Darjeeling always had a special position amidst the hearts of the travellers. So, you can well assume my excitement when I finally got to pack my bags to leave for Darjeeling.
It was a sudden trip and we decided to give the rocket buses a try and booked the bus tickets.
With few halts and funny incidents (not mentioning those here), we reached Siliguri bus stand. Having a wholesome brunch we went in search of vehicles to take us to Darjeeling. After quite a lot of discussion, we were able to get a jeep as well as hotel in Darjeeling.
Throwing the bags in; grabbing the seats, we were all set for the upcoming ‘long drive’. As we started taking the winding mountainous roads, the weather became cooler, the ambience became purer. The freshness in the surrounding already started refreshing the tattered metropolitan minds.
The furry mountain dogs, the hot and yummy roadside momos and the unexpected drizzling already hinted about the excitements that were waiting for us.
Drizzly, Dainty Darjeeling:
Admiring the hilly beauties, squinting at the sharp turns, we neared our hotel but had to trek a bit to finally reach it. A warm, welcoming ‘Red Room’ was to be our abode for the next two days.
Tea, Hot Shower and Power Nap were enough to rejuvenate us and prepare for an evening in Darjeeling. Finally, I, for the first time would see the Mall, about which I have read in sooo many books!
We walked towards Mall, gifting us gloves to save our almost frozen knuckles (we had to click some pictures, correct!). We checked out the shops there, ate some freshly baked biscuits right from the bakery, and planned for next day’s tour offering the important glimpses of Darjeeling.
- It being a rainy weather, we bunked the Tiger Hill and got ready for the other sights to admire. Our first stop was a Tea Garden from where you get to have a clear view of the Majestic Kanchenjunga. You could dress yourself in the local traditional outfits and for a moment consider yourself the native of the tea slopes.
- Next, after checking out a weird shaped rock available for climbing, we halted at the abode of Sister Nivedita where she spent her last few days and breathed her last. The serenity of the place and the sombre silence shifted even a talkative person like me in trance.
- Our next stop was the zoo and the mountaineering institute. We witnessed the bravery and never-say-die attitude of the sherpas and how they combatted the natural hazards to conquer the snowy peaks. The institute actually lets the layman peek into the lives of a mountaineer, the kits that are used and how it improved with time. Indeed a well-maintained place worth visiting.
- After this, we shifted our attention to the animals present there. The milky white Himalayan Wolves and the jolly Red Pandas were the ones who kept us entertained. The various types of deers, the clouded leopard, the black panther along with birds also graced us with their presence.
That day our tour was up till that and we once again spent the remaining time wandering into the alleys of the market to collect some souvenirs for gifting purpose after enjoying the sunset amidst the ranges.
Next morning, we again trusted our legs to visit the Mahakal Temple behind the mall. The colourful flags, the serious jingle of the bells, the smell of the incense sticks will ignite your hidden spirituality. The yummy Laddu as prasad (from a person who hates sweet) and rotating the wheels reflect how beautifully the Isms of Hindus and Buddhists reside together.
Bidding adieu to the snow-clad Kanchenjunga, meandering roads, delicious momos and patting a Siberian Husky, we descended from Darjeeling to go to Lataguri.
From Mountains to Forest
Lataguri is actually famous for the Gorumara National Park, although the remaining forest surrounding the place is as interesting as the popular one. Enjoying the scenic beauty of Teesta underneath the Coronation Bridge, Sevok, we came to Lataguri. The evening ride through the dark road splitting through the dense forest will give you goose bumps for sure.
Upon reaching the resort, we were lucky to see the Tribal ladies dancing around the bonfire. The flicker of the fire, the synchronised footsteps, the hum of the tribal song with the talks of the crickets created a magical moment.
Since, Gorumara is more treaded, we decided to meet different parts of the forest. We booked a sumo and drove towards River Murti. On the way, we stopped at ‘Mahakal Sthan’ where Elephants or Mahakal (as the Natives call here) are worshipped. I love this particular place very much for its thrilling vibes. Next, we spent sometime near Murti and then drove towards Chapramari. Inside the car, all our senses were alert, as we were busy scanning the forest to get a glimpse of an elephant.
Unfortunately or Fortunately, we did not meet any elephant while going or returning but the journey while the trees were whispering was nothing less than ecstasy.
Next morning, we hired a Toto and visited a long stretch of tea trees belonging to Tata. We gathered loads of fresh black pepper from the trees, all thanks to the driver. He was telling the stories and introducing us to the unadulterated beauty of the forest. We went to Neora valley, walked through the railway lines and waded through the crystal clear water of Neora river.
The morning was sorted and so was our day with a sumptuous lunch from the resort.
Since, the entire encounter was sudden and unplanned, we boarded Teesta Torsha from Maynaguri with our fingers crossed that we would reach Kolkata safely with ample space to stretch our limbs.
Planned outings are no doubt safe and secure, but if you have that adventure spirit to ace the unknown, then you can certainly give this a try. The tour was in the first week of December, so the peak season has not started yet and hence, we were able to find refuge with reasonable rates. By we, I was hinting at me and family and it was a fun affair with them. Thus, you can guess that such an outing with your buddies or your partner-in-crime can be more fitting and flirty.
The duties will always be there, but if you manage to take some moments out, then do keep your back-pack ready and spirits high!
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