Darjeeling and Siliguri, India-June, 2012

Tripoto
10th Jun 2012
Photo of Darjeeling and Siliguri, India-June, 2012 1/4 by Arjun Chaudhuri
School days are just not about studies
Photo of Darjeeling and Siliguri, India-June, 2012 2/4 by Arjun Chaudhuri
War Memorial, Batasia Loop, Darjeeling
Photo of Darjeeling and Siliguri, India-June, 2012 3/4 by Arjun Chaudhuri
Generations
Photo of Darjeeling and Siliguri, India-June, 2012 4/4 by Arjun Chaudhuri
Living life king sized, in Morgan House

Darjeeling, like its contemporary Indian hill-stations such as Shimla and Dehra Dun, is famed for its boarding schools. Brought up in strict discipline, pupils go onto graduating into well-developed alumni. The picture in focus, is set in the football field of St Joseph's School, North Point. The hallowed portals, ranked as the fifteenth best boarding school in the country, have seen members of the Bhutanese Royal Family, and former billiards champion Michael Ferreira in their prestigious alumni list.

While walking along the hills of Darjeeling, this sight is very common. Jam-packed houses, with little flecks of green peeking out, and a Buddhist pagoda, that stands out. Buddhism is popular among the majority Gorkha population, though there is a significant base for Hinduism as well.

Day 1

What is Darjeeling?

Photo of Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

The Darjeeling Zoo houses a number of animals, ranging from different primates, to bears, and alpine creatures. However the highlight of my photos from the zoo, definitely has to be this one.

The web of life

Photo of Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Jawahar Parbat, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

In the evening, we dined at the famed Keventer's Restaurant in Darjeeling. Almost 100 years since its inception, Keventer's has cooked up and served the best English breakfasts in town, we had sausages, salami and milkshakes. The adjoining road leads up to the famed Darjeeling Mall, the city center with shops and businesses.

The balcony of Keventer's in Chawk Bazar, Darjeeling

Photo of Keventers, Chauk Bazaar, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

The next day we made our way to the famous Batasia Loop, known for its windy nature, in the path of the historic Darjeeling Toy Train. The Batasia Loop, commissioned in 1919. in order to lower the gradient of ascent, of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, is also the sight of the war monument, dedicated to Indian Army servicemen, who have sacrificed their lives for the sanctity of our soil.

Day 2

War Memorial, Batasia Loop, Darjeeling

Photo of Batasia Loop, West Point, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

My dear mom, at the Batasia Loop, in Darjeeling

Photo of Batasia Loop, West Point, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Toy Train, or the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways or the Toy Train runs for 88 kilometers on a narrow gauge. It has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site since 1998.

The 'Toy Train' still retrieves it heritage look

Photo of Batasia Loop, West Point, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

And then we saw the highest railway station in India: Ghum. The Ghum Station, located at a height of 7000 feet is the abode of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Ghum Railway Station, the abode of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways

Photo of Ghum, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

The next day we started towards Kalimpong , and we made a stop at Delo, a place famous for its views, and flowers. Delo, or Deoli Hamlet, a few kilometers away from Kalimpong, offers a sunrise, a mountain range and beautiful flowers, all ingredients of nature packed in one. The place boasts of a Government Guest House as well. Early booking is advised as the rooms are in demand, and they range from 1500 to 3000 INR (2012 est.)

Me, taking in some fresh oxygen and beautiful plant sights

Photo of Delo Tourist Lodge, Deolo, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

The Himalayas are home to a variety of flora and fauna, and naturalists are promised a good time.

Day 3

Flowers radiating Happiness

Photo of Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

On the next day, we made a trip to Lava-Lolegaon. The ornately designed Lava Monastery was a sight to watch.

Praying in Lava Monastery

Photo of Lava Monastery, Lava Road, Lava, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

In the outskirts of Lava Monastery, during the afternoon break, we witnessed monks enjoying a game of cricket.

Monks Having a Ball

Photo of Darjeeling and Siliguri, India-June, 2012 by Arjun Chaudhuri

The facade of Darjeeling is adorned with monasteries. And they are often offer old friends to meet up.

Meeting at monastery, two women in traditional Tibetan wear, discuss the travails of life

Photo of Darjeeling and Siliguri, India-June, 2012 by Arjun Chaudhuri

We reached Kalimpong, a town that sits overlooking the Teesta River. The town comprises many boarding schools, such as the likes of Dr Graham's Home.

School girls on their way to school, Kalimpong, 2012

Photo of Kalimpong, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

We also met friendly citizens on the way.

On the streets of Kalimpong, "I want to be like pa", the young man said. I am sure the man and the mountains would be proud.

Generations

Photo of Kalimpong, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

The Good Things of Life

Photo of Kalimpong, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

Life is simple in the hills, a cock and dolls are important things to care of.

In Kalimpong we put up at Morgan's House. a colonial mansion from the British era. A boutique hotel cradled in nature, the mansion was initially set aside to be used as a government rest house, but it is controlled by the West Bengal Tourist Department, today. Make sure to book in your stay early, if you intend to treat yourself to a royal experience. Prices ranged from 3500 INR (2012 est.), but I would still consider it worth every penny.

The Morgan's House, Kalimpong, 2012.

Photo of Darjeeling and Siliguri, India-June, 2012 by Arjun Chaudhuri
Day 4

A stone's throw away from Morgan House, is the watershed point and the Army Golf Course.

Living life king sized, in Morgan House

Photo of Morgan House Tourist Lodge, Chandraloke, Kalimpong, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

The Army Golf Course, offering you to play a game of golf, in ethereal misty heights

Photo of Kalimpong, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

A trip to Darjeeling is incomplete without a taste of Darjeeling tea.

Tea on my Table.

Photo of Darjeeling and Siliguri, India-June, 2012 by Arjun Chaudhuri

While returning from Kalimpong to Siliguri, via Sevoke, the pleasant sight of these children greeted us.

The children of the Hills

Photo of Darjeeling and Siliguri, India-June, 2012 by Arjun Chaudhuri

As we reached the plains, at the end of our journey, the familiar sites of tea plantation workers greeted us. Darjeeling has one of the best tea plantations in the world. Makaibari boasts of the world's most expensive tea. In fact, the fragrance of the hills, the smiling faces of the people, and the fresh air prompted me to do an industrial internship in 2014, in Mal Bazar, visit Sikkim in 2014, and visit Chalsa and Dooars in 2016, accounts of which, shall follow in my later posts.

Day 6

Plucking tea

Photo of Siliguri, West Bengal, India by Arjun Chaudhuri

Practical Information:

Season: Of course the summer months, are extremely busy, but Darjeeling has something to offer all year round. Snowfall is probable in winter, but it is not guaranteed every year. Monsoons are beautiful in the hills as well, but be warned of transportation glitches.

Getting There: The nearest airport is Bagdogra, while Siliguri is well serviced by trains from Kolkata and other adjoining state capitals. After that, one must hire transportation to the hill destinations, most of which can be arranged by the accommodation in Siliguri, at optimal prices. Arranging transportation individually is possible as well, but I would personally recommend spending at least one night in Siliguri, (due to an overnight train from Kolkata :P).

Accommodation: There are a number of hotels in Darjeeling and Kalimpong, however, one must book in advance to be sure. While we had arranged our hotels via agents, online options are sprouting as well.

What to eat: Thukpa (hot meat soup) and momos- a delicacy. And of course tea is important to savor as well. The bakery is also good.

Hills, tea, mist and so much more..........

Photo of Darjeeling and Siliguri, India-June, 2012 by Arjun Chaudhuri
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