Dhotrey ! And my first solo trip had to be special !

Tripoto
1st Nov 2018

Tonglu has an altitude of 3070 metre, hosting just one homestay and one Trekker's hut. I had tea and rested at the homestay verandah for a while, and started for Tumling. It takes thirty minutes usually from Tonglu to Tumling . Tumling is at an altitude of 2970 metres. And trust me ! It's beautiful ! I walked a bit further inside the Singalila National park and then had lunch in one of the homestays there.

Day 1

What will you do if you feel you want to travel all of a sudden leaving behind all those black and white shades of a corporate daily life ? And if it's an immediate one, then of course you need to pack your bags right there, book a ticket and get on the easiest transport possible ! Well, I didn't think twice after a friend suggested the name of Dhotrey. I booked a bus ticket from Esplanade,the nearest bus terminus and got on the bus at 8 pm in the night. Seated comfortably in my seat, when all the lights went off and the moon showed it's only light to guide along, I was listening to Raag Todi on the cellphone. The entire space was dark. I closed my eyes and thought of the world I was leaving behind me, all the hustle bustle life offers you every moment and leaves you perturbed. And I was excited for the journey ahead ! My first solo trip after all !

Day 2

My eyes opened pretty early with the light coming through the closed windows of the bus. To my amazement, I could see the tea gardens outside ! At once, it struck me that I was far away from my home, at an elevated land , much different from the plains at Kolkata.

To my disappointment, the bus was late and it reached Siliguri at 11:30 am. I got down and pretty excited, ran to the nearest spot where jeeps were being lined up to take me to Dhotrey. I enquired about it, and gosh ! The last jeep for Dhotrey had already left , so I was told by a driver to board a jeep which would drop me at a place from where I could take another jeep for Dhotrey. When you are at an unknown place all alone, you have no option but to trust people blindfolded. Closing my eyes for a moment, I got on the Jeep.

The Jeep rushed through the tea meadows. The mountains started visible and then it was a hilly route. The jeep rushed through the uneven terrain with curves amidst the mountains.

Suddenly, it dropped me somewhere I was unaware of , and the driver suggested me to take another jeep from there. The town was Sonada. I got through another jeep again and this time it dropped me to a place called Rangul. It was already 3 pm. I was tensed for I haven't reached the destination yet. Adding to my tension, I got to know that the place where I had come is different from the route I was supposed to take !! So, now, I was advised by the locals to take reserved jeep to Maneybhanjan and then to Dhotrey !!

Quite a journey ! Isn't it ? The perks of travelling alone all unplanned !! But the excitement of being alone lost in the Mountains is something to be cherished forever !

Photo of Dhotrey ! And my first solo trip had to be special ! by Anustup Roy
Photo of Dhotrey ! And my first solo trip had to be special ! by Anustup Roy
Photo of Dhotrey ! And my first solo trip had to be special ! by Anustup Roy

I reached Dhotrey around 5 pm in the evening. Usually it takes 3 hours from Siliguri by jeep, but since I got on the wrong route, it took me a much longer time.

I noticed my cell phone. There was no charge. The cold had already set in. There were a few houses here and there scattered amongst the pine trees all around. The sun was setting. Quickly I walked to the door of the homestay I had booked earlier. Padma's homestay . That's the best one in Dhotrey one can reside at. I asked if Padma was there but she wasn't. There was a guy standing, who told me to go to terrace where the signal was available. Without a thought, I rushed to the terrace and I saw the magical Kanchenjunga right there ! It was a sight I can never forget ! The mystical mountains standing with all its glory and mocking us humans ! I stood silent in awe.

Meanwhile, Padma had arrived. She served tea and Wai Wai, the soupy noodles available at that region. The darkness had already set in. It was 6:30 pm almost. I thought of walking down the road . Suddenly lights went off. Loadshedding in mountains ! I moved out slowly , and looked up. How beautiful it was to see the stars laid all over the vast horizon glowing the entire stretch of darkness !

Walking a bit, I reached a shop for some tea where I was served hitbeer, a beer brand famous among the locals. A small cat was sleeping beside the fireplace inside the shop. I got to know the people sitting there and pleasant conversations followed.

Dinner was served by Padma and her husband Gyalgay, around 8. Chicken, rice, Alu ki sabzi, and dal. Imagine a group of people eating homemade chicken together in freezing temperature and in darkness with a candle burning ! It was a group of young trekkers from Cox and Kings inside the homestay , who were starting their Sandakphu trek from there the next day.

I came back to my bed at 8:45. I was already about to die from the cold. Quickly, I pulled my blanket and went to Neverland in minutes !

Day 3

The next day I woke up at 5:30 and rushed to the terrace. And there lied the Kanchenjunga visible to my earthly eyes with all its might, brightened by the rays of the rising sun. I had already planned for a short trek to Tumling, a place nearby which marks the starting point of the Singalila National Park. So, quickly having my breakfast at Padma's, I walked down to the trek office there and booked a porter for myself for 900 bucks. Remember ! A porter costs less than a guide who generally charges 1000 bucks ! So, together, we started for the journey to Tumling. After walking through uphill for about 2 hours amidst jungles and big rocks and keeping Kanchenjunga beside me throughout, I reached Tonglu, a midpoint in the trek. 

Tonglu has an altitude of 3070 metre, hosting just one homestay and one Trekker's hut. I had tea and rested at the homestay verandah for a while, and started for Tumling. It takes thirty minutes usually from Tonglu to Tumling . Tumling is at an altitude of 2970 metres. And trust me ! It's beautiful ! I walked a bit further inside the Singalila National park and then had lunch in one of the homestays there.

I reached Dhotrey trekking back from Tumling around 4 in the evening.

Tired and exhausted, yet enchanted of gathering all those experiences along the route, I laid down on the bed with a satisfied heart.

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