A small town in West Bengal, at the foothills of the great Himalayas, painted green by tea plantation and the majestic Khangchenjungha overlooking her, Darjeeling is undoubtflly the queen of hills. Since the British era, Darjeeling has been West Bengal’s premiere attraction. Other than a dropping view of Mount Khangchenjungha, Darjeeling offers colonial era architecture, Buddhist monasteries, good Tibetan delicacy and one of the best teas in the world. Darjeeling offers every traveller some interesting exploration and some life time experience. Almost throughout the year Darjeeling is filled with backpackers and hikers from all over the world. Tranced by the breath taking view of Mount K2, mouthwatering food, the eye soothing greenery one forgets the small things that this place has to offer. I personally have visited Darjeeling quite a number of times. Being so close to Kolkata it is a weekend trip for all budding Bong travellers. The best time to visit the hills would be during autumn and spring since winters are very cold and dry and the monsoon is best avoided.
The adrenaline of young travellers like me is high and we don’t mind taking risks. So my friends and I planned a trip during winters to this amazing valley. I was staying away from home in Bangalore, so it was really difficult scheduling the trip. We overcame all the hurdles and finally decided to catch a bus from esplanade which would take us to Siliguri. Needless to say this turned out be one of the most important trips of my life.
We booked a private cab from taxi stand and they agreed to drop us in Darjeeling for 200 bucks each. There is also a toy train service that one can avail. The cab started and we 4 along with minimum 8 other passenger struggled inside the sumo. The cold wind blew in our faces and the fresh smell of mountains tickled my nostrils. The winding roads up the mountains made it difficult for us to stay in our seats. Up and down the car went and we went in our own trance enjoying the ride. The hustle bustle of the people brought me back and we realized that we have reached Darjeeling. We got our luggage and hiked up to find a hotel. It was already late hence we decided to stay in for the night.
The morning was even better. I woke up to sweet chirping of the birds. A faint sunlight came through the window and lit the room. The chill in the winds ran through my spine. The desi liquor kept us warm during the night but it effects has now gone and it was even difficult to keep warm even under a thick blanket. I gathered up the courage and got out of bed. I lit up a smoke and started planning for the day. Our hungry stomachs couldn’t take the tension anymore so we decided to have breakfast first and then go ahead with our plans. A breakfast in Keventers was a to do list. Keventers was built during the British era and therefore served English breakfast. The bacon and sausages melted in our mouth as we sat there enjoying the beautiful view. We had nothing planned for the day so we decided to roam around the town on foot. We made our way to the botanical garden. It was a very long and tiring walk through the narrow roads till we saw the board. As we went in we saw a group of kids sitting and chatting. We went up them to enquire about other places around. We started chatting with them and ended up smoking up a pot. We had to leave the place as other tourists were becoming uncomfortable of our presence. While strolling up the hill, we decided to visit the zoological garden.
The road was deserted. There seemed to be no one around. We were the only 4 souls wandering along the unfrequented road. A small hut caught our eyes. It seemed to be a small refreshment shop. What we discovered inside was a world all to itself. Soft reggae music played on loop. The small hut had been redesigned as a café. Small wooden tables were arranged in queue. The flower vases made of whiskey bottles added a human touch to the setting. One wall of the café was made up of glass and the view thorough it was breathtaking. On the other wall was a collage of Bob Marley. We stood there for a few minutes taking in what we just saw. The collage had everything from a big poster of Marley to the record of concerts where he played. It seemed as if we were dreaming. A picture of Mt. Khangchenjungha hanged above the door. Quirky stickers were stuck along the panes of the windows. Streams of sunlight penetrated through the window and lit up the place. It was really warm and cozy. We ordered 4 cups of tea and made ourselves comfortable. I lit up a smoke and took a drag. The smell of the tea rejuvenated our spirits. A sip of the tea drifted us to Neverland. The ambiance, the weather and the tea, all seemed perfect and in sync to each other. Unlike other places this was empty and not overcrowded by tourists, the silence made the place more desirable. People generally drive past this place while drifting off to the zoo. Rarely anyone would stop and experience the peace that prevailed. One cup of tea wasn’t good enough; we ordered another as we felt that the world has come to a stop. I sat there with a smoke lost in my own thoughts, reflecting on my past. I felt that I was possessed by a spirit of a fellow traveller. I wanted to travel all over the world and I knew this was the start. The wanderlust in me finally found salvation as I kissed the cigarette butt. My life had a direction and now I was sure of it.
DREAM TRAVEL DISCOVER.