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Old 6th February 2024, 00:20   #1
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Peak Moments: A Year-End Himalayan Odyssey with My Little Explorer

Anonymous: "Hello, gentlemen. A decade ago, I witnessed a young man visiting this place, and so much has evolved since then. Observing the same-coloured Bolero and a similar sticker today brings back memories, and I find myself missing that man every time I encounter tourists with a comparable Bolero in this area."

My Sister: "I believe the individual is present today. Can you recall the name... are you referring to <My name>?"


Anonymous
: Yes, indeed, young lady. Where is he?

My Sister: He is currently taking a bath. Please take a seat and enjoy a cup of tea. He will meet you shortly.

Mr Limbo, previously unknown to my sister, arrived at our accommodation. We greeted each other warmly, sharing a heartfelt hug and briefly reliving memories from a decade ago. We then delved into recounting our respective journeys over the past 10 years, and I introduced Limbo to the little champ, sharing the joy of fatherhood. Discussed the evening we shared around the bonfire and more. Before he left, He extended an invitation for us to visit his place in the evening, a place I had stayed before.
The warmth of that place entices me to revisit it repeatedly, exploring each spot with revived eyes, even after multiple visits. Thus, we spent a delightful week on a Himalayan escapade, celebrating the bond of fatherhood.

Before delving into the detailed day-by-day journey, let's take a glimpse of the trip.


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Nature paints serenity in every shade of it's Canvas

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Standing mesmerizing in silent majesty


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Where every drop tells a story


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Unforgettable chapter in the Book of Life


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Summit wears a crown of serene snow

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Engine harmonizes with the whispers of woods


Itinerary:
Day 01: Kolkata to Siliguri (Peak Moments: A Year-End Himalayan Odyssey with My Little Explorer)
Day 02: Siliguri - Tashiding - Yuksom (Peak Moments: A Year-End Himalayan Odyssey with My Little Explorer)
Day 03: Yuksom - Dubdi Monastery Trek - Yuksom (Peak Moments: A Year-End Himalayan Odyssey with My Little Explorer)
Day 04: Yuksom - Khecheopalri Lake - Kaluk
Day 05: Kaluk - Zoom - Teesta Bazar - Tinchuley
Day 06: Tinchuley - Teesta Low Dam - Samthar Bazar - Panbu Dara - Samthar
Day 07: Samthar - Raiganj
Day 08: Raiganj - Kolkata

Planning:

Trip planning began in May 2023 and continued until November, yet no concrete plans were finalized during this period. It became evident to me that the extensive involvement of numerous family members in the planning group, following the principle of "too many cooks spoil the broth" (expressed in Bengali as "Ati sannyasite gajon nosto"), would likely lead to a lack of decisive outcomes.
The planning group, consisting of my sister, brother-in-law, my wife, and two cousins, virtually explored various regions of north and northeast India from May to the end of November, including destinations such as Rajasthan, Garhwal, Kashmir, Himachal, Bhutan, and more. Meanwhile, I kept myself occupied by adding to my road trip experiences.

Upon requesting the finalized plan in early December, it became apparent that no one in the group could provide one. Instead, they suggested that I propose a plan. Considering that my son Tishan would be accompanying me, I opted for a relaxing and mild trip within my familiar surroundings. I requested my sister Chumki, and brother-in-law, Souren, to travel to Kolkata by train or flight, assuring them that I would handle the rest of the arrangements.

To be continued ...

Last edited by libranof1987 : 7th February 2024 at 11:22. Reason: As requested
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Old 6th February 2024, 00:23   #2
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Re: Peak Moments: A Year-End Himalayan Odyssey with My Little Explorer

Day 01: Kolkata to Siliguri

The day commenced with a misty morning, prompting our decision to travel along NH-34 from Kolkata via the Kalyani expressway. Unfortunately, the first half of our journey was tainted by low visibility and ongoing construction work in the Ranaghat area. Despite these challenges, we managed to make some progress after Berhampore, eventually reaching Siliguri a bit later than our usual arrival time.





to be continued ...
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Old 6th February 2024, 00:32   #3
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Re: Peak Moments: A Year-End Himalayan Odyssey with My Little Explorer

Day 02: Siliguri - Tashiding - Yuksom - Kathok Lake

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before we start at Siliguri

The hotel packed our breakfast on schedule, allowing us to commence our journey before the city became bustling with tourists and Christmas celebrations. We strategically covered a considerable distance to avoid potential disruptions from tourist vehicles starting from the airport or railway station. Opting for a serene location, we enjoyed a hot and soupy breakfast as Tishan took the duty of distributing the packed meals to the monkeys along the road.


