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159 Kms from Raiganj
Best time to visit - October- April
Often called as the "Queen of all Hill Stations", this is one of the most popular in the whole world. This place is wrap...
I think this one of the most talked about hill stations on every travel list. I am not going to dive into the details and the places you should visit. Moreover, I have already listed my trip to Darjeeling last December in another blog. Here it is!Darjeeling is 70kms or 2 hours away from Siliguri by car. Other transport options include the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or government and private buses from Tenzing Norgay bus stand.Kanchenjunga at sunrise as seen from Tiger Hill in Darjeeling.The Mall Road, among the most popular spots there, offers a panoramic view of the Himalayas.Breakfast at Keventers with Kanchenjunga behind us.Know more about Darjeeling here.Kalimpong:
The average height of the Singtom Tea estate is about 4500 ft. The resort and the tea factory are both located inside the garden. The tea estate produces some of the finest organic teas of Darjeeling. The quality of the tea depends on the altitude of the place. The more the altitude, the better the quality of the tea. The Singtom Tea Estate, being at a higher altitude produces fine quality of Darjeeling Tea – black, green and white representing different flavours and grades.The Resort and RoomsAs soon as you enter through the gate of the estate, you will see a beautiful, old British styled bungalow in the middle of an equally beautiful garden. The bungalow was originally built in 1862. Wherever your eyes will see, you will see endless stretches of tea gardens. While you sit at the lawn sipping a cup of fresh Darjeeling Tea, you can see the Darjeeling town just in front of you. From the backside, you will get great views of the Kanchenjunga ranges. It is such a place where you will get the natural beauty and the luxury of a planters bungalow in a single place.
Located at a height of 2185 metres above the sea level, Darjeeling, also known as the ‘Queen of Hills’ is a quaint little hill station that consists of Mt. Kanchenjunga’s summit as the backdrop. Established in the mid-19th century, this town offers palatial greenery and a champagne of tea estates. The sumptuous aroma all around and the sound of chanting of the Buddhist mantra give you the much-required peace of mind. We were often told that Darjeeling has been commercialized to such an extent that it has lost its charm. But we would definitely argue the toss, for Darjeeling possesses such opulent landscapes that are a treat for sore eyes.
The tea town of India awaits you with its freshness, unspoilt beauty and ofcourse, the much talked about toy train. Spend quality time with your mother as you both take the joyride humming Kasto mazza hai lelaima and enjoy the scenic vistas. The train takes you for a round trip from Darjeeling to Ghum and back in about 2 hours. Keep your cameras ready as you stop at Batasia Loop on the way, which offers incredible views of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga.
Last but not the least, enjoying Darjeeling is depends upto one as there is almost no scope to enjoy this place . One can even enjoy the view of majestic Kanchenjunga from the room.
Darjeeling--A popular destination for all tourists across the world. Views of Kangchenjunga, ride in toy train, essence of Darjeeling tea, sunrise at tiger hill --altogether gives a nostalgic feel of childhood. Irrespective of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Darjeeling almost faved by most of us. This place got featured in many movies in different languages. For example who will not remember the scenes of Satyajit Ray's Film Kanchanjungha. During your visit , you may also unknowingly humming, mere sapno ki rani kab ayegi tu/neele gagn ki tale/Yeh hawayen puchta hai/ala ala matwala barfi.
(Oct 8)Darjeeling was sort of an impromptu plan when in Siliguri I learnt that transport had resumed which was earlier disrupted due to Dokhlam and Gorkhaland issues, the reason my Goechala got cancelled. Anyhow, with a spare half day, I went with it. The bus ride took almost three hours, winding through misty verdant hills, a refreshing sight, eventually coming to a halt at the highest altitude railway station, Ghum (7300ft). Sporadic but intense rain called for some tea. I then paid a visit to “Guru Sakya" and “Yiga Chholing” monasteries; so serene just to be in the sanctity of these places. A monk shared some insights to the recent state affairs, how demands for a separate Gorkha state was creating unrest, etc. Thankfully things have returned to normalcy that made this visit possible. Darjeeling was rather nippy, toy trains and the quaint hills making for a picture postcard. Ethereal views of valley, by the window made lunch all the more satiating. In the evening, I left for New Jalpaiguri to catch my train to Guwahati.
199 Kms from Raiganj
Best time to visit - September to December
Gangtok is the capital city of the north Indian state of Sikkim. Built up as a Buddhist journey site in the 1840s, the c...
Do Drul Chorten, Gangtok This huge Buddhist complex is located near the research institute of Tibetology. This beautiful structure is Biggest Buddhist stupa in the North East India.
GangTok:In morning at Jalpaiguri we had booked a package with a travel agent located nearby to railway station.
Gangtok is bustling town and capital of Sikkim. It is one the cleanest cities you would come across in India. This place would give you a mix of city vibes and mountain innocence. Gives a perfect view of Himalayan range. There are many places nearby which you can explore as well like, Yumthang, Lachung, Baba Mandir, Zuluk, Tsomgo / Changu Lake and Rishikola.How to reach:Same as North Bengal. From Kolkata you have overnight trains to New Jalpaiguri .From Jalpaiguri you have options of taking shared cabs or book a personal cab to any of the above mentioned places.
When you head to Gangtok everyone tries out their momos and Thukpa. And of course visit the monasteries, view points, shop and chill.So here are a list of places worth adding to your list, which I discovered during my stay in Gangtok.PLACES TO VISIT:Tsuklakhang Palace:This monastery/ Palace is located at walking distance from the main city center. It houses a school along with the monastery and during festival season, like during Pang Lhabsol it even hosts the traditional masked dance.
Almost everyone comes to Sikkim to enjoy being in the midst of the mighty Kanchenjunga while visiting monasteries and eating momos. Of course, when compared to the lives we live in most cities breathing the polluted air this itself is refreshing but hidden away from the hustle bustle of the main city of Gangtok is a little heaven called Tinjure.
Drive from Lachen to Gangtok.Duration - 5 hours
New Jalpaiguri to GangtokStay at Gangtok for a day and enjoy the different things to see around. One of the best places to visit the Enchey Monastery and to party at Cafe Live n Loud.Duration (NJP to Gangtok) - 5 hours
Day 9The morning started with a disaster! I found that my phone was completely formatted and all my pictures, videos and data were lost. For convenience sake, I had clicked all the pictures and the videos of this ride on my phone but it was lost forever, including the proposal video. It was heart shattering news.We somehow managed to pull ourselves together and decided to seek some peace at the Rumtek monastery. Within a few minutes we were our cheery selves as there was nothing which we could do about the lost video. We consoled ourselves by saying that the video is sure to be in our hearts till the rest of our lives. Thanks to Facebook and WhatsApp we managed to at least salvage the pictures we had uploaded and shared.
Day 8There is a term in Bengali called "Lyadh-Khawa" which basically translates to lazing around. That is exactly what we did on this day and we deserved every bit of it. We woke up at noon, had brunch on our beds, shopped at the M.G. Marg in the evening, saw the whole city from the ropeway and went to a place called "Cafe Live and Loud" at night. Now I have visited the famous Someplace Else in Kolkata and the Hard Rock Cafe in Delhi but the whole feel of this cafe was different. The local band which was playing was extraordinarily good; the food was lip smacking and they best part was that they had got their LIITs right. We let our hair down and simply had a blast!
267 Kms from Raiganj
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,October,November,December
One would assume that Thimphu is still settling into its role as the capital of one of the happiest countries in the wor...
