Kolkata-Sikkim-Darjeeling trip

It was always on my wishlist to visit a place which had snowfall, beautiful lakes and nice dense forests. I used to wonder if any one place had a mix of all this! I was surprised pleasantly to find this great combo on our trip to the North-eastern part of India covering Kolkata, Sikkim and Darjeeling!

We chose the best time – Autumn, to visit this spectacular place. Our journey started from Bangalore, reached kolkata the same day (through flight) , stayed over night at Kolkata.

I was simply thrilled to see the people there!!Each one had a similar looking face- square jaw-lines and small fish-like eyes- so typical of the people in North-east! It was an amazing welcome at the airport by our tour guide who led us to a hotel near Howrah bridge.

It was about 11 in the night and we headed out to by the famous Rosagulla at K.C Das. It was truly amazing to eat a tin full of it at that hour- we just dint wanna miss Kolkata’s delicacy.

Next morning, we had a local sight-seeing to the Victoria memorial, Ramakrishna Mutt on the banks of the serene Hoogli river, and then to the Kali temple and Dakshineshwar.

Ramakrishna Mutt is such a spectacular and must visit place!! It has a divine power which you can feel as soon as you step in there. The silence in the whole ashram is such a soothing one.. I felt like it drove away the noise in my mind! Splendid place, indeed!

After this, we started towards our destination next- Gangtok!!

The last point of flight being Bagdogra, we were asked to take a cab till gangtok which is about 4 hrs from Bagdogra.

Weather at Bagdogra was quite a humid one and it kept me wondering about how it will be at Gangtok. All along the road sides were tall Eucalyptus trees in the army controlled regions of Bagdogra.

From Siliguri, the Teesta river was running along our road-side as if following us till our destination :) The light blue shade of the water and the light golden brown sand- woww, wat a scenary!

I really dont know how the weather changed from humid to chill as we reached Gangtok- so chill that our thermals, stockings, jackets, caps dint help us beat the cold. Obvious means would be to indulge in some hot drinks ;) but we chose to enjoy the weather in its true form :)The hotel rooms were all made of pine wood and it gave a tree house kinda effect with its all-wooden furniture. The striking features were the Buddha idols and some Fengshui stuff at the reception- these gave us a glimpse of the Chinese and Tibetan influence on the people here. Not to mention the fabulous view of the Kanchenzonga from our hotel room window!!

My FAQ was this– “bhaiyya, yahaan pe kya famous hain?” and for this, our driver in Gangtok looked at me and hesistantly answered – “Liquor! yahaan Liquor sasta padega… duty free hain!“– FYI ;)

To talk about the people and their hospitality, i would prolly write a separate blog. Coming to the attractions @ Gangtok, our next day’s trip was planned to cover Tsamgo lake and Baba mandir.

Often called Changu, the Tsamgo lake is a spectacular and a must-visit place in Gangtok. Its attractions being many, the best one is the Yak ride and the lake itself with mountains on the backdrop. We got lucky with the snowfall which just then had begun- like tiny pearls spread all over the lake surface, it just kept me busy capturing as many fotos as my memory card could accommodate! We hired some extra warm clothes and purchased some masks and jackets coz we were told that at Baba mandir( being the highestpoint in Sikkim –14200 ft above sea level), the weather was chiller!

Baba Mandir has a tale to tell about a great warrior with special never-before-heard of powers. (Google for more info). As we entered this region, a feeling of sanity and spirituality crept in- oh, it was indeed a great feeling!

Back we drove towards the hotel and saw some landslides on our way back- this did make us hault for some time there but I have no regrets coz it gave the photographer in me some more time to keep clicking :)

Our next day’s trip was to Darjeeling from Gangtok by road- again the Teesta river following us till she bid adieu to at Siliguri.

Darjeeling welcomed us with the narrow, hilly, curved, steep roads and a bunch of freshly pluck carrots :) (We bought it from a roadside vendor- it was so fresh and tasty that given a chance, i would get back home a bag full of them). The green tea estates and the not so chilly but pleasantly cool weather was really a treat!

Our hotel was in the busy market place near the Mall road and we saw so many people here (mostly tourists) crowding the tiny shops with bags full of purchases! Not bad, huh?

Shopping here was FUN!! So many things to buy and so less time! However we managed to buy some semi-precious stone jewellery and loads of woolen stuff!! Shawls were getting sold like hot cakes in almost all shops- trust me they were so good and affordable that it tempted me to buy 4!!

The next day’s plan was to go to the Tiger Hills for sunrise- whoa!! We started early morning at 4 am all equipped with cameras and warm clothing- the weather now was growing so cold that i burried my hands inside the pocket of my jeans and still shivered and went numb! I did manage to capture some sunrise pics and the mind-blowing view of the Kanchenjunga as the sunrays fell on it soon after the sunrise.Trust me, it was an amazing place.. Beyond Kanchenjunga, we could see the Annapoorna peak and far beyond that was the Everest– could see just the tip of it using the telescope.