With ample time at our disposal, we decided on two plans. Firstly, we opted to take the Tashiding road instead of reaching Yuksom via Pelling. Additionally, we requested our host at the farm stay to prepare lunch for all of us.

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On the way to Yuksom

The owner of the farm stay has been a close friend of mine for the past few years, being none other than the younger brother of Mr Limbo, whom I affectionately refer to as Brother Limbo. Despite this being my initial visit to the farm stay, numerous conversations had transpired between us over calls, and several of my friends had previously visited his place with communication facilitated by me. It's worth mentioning that from the beginning to the end of our stay, Brother Limbo and his family went to great lengths to take care of us, treating us as cherished members of their family, with special affection extended to Tishan.



Situated in the heart of Yuksom village, Kathok Lake derives its name from the renowned Lama Kathok Kuntu Zangpo. Admired for its sanctity, the lake undergoes annual prayers to preserve its sacredness. The periphery of the lake is enveloped by a dense forest comprising Himalayan Chestnuts and Alnus trees. This lake is also considered the "mother lake" in local folklore.





Our afternoon was spent by the lakeside, savouring the sunset. Although our initial plan included a visit to the coronation throne on the same day, the leisurely moments by the lake deterred us from pursuing any further activities. The evening brought a chill to the air, prompting us to relax in the common area of our accommodation, engaging in pleasant conversations with the family members.

To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 6th February 2024 at 23:24.
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Old 6th February 2024, 00:44   #4
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Re: Peak Moments: A Year-End Himalayan Odyssey with My Little Explorer

Day 03: Yuksom - Dubdi Monastery Trek - Kathok Lake - Yuksom


During my initial visit to Yuksom, I discovered that the most tranquil place was the Dubdi Monastery, which held a unique charm as the oldest monastery in Sikkim. Recognizing its significance, I deemed it a must-visit destination and saw it as a wonderful opportunity to introduce Tishan to a mild trek.



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Although we could have driven partway and shortened the trek, I wanted Tishan to experience the forest area from the beginning. Therefore, we embarked on our journey on foot directly from our farm stay. Tishan was brimming with energy for the first 500-600 meters, but soon fatigue set in. Left with no alternative, I had to carry him in my arms to continue the trek. Carrying a child uphill is no easy feat, so we took 2-3 breaks along the way. Eventually, we found a playful approach, completing the trek by walking backwards while holding his hands.




Upon revisiting the monastery, I observed that it retained its timeless charm, standing as a testament to numerous historical events. Tishan, in particular, seemed invigorated by the surroundings. After spending approximately an hour there, he displayed no signs of fatigue. On the contrary, he was brimming with energy, eagerly guiding us on trekking techniques. With a continuous demonstration, he emphasized the effectiveness of zig-zag movements instead of walking straight.


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At Dubdi



To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 6th February 2024 at 23:49.
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Old 6th February 2024, 00:57   #5
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Day 3 continued ...

While others were awaiting lunch and I was in the bath, Mr Limbo, who had initially met me a decade ago, arrived at his brother's house for some errands and noticed my car, as I had detailed at the beginning of this blog.
I devised a plan to surprise Tishan by setting up a tent in the farmhouse while he was taking a break after lunch. The intention was for him to wake up to a pleasant surprise. However, upon waking up from a power nap, he expressed dissatisfaction, questioning why I hadn't informed him beforehand that the tent was in the car. He preferred to be actively involved in setting it up and was disappointed that there was no task left for him. Reluctantly, I had to dismantle the tent, allowing him to take pride in setting it up in front of everyone present. Once set, he enthusiastically engaged in numerous entries and exits, along with experimenting with various engineering adjustments to the tent.

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Our itinerary for the remainder of the day was well-prepared. The initial plan involved a visit to the Coronation Throne, a site commemorating the crowning of the first Chogyal king, Phuntsog Namgyal, in the year 1642. After the ceremony, a wall-like structure known as Norbugang Chorten was erected, still standing at the original site. Legend has it that attendees of the ceremony contributed vast amounts of treasures, believed to be buried beneath the Norbugang Chorten.

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Random at Coronation Throne

Following the Coronation Throne visit, we headed to Gupta Restaurant, seemingly the oldest coffee and pakora spot in the area. As scheduled, we then proceeded to Mr. Limbo's residence to accept his invitation. The meeting between our families was joyous and heartfelt. Significant changes were apparent in his place since my initial visit, except for the oldest cottage, which was undergoing construction during my first stay.

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Random at Yuksom Helipad


While sharing some old photographs, younger family members reminisced about their childhood memories, recalling moments when they were little kids. Mr. Limbo took the opportunity to introduce me to his other guests, emphasizing our long-standing friendship. He described how the place where we were having dinner had once been a green ground, where we used to chat in front of a bonfire with some drinks.

Upon bidding farewell, Mr. Limbo generously gifted various items to our family members and presented a special gift for Tishan. Reliving those old memories filled me with immense satisfaction, affirming the wisdom of choosing to visit Yuksom at the year's end.

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At Mr. Limbo's Place

Upon our return to the farm stay, Brother Limbo added another delightful touch to our day. He and his son had already set up a bonfire to relish the chilly weather, eagerly anticipating our arrival to commence the festivities. One remarkable aspect of Yuksom Farmstay is their policy of hosting only one family at a time, ensuring a personalized and quality experience for their guests. The atmosphere was brisk, and the comforting warmth of the bonfire added a delightful element to the weather.



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To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 6th February 2024 at 01:08.
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Old 6th February 2024, 23:11   #6
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Re: Peak Moments: A Year-End Himalayan Odyssey with My Little Explorer

Day 04: Yuksom - Khecheopalri Lake - Kaluk


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Few random snaps at Yuksom


After a lazy two-day stay on a farm, it was time to bask in the beauty of Kangchenjunga, and Kaluk emerged as the ideal destination for this purpose. Positioned perfectly, Kaluk offers unobstructed views of Kangchenjunga and the expansive Himalayan range, making it a favoured spot for the day.
Before reaching Kaluk, our itinerary included a visit to Khecheopalri Lake, locally known as Sho Dzo Sho, meaning "Oh Lady, Sit Here." However, its more widely recognized name is Khecheopalri Lake, nestled amidst the sacred Khecheopalri hill. This lake holds significance as an integral part of the revered "Demazong'' or the valley of rice, a landscape often referred to as a land of hidden treasures blessed by Guru Padmasambhava.

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On the way to Pelling

Anticipating a high crowd due to the lake's popularity and its proximity to Pelling, we set out with tempered expectations. As expected, the area was bustling with visitors. After some searching, I managed to find a safe parking spot for the Lazy Turtle and proceeded to the lake. While the lake itself didn't captivate my interest, I discovered an area for fish feeding. My companion Tishan and I spent a considerable amount of time enjoying the simple pleasure of feeding fish with soya chunks. Witnessing his delight in interacting with the fish, we extended our stay, making the most of our time there and even using it as an opportunity to have our lunch.


Arriving in Kaluk posed no significant challenge, yet an unforeseen obstacle prolonged our journey. Unknown to me, one of the bridges had succumbed to the recent Sikkim flood, a discovery made midway across. Forced to backtrack, I eventually located a narrow, untarred road to traverse the river. By the time we reached Kaluk, the evening had set in, and we encountered limited accommodation options, with most hotels already fully booked for the day.

To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 6th February 2024 at 23:25.
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Old 6th February 2024, 23:20   #7
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Day 05: Kaluk - Zoom - Teesta Bazar - Tinchuley

The morning brought disappointment to all of us as our plans were thwarted, and the opportunity to witness Kangchenjunga was obscured by dense clouds. Despite the setback, we pressed on towards the West Bengal side with a glimmer of hope for a glimpse of Kangchenjunga. I hesitated to revisit Tinchuley, having been there just three weeks prior. However, the festive season in popular destinations proved to be disruptive, and we ultimately chose to return to Tinchuley. Our decision was influenced by the knowledge of a new, vacant homestay situated a bit away from the bustling crowd.

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On the way to Tinchuley
The homestay in Tinchuley has been designed to replicate a miniature version of a village, featuring a couple of cottages, a small playground, a pond teeming with fish, and a stable. While the accommodations and rooms are visually appealing, I hesitate to recommend it due to concerns about the service. Despite being a newly constructed establishment, there is a lot for the host to learn. They frequently make comparisons with the established and highly-rated stays in Tinchuley, yet fail to provide basic amenities such as tea or hot water, displaying a lack of attention to guest needs.


The day primarily involved travel, and as we traversed the tea gardens of Tinchuley, we noticed a swarm of around 100 tourist vehicles arriving for Kangchenjunga photography at the tea garden. We decided to postpone our photography session to the next day, anticipating a quieter and less crowded experience in the early morning.

To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 6th February 2024 at 23:25.
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Old 6th February 2024, 23:31   #8
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Day 06: Tinchuley - Teesta Low Dam - Samthar Bazar - Panbu Dara - Samthar

We decided on an early start for the day, having no specific itinerary and a desire to explore new areas. The Tinchuley tea gardens and viewpoints were not far, so we planned to have breakfast outdoors, soaking in the breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga. This location holds a special place in my heart, and whenever I travel to Darjeeling via Peshok Road, I make it a point to spend some time at the Tinchuley entry. To keep things concise, our plan was successful; we departed the site after about an hour, enjoying the serene surroundings and panoramic views before other tourists arrived.



To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 6th February 2024 at 23:44.
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Old 6th February 2024, 23:40   #9
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Day 6 continued ...

I had no introductory knowledge that the Teesta Lower Dam road would lead us to such a picturesque location. Beyond the dam, the roads transformed into a completely different landscape, weaving through dense forests. To our surprise, we encountered 3-4 peacocks on the road, attempting to capture their beauty but with limited success. The presence of peacocks in this area was unexpected. Fascinated by the captivating road, we continued driving, taking breaks whenever we stumbled upon scenic views. Eventually, we arrived at Panbu Dhara Viewpoint, renowned for its stunning vistas in the Kalimpong District. From this vantage point, the Teesta River, Coronation Bridge, Siliguri City, and Kanchenjunga on the other side were visible with clarity. The viewpoint was also ideal for witnessing sunrise and sunset.



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Near Teesta Lower Dam

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Surprise

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Random on Panbu Road






Although the view from Panbu Dhara was the main magnet, I must emphasize that the journey leading to it was equally remarkable. We hadn't made any bookings for accommodation that day, but I was confident it wouldn't be an issue. In the worst-case scenario, we might have to find a place in Siliguri later in the evening. Another pleasant surprise was the restaurant at Panbu Dhara, offering a diverse range of food at reasonable prices.

Instead of spending much time searching for a hotel or homestay, we relished the 360-degree view of Panbu Dara until sunset. Meanwhile, Souren made a couple of phone calls to various hotels, and one in Samthar seemed promising for the night. Realizing that we had already passed Samthar on our way to Panbu Dara and needed to backtrack, we hesitated as revisiting the same road was not very appealing. However, with the day getting late, we decided to head back to Samthar. Luckily, the accommodation was comfortable, offering a magnificent view of Kangchenjunga above and Dara Gaon below. The panoramic view of Kalimpong city from our stay was truly breathtaking, and Tishan enjoyed the star-like lights in the dark hills.

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Kalimpong from Samthar

To be continued ...
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Old 6th February 2024, 23:47   #10
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Day 07: Samthar - Raiganj / Day 08: Raiganj - Kolkata

It marked the final day of our journey, and as we aimed to have a rest day before returning to work, we opted to avoid an entire day of driving with the children. Consequently, we decided on a late departure from Samthar, following the same route via Panbu Dara, and eventually arriving in Raiganj. Adhering to our plan, we made the most of every opportunity to relish the morning and the journey up to Kalijhora. Subsequently, the rest of the journey mainly comprised highway travel, and we reached home the following afternoon.


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Early Morning from our stay at Samthar

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Our Stay at Samthar

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Coronation bridge from Panbu Road towards kalijhora

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Somewhere near Bagdogra

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Rose Garden at Raiganj Tourist Lodge

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Old 7th February 2024, 03:27   #11
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Re: Peak Moments: A Year-End Himalayan Odyssey with My Little Explorer

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 7th February 2024, 19:53   #12
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Re: Peak Moments: A Year-End Himalayan Odyssey with My Little Explorer

Every journey creates an everlasting memory and your journey to revisit the memories must have made a lasting impression on your junior. Great travelogue with beautiful photos. Keep on munching miles.
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Old 8th February 2024, 23:25   #13
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Great read. One of the best travelogues I have read.
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Old 14th February 2024, 23:56   #14
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Re: Peak Moments: A Year-End Himalayan Odyssey with My Little Explorer

Lovely writeup with some fabulous pictures !!!

Warm regards,
Siddhartha
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Old 16th February 2024, 14:46   #15
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Re: Peak Moments: A Year-End Himalayan Odyssey with My Little Explorer

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Originally Posted by Kkumar View Post
Every journey creates an everlasting memory and your journey to revisit the memories must have made a lasting impression on your junior. Great travelogue with beautiful photos. Keep on munching miles.
Thanks Kkumar


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Originally Posted by Simple_User View Post
Great read. One of the best travelogues I have read.
Thanks Simple_User

Quote:
Originally Posted by siddarthab View Post
Lovely writeup with some fabulous pictures !!!

Warm regards,
Siddhartha
Thanks siddarthab
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