeeling is itself a challenge, so we decided to hire a car and visit the mall.

First thing first, when you are at Darjeeling you must try out Darjeeling tea!

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_8980.jpg

Few pics around the Darjeeling mall.

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Suddenly it became cloudy and it started to rain. But it was rain with snow!

Soon we rushed to Glenary's and had a table. We ordered some yummy food and had an early dinner by 7pm. We were literally hungry and the food was amazing. Result? No pics of our food!

Few pics inside & outside Glenary's.

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_8998.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9001.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9004.jpg

Post dinner we took a cab and came back to our hotel just to find out our cars were covered with snow. When it was slightly snowing at Darjeeling, it snowed heavily at Ghoom!

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9020.jpg

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A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9073.jpg

Our plan was to visit Sandakphu the very next day. But upon inquiry from the Land Rover association they confirmed us that the road to Sandakphu was totally closed due to heavy snowfall.
So we decided to enjoy the next day around Darjeeling. After some research we booked our rooms at Mystic Rodhi Resort at Jalaphar. This resort offers amazing view of Kanchenjunga from the room.

As Sandakphu was cancelled, i went back to my room with a heavy heart but little did I knew what an amazing day the very next day was going to be!

Last edited by aah78 : 5th March 2019 at 23:32. Reason: Minor typos fixed.
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Old 5th March 2019, 15:04   #3
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Default re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

1st March.

I was sleeping like a log but wife woke me up from the bed to have a look at the Kanchenjungha outside!

I promptly checked the weather update in my phone and it showed this-

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_0262.jpg

So wrapped ourselves with jacket, gloves and cap, we headed towards the Kanchenjungha view point in our hotel. The car key was in my pocket.

Once i came down an Innova driver greeted us towards his car. I surprisingly told him that, i have not booked his cab. He actually confused us with his passengers who booked him for a trip to Tiger hill!

Wife promptly grabbed that idea and told me, lets drive to Tiger Hill! I agreed and i called my team members but they were still sleeping. So me and wife decided to go ahead.

I walked towards my car and saw the Duster in this state!

The front windshield was covered with snow. So i cant drive it. Melting the snow to some extent took nearly 20 minutes. I started the car and kept the heater on.

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9092.jpg

20 mins means by the time we will reach Tiger hill the sunrise will be over. So decided to click the sunrise from our hotel and then drive to Tiger hill.

There was snowfall at Ghoom in the night.

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9085.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9087.jpg

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A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9104.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9110.jpg

By this time the ice on the front windshield have partly melted. So with a bit of compromise the car was drive-able.

A video for Reference-



Just when we entered the road to Tiger hill, we saw all the tourist vehicles coming down. The drivers told me to return back as the road is closed due to heavy snow. But I was grinning on hearing that!

I continued till another 3 km and saw all the taxi's parked on the road and there was no space to go ahead. I asked a local driver, when the Taxi's will come down? His reply was, due to snow the vehicles cant go up, they are parked over here and the passengers have walked ahead to enjoy the snow.

I waited for around 1 hour for the passengers to come down and then the Taxi's left back for Darjeeling.

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9111.jpg

Once it was clear, i started driving towards Tiger hill by keeping the car in AWD Auto mode and ESC on. If the front wheel skids, power will automatically be transferred to the rear wheel. Plus ESC will ensure no unnecessary wheel spin. Refrained from putting the car in 4WD lock as i felt it was not necessary.

Just while starting few local drivers came to me and told me, its not worth taking the risk. I politely told them, i have 4WD and went ahead without hurting their ego. Where Innova and Sumo's were struggling, an Alto and A-Star went past them. But after some distance they gave up too. So unofficially my Duster was the only vehicle to go till Tiger Hill top on that day.

Few video's on the way.





Few pics from Tiger Hill top with no tourists! The advantage of having a 4Wd!

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9115.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9116.jpg

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A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9127.jpg

After staying there for 30 mins, we started for our return journey. The first question asked to me by a local guy was, you have come up, now how will you go down? I just smiled and replied when we have come up, we will go down too and started back.

While clicking this pic my car was left in handbrake & it suddenly started to skid down ! I ran and got into the driving seat and stopped the car, then put a stone in front of the wheel and clicked the pic again!

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9131.jpg

Couple of video's on the way down.





Few kilometer down i got a chance to click my Duster with the Kanchenjungha! What a way to celebrate 6 months of my car!

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9134.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9135.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9139.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9140.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9142.jpg

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A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9146.jpg

Another couple of pics on the way down.

