Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Sikkim & Darjeeling trip 2016

A trip to Sikkim & Darjeeling 2016


From last two years I was planning for this trip, but now this time I have decided to fulfill my dream.

First, we decided to visit during Diwali Vacation (Nov) but then we thought if we visit in Diwali we face heavy rush & due to peak season rates are also high.
Then we reschedule in the first week of Oct. & according to that I done all necessary bookings online like train tickets, hotel booking etc. as this was my first visit so to avoid inconvenience I booked my hotels online, but after reaching I realized that if we go directly to hotel we can get better deal on the spot.

Gangtok Sightseeing video on youtube

Journey Began: Day 1 & 2 (Train)

Train Route

Our Train is from LTT (Lokmanya Tilak Terminus) via Kamakhya AC Express 12519 till NJP (New Jalpai Guri) which is closest Railway station for Sikkim or Darjeeling Both. It took around 36 hours to reach. We supposed to reach NJP by 9:00 PM but our train was delayed by 2 hrs. so we reached by 11:00 PM. Our first destination was Gangtok, from NJP to Gangtok is approx. 150 Kms. But it took 4.5 hrs. to reach due to mountain region and bad road conditions.
NJP Station & Taxi Stand
There are many taxis you can find outside the railway station if you come during daytime you can find many taxis with SK no. which came here for the drop, which will take you at chipper rates. But now it's 11:30 PM, few people suggest us not to travel night & stay at Siliguri Town, but we decide to leave for Gangtok as our room is already booked there.
After small bargain with taxi walas, we fixed one Tata sumo on sharing basis for 300 per person Private taxis is much costly during this time. But driver told us he will leave only after he gets all seats full (8 seats) we are 3 only, so we have to wait for others, after having snacks and coffee we saw he arrange more 4 passengers, it’s almost 12:00 AM my kid was very sleepy so I offer driver to take 1 seats extra charges from me and start the journey.
NJP to Gangtok by road
 The driver was very fast and experienced & reached Gangtok by 4:30 AM. Fortunately, we had already informed in the hotel about our delayed arrival so they allotted us a room immediately, we just check in & on the bed next moment.

Day 3

We woke up by 9:30 AM, feeling fresh, relaxed & excited to explore a new place, our Hotel is actually far from the main city.
View from our room
 Our plan for the day is first applied for Nathula Pass permit for next day, then start our full day sightseeing tour. After getting ready we came to reception to complete our check-in formalities, there we met the owner of the hotel, so we told him about our plan, he immediately said that he will arrange everything for us from getting a permit & hire a local taxi. (to get Nathula Pass Permit you need to carry your valid ID & 2 Photos of each member) we submit our document & photos to him & left for a Sightseeing tour.
with our Alto Taxi
Taxi (Alto) charged Rs.2500/- for a full day sightseeing. 
Bhakthang Falls
Our first point is Bhakthang Falls, here you can see nice waterfall & few stalls of traditional costumes on hire for Rs.50/- each, a small zip line is also there. 
in traditional costumes
We took some photos in traditional costumes and moved ahead.
Tashi View Point
Tashi Viewpoint is our next point, we are hungry now, so we decide to have some breakfast here, there was small hotel opposite to point we ordered some paratha, Onion Bhajiya, Bread Omelette & Coffee. Quantity was good so our stomach was full.
Viewpoints are very common in Gangtok, this is points on the height from where you can get an aerial view of a town, (at all point you need to pay parking charges extra which is Rs.10 to 25).
Aerial view of Gangtok
Tashi viewpoint is also one of them, after a small trek we reached on top, one common thing is Costume stalls at every point. After clicking some photos, we moved Ahead.

Our next point is Lahsa falls 

Lahsa falls 

(one thing I want to mention here is as this is hill station you can see waterfalls everywhere so don’t spent much time or miss any point) again this fall is also on road touch with a small café type hotel.