3. Colours of Tshechu: Tshechu is the annual religious festival celebrated in every district of Bhutan. Colourful mask dances and other religious rituals are the main attraction of every Tshechu. The Tshechus are organized in honour of Guru Rimpoche. Every Dzong organizes Tshechu at different times of the year so one can plan the trip accordingly. We planned our trip during Thimphu Tshechu and attended the first day of Thimphu Tsechu. The courtyard of the Thimphu Dzong was packed with both locals and tourists. The locals came dressed in their colourful traditional attires and jewellery and took part in the festival with lots of funfairs. We too enjoyed every moment of this colourful extravaganza.
First thing we did was to submit a copy of our permits and fill a permit entry form for visiting Punakha & Haa Valley at the Immigration office. This is a very quick and easy process. Take photocopy of the permits (stamped at various checkposts) and submit. You’ll get your permit within an hour. You can also collect the same by evening.Places to visit in Thimphu1. National Heritage Museum: This is a good place to learn about Bhutanese heritage. You can see the display of tools used, taste Ara (Rice wine), etc. Entry Fee: Rs. 502. Art & Crafts School: Here you can witness live painting by students of this art school. An interesting place located opposite the heritage museum. Entry Fee: Rs. 100
Thimphu:We took one of those share-taxis amply available in the city to reach Thimphu the next morning. Thimphu is a city like no other. It is a capital with no traffic signals! A capital with only traffic police whistling to control traffic. We were lucky as the time we went in (September end) happened to be during their festive season. Hence we got to see the famous traditional masked dance happening in the Tashichö Dzong.
The one hour ride takes you to Thimphu, the capital city. For visiting the village of Punakha, you have to apply for another permit at the Immigration office in Thimphu, which I did on arrival. Later I hired a taxi to visit Buddha Dordenma, a huge Budha statue on the top of a hill.
DAY 5: THIMPUThere aren’t a lot of places to cover in Thimpu. You will be able to cover all the places in 1 day itself.Incase you plan to go to Punakha or any other places in Bhutan, please apply for a permit in Thimpu. It shouldn’t take more than 30 mins for you to get a permit.
You will have enough time to explore Paro (visit Tiger’s Nest perhaps!) and still reach Thimpu in time, because Paro to Thimpu is a short stretch of nearly 50km, and a smooth highway connecting two cities is moreover the best in the country, thus saving you enough time no matter when you leave.Since Paro has the only international airport in Bhutan, and Thimpu is the capital, the highway moreover stays good in shape throughout the year. It takes one and a half to two hours to travel between the two cities.
Day 3, Nov 3rd, 2017: Our hotel was right opposite to the clock tower which is supposed to be the most happening area of Thimphu. We strolled in the beautiful clean streets of Norzing Lam, which was surrounded by green mountains & pine trees everywhere. The mountains were running parallel to the road & the air was so fresh that you instantly will feel the happiness within you. We were amused to find that at 08:00 hrs no shop is open for breakfast or anything. They have this protocol of everything opening at 09:00, to which they strictly adhere to..Sharp at 09:00, we met Vishnu, our trip guide at the reception of the hotel. His attire, posture, body language everything was very formal & gentle.
The bus dropped us at the taxi stand in Thimphu by 7:30 pm. Our hotel was about 2 kms from the bus stop. While we were bargaining with the taxi driver, someone asked us if we wanted a lift to the hotel. My friend was a bit sceptical as we were new to the place and being from India, it is not easy to trust strangers; but later we agreed to take the lift. While driving us to the hotel, he introduced himself as the Chief Auditing Commissioner of Bhutan. Yes, that was when we realized how helpful Bhutanese people are to their guests. He not only dropped us to the hotel but also helped us plan places we should be visiting the next day.
251 Kms from Raiganj
Best time to visit - March,April,May
Bhutan has gradually become a popular tourist destination. And if you are visiting Bhutan, you can't possibly miss the l...
1. Trek to the Takstang Monastery: Takstang monastery or the Tiger’s Nest is the most iconic monument of Bhutan. So a trip to Bhutan, without visiting this sacred monastery will be incomplete. Located outside the Paro town this monastery can only be reached on foot. Although the two hours (or maybe more) trek to reach the top may sound difficult for many, but it is worth the effort. Just like the exteriors even the interior sections of this monastery are also magnificent. Our guide explained the importance of all the sections and also shared some of the beliefs associated with the monastery. It is incredible, how the monks build such a massive structure on such a high cliff of a mountain.
Paro:This is where you land if you fly into the country. This beautiful little city located 2 hours away from the capital city is right next to the river, the Paro chu. As we reached by midnight the first thing we saw there was the Dzong beautifully lit in all its beauty.
Paro Tsechu Festival : Paro Dzong also houses “Paro Tsechu” the annual paro festival during the month of March/April. So, when we reached there, the area was swarming in vibrant colours and happy people. Unfortunately, we got a bit delayed after an exhilarating hike to tiger’s nest that we missed witnessing the mask dance performance. But, we did manage to see some other traditional dance performances.
DAY 4 : PAROTaktshang Monastery/Tiger’s Nest : The most photographed place in Bhutan. It clings to a cliff which is 3120 meters above the sea level. Legends says that Guru Rinpoche, father of Bhutanese Buddhism arrived here million years ago on the back of a tigress and meditated at this place
Day 3: The plan was to cover Paro, Thimpu and Punakha, in order. But rarely things go as per the plan. For eg: We had planned to reach Paro by noon, see a couple of places and do Tiger’s nest the next day. But, the immigration formalities took longer than expected, we ended up reaching Paro by evening, leaving us just 1 day to cover Paro including the tiring hike to Tiger’s nest. First because we landed on a weekend and wasting a day for the permit, second the never ending wait for the permit. Sigh!Okay! Coming to actually how day 3 went was as follows. We reached the immigration office at sharp 8.30 am, but there were already a so many people waiting before us. But, that didn’t really make a difference because as soon as they opened the shutter at 9 am, everyone just rushed in. It’s a huge mess inside, completely unorganised, people are clueless what’s the procedure and just chaos. The permit would have taken just an hour, if not for the uncivilized mad rush, it took us almost 4 hours. By the time, we got the permit it was 12.30 pm.Without wasting much time, we immediately called our driver and headed straight for Paro. The drive from Phuetsoling to Paro is beyond beautiful. As we moved further away from the border, the landscape became divine and air deeply serene. On the drive, the river flowed gently by the road overlooking rugged mountains. You will encounter small waterfalls and fresh streams of water on the way.
The journey to Paro to Phuentsholing takes nearly 4 hour if you’re driving, or 6 hours if you’re taking a public bus. The journey is rather impressive and enjoyable. From the sea level of Phuentsholing you only pretty much go uphill throughout the journey before you end up a much colder town of Paro located at 2100+ meter altitude above the sea level.The well maintained four way highway, built by Indian Border Road Organisation (BRO), moreover makes Phuentsholing to Paro & Thimpu a very sought after Himalayan Roads for motorbikers in India wanting to ride in Bhutan.Day 2: Paro To Thimpu
Paro to tiger’s nest (40 kilometers ride and 4-5 kilometers trek)The last time I had visited Takstang Monastery, also known as The Tiger’s Nest, I was mesmerized by it and I wanted Swatabdi to witness the same. We first rode to the Drugyel Dzong which is a monastery which was burnt in a fire and now lay in ruins. We then proceeded to the base of the trek to the Tiger’s nest. The difficulty level of the trek to Tiger’s nest is slightly higher because of the altitude and the steep trail. Huffing and puffing we kept walking one step at a time. Swatabdi felt like quitting the trek a couple of times but I etched her on. The sight of the monastery which kept getting bigger and bigger was also inspiring. After almost 4 hours we saw the awe-inspiring view of the monastery. I fail to fathom the effort taken to build this monastery so high in the mountain. The monastery seems as though it is almost hanging on a cliff and can fall down to the deep valley below any moment! The trek was worth the effort. The trek downhill was slightly easier and we reached the base late in the evening. The rest of the evening we spent riding around in Paro and watching the beautiful Paro Dzong and the national museum which were lit up with vibrant lights in the night. We had hired the motorcycle for 16 days which meant that this was the last day of our trip. We celebrated the last 15 days over my favorite beer, the Druk 11000; and a plate of delicious momos.
Jaigaon to Paro (180 kilometers)The embassy at Phuntsholing opens at 10 AM and we reached there at 9:45 hoping to be among the first people to get the permits. We were proven terribly wrong when we saw that there about a thousand people already waiting. The situation was similar to a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata. There was utter chaos. No one knew what to do or whom to approach for the permits. What made it worse was that there were agents who were standing in the queue with dozens of applications in their hands. For hours we stood in various queues which didn’t move an inch. There was a lot of pushing, shoving and shouting happening which pissed off Swatabdi. She went inside the embassy and somehow caught hold of an influential female officer and explained to her our situation rather sternly. In no time a new counter was opened for female applicants who were not in large groups and we managed to get our permits from that counter. By this time it was late evening and we rushed to the RTO office to get the permit for our motorcycle. There was a queue of drivers waiting for us and the office hours were coming to a close. Swatabdi again used the feminine card and we got preferential treatment and our permit was among the last to get approved that evening. Thousands had applied to visit Bhutan that day; only a lucky few were allowed to enter. While coming back from the RTO office I cut my toenail with the sharp side stand of the motorcycle and started our ride to Paro with a shoe on one leg and a bandaged toe in a flipflop on the other. We started for Paro with dying sunlight and braced ourselves for a cold ride. There was a brief spell of rain which made it worse. An hour into the ride my foot went numb. I somehow shoved my bandaged foot inside my shoe and continued riding. Thankfully the roads in Bhutan are good which made it easier to ride in the night. The cold though was still unforgiving. We reached Paro at 8:30 in the night and found most hotels to be either closed or fully occupied. Shivering and shaking we moved from one hotel to the other in search of a room. At a certain hotel Paro, the owner of the hotel took pity on our shivering souls and offered us a place to stay in the roof attic where the employees sleep. We took it! With temperatures dipping below zero and the roof attic becoming really cold, we tugged ourselves in the quilt, hugged each other tight and slept. It was a truly long day!
The morning drive from Thimphu to Paro was exciting. Paro is a very small town compared to Thimphu. Thimphu has ATMs but I found few in Paro. Once reached, I set out for Chelela Pass. Clouds were floating by and freezing wind was blowing. In the midst, prayer flags were fluttering as if they were protectors of this remote and mythical land.
156 Kms from Raiganj
Best time to visit - January,February,October,November,December
One of the most important cities of North Bengal, Murshidabad comes with a rich history. Once a stunning example of gran...
The capital of Bengal during the Mughal period, Murshidabad stands at a distance of around 230 kilometers from the state's current capital. The best way to get to Murshidabad from Kolkata is by train, which takes around six hours. Murshidabad is best visited between October and March to avoid extreme heat. Finding accommodation is usually not a problem, but as always, make your bookings in advance to be safe rather than sorry!
291 Kms from Raiganj
Best time to visit - January,October,November,December
Bankura has gradually gained attraction as a popular tourist destination. Located in West Bengal, Bankura is home to var...
The food was nothing we have here in Kolkata. Indian 'french' toasts, rice and dal, noodles-this place has everything to offer. But,don't really expect to be sitting at air-conditioned restaurants.. Sitting at a small hut-like food-shack and hearing stories from the locals is what you'll be missing out in the restaurants.
309 Kms from Raiganj
Best time to visit - N/A
Once the capital of the Magadha Empire which later evolved to become the Mayryan Empire, Rajgir is a valley surrounded b...
Start your day with Rajgir, a little-known town housing Buddhist ruins, Muslim tombs, Hindu and Jain temples. It was the venue for the first Buddhist Council and written recording of Buddha's teachings. Another notable attraction is the remains of Cyclopean walls.
For the dinner, I bought a marwari thali for Rs 100, which offered unlimited chapatis and multiple gravies. While the thali filled me to the brim, it also made me sleepy. The restaurant was in a guest house and I negotiated a room there for Rs 300 to spend the night.Since my priority had been Nalanda and I had also arrived late, I couldn’t visit any other place in Rajgir that day. Next day, I had to leave for Patna and catch my train in the evening at 6:00 pm. Since I also wanted to visit the famous Takht Harmandir Sahib ji in Patna, I would have to leave Rajgir early. Therefore, I decided to wake up early next day to visit Rajgir’s most famous spot, the Vishwa Shanti Stupa. I could finish that in the morning and then leave for Patna early. With all this planning going on in my head, I slipped into a slumber.Next day, I woke up early at 6:00 and walked to the bus stand by 6:45 pm. From there, I hired a tum tum for a return ride to Vishwa Shanti Stupa. Now, when it comes to these tum tum drivers, you will have to negotiate hard as they will try to overcharge. Nothing better if you are in a group, but if you are alone, wait for a tum tum that has some riders. Since I was too early and in a hurry, I could only bring him down to Rs 250.The shanti stupa is around 5 km away from Rajgir and there is big gateway to mark its location, which one see while coming from Gaya. You can either get down from the bus there or come back in a tum tum as I had done. There are many other historical and tourist spots on the way to stupa such as Bimbisara’s prison, Ajatashatru’s fort as well as a small lake called ‘ghora katora’. For travellers short of time, these can be given a miss.Built by the Buddha Sangha of Japan, Vishwa Shanti stupa is perched atop 400 meter tall Ratnagiri hill. Buddha is supposed to have frequented this hill for three months to preach many of his disciples.There is a trolley service available to take tourists up but I preferred hiking up to the top. The climb isn’t very difficult and took about 25 minutes.
Rajgir was the capital of the Magadh Empire before Patna. This place is also of huge religious significance for both Buddhist and Jain religions. The Vishwa Shanti Stupa, Ajatshatru Stupa, Ajatshatru Fort and Venu Vana are important Buddhist sites. Digambar Jain Siddha Kshetra Temples are a group of eight temples in the four hills surrounding Rajgir and are an important pilgrimage site for followers of Jainism.
History and culture excites you? Visit Nalanda :)
80 kilometers away from Gaya and an undisputed worth visit. History writes this place down as the capital of Magadhan empire and was also of Lord Buddha's favorites. His teaching were panned down here. A popular winter health resort is what this place has shaped itself as. All credits to the hot water springs and lush green forest. A great kickback location.
51 Kms from Raiganj
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,July
The twin towns of Malda and English Bazaar make for an unusual holiday destination. Serving as a gateway to Bengal, one ...
When we reached at Malda it was already 12:30 am. We reached Souma's Aunt's place. Had some dinner , get some sleep for about 2:30 hrs. We had slept only 2-3 hrs in the last 24 hrs and traveled more than 300 km by road that was too in uncomfortable conditions.We boarded on the train from Malda at about 6 o'clock. Not that its the best place I have ever visited , but something was special about the Darjeeling trip. There are a lot of things I have learnt from this trip , most importantly -1. Never delay when you need a trip, no matter whatever it takes.2. Unplanned trips are better, but only for off seasons.3. If you want to go for unplanned trips always make sure of two things that you know about the place , and you are physically fit for any type of situation.4. It is hard to go for a unplanned trip that even in budget. But if you are physically fit enough to stay in any type of room, travel in uncomfortable conditions and not allergic to local foods , you can travel anywhere without planning and within budget too.5. Traveling makes you wiser, happier and more fearless - if you trust this you can travel anywhere no matter the hurdles comes in your way.