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9148.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9150.jpg

Finally we were back to our hotel by 8-30 Am. It will be a memorable 3 hours of our life!

Last edited by aah78 : 5th March 2019 at 23:37.
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Old 5th March 2019, 16:40   #4
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Default re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

1st March continuation

After a heavy breakfast we checked out from Sterling and shifted to Mystic Rodhi Resort at Jalapahar. The descent from Sterling to main road became frustrating. It was a narrow alley with haphazardly parked vehicles. On top of that the road was two way. So getting out of that 800 meter stretch took us 40 mins. It was all messy.

A video for reference-



We checked in at Mystic Rodhi resort by 12pm. The room offered a great view of Kanchenjungha. Though at 12pm it was covered by clouds but on the next day morning we got a good view.

Mr.C.Murugan who was the former MD of West Bengal Tourism was posted as the secretary of GTA in Darjeeling. I had a talk with him over the phone and decided to have a small meet at his office in Lal Kuthi, Jalapahar.

This was our first meet with him.
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/stree...l-tourism.html (WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism)


While going I took a wrong turn and ended up going on a road which was very steep with frequent switchbacks and finally it led us to a dead end.

Reversing the car was challenging but somehow i managed it and by taking direction's from the locals we finally managed to reach his office. Had a great 30 mins chat with him and came to know about many nice places around Darjeeling with a cup of Darjeeling tea!

Rest of our group members were taking rest at hotel and enjoying a rest day.

Me and wife decided to drive to Rock Garden after the meeting. The road to Rock garden was fun to drive. It was steep at places. While coming up, i kept the Duster at around 1800 RPM in 2 nd gear and it climbed up effortlessly. The peak torque is from 1700-2200 RPM. In low revs the Duster AWD fared quite well on steep inclines.

Few pics from the trip to Rock Garden. Rock Garden was nicely renovated and the new paint looked good.

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9155.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9156.jpg

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A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9169.jpg

We came back to our hotel by 4 pm.

All of us hired a Tata Sumo again, to go to Darjeeling Mall and enjoy our dinner at Glenary's.

We strolled around the mall for an hour and had our dinner. This time, i didn't miss out on clicking the food pics! Though, still i regret missing out on clicking the pics of the amazing sizzlers of the previous day!

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_0268.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_0269.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_0270.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_0271.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_0272.jpg

By 10pm we were back to our hotel, had some gossip and called it a day.

Few pics from the evening gossip session with the beautifully lit Darjeeling city in the backdrop.

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A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9202.jpg

Mr.Avrendu Majumdar.

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9183.jpg

Mr.Debarshi Chakraborty

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9194.jpg

Mr.Arindam Bandopadhyay

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9198.jpg

Mr.Subhasish Mukherjee

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9200.jpg

Last edited by aah78 : 5th March 2019 at 23:38.
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Old 5th March 2019, 16:43   #5
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Default re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

2nd March to 3rd March

We woke up to get a great view of the Kanchenjungha. All of us were lucky enough to see Kanchenjungha on all the three days!

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9207.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9210.jpg

Post breakfast we lazily started our journey back towards Kolkata. It always feels sad to leave the mountains behind. We opted for the Pankhabari road to come down.

A click at Makaibari Tea estate on the Pankhabari road.

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9220.jpg

Few clicks on the tea estates at the base of Pankhabari road. This place was picturesque.

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_0277.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_9225.jpg

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After taking loads of photo breaks, we reached Bagdogra around 3-30pm. We refueled ourselves and our cars.

I just love Dhaba style foods. Chapati and egg tadka was a delight to eat!

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_0278.jpg

Started from Bagdogra around 4pm and we took the Botolbari route. Reached Raigaunge at 6-30 pm and a had coffee break. From here till Malda it was a breeze. We bought some cakes & chocolates from Malda to munch and drive for the rest of the night. Around 10am we reached the starting of Farakka after driving on the wrong side for the last 7-8 km. When we reached Farakka, the opposite side traffic was open. So we had to wait for 30 mins to get our turn. The traffic was messy but it was manageable.

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-img_0279.jpg

By 12 am we reached Moregram and took Sh7 via Panchgram. Took few breaks in the dark to enjoy the night sky. It was amazing. Was feeling sleepy but a can of Red Bull saved the day! We bid adieu to each other around 5am and by 5-30am we were home!

84 hours and 1226 km of awesomeness comes to an end!