Plant Conservatory
Then we visited the Plant Conservatory (Entry Rs.10) a garden type place with various types of plants, poly house, Glass House and a waterfall on top, but this place is not well maintained & no one for Information. 

Glasshouse but closed

Poly House

You need to burn some extra calories here. We click some pix n proceed.

way to Ganesh Tok
Now we are at Ganesh Tok, it’s also a viewpoint with Lord Ganpati Temple on top, after a small trek,  
Ganesh Mandir at top

View of town
taking darshan of Ganesha we took some more Photos of Gangtok City from viewpoint and moved ahead. 

Hanuman Tok is our next point, this place is on hilltop, you need to pass many loops to reach here. 
The road towards Hanuman tok
This temple is managed by Indian Army. The area is very neat n clean and very well maintained. 
Way to Main temple & view Point
Very nice view of Himalayan Mountains & town as well, the temple is covered with clouds, inside the temple, there is a soldier instead of Pujari (priest). 
The entire temple was covered by clouds
Hanuman Mandir
View from Point
After taking darshan & photos of surrounding we moved ahead.

It was a nice sunny day but the climate was chilled so we are enjoying a lot. But time is running very fast & so many places are left to see. 

Our next stop is Banjakhri Falls which is situated at a lower level from town & road is very bad. 
Road to Falls
 It took around 45 mins. To reach there. (entry Rs.50/-PP + parking), its huge area with traditional Sikkim’s architecture, 

this is energy conservation park too but the condition is too bad. 

Empty pool

Out of order rides

Solar Panels 
way to falls
Banjakhri Falls

Just waterfall is superb. It’s the biggest fall we visited. As time is very less we immediately moved ahead toward our next point.
Again after 50 mins. of the ride, our next stop is Gangtok Ropeway. 

Gangtok Rope way. 
It’s almost 5:30 in evening and our driver told us that rope way is being close by 5:30PM, so rushed to ticket counter, fortunately we got tickets in last ride. (cost Adults Rs.110/-Child Rs.70/- below 6 yrs.) 
Gangtok Rope way Ticket
inside cable car
the cable car will take you through the great view of main city and back. Total 10 to 15 mins of the ride, but it’s worth it.

View from cable car

View from the cable car
Unfortunately, it’s our last point as time is not permitting us. our few points were left mainly Rumtek Monastery.

We are also very tired so we decided to go back to the hotel and have some rest and then back to MG Road in evening for dinner & shopping.
MG Road Entry
After some rest we left for MG Road at 7:30 PM, this place is the main area in Gangtok, but our hotel is very far away from it. (this is the disadvantage of booking online, we came to know that in the lesser amount we can get rooms in MG Road or nearby area).
Durga Puja Pandal
Shopping time
MG Road is very happening place in town. This was Navratri time (Durga Puja) in this part of India Durga Puja is more important than Diwali and it also becomes’s crowded during these days, so our plan to not visit in peak season is almost failed. But still this place is very enjoyable, the main thing is that vehicles are not allowed inside MG Road area it’s no vehicle zone, so can just be relaxed and do your shopping here. 
Street Market & food stall
First, we had some Hot N Spicy Momos, it was very delicious, then we bought some artifacts & we also want to buy very famous Temi Tea which is a specialty of Sikkim, for that Golden Tips is the best Place on MG Road.
Famous Golden Tips
After roaming in a market now we felt hungry, we wanted to have pure veg, food so someone suggested us to visit Parivar Restaurant,
Parivar Restaurant, Gangtok
we decided to visit there, this place was very popular among tourists, we saw so many people here. Food and ambiance are OK but service is very slow & rates are on higher side. Overall it’s a good place. While returning we found our same taxi driver so he dropped us at our hotel as he was also staying nearby. We end up our day in bed.

