North Bengal Trip

It was the month of March 2012 when me and my husband planned to make a tour to North Bengal(Darjeeling-Kalimpong-Lava) in summer. We planned everything well in advance, from train tickets to hotels. After a long wait of about 3months we finally set off for our favourite destination on 1st of June 2012.

The Darjeeling Mail which leaves Sealdah Station at 10.05pm reached us New Jalpaiguri Station(NJP) the next morning. I was quite pleased to see the easy availability of cab at the station. After a quick bite we took a cab and set off for Darjeeling. Narrow meandering roads reached us Darjeeling at noon that day. We just could not take our eyes off the picturesque view through the window panes of our hotel room. We could not wait to visit the famous Mall at Darjeeling.

We had a pre-concieved notion(from people around us) that The Mall is a very congested, dirty and such other things. But it was a delight for us to see that not even a piece of paper is allowed to be dropped at the Mall. Moreover no vehicles are allowed in the Mall. Yes, its true that it is quite crowded, but then isn’t it obvious?

At the Mall

At the Mall


It seemed we were transferred to a heavenly place. Suddenly something caught my eye! A Cafe Coffee Day in the Mall! Could anything have been better than this? At least I do not know. Taking a sip in our favourite CCD Cappuchino just made our first day in the hills complete.

We started the next morning with a piping cup of Makaibari Tea that our hotel served and left for sight-seeing around the town. Our cab driver Mr.Lama was too kind to explain each and every place and give us enough time to look around every site. He took us to a Natural science museum, a Japanese Peace Pagoda, a zoo, a tea garden and finally to Batasia Loop. The Peace Pagoda truely justifies its name. Rarely do we get to see such a quiet and peaceful place.

But the last one got us awestruck. The Batasia Loop is a war memorial situated at Ghoom, the highest point of Darjeeling. Although we missed the view of Kanchenjungha from there because of prevalence of clouds, but did not leave us aggrieved. One could spend hours sitting on the benches there and watch the slow drifting of the clouds and if luck favours, like ours, can also feel them brushing over the body.

Batasia loop

Batasia loop

But we had to return to our hotel and finish the day off with with cheese pie and more at Glenary’s, the most famous heritage bakery of the town. We skipped our next day’s plan of visiting the Tiger Hill from where sunrise can be seen, because of the clouds.

The beauty of Darjeeling town even compelled us to give a miss to Mirik, a nearby lake surrounded by the mountains, where you can even do a boating. We decided to get the most out of Darjeeling itself on our final day there. We headed for Kaventers, a restaurant famous for its English style breakfast. We were lucky enough to get a table in the open roof-top area of the restaurant which gives a panoramic view of the magnificient Kanchenjunga. What caught our awe was the really wide variety of menu available there. We knew we had hit the right place to satisfy our gastronomic desires.

We digged into friend sausage and eggs there. Although the sun was annoying us, but the food made us forget all. On our way back to hotel we did some shopping at the Mall. The road from Chowrasta to Mall down is lined with small and big shops as well as hawkers selling everything from hairpins to jackets.

Kaventers

Kaventers

In the evening we headed for Nathmulls, the famous tea cafe and purchased some good quality Darjeeling Tea from there. As per our schedule, we bid Darjeeling goodbye the next day and set off for Kalimpong. To add zing to our tour we decided to do white water river rafting on Teesta river on our way to Kalimpong. We were given life jackets to wear for the rafting session. As I dipped my feet in the cold water of Teesta I felt a shiver inside me.

The journey started quite smooth with the mountains standing high on both sides of the river and the bright blue sky above us. We kept rowing the raft enjoying the breeze and the serenity of the ambiance. A few metres down a turbulance caught our eye. They were the rapids, the actual adventure we were waiting for. Even though we were scared we were ready to take it over. The guides showed their skills. The rapid got us fully drenched and wanting for more.

White water rafting on Teesta River

White water rafting on Teesta River

We crossed 7 such rapids on our way to the end of the rafting session. It was a thing to remember. The sense of the adrenaline rush through our body can never be forgotten. Done with rafting we were greeted with a smoking hot place of food at a roadside stall.

It was at this moment we experienced how a very basic quality food can lift your satiety level to a much higher degree than food served at those dimly lit restaurants with soft music playing in our cities. Such a pleasure can never be put to words. Filled with energy we finally took the road to Kalimpong. All the way we were greeted by beautiful yet anonymous flowers, whose colours, i wonder where came from? Little did we know that these were just a trailer to the movie.

