How often do we get a glimpse of the livelihood of the locals when we are travelling. My trip to Darjeeling opened doors to many new things
We were hungry. After a quick stop at Batasia Loop, all I wanted to do was reach Darjeeling and have something to silence my gnarling stomach. Darjeeling, I have heard, boasts of some amazing heritage restaurants and café and I could not wait to try something from their offering.
The shuttle dropped us at the junction of Darjeeling and from there, Good Lord saved us, it was a scary climb up to the infamous Darjeeling Mall.
Meeting the furry friends in Darjeeling
Out of breath, when we reached the Mall, it seemed to be a deserted one, hardly any shops were open and needless to say, there were almost no localites, leave aside tourists. I was all heartbroken. It could have been the early morning, or the Sunday or the political disturbance Darjeeling has been facing time and again. It made me sad when I found out, such a beautiful hill station has been stripped off all its glory and happiness, because of a turbulent political scenario. November is the peak time of the year for tourists, yet there was hardly any. A place that garners most of its revenue from tourism is deprived of tourists, ripped off all its beauty and devoid of all the cheerful spirit, such a pity.
The almost deserted Darjeeling Mall
After a quick search, we at last found a restaurant and lodge that was serving breakfast. It was a quiet place near the mall, where we found mostly locals eating. If you ask me, when you are exploring a new place, always eat, where the locals are eating, instead of going to a fancy restaurant. Perhaps you will end up tasting the best flavours of the place. One side of the restaurant had a series of glass windows so that you can enjoy the awesome view of the mountains and even the snowy peaks as you enjoy a hearty meal. For me, it was strictly a cup of warm and comfy coffee and a platter of eggs and toast and for that busy man, he wanted to sample the aloo ka paratha they were serving and trust me, it was amazingly delicious.
Breakfast for the soul
As we stepped out after a grand breakfast, something bright and colourful in the sky caught our attention. It was the new attraction of Darjeeling, Paragliding. It looked thrilling, but I was not brave enough to fly, we decided to rather walk and explore the place.
Exploring the almost deserted Darjeeling Mall on a Sunday
We walked around the Mall, there were some tourists and some young school kids, who were enjoying their one day off from the hostels. We could see uniformed kids everywhere, shopping, eating and living their entire week on one Sunday. How often do we get to see the normal lives of the locals when we land up in a place as a tourist.
After spending some time at the mall, we started walking towards a quiet, green path by the mountain, which leads to the Mahakal Temple. Never a religious person, we decided to skip the temple and rather explore the wilderness of the path.
Shops were being set
Shops and stalls were being set, selling all sort of woollens and religious items. We walked past the women and children and soon reached a place that seemed devoid of any people. I have been a dreamer, always, and I started sensing adventure. We walked ahead and soon met young couples, some whispering sweet nothings to each other, while others having cute little love fights.
Faith...somewhere near the Mahakal Temple
We walked on and soon found a resting place, which overlooked the mountains and the rugged terrains. We decided to sit for a while. There were some other tourists as well, stopping for a quick tea or snacks. I tried concentrating on a parachute circling on the valley side of the mountains, trying to land at the clear patch, but failing every time. It kept flying high and circling but failed to land every time.
A Paraglider trying to find his way down...
After spending around 15 mins, it was time to head back! We did not have the entire day. I did not see the para-sailor landing but believed, he/she has reached the destination. We started retracing our steps, time was slipping away so fast.