Next, we went to HMI- The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. This place gives a wealth of info about the dos and donts of mountaineering and also displays a variety of gadgets and must-haves for a trekker! I felt thrilled to see them all.. It tempted me to enroll there for Everest expedition!(calls for a fitness check and bank balance check, u know!)

After all this, the last thing on our list was a visit to some tea estate in Darjeeling. To go there was one part of the pleasure and the next best part was to sip a hot n nice cup of tea there! It was really a divine experience and I had about 3-4 cups of tea- each of a different variety!

That was all on our list, and we reluctantly started back to Bagdogra. The return journey was in a jeep till Bagdogra and all along the sides of the road were Orange trees! Amazing view!!

Back in Bagdogra, everything seemed so timed and monotonous.. Flight at 2:30 pm, Reach Kolkata by 4:30 pm, stay overnight there and then leave to Bangalore next morning. Huh!!

I truly enjoyed this trip. If u ask me, Gangtok is THE BEST of all.. love to go there again!!

Some more info about the how and when to go there can be found here: http://sikkim-darjeeling.india-tours.net/

16 Comments

  • nandanjha says:

    Welcome aboard Archana. Hope you like you stay among ghumakkars and together we travel more.

    I went to Gangtok about a couple of years back and we did only Gangtok, 4 days so thought that we would stick to one place. But after reading so many logs about Darjeeling, guess that needs to happen some day.

    The good thing about Baghdogra airport was that you can sip a glass of beer while watching air force sorties. The airport is small, no rush unlike the bigger ones and you have all the time in the world.

    Looking fwd to read more !!

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Nice write uo with full of useful info., Could u suggest some gud hotels in Gangtok n Darjeeling.

  • Karthik says:

    Finally!!! Good to see your post here on G’kkar.

    I had always been wanting to go to the north-east, but never go to do so. Good write up. Hope to see more from you.

    Cheers

  • Patrick Jones says:

    This ones from the heart; the unedited feelings were expressed in words and put forth with beautiful pics. Well done, Archana.

    Sikkim is an enchanting place and it is definitely on my radar.

    • Archana says:

      Thanks!
      U r right.. It is,indeed, an un-editted version.. I believe that things like these are best if they are told in the way i have actually felt!
      that way, the readers can connect to it.. no point in any hype or glamor!

      Thanks Patrick for the genuine comment!

  • Patrick says:

    That was nice. That part of the country is probably one i have never been to.

  • sushil says:

    Dear Archana,

    I would like to know your contact details or else you can contact me.

    Sushil Kumar Gaur
    Learning to travel, traveling to learn

    Mobile: +91-9911493579
    e-mail: sushilgaur@gmail.com
    UNYK ID is: 815 NGN

    Chat On:
    sushilgaur@gmail.com
    sushilkumargaur@hotmail.com
    great_himalayas@yahoo.com
    sushiltheomnipresence@skype.com
    ICQ: 484366041

  • Manish khamesra says:

    Beautiful pictures Archana, all of them seems like gems.

    So now I know where to go for sweets in kolkata :-)

    Where did you stay in Gangtok and Darjeeling and how was the experience ? I used to feel that after Sikkim, Darjeeling won’t feel that insteresting. As you have been like that in your itinerary, what do you feel about it.

  • Smita says:

    beautiful narration, Archana. Brought back some beautiful memories – It was the first trip where our then-complete family (we have a new member now, my sister’s daughter :-)) went together all the way to Gangtok from Delhi, by air on low-cost grab-a-ticket scheme… had it’s own charm.

    And I so agree – Gangtok is THE BEST :)

  • Arijit says:

    I wish to travel to Darjeeling(2nights)+Gangtok(3nights)+Peling+Mirik+Darjeeling(1night).How much will be a budget cost for 2 person?I want to spend about 7-9 days in total.
    Kindly advice me on my email : arijit.banasree@gmail.com

    Regards

  • SANTANU says:

    Dear Archana,
    A very well balanced, optimally narrative and crisp log by you. From this log, I learnt, how to maintain restraint while writing details.Thanks for sharing your memorable trip with us. Very recently I also went to Sikkim, but to the western most places like Pelling and Chhaya Taal. Hope to share to my experience too with you all.
    Regards
    Santanu Pathak

    • Thank you Santanu. When I wrote this bit long ago, I dint think of anything more than just penning down my memories. Glad that it seems crisp yet informative :)

      Look forward to reading more logs from you.

      Regards.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    This is an old one. Now you are staying where you see a LOT of snow and cold and what not. May be there are lakes and a lot of greens too. Thank you for re-publishing this.

    • I wonder how I missed seeing these comments?
      I agree, a very old one and my first one to gain entry to Ghumakkar :)
      Yes, now, in a country where snow is untimely, cold is eternal (even in summer, it feels so chill !) and like you said what not :)

      Discovering more in this part of the world while I constantly yearn to see more in India, soon!

  • travelkoyela says:

    Travelling to Gangtok and Darjeeling is something I have always enjoyed since my childhood days. From Kolkata it is an hours flight to Bagdogra ; so during summer I make it a point to go to the hills. After reading your blog I relived my memories ones again. A fantastic write up.

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