Last edited by aah78 : 5th March 2019 at 23:38.
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Old 5th March 2019, 23:42   #6
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Default re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

Note from Support: Thread moved to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th March 2019, 00:57   #7
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Default re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

Congratulation Mr Samba, the AWD tastes white blood finally.
Nothing new to write about your threads, crisp and detailed.
Loved the picture of the Duster roof rails. Few pictures of the food were very tempting.
Keep traveling and sharing such wonderful blogs.

Last edited by moralfibre : 7th March 2019 at 10:05. Reason: Typo
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Old 6th March 2019, 01:42   #8
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Default re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

Very nice travelogue. There exists no such instance when I didn't finish a TL on Himalayas at a single go. Yours was not any exception. I must say the Tiger Hill trip is drool-worthy along with the superb pictures of your red Duster in white snow-clad backdrops. Indeed, it's sheer luck to get such weather in Darjeeling and that too with a topping of enjoying the majestic Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill sans any tourist. Thanks to the AWD. It really makes some dreams come true. My luck didn't favour me to enjoy snow in North Bengal as of now. Awaiting my fortune in future
Till then, your travelogue serves as an appetizer for hill-mania and virtual feeling of being there.
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Old 6th March 2019, 02:29   #9
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Default re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

** "There is a big room full of people cheering for two guys sitting in front of big funky desktops. Both of them are extremely busy writing travelogues on team-bhp trying to win the competition for the fastest travelogue. The two guys are none other than Samba and gearhead_mait!" **

This is the exact dream I had today morning and not a single bit of exaggeration. And behold! the travelogue is already up today. The pictures have always been fantastic on all your travelogues, but what is even more commendable is the speed at which you process them and finish the travelogue.

Please don't feel disheartened that you could not go to Sandakphu, there is hardly any charm left in the drive anymore. The view of Kanchenjungha from Sandakphu will always be there, so you can go there anytime later. Here is a pic of our Thar with Kanchenjungha in the backdrop, taken last month from Tonglu. I could not go till Sandakphu as well due to snow.

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-thar_tonglu_sumitro.jpg


And this is a pic of the Bolero taken 6 years back at the same place. Spot the difference

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Old 6th March 2019, 07:28   #10
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Hey there a great write up. I have followed your Etios thread which has become the second official review of the same and your travelogues. A great trip for a great car.
What is you photography set up. Those are really nice pics
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Old 6th March 2019, 07:55   #11
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Default re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

That it is a crisp and immersive travelogue is not the point; the issue is the how lustily you have driven the AWD DUSTER and managed to put it across to the reader! True to the circumstance the DUSTER and it's jockey came out as the real protagonists in the story! Go ahead Samba, drive more and subsequently enthrall us with fascinating travelogues!
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Old 6th March 2019, 09:38   #12
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Default re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

Lovely narration with Splendid photographs as usual.
What a way to celebrate your new car's maiden trip to Darjeeling.... even the Gods blessed the Duster with a blanket of snow !!!

Warm regards,

Siddhartha
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Old 6th March 2019, 11:14   #13
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Default Re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

And Samba is back with another travelogue!

Thanks for this crisp report with amazing photographs. Unexpected snowfall is always welcome as far as it doesn't block the roads. A dirty (in a good way) Cayenne Orange Duster looks amazing with the backdrop of snow.
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Old 6th March 2019, 11:31   #14
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Default Re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

Once again a great travelogue Samba. You have triggered my obsession to google maps searching permutations and combinations for doing a North Sikkim from Bangalore, just came out after 3 hours of virtual bliss. Thanks for inflicting.

Last edited by Thermodynamics : 6th March 2019 at 11:32.
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Old 6th March 2019, 11:47   #15
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Default Re: A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!

Lovely Travelogue Samba with wonderful pictures !! Many of us have been to Darjeeling on multiple occasions, but to see a White Darj is very fulfilling and satisfying; also very rare. You were hell lucky and I envy you for this

The Sterling Resort looks very inviting after being renovated !! Also, the fact that Ghoom is a better place to stay during the summer months as it is at a higher altitude than Darjeeling and cooler also.

The pictures made me nostalgic of my stay at the Sterling Resort Years back. Sharing some pictures :

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-dsc01867.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-dsc01870.jpg

Some wonderful flowers grow within the Resort as well :
A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-dsc01932.jpg

A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-dsc01940.jpg

By the way, did you happen to visit this monastery (the oldest of the region) which is a short Trek down from the Sterling Resort ?

A picture of the Monastery :
A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!-dsc01973.jpg

Wishing you well !! Keep writing and sharing such wonderful travelogues
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