When we reached our hotel we were dumbfounded. A mammoth structure was awaiting us. Morgan House, our hotel is an erstwhile bungalow built in the British period, now turned into a tourist lodge by the Government Department. The western architectural style dominates the building. The building is surrounded by lush green lawn lined with flowers. Adding to all these was
the thin veil of cloud that made the building a marvel.

Morgan House Kalimpong

Morgan House Kalimpong

We were served coffee at the lawn. As the coffee warmed us up, we sat there all evening and could do nothing but contemplate the many treasures which we find so near to our own place and yet we travel so far in search of beauty.

It started drizzling and we entered the hotel room climbing up the British style wooden staircase. The only thing we were repenting about was that we had planned only a night’s stay at Morgan House. On the next day we woke up at the early bird’s call and set off for a morning walk. A little down the hotel was a military golf course. As expected it was one of the most beautiful and clean golf courses i have seen till date. Visitors are permitted till a certain area inside it.

We walked inside and sat on one of th benches placed there. But again the sun was bothering us. We moved ahead through a road squeaky clean and bejeweled with tall trees. It took us to the military training area of Kalimpong. We started walking uphill. After a few kilometers walk we knew that it was a real task to reach the top.

Deolo

Deolo

We reached a view point called Durpin Dara from where you can see the Kanchenjangha surrounding you from all sides. Climbing down was quite easy. After breakfast we started off for Deolo, the highest point of Kalimpong. And oh, what serene beauty it presented to us. The entire place is lined with beautiful flowers which a real treat to one’s eye.

Next we just could not wait to reach Lava. As we approached lava suddenly we found our surroundings change gradually. It was no more the colourful flowers; it was lush green forest welcoming us to a whole new world. The temperature started dropping sharply. We couldn’t hold back ourselves from getting out of the car and taking photographs of the sky-high pine trees creating an aura.

By the time we reached lava, it was raining. We found our cottage to be in the midst of the forest of Lava. As the night approached, it got scary and thrilling at the same time. There is a striking difference between day and night in forests. Early morning we started trekking our way to Rishop. Our guide took us through deep forests.

Lava Monastery

Lava Monastery

We were amazed by the poignant beauty of these forests. Unfortunately the last night’s rain made the way difficult to walk after some distance. We decided not to go any further. On our way back we also walked down to Lava Monastery. The Monastery was a place out of this world. Done with bright colors, it seemed to be something precisely describing the word ‘Peace’.

It seemed to take away all the materialistic feelings from life. The afternoon was spent taking a stroll in the Lava market. The rain brought with it a whole lot of leaches. So we had to drop our plan to visit Lolegaon next morning as the place is filled with that insect. Instead we set off for Changey falls. We took a jeep and set off for the falls. The road to Changey falls is through Neora Valley Forest.

The road i must mention was terrible. Actually it isn’t a proper road at all. But what compensated the bad road was the scenery around us. Oh what dense forest it was and what amazing wild trees bearing wild flowers and fruits.

Our travel guide kept explaining to us on the way the medicinal properties of the plants and even fed us raspberries directly from the tree. Perhaps nothing makes you realize your own existence than nature. As we entered deep into the forest it seemed that Mother Nature has been bountiful in pouring her treasures in this place.

We couldn’t afford to miss an inch of such beauty and drank it in as much as we could. The Changey falls was quite impressive. We walked downhill to the falls through forests(although here it is a properly paved path) to the falls. All was well before we had to climb the same distance uphill as much we had gone down. We had to take rest for more than 5 times on the way up and when we reached the top we were puffing and panting.

The return to hotel ended our tour of Lava and in whole our entire North Bengal trip. Even the next morning when we were about to take a car to NJP station, it seemed that we could not get enough of that place.

12 Comments

  • Welcome to Ghumakkar with your first post about a much coveted holiday destination for me. Nice account of your time spent there but you are welcome to elaborate more. Moreover, why such a small pics? The width of column easily accommodates 640 px wide pics so you can be generous next time. Actually the pics of vast landscape need to be really blown up to appreciate the beauty of the scene.

    Overall, a nice account. I don’t know when I will be able to reach there. It is far off from where I am.

  • Saurabh Gupta says:

    Welcome to Ghumakkar………

    Good post with the information. Pictures are small but good………….

    Keep writing.

  • abhishek kashyap 'trainman' says:

    welcome.. nice post.. pics are smaller though..

  • ashok sharma says:

    beautiful post.

  • Vipin says:

    Hi fellow ghumakkar, first of all a warm welcome into ghumakkar family & many congratulations on your first post. A wonderfully written post, your way of narrating things is pretty impressive…i believe the fascinating beauty of mother nature is such that it transforms anybody into a philosopher…:)

    While i could visualize the places going through the post, but some more (& bigger) pictures could have possibly done a much much better job…hope to hear some more tales from you soon…by the way i am not able to see last 2 pics…is it not visible to me only or to all?

  • Informative post !

    I wish , pictures could be bigger in size rest is OK.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Welcome aboard Sharmi.

    You covered quite a lot in this log. There is not much available on these destinations at Ghumakkar so double thanks. As many before me said, bigger pics would have further added to the richness of this story.

    Please respond to comments as your time permit and we eagerly wait for your next story. Wishes.

    • Sharmi says:

      Thanks a lot Nandan. It is really great to find that so many of the members read the posts and respond to them with suggestions for improvement as well. It inspires me to write more and better. I am on my way to writing my next post. I hope I can overcome my shortcomings in that post.

  • raj_dutta70002 says:

    Very nice post. It will be great if you provide the booking contact details (website/email/phone) also for people want to visit…..

    Looking for many more similar post

    • Sharmistha Dan says:

      Hi Raj,
      Thanks a lot for liking the post. The accommodations at Darjeeling and Kalimpong were booked at West Bengal Tourism Development Site http://www.app.westbengaltourism.gov.in
      Darjeeling – WBTDC Darjeeling Tourist Lodge (Main Building)
      Kalimpong – Morgan House
      The accommodation at Morgan House is extremely good. But one needs to book quite in advance as they have only limited rooms there. However, I found the rooms of the Darjeeling Hotel to be not up to the mark in relation to the high room rent they are charging (Currently it is Rs.3200 plus taxes). The rooms are not very clean, sofa is torn, water supply is inadequate and dusty carpets.
      An alternative accommodation at Darjeeling can be arranged at Classic Guest House. The information can be obtained from their website http://www.classicguesthouse.in

      At Lava we stayed at West Bengal Forest Department Resort. Currently they do not provide online booking facility. However, the detail of resorts and their availability can be obtained at their website http://www.wbfdc.com. Bookings can be done from their office or from their authorized agents the list of which is also provided in their website. However, I would not personally recommend stay at the wbfdc resort as the maintenance and service is extremely poor, although the location is perhaps the best in the area. Those who cannot tolerate insects and leeches roaming around in their hotel rooms should avoid staying at this resort. A day trip to Lava-Lolegaon-Rishop can be comfortably done by staying in Kalimpong and availing a car from there. I shall be visiting Kalimpong once again next week and shall share with my fellow ghumakkars a detailed account on the tour.

  • Hi Sharmistha,

    I noticed your this post when it appeared in the Recent Comments column. I read it and liked it very much. You know, you need a little bit luck with you to watch sunrise at Kanchenjungha viewed from Tiger Hill. Almost 19-20 years ago, I went to Kurseong for some work with one of my friend and decided to stay that night at Darjeeling. It was raining heavily. We had no hope to see the sunrise, as we were told. But next day morning we watched it and I have not yet forgotten what experience it was.

    And talking about luck, when I went to Kalimpong with family in 2009, my 4 years old daughter was fallen sick on the day we arrived. So some how we spent that night, took medical care of her and rushed back to home. So there our luck went against us and I am yet to make to there.

    Hope to see Kalimpong again with some beautiful pics in your coming log. But please post some big size photos. If your post comes in between 6th July to 20 July, I will read it later. Because I too will be on 2nd time Amarnath Yatra and then to Ladakh.

    Hey, Thanks and good luck to you and your husband for your trip.

  • sriyanka chatterjee says:

    HI Sharmi,
    Darjeeling is truly a dreamland and I fall in love every single time I visit any corner of Darjeeling district, be it in Kurseong, Kalimpong or Darjeeling town itself. I just hope we all can visit Darjeeling soon again. Loved reading the article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.