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Darjeeling trip with WANDERING WORDS
Surprises… Surprises !!!
Many times we make lots of plans for several things. But after a massive heart break (!) of sort we became very sad when things do not turn up according to our plans. So after much of experiences, me and my son Reet decided that we will not plan for anything or at least we will try hard not to plan so that we do not become sad if it does not click. And there and then it clicked to our utter surprise and thus we made a great thrilling holiday trip that we have not planned. So here we travel the path to revisit our happiness again.
A trip, just the very next day of Reet’s exam was over on 28th of June, 2013 is the source of extreme happiness for us that we did not plan very much. We were not even sure that we will enjoy or anything as we were not certain about the trip at all. The train tickets were not done beforehand and we were not at all looking forward as it’s difficult to get last moment tickets particularly during this time of the year for the summer vacation of the schools. But to our surprise Sarma Da (Mr Robin Sarma, family friend whom we almost consider as our own brother) could manage to make the tickets for us. So we just packed in a hurry and left for Darjeeling by Avadh Assam train at 9-30 pm on 29th June, 2013. Me, Apurba (my hubby) and Reet (my son) with Mr Robin Sarma ( whom we call as Sarma Da – in respect we call our elder brothers as ‘dada’ ) , his wife Mrs Papori Sarma (whom we address as Papori Bow - we address our elder sister –in – law as ‘bow’)and their two daughters – Snigdha and Nishita ( for us Mumpi and Naina ) left for our six day long trip to Darjeeling, fondly named as the ‘ Queen of the hills’.
We reached at New Jalpaiguri Junction (popularly known as NJP) of Siliguri at 5.45 am in the morning. A heavy rain greeted us in the sleepy town. In a Tata Gold Spacio vehicle we started for our destination at 7 am. As we climbed uphill the gust of cooler weather was a welcoming change compared to almost 36-39 degree hot climate of Guwahati. We stopped at Kurseong , situated at an altitude of 1458 mts (4860ft.), it is 51 km from Siliguri and 30 km from Darjeeling. The word Kurseong means – the place of White Orchid. For its lower altitude, Kurseong enjoys gentle and very healthy climate all through the year. We had our first breakfast in the hilly district at the way side Toursit Lodge on the Hill Cart Road. After freshening up we had a sumptuous leisure breakfast of Steamy pot of Darjeeling Tea, Bread - butter – jam sandwich, masala omlete and again started for our final destination.
"Darjeeling is the mountain kissed by the cold breath of Kanchanjungha." - Bishnu Kumari Waiba popularly known as Parijat - an acclaimed writer.
Around 10.30 am we arrived at Darjeeling, the panoramic hills, the foggy weather, the chubby faced local people, the cold wind welcomed us to Darjeeling. It was a love at first sight for me, yes the breathtaking natural beauty of Darjeeling is worth falling in love almost at once you feel the air and I am not overstating here. Darjeeling has got a different feel in its air.
We checked in the Hotel Travellers Paradise at Chota Kak Jhora, Darjeeling as was being arranged by Apurba beforehand. After checking in, I unpacked our belongings and had a hot lazy shower to feel the air of Darjeeling. Then I slept and Reet ordered for chicken chowmin and tea for us. After having few bites I slept again. Apurba and Reet also took shower and Reet was playing some game in the laptop and Apurba also slept as our train journey was not so comfortable. We all decided to have lunch at room only as we were very tired and it have been raining also. We ordered for fried rice and chilly chicken. Then again we passed our time at leisure till 3.30 pm as it was rainy and very cold. Then we dressed up and left to have our first look of the Darjeeling town. It was as if we were walking among the cloud as misty air has been enveloping us like a wet blanket all the time.
We took a walk to the famous Chowrasta and the Mall of Darjeeling. The cool wind and the rain drenched uphill road was a great enjoy for the three children and we all enjoyed the walk very much. The first evening in Darjeeling and the first thing I noticed was the friendly smile of the local people whoever comes face to face in the road. We all felt very happy and safe with the humble gestures of the people around. A true sign and reason of a booming tourism and hospitality industry is all very evident everywhere. Reet took his first horse ride in the Chowrasta and it was really nice to see him all shy when I was busy capturing the moments in my camera. We walked and passed some time there and then ventured in a much talked about joint of ‘Glenery’s – the bakery on Nehru Road in the approaching way to Chowrasta. The freshly baked varieties of cakes, pastries, breads etc and the smell thereof was very much of a warm reception to make all of us feel at home at once. We ordered for coffee, tea, cakes, pastries, chicken roll, cookies etc as all of us were feeling very hungry after the mounting walk till there. I particularly enjoyed the Darjeeling cuppa tea with the freshly baked fruit cake to all my heart content.
Best time to visit
May - June
maximum temperature of 25°C with heavy rain
Sep - Nov
temperatures drop to 1°C along with heavy mist and rains with occasional snow fall
A peek-a-boo about the ‘Queen of the Hills’ – Darjeeling :
The name 'Darjeeling' originally came from the Tibetan words, 'dorje' meaning thunderbolt (originally the scepter of Indra) and 'ling' a place or land, hence 'the land of the thunderbolt'. From the environs of this unequalled hilly town which stands at an average height of 7,000 feet above sea level, Darjeeling is a fusion of both old and new time together to merge as a different experience for the visitors. The cosmopolitan town of beautiful Darjeeling has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1835. The new feel of the place includes modern facilities, first class hotels, comprehensive shopping centres; some of India’s most famed boarding-schools, cinema halls and the world’s most sought after trekking trails. Yet a few miles of the town one can feel and experience the age-old rich customs and style of simple life styles. The picturesque hand ploughed terraced hilly fields, bordered by merrily decorated huts, hollowed out bamboo pipes for water and villagers still entirely untouched by the hustle bustle of modern life and materialistic approach of the Twenty First Century are the characteristics of the Darjeeling. It is particularly noted for its tea industry and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Darjeeling is the headquarters of Darjeeling district which has a partially autonomous status within the state of West Bengal.and boasts of six T’s - Tea, Teak, Tourism, Toy Train, Tiger Hill and Trekkers’ paradise.
Queen of the cloud nine – Darjeeling
Next day on 30th June, 13’, our plan for the local sightseeing has been cancelled due to heavy and continuous rain. We enjoyed in the hotel itself among our group of people. We chatted over numerous cups of varieties of tea and hot meals in the hotel lobby itself. There are nice sitting provisions in each floor of the hotel and our first floor lobby became all our entertaining area for the day. The big windows provided us with the open view of the surrounding. The cool breeze and the heavy rain among the continuous flow of testy food was a real relaxation for all of us. The best part was that we could see the toy train from our room itself and though we were not interested for a joy ride but the view of the train passing by was very much enjoyable. I was all content with shutter bugs capturing the moments to make the memory all full of joy rides in coming future. We went out after the rain had stopped and took a walk till Chowrasta at a very leisure pace. As it was Sunday almost all the shops were closed. So we decided to pass our time in the Rink Mall and nearby shopping area. On our way back again we dropped in at Gelenery’s and picked up fruit cake and brown bread for next day breakfast.
Shop till you drop
Next morning on 1st of July, 13’, we had a hearty breakfast and soon we were all packed in the Tata Sumo Spacio Gold for our trip to Mirik and Pashupati Market. The trip was among the picturesque hilly tea gardens and the foggy pine trees. The road was narrow and it filled us with a different thrill altogether. We had to cross Ghum and Sukhiapokhri to reach Mirik. Ghum (also spelt Ghoom) is a little hilly locality in the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region of West Bengal, India. Ghum railway station of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is the highest railway station in India. It is situated at an altitude of 2,258 metres (7,407 ft). The place is the home of the Ghum Monastery and the Batasia Loop, a bend of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. It is 6 km from Darjeeling. It is 24 km from Kurseong via Sonada. Sukhiapokhri is a tiny hilly area in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India. It is located 11 km from Ghum on the approach to Mirik., along the India-Nepal border where there is a checkpoint. This place remains mainly cloudy as it lies on ridgeline of Balasan River Valley to the south and Rangeet River to north. The ride was all among cloud and the visibility was only apprx 30 metres. It was hard to tell the time of the day as the sky was not visible at all. Our driver Santosh told us that most of the time the weather remains like that among cloud and rain. Sun is almost can be termed as non-visiting guest there. The almost dark road and the journey had an almost mystic touché to it for the first time visitors. But we were never the less happy to experience the ride among the soulfully beautiful song collection of Santosh. The eagles, baskstreet boys, MLTR, Dire Straits, Bon Jovi and evergreen hindi songs were played to make the journey never forgettable. We decided to first visit Mirik then to stop at Pashupati Market.
The man made Sumendu Lake at Mirik surrounded by a garden on one side and pine trees on the other and linked together by an arching footbridge called Indreni Pull (Rainbow Bridge). A 3.5-km-long road encircles the lake and is used for walks with the view of Kangchenjunga on the faraway horizon. Horse riding and boating facility is also available there. We refreshed in a nearby hotel and had tea and little snacks. We left the place as early as possible for the comparatively hot weather. Mumpi, Naina and Reet gelled well during their back seat journey together to Pashupati Market and they got really busy in the animated talking between three of them. It is amazing to see the different age group they all three are as Mumpi is in class XI, Reet in class VI and Naina is in class IV. But the best part was the fact that three of them enjoyed very much which made us happy also. I clicked numerous photographs on the way back to Pashupati Market. It is situated on the Indo-Nepal border in the Darjeeling District. An 11 kms drive from the town of Mirik, this market is a shopaholic’s paradise. Well-known for foreign goods, the Pashupati market also marks the getaway to the Kingdom of Nepal. Papori Bow, Sarma Da, Apurba and the three kids were all very excited to shop till they dropped in actual sense of the words here. I picked up a big colourful umbrella as I love them very much. We had met a Marwari trading couple there and all bought many things from them. They treated us with hot cups of tea. We left the market for Darjeeling around 4-30 pm. After we freshened up we had a heavy meal of our all time fav chicken noodles and pasta with hot tea and again went to the Mall area.
Bebe – the show stopper
On 2nd July, 13’ we planned to pass the day at leisure. We were mainly enjoying the climate of the place. So we all went for a walk to Chowrasta and the nearby place. Early morning Apurba and Sarma Da went for the confirmation of our return tickets by Rajdhani Expresss Train to Guwhatai. We could not go out for the heavy rain. The lobby area in our first floor served again as our entertainment zone and the trail of Darjeeling tea, Masala Tea, Lemon tea with chicken noodles again continued till the Sun decided to play little hide and seek. In afternoon the Darjeeling sun made a handsome splash of shine which made us all run to the terrace to click the shots of the divine sky around. The uplifting clouds and I almost felt like dancing between the misty airs on the terrace though in front of the kids I had to be happy only with the camera to click the times passing by. Then we all set to go out to our favourite walk to the Mall. We went to the Rink mall this time. We decided to watch a movie in the Inox theatre as again heavy rain started and we could not move out from the shopping complex. Before the movie we had a quick lunch of Labanese chicken roll for me and Papori Bow and Golden Chicken delight pizaa for Mumpi, Naina and Reet at Dominos in the Rink mall. The 1-35pm show of the hindi movie “Ghanchakkar” and it was a real bad decision we all agreed later on as the movie we did not enjoyed at all. Then we entered for a little shopping in the Relience Trend section of the Rink Mall while Sarma Da, Apurba and Reet left for the hotel just after the movie ended. All were hungry and we ordered for our favourite dish of Chicken Noodles and tea after we reached our hotel. Then we again went to Chowrasta for a leisure walk. Me, Apurba, Papori Bow and Mumpi went as were mainly to check some shoes for Mumpi. Unfortunately the shops were getting closed and so we headed toward Chowrasta. This time we met a very beautiful four month old dog of St. Bernard breed named a Bebe. Bebe was very well maintained and a happy dog with playful nature of blasting balloons and running after the empty bottles of water. We had a nice time enjoying with Bebe and as Sarma da, Reet and Naina did not come with us this time we clicked pics to show them and even fixed up an appointment for next day with the friendly owner of the beautiful Dog. Again we felt hungry and ventured in the café Fiesta for soup and chicken momo. I noticed that the weather and may be for the walks I was feeling all very hungry repeatedly and same was the case with others as well. The foods everywhere was all very nice and testy around Darjeeling. On our returning way we stopped at Glenery’s for our next morning supply of breakfast requirements of fresh brown bread and fruit cake and donuts specially for Mumpi. It was almost 9- 30 pm and the roads were almost empty. But we felt all safe and happy to enjoy the walk back to our hotel. As Sarma Da arranged to have small fish in our dinner but the Cook did not know to make fish in our Assamese style, so Papori Bow cooked our favourite dish of fish with potato and tomato gravy in the Hotel kitchen. Every day we enjoyed the dish of potato bhujia with green chilly in our dinner.
Last folio of the trip – a dreamy trip almost ending!!!!!
Our last day in the dazzling Darjeeling - 3rd July, 13’, though the usual rain greeted the foggy morning we were well equipped with four umbrellas to make our last day memorable. We decided to fulfil all our pending wish list for the trip. Mumpi, Reet and Naina decided to see the 3D movie “Man of Steel”. And Papori bow decided to first get free of all her numerous packing. Apurba was keen to buy me a pair of boots which I always cherish very much as I have a never ending obsession for shoes. So around 11 am Sarma Da, Apurba and me first made our visit to the Inox Theatre amidst the light drizzle and I was happy to use the colourful umbrella. We bought three tickets for the children for the 1-35 pm show and Sarma Da returned with the tickets to hotel. Me and Apurba went out for shopping. Finally around 1 pm we finished our shopping and returned to hotel. On the way back we met Reet, Mumpi, Naina and Papori Bow as they were about to watch the movie and Bow was to do her shopping for small gifts. We ordered for our usual Chicken noodles and masala tea for our lunch. Then we relaxed till 4.30 pm. Then again we went to join the group in the Rink Mall as Sarma Da was giving company to Papori Bow in her shopping. But unfortunately we got delayed to address our pre planed appointment with Bebe for the heavy rainfall as we got stuck up in the Rink Mall. Mumpi, Naina and Reet almost had an alternative address there in the Café Coffee Day of the mall. They enjoyed brownie, Donuts, ice creams there in the CCD very much. We felt secured to leave three of them alone there as the people seem to be very friendly and safe. Though we walked to the Chowrasta and Apurba asked many people for Bebe but to no success. We again had tea, chicken roll, fish and chips etc in the Café Fiesta. Though we were planning to buy little souvenir items as gifts and token memory of the trip but our plan was not materialised for the heavy shower. We were all got wet vary bad way as we returned from the Café Fiesta to Glenery’s, a five minutes’ downhill walk but such was the heavy pour of the rain that we were all soaked and our new umbrellas also could not save us much! For the last time I savoured the preferred cuppa Darjeeling Tea with unmatched aroma and unique flavour which I am going to remember till my next visit. After our last evening tryst in the Glenery’s with our piling stock of fruit cakes and other items so that it lasts till Guwahati, we returned to our hotel around 9 -30 pm following the glistened road as even our minds were all drenched with the parting thoughts of the dreamy town of Darjeeling. Sarma Da ordered for lots of starters to celebrate the moment. We relished the dry fried chicken and egg pakoras with soup instead of the tea for a change among our usual gossiping. We had a late dinner at 11 pm with our usual Potato Bhujia and Chilly Chicken with fried rice. Then we all retired for the night and with all minds heavy with the departing thoughts the eyelids hugged each other to a dream land for all the walks we enjoyed in the hilly roads.
A beautiful song sung by unknown local artists at Mall Road - uploaded by vishvamitra104 in youtube
Good bye a sweet dream – Darjeeling
Next morning around 4 am I got up and finished with my shower and then wake up Reet and Apurba. With a heavy mind we got ready to depart the sweet town of Darjeeling. Already Apurba arranged Santosh with his never ending stock of marvellous songs for our departing trip to sultry Siliguri. We left the hotel Travellers Paradise and beautiful town of Darjeeling at 6-30 am with loads of sweet memories. I was all busy in capturing pics and videos on our return journey downhill via Kurseong till Siliguri. We arrived at Siliguri at 9 am and passing our time at a leisurely breakfast at Hotel Vinayak we left for the NJP station at 10.30 am. Our train Rajdhani Express was on time and we boarded the train to leave the humid city of Siliguri with mystic windy memories of beloved Darjeeling. The uneventful train journey and at 5-30 pm we arrived in Guwahati. We left many places to visit in Darjeeling in an intention to revisit again in near future. Reet was all very sad and started his never ending questions as why we can’t be always on a vacation with moistened eyes. Yes… only if it would have been an infinite reality instead of a dreamy memory and Darjeeling will be a darling dream to feel the cloud and walk those walks again in reality! Soon my son and we will be touching our dream again, Amen !
So it’s almost best not to plan if surprises are so sweet and dear like our trip to Darjeeling. Reet and me again decided with much resolution that we will not plan anything again at least not our trips. So many a times if we allow time and life to take its own course the surprises are worth experiencing which is felt very nicely in this trip.
Rapid fire picks of the main favorites of the trip:
- Chowrasta Curio shops – for your token gift items and souvenir shopping for best and cheapest buy.
- Reliance Trend in The Rink Mall for its quality stock and affordable price range.
- The market area in Chowrasta for quality shoe and all the stylish and beautiful clothing stocks for everybody in the family and little bargain can be also enjoyed.
- Pashupati market is worth visiting for winter clothing and other essentials.
- The homely stay in the Hotel Travellers Paradise made the trip all very unforgettable for all of us.
- Hotel Travellers Paradise at Chota Kak Jhora, Darjeeling – 734101
- Website – www.travellersparadise.in, Email – firstname.lastname@example.org, Contact – Travel Desk Manager – (m) – 097097332-10966/09332437833
- The off season special rate of the Double bedroom of the Hotel Travellers Paradise is Rs 2000/- (Indian currency). Rates can be updated from the website mentioned above.
- Fav pick of the menu in Travellers Paradise – Potato Bhujia, Chicken dry fry, Chilly Chicken, Chicken Noodles, Egg pakora.
- Glenery’s – a must visit if you are in Darjeeling.
- The groups/company matters most for an unforgettable trip.