DARJEELING


  1. Destination: Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
  2. Visited on: October 4th 2016 – October 7th 2016
  3. Peak Season: October to March
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – There are trains from Howrah and Sealdah station of Kolkata to New Jalpaiguri. From there, one needs to hire a cab to reach Darjeeling

About: Darjeeling  is noted for its tea industry, the spectacular views of Mount Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our Journey Starts:

 I have returned from Bangalore to Kolkata, my home town for the grand festival “Durga Puja”. Before the puja starts, I planned for Darjeeling this time, with my parents. Train tickets and hotels were booked in advance. We reached Sealdah station on October 3rd 2016 and boarded the train “Darjeeling mail” which departs from Howrah at 22:05. Had home-cooked Luchi and alur dam in train and went to sleep. The journey was very comfortable. Reached New Jalpaiguri next day around 9:00. We hired a taxi from the pre-paid counter to reach Darjeeling for a fee of Rs 1600. Had to pay Rs. 100 extra to take us to the hotel.

We reached Darjeeling after a ride of 3 hours. My mother got fever and fell sick on the way. Apart from that, the journey was smooth. We booked hotel “Dolphin” in advance which is located just next to Governor’s house. The area is not at all crowded, yet located next to a Kanchenjunga view point. Many people decides to stay near the “Mall” (Central hub) and complains saying “ Darjeeling is too crowded”. We checked in. The hotel offers clear view of Mt. Kanchenjunga. However, at that time, the weather was cloudy and no view on offer.dsc_7897

Ordered lunch in our room as my mother was very sick then, yet excited to see Mt Kanchenjunga. After lunch, I went out to see nearby places. The first day passed with a stroll in the Mall. Mall is the central hub of Darjeeling and one can get all sorts of shops there including KFC. In the evening, we went went to a heritage outlet called Keventers in the Mall and tried Darjeeling tea with some snacks. The outlet, offers scenic view of the Himalayan range in the morning (if the weather permits). Glenary’s is again a heritage outlet and offers same kind of stuffs.

I woke up early at 5.30 next morning hoping to witness the sunrise reflection on Mt Kanchenjunga. However, the weather was too cloudy to witness nature’s masterpiece. The weather was cold. Locals busy doing light work-out or busy taking a jog. I strolled around the place. Had tea from the Mall and went back to the hotel. In the evening, went out with my parents to the Mall and had Darjeeling famous Momos and tea.We also bought tea, from one of the renowned store called “The House of Tea”. It is operated by Goodricke co. and located in the Mall. While buying tea, get the “First flush”. First flush tea tastes best and slightly on the expensive side. But, buying a small pack will worth.

Batasia Loop

Batasia Loop

Woke up again next morning to see the sun-rise. The weather again turned me down. We didn’t opt to go Tiger hill to view Mt Kanchenjunga closely, as the weather was foggy. Spent most of my time roaming around the place and enjoying the cool weather with nature. We had our tickets booked for a jolly ride in a toy-train pulled by a steam engine. This is a UNESCO world heritage site. The tickets were expensive for the steam engine ride. Normal engines were also available and are less expensive. However, we choosed the steam engine, as we have never tried anything like that before. The train goes until Ghum via Batasia loop. Batasia Loop is again scenic. The train halts for 15 minutes there. And starts it’s journey to Ghum station. Ghum station has a museum related to Darjeeling trains. One can get down at Ghum and come back to Darjeeling by car. Or else, one can board the same train and come back. While returning, it comes to Darjeeling station directly. If booking a round trip ticket, the code you need to put in the IRCTC.COM website is – “DJ” (From) and “DJRZ” (To). And for a one way ride, put “GHUM” (To). The ride was beautiful. But as per my experience, spending so much on a steam engine doesn’t worth. So one can book a diesel engine ride and take photos with the steam engine. Both moves together, one after another.dsc_8618

View of the valley from the view point located next to our hotel was amazing. I couldn’t witness the sun-rise in this trip. However, I did capture the sunsent reflecton over Mt Kanchenjunga through my bare eyes. Also, made a timelapse video of that view. Walking in the hills was fun.dsc_9042-3

Next day, again woke up early. Missed the sun-rise. But got a clear view of Mt Kanchenjunga from our hotel room and also from the view-point. This is our last day stay in Darjeeling. As my mother was very weak, I planned to go for some known sight-seeing alone. I went to the Mahakal mandir located slightly uphill, early in the morning. The place has it’s own charm.dsc_9209

After that, I walked downhill for 15 mins and reached the Darjeeling zoo. The zoo and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute are in the same place. One can hire a taxi also to reach there, but that could be expensive. I went to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute first. They have a museum built. The museum was fascinating with lots of information on mountains and mountain climbers. I bought a T-shirt, sun-glass and a Cap as souvenir. Then moved to the zoo. The zoo has lots of animals like Royal Bengal tiger, White leopard, Black panther, Red panda, etc. Visiting the museum and to the zoo was worth. The museum and the zoo remains closed on Thursday.dsc_9292

Then again walked further downhill for 15 mins and reached Rangeet Valley Ropeway. The rope-way ride cost approximately Rs. 170 per head for a round trip. Option of one-side trip is not available. The queue to the ride could be very long during season. I got my chance after waiting for 45 minutes. The rope-way journey was beautiful. It’s lush green with tea plants below. In clear weather, one can witness the Himalayan range in front. After a journey of 20 minutes, I reached downhill through rope-way. I had to get down (Mandatory) and need to stand in a queue again to go back to the origin. However, I went down from the rope-way and walked to the left in the left. Got a hint of local life. Also got very close to tea-gardens. Checked how the tea leaves, looks like. Came back after spending some time in the tea garden and stood in a queue.  Took the rope-way and got back to the origin.dsc_9013

As I didn’t booked any car, I had to come back all the way back by walking. This time, it was uphill and took 30 minutes to reach my hotel. After having lunch there, we boarded the same cab and reached New Jalpaiguri station. I called the same driver a day before and asked to be at the hotel to take us back to the railway station. He was on time. While returning, we came through a route called “Rohini”. The route was scenic. The car is taking a sharp turn through the hills. Each turn opening up a new scenery. The entire mountain is lush green because of dense tea garden. You can ask your driver to take the route of Rohini while going. Nothing will be charged extra.

We reached New Jalpaiguri station well in advance. Kept our luggage in a restaurant and waited there. Boarded Darjeeling mail which departs at 6PM. Reached Sealdag station next day morning around 6:30. We booked an Uber cab from the station and reached home. The trip to Darjeeling was beautiful with lush green tea-gardens, beautiful sun-set, cold weather, sky full of stars. Nothing more we can expect…

Note:

  • Smoking is not allowed in public in Darjeeling. Locals may shout at out.
  • The zoo and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute museum remain closed on Thursday
  • One must go for the toy-train ride
  • Don’t miss the rope-way ride also.
  • Hotel prices during season may get double.
  • One may hire a geared or non-geared cycle to roam around Darjeeling from local shops.
  • Try Keventers and Glenarys’ for tea and snacks
  • Buy tea from “The House of Tea” located in the Mall. Get the “First flush” tea if the budget permits
  • Kindly follow no trace policy and save mother earth.

CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL PICS OF DARJEELING

NAINITAL & KAUSANI


  1. Destination: Nainital & Kausani
  2. Time to Visit: Any time.
  3. Suggestion: Stay at hotel Snow View Heritage in Nainital if you want to witness sunrise reflection in the Himalayas
  4. Date of travel: 06th & 7th March 2015

About: Nainital is a popular hill station in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Nainital is set to have a famous valley containing a peer-shaped lake, named Naini Lake.

Kausani is a picturesque hill station with a 300km wide panoramic view of Himalayan peaks Trisul, Nanda Devi and Panchchuli.

Trip Planner: Delhi -> Agra -> Haridwar & Rishikesh -> Nainital -> Kausani -> Jim Corbett National Park

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON DELHI TRIP

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON AGRA TRIP

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON TRIP TO HARIDWAR & RISHIKESH

Our Journey Starts:

Anindita’s friend Patrick Mennig from Germany visited India. Our plan was to show him some of the beautiful places of India. After an extensive planning, Me, Anindita and Patrick are all set to start our journey. The destinations we will cover in this journey are Delhi, Agra, Haridwar and Rishikesh, Nainital, Kausani and Jim Corbett National Park. As Delhi is the centre point for all trips to Uttarakhand, Uttaranchal and other places. After having a successful Delhi to Haridwar trip, our plan is now to visit Nainital & Kausani on day 3 and day 4 of our trip.

We boarded the “Dehradun-Kathgodam express” which departs Haridwar at 00.25Hrs and reached Kathgodam at 7.10. Used the retiring room in the platform to get fresh. And we are now at the Kumaon region. The time has almost come to take breathtaking views of The Himalayas. The day we reached Nainital, people were celebrating Holi (festival of colors) and taxi’s been quite less in number, though didn’t have any issue to find one. Booked a taxi for Rs. 700 which took us to Nainital from Kathgodam after a journey of 90 minutes through winding roads of the mountains.DSC07514

The hotel “Snow View heritage” was pre-booked. Generally, one need to take cable-car (rope-way) to reach to the hotel as it is located in a place secluded from all hustle and bustle. Unfortunately, the cable car was closed on that day due to Holi and we had to book another car to reach to the hotel via road-way. The hotel doesn’t look great from outside, but the inside is marvelous. The rooms have king size double beds with room-heater. Wooden floors and sofas added charm to the room. Dining space is also decorated nicely with long curtains and flowers. The hotel lobby is decorated nicely with real head of stuffed animals. I highly recommend this hotel for any traveler who wants to view the sunrise reflection on the Himalayas which happens around 6.15am. Else one can stay near the Naini Lake or the starting point of the cable-car with lots of hotel options. But staying near Naini Lake cuts out all option to view sunrise over Himalaya. This place is also a sight-seeing point for the people staying near the lake.

We were carrying colors with us and celebrated the festival of Holi at Nainital hotel along with the hotel staffs. We quickly finished our breakfast, and started to walk down the mountains. We took the trail between forests instead of well constructed roads which was quite an adventure. The view of the famous Naini Lake was majestic from the top of the mountain. The gusty wind took away all the pain. The cluster of flying hilly colorful flags added charm to the place.

We reached the base of the mountain or near the Naini Lake. Took a Sikhara (boat) for Rs. 250 for a ride of one hour. Most of the people were not coming out of the hotel due to Holi, as a result the place was not at all crowded which we really enjoyed. Nainital people are also very sober and never put colors without permission. The Sikhara ride over Naini Lake can’t be explained in words. The pure water, clear sky, beautiful little boat and the sound of water ripple is all one need to set a mood.IMG_3490

After a lovely boat ride, we did lot of shopping. Woolens are pretty cheap there. I bought an original Adidas jacket for Rs. 500 which was beyond my imagination. As it was quite late in the evening, we decided to go back. As our hotel was at the top the hill, we called a cab driver (arranged before) to come and take us to the hotel. It took only 15 minutes by car to reach the hotel. The plan was to go to Kausani the next day in the same car.

We woke up at 5.30am next day to view sunrise. We are the only one to witness that, as people staying near the lake has no chance to come here during this time by foot. They can still come later in the day to get a view of the snow-clad Himalayas. Organizers fix a powerful binocular too to take a view of the Himalayas for a cost of Rs. 10 per head. It was a windy and chilly morning. But, the sunrise reflection view on the mountain peaks was amazing. As if, all the mountain peaks are burning with fire. Slowly, the color changes to yellow. This is one of the most charismatic views of the Himalayas and no one should miss it.10428540_10206635909405017_873268214149336347_n

After an amazing sight, we packed our bags and started our journey for Kausani via Almora and Ranikhet. It took 6 hours to reach Kausani. On the way, we visited a sightseeing spot called “Toad’s point” where a huge rock is lying in the shape of a toad just next to a stream, which was really nice. There are many sight-seeing point around Nainital one can visit. But I believe, those are not worth in compare to the price they charge except the one I just mentioned.IMG_3642

The road to Kausani was not great, not too bad though. The view is nice throughout. A stream will follow you throughout the journey. We stopped at Ranikhet for some time to take some picture. Ranikhet is also beautiful where one can stay, but we preferred to stay at Kausani as it is in higher altitude in compare to Ranikhet and we were also in a tight schedule. We reached Kausani around 5pm. The hotel Blossom Resort was again pre-booked. The hotel is nice. All rooms are facing toward the Himalayas. Hardly any pollution there, birds chirping all around, get a clear view of the majestic Himalayas from the hotel lawn, what else do you need?

We took an evening walk and reached Gandhi Ashram. One can view entire town from this place. People generally come here to see the sunrise. However, we can see it directly from our rooms as it was facing at the right direction. Kausani has beauty of its own and almost pollution free. The serenity of the place still calls me. We arranged a bon-fire by paying Rs. 250 to the hotel staff. Food was served at the hotel lawn near the fire, which was again an amazing experience under a clear starry sky.

Finally at night, we kept our bags packed as we are going to move out in the morning next day. Woke up early again to view the sunrise. This time we were not so lucky enough, as the weather was cloudy and couldn’t spot the sun. I would suggest travelers to stay at least for 2 days in Kausani.IMG_3761

We boarded the booked cab and started our journey to the oldest national park of India, Jim Corbett National park. It took 7 hours to reach Jim Corbett National Park. The road to Corbett is also beautiful. The winding roads are all around the mountain. Trees from both sides of the road leaning to give a shade. The Ramganga river is flowing at its own pace.

Trip to Nainital and Kausani was amazing. The view of the Himalayas can’t be betrayed at any given time, by any given thing.

Stay tuned for the last part of our tip to Corbett, which is one of the best trip of my life….

CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL PICS OF NAINITAL & KAUSANI