Watch Nathula Pass Video on youtube

Day 4

The most Awaited day, today we are going for combine visit at Nathula Pass, Tsomgo Lake & New Baba Mandir, 
A sudden change in weather
But the weather was not in our favor today, it was raining from the morning we are just worried about our trip was not ruined. We wear our regular clothes because we planned to get winter jackets on hire on the way. We have to reach to the main taxi stand, 
at Taxi Stand
our seats were booked by our hotel owner @ Rs.850/- per person on sharing basis (it was Tempo Traveler in that they carry 10 Persons), 
Get set goooo...
it’s still raining we started at around 10:00 AM. It was very cold outside, our permits are with driver and we take halt several times for checking, you don’t need to get down, your driver will take care of everything. 

Weather is still bad.

it's getting worse

and worse
Rain & cold is increasing as we get on higher altitude. 

As we reached our first halt place is called Kyongnosla at 10,682 ft. The Kyongnosla is a wildlife sanctuary too, located in East Sikkim, India. It is situated around the area adjoining the Tsomgo (Changu) lake along the Nathula Road. but this not good weather for it.
Small roadside market of Kyongnosla

Shops on roadside

it's damn cold outside
first, we hired some jackets on rent @ Rs.100/- each. And had some hot tea & Biscuits. And proceeded towards Nathula Pass.
Climbing up
This route is very scenic, but due to rain & fog we hardly see anything Tsomgo Lake is on the way to Nathula but we visit here while return. we just halt on a point from where you can see entire lake and click some photos.
Top View of Tsomgo Lake
Nathula Pass was a major corridor of passage between India and Tibet before it was closed in 1962. Located around 56 km from Gangtok at an altitude of 14450 ft., the road to Nathula passes through the Tsomgo lake. It is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and is richly surrounded by alpine flora.

A nearby place is Sherathang which has a well-developed Market Hub where Chinese trucks come for trade. 
Sherathang Market 

Truck's Bay

Chinese trucks loading
On the way to Nathula, you will come across a place called Thegu which has an ATM. This is the highest altitude ATM in the world. while your driver verifies 's documents you can take cash or just check your balance and take the slip as a souvenir. ( I am not able to do this due to a long queue of soldiers).
Army Check post-Thegu
way to ATM
World's Highest ATM at Thegu (13200 ft.)
After crossing Dagar Dwar we get closer to Nathula Pass.
Passing Dagar Dwar
you are almost there
Fortunately, rain was stooped, as soon as you reach on the top area a Soldier comes to you & give instructions about what to do & don't in here. you have to get down here & your vehicle is waiting down in the parking area.
Add caption
Nathula Pass is open for Indian nationals on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays. The visitors have to get the permit to visit the place by applying to the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department through a registered and recognized Travel Agency. Foreign nationals are not allowed to visit Nathula. Photography is strictly prohibited. You can take photos from the parking area. 
Nathula Pass Main Site
Nathula Pass

Photography from Parking area
On a clear day, you can even see the road winding down the Chumbi valley. The fenced Indo-China border is also few meters away and you can see both Indian and Chinese soldiers guarding the border. The guards are friendly. A stairway leads to the border. There is  'no man’s land' here. After some 44 years of closure, the old Silk Route again reopened in July 2006 allowing limited trade between India and Tibet. on the way to the top, there is on cafe too, you can have some hot coffee and Momos here. you can also buy a certificate of the visit as a memory of your visit.
Certificate of visit
 Before leaving for New Baba Mandir we have to wait here as it's time to pass Chinese vehicles back to chine so the road blocks for 30 mins.
Chinese vehicles Approaching

Chinese vehicle

Chinese vehicles Passing through Gate
After our visit at Nathula, we proceed towards New Baba Mandir, this “mandir” or shrine is dedicated to “Baba” Harbhajan Singh, who was a soldier of the Indian Army. He died near the Nathula Pass in eastern Sikkim, India. Two shrines have been built to show reverence to Baba Harbhajan Singh. The old one has been built at the site of the bunker, where Baba Harbhajan was posted during his tenure in the Indian Army. The new one has been built on November 11, 1982. at close proximity from Tsomgo (Changu) Lake.
The road to New Baba Mandir
The shrine features three room structures. There is a large portrait of Baba in the central room, which has been placed with other Sikh Gurus and Hindu deity. At the right of the central room, there is the personal room of Baba. The room has all essential household belongings, needed for daily livelihood, starting from clothes, slippers, shoes to a clean sleeping camp bed. Neatly ironed uniform and polished boots are also kept. 
New Baba Mandir
New Baba Mandir
Central room of  Baba Harbhajan Singh
Office of  Baba Harbhajan Singh
Rest Room of Baba Harbhajan Singh
Soldier Distributing Prasad
Sign Board outside Temple
The bedsheets are reportedly found crumbled each morning and the boots become muddy by evening. There is another small room, which is used as office cum storeroom. The room is filled with unused slippers, water bottles, toothbrushes and other items that are offered to Baba. The salary of Major Harbhajan Singh has not been stopped and he is also granted his annual leave. There is a strong belief that water kept in the shrine of Baba gains healing property and turns into sacred water that can cure all possible ailments. This blessed water is needed to be consumed within 21 days and in this period, no family members of the ailing person are supposed to have non-vegetarian food. It is also believed that the slippers kept in the temple, help to cure gout and other foot problems. Followers, who cannot reach to Baba’s temple, are allowed to send letters to Baba, which are opened by Baba’s associates.

Just opposite to temple you can find one cafe & Survivor shop too where you can have some hot coffee & Cakes, Biscuits & Momos, and buy some gifts. Washrooms also available here.
cafe & Survivor shop
at a small distance, there is a small waterfall & giant Shiva statue is located you can also visit there if time permits.
 waterfall & giant Shiva statue
It is believed that Baba Harbhajan Singh guards the international boundary between India and China, over the last three decades and he is accomplishing this task alone. Even the Chinese army also confirms that they have noticed a human figure, guarding the border at night, riding on a horse. It is also said that Baba Harbhajan Singh foretells any dangerous activity on the border through the dreams of the fellow army men and safeguards the force.
Welcome Sign at Tsomgo Lake
Now it’s time to visit Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake which is perched within mountains at an altitude of 12,400 ft. Located at Gangtok – Nathula Highway only 37 km. from Gangtok, the Changu Lake is one of the most spectacular landscapes of Sikkim. The lake is highly revered by the local Buddhists and Hindus as a sacred lake. With a depth of around 48 feet and spreading over 1 kilometer, the magnificent Changu Lake romances with its picturesque surrounding. The water of the lake comes from the melting of the snow of its surrounding mountains, which is why this lake never dries up. In fact, Changu Lake is also the place of origin of Lungtse Chu River. This azure blue lake remains completely frozen during winter.
at Tsomgo Lake
This oval-shaped deep blue lake is a treat to the eye from a distance. You would get the best panoramic view of the lake after crossing it on the way to New Baba Mandir. During winters the lake remains wrapped in ice, along with its surrounding region. The spectacle is truly breathtaking. The lake remains frozen up to April. In late spring, the lake is surrounded with wildflowers, which create a riot of colors. The rhododendrons, blue and yellow poppies, various species of primulas, irises create a breathtaking effect. The journey to Changu Lake from Gangtok is also quite enchanting, where you can view a number of waterfalls on the route.
A small bridge just at the entrance of the lake will take you to a viewpoint cum cafeteria, from where you can view the complete lake and its surrounding mountains.
Changu Baba Mandir (Shiva Mandir)
Idol of Shiva inside Temple 
There is also a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva built at the lakeside. You can trek along the lakeside in deep snow during winter or even take Yak rides along the coast of the lake. 
You can enjoy Yak ride

Market area
There is a small rustic market before entering the Changu Lake which sells yak cheese, trinkets and local curios to the tourists. Adventure seekers can also enjoy trekking at the surrounding Kyonqnosla Alpine Sanctuary. You would also get snow boots and gumboots on hire from here. There are few eateries too selling Momos and tea in this area.
The story of  Tsomgo Lake
Changu Lake is shrouded in myths and legends. It is said that in ancient times, the Lamas (Buddhist Saints) used to predict the future by observing the lake’s color. If the water of the lake had a dark tinge, they predicted the future to be dark and gloomy, full of unrest. The faith-healers of Sikkim, popularly known as Jhakhris also visit this lake during Guru Purnima to offer prayers. But humans are not the only visitors to this lake; it is also home to Brahmini Ducks and a favorite stopover to other species of migratory birds.

In return we stop at some point to return our Jackets and from some refreshment, we are very hungry now, we head some Hot Maggi & bread Omelet which feels like heaven, you can also find liquor here, infect in Gangtok you can find liquor in almost all big or small hotels, due to extremely cold weather. But just consume as a medicine.
Clear Sky & dry Roads
As we are getting near to town the sky was clear and dry, we returned by around 6:00 PM, MG Road was nearby so we plan to stay there in the market & do some time pass. MG road is a very attractive place you like to visit here again n again. After having our dinner, we returned to the hotel.

Gangtok to Darjeeling Road Trip video on youtube

Day 5

It’s our last in Gangtok we have to check-out by 10:00 AM and proceed to Darjeeling (97 Kms. Approx), actually we spent very less time Sikkim there are so many places to be discovered here, but we are in lack of time. If you are planning to visit Sikkim, please keep at least 5-6 days for Sikkim only. It’s very beautiful place with very nice n friendly people. I am not mentioning my hotel's name here because I am not satisfied with it, first I thought that owner is co-operative, but he was looting type person, first of all, rooms are very costly according to location, rooms are also not well appointed. (this owner is from West Bengal)
But our driver is very co-operative & friendly he is coming with us to Darjeeling to drop us. his Name is Binod, (cell: 8436105773) he is local guy, as you know on day 1 we missed our visit to Rumtek Monastery, Binod promise us to take their first and then Darjeeling without any extra charge. After having breakfast at the hotel We started at 8:30 AM. 
Main Entry Gate
We reached Rumtek within 1 hour This monastery is located in Rumtek, a place which is 23kms away from Gangtok town and in the opposite mountain. So if you visit Rumtek, there are vantage points from where you get amazing sights of the whole Gangtok town on the opposite hill. Admission fee is Rs. 10/- per person. Rumtek Monastery is open from 6am to 6pm. There is a pay & use the toilet for both ladies & gents outside the main entrance and few steps down. 
uphill walk with foreign nationals 
Taxis will drop you below from where there is a fairly long and steep uphill walk to reach the main entrance of the monastery. (Keep your Valid ID for Checking) As you walk along the pathway, you will find a few stalls selling souvenir & gift items, plus tea and snacks like veg momos, samosas, chips etc. 
stalls selling souvenir & gift items
Most importantly, they all have benches where you can sit and rest your legs as you sip a cup of tea.  

Search Results

prayer wheels on the way to Rumtek Monastery
The rumtek monastery is one of the largest in Sikkim and belongs to the Kargyu sect of Buddhists which originated in the 12th century in Tibet. The architecture of the monastery is one of the finest in the world and resembles the original one in Tsurphu, Tibet. 
Main Gate to Monastery 
The main building of the Rumtek monastery is three-storied. The ground floor of the main monastery building has a large prayer hall. The hall has large hand painted and intricate wall murals, thankas, silk paintings and statues.
Rumtek Monastery 
The main door to Monastery 
You won't be allowed to use the camera inside though. The first floor is where the 16th Karmapa lived. The top floor has a terrace and a small stupa. There is a large courtyard in front of the main monastery building. The courtyard has few other buildings surrounding it where the monks live. 
Monks at Monastery 

Just outside and at the backside, a stairway leads to the Nalanda Institute of Higher Buddhist Studies. You will find a huge painting of Lord Buddha here. And just in front of the institute building, there is a lawn from where you get a lovely view of Gangtok township in opposite hill. 
Way to Nalanda Institute & Golden Stupa 
towards Golden Stupa
Golden Stupa Entry
Just opposite the Nalanda Institute is a building where you will find the Golden Stupa of 16th Karmapa which is made of pure gold. No camera allowed here for obvious reasons. Actually, the monastery also houses other precious items like the Black Hat (known as the Vajra Mukut) which is studded with gold, diamond, ruby and many other precious stones. It was presented to the 5th Karmapa in the 15th century by the then emperor of China. No wonder you will find so many sentries at Rumtek Monastery right from its entrance and all over. On opposite to Monastery, there is open terrace area, from where you can get a great view of Gangtok. 
Great view but bit cloudy 

near the main gate, you can feed pigeons on your hand 
We spend around an hour here and proceed to Darjeeling, both destination on different mountains first we get down from Gangtok and then again hill climb for Darjeeling. Teesta river will follow you on the way. 
Me & Binod
Downhill from Sikkim
Passing through Rangpo

WB - Sikkim State checkpost

Lush green route

Rishi Bridge on Teesta River

Uphill for Darjeeling

Tea Gardens on hilltop

Tea Collectors at hill top

Awesome route

Passing through some beautiful villages

where we halt for lunch break
This entire route is very beautiful & scenic, we took our lunch break at around 2:30 PM on one small unknown village, it was on hill side place with nice view & food. 

As you see a narrow gauge railway track you realize that now you are near to Darjeeling.
Entering via Jalaphar Cantt

Ghum Railway Station

About to reach

Our Dream Destination
We reached Darjeeling by 5:00 PM. We already booked our hotel Darjeeling, but we don’t same experience like Gangtok so we asked Binod if knows someone in here, fortunately one of his friend is in here, he called him us n he there to receive us he asked for our budget we tell him that we are looking for good room in market are with low budget, he take us to a Hotel Tarang (Mr.Raju Cell : 9832306512) Just near to Darjeeling Railway Station, Room is small but clean and cozy with small TV @ Just Rs.800/per night, I immediately done it. It’s now time to say good bye to Binod as have to travel back to Gangtok again. We cleared his payment & he left.

After completing Check-in, we decided to visit DHR (Darjeeling Heritage Railway) which is just opposite to our hotel. I can’t describe you my feelings when we saw a Mini Steam Engine and 2 coach train on narrow gauge line it’s all like fairy tale. I click so many photos here. 
Darjeeling Railway Station
DHR Loco Shed

Engine Turn Table (not operational)

Coal Filling in Steam Engine
Steam Engine looks like Fairy Tail
Real Heros who kept DHR Alive
DHR was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999, only the second railway to have this honor bestowed upon it. Now days they operate Daily Joy Rides from Darjeeling to Ghoom & Back via Batasia Loop, it takes around 2 hours for each ride. cost of ride is for Steam Engine Rs. 1100/- per person & for Diesel Engine Ride Rs. 650/- PP. 
Joy Ride Diesel & Steam 
DHR Arriving 

About DHR
About DHR
you can also book your tickets online through irctc app or website. For more info on DHR you can visit here : after spending some time we decided to visit Chowrasta. 

 The Chowrasta or the Mall is the heart of Darjeeling town. Located on top of Nehru Road, Chowrasta was very popular place among tourists for fun, eat & shop. This place is also like MG Road, no vehicles allowed here, it wat just 10-15 mins walking away from Railway station so we decided to go there by walk. It was very live place, This is where some of the old and heritage stores are lined up on one side, and there is open view on the other with many pine trees all around. If you want to feel the real vibe of Darjeeling, watch people and activities, this is the place to come. as you enters shops on both sides, we saw a small group of boys is playing music & singing songs. this narrow lane will lead you to big open ground. 
Way to Chowrasta
Narrow street leads you to Chowrasta
group of boys is playing live music
Chowrasta Circle
Durga pooja Pandal
Durga Devi Idol
As this was Durga Puja Period we saw a huge pandal (Tent) in the ground with very beautiful Idol of Durga Mata, we took darshan & spend some time in nearby area, there are some very old shops here like Habib Malik & Sons, Golden Tips also. 
Famous Shops at Chowrasta
Then we visited Glenary's Restaurant, it has been a landmark of Darjeeling since many years, The Glenary's Bakery and Cafe is located at the ground floor. Here we tried some donut, pastry and Puff, its very testy & Reasonable too.

Glenary's Restaurant
donut, pastry and Puff
Warm & Cozy Ambiance 
then my son wants to have some pizza so we plan to visit Pizza Hut. 

At Pizza Hut
As we finished it we went back to our room and meet Mr. Raju Owner of Hotel Tarang, he is very co-operative man, we ask him about sightseeing for next day, he immediately arranges our next day trip as one of friend is doing the same. We booked our full day sightseeing at Rs.2500/- in Santro. Then we go to sleep as next day have to wake-up by 3:00 AM.

Darjeeling Full Day Sightseeing Tour watch on youtube

Day 6

We wake-up by 3:00 and & get ready by 3:30 AM, car is waiting for us outside. It’s very Dark & cold outside, 
Early morning Dive 
on hill top full traffic& women selling coffee
our first point is Tiger Hill Tiger Hill is located 11km (6.8 miles) from Darjeeling town and above Ghoom. It's the highest point in Darjeeling hills at an altitude of 8482 feet (or 2590 meters). At sunrise, the peaks of Kangchenjunga are illuminated before the sun is seen at lower elevations. The best season to see the dazzling snow covered peaks as the sun rises is between Mid-October to December. March to April is also a good time. 
For sunrise, you will need to start by 3:30 am in the morning so that you reach by 4.15 am. Some taxi drivers will insist that you start even earlier. There is a reason why. As you reach close to the summit, particularly during the high season there would be a long queue of cars. Hundreds of tourists come here every day for the sunrise view during the high season. As a result, you may have to walk uphill quite a bit as your vehicle may be parked much below the top. 
We choose our spot
Coffee shop & winter ware  stalls on hill top
There is not proper place to view the sun and Mountain Range, I planned to capture Time lapse of sunrise and find my place according to that but it’s very dark outside. We saw some local womans selling hot coffee here, it’s very energizing drink in this cold morning. Remember, Darjeeling's weather can change anytime. The fog and the mist play a mystical game here all the time. They can come from nowhere and put a white blanket all around. You can't predict that. In fact, looking at the weather and the sky from Darjeeling Town is almost no indication of how the weather might be at Tiger Hill. Cloud and fog in this area lie at various levels of the mountains, sometimes they may be above you, other times you may be above them. So no one can guarantee a perfect sunrise view from Tiger Hill or for that matter from anywhere in Darjeeling. 
no sign of sun after sunsrise
The crowd on a hill top
view of Darjeeling  from top
no sign of Kangchenjunga just fog & clouds 
This is the view for which people come here
Today is not our day, after waiting for long two hours we capture nothing but the fog. even we not able to see sunrise due to fog & clouds. we came down hill for our next stop Ghoom Monastery, on the way you have to face heavy rush. 
Place is crowded by people & vehicles 
with local vendors on road side
Our next stop is Ghum or Ghoom Monastery is the popular name of the Yiga Choeling Monastery located at Ghoom at an elevation of 8,000 feet, 8 km from Darjeeling in the State of West Bengal in India. 
Main building 
It is the first ever Tibetan Buddhist monastery to be built in the Darjeeling region. The monastery follows the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. There is a 15-feet high statue of "Maitreya Buddha" (Coming Buddha) in the monastery. 
Maitreya Buddha" (Coming Buddha) in the Ghoom monastery
Mesmerizing Statue of Buddha
It contains images of Buddha’s disciples, Chenrezi and Chongapa.The Monastery belongs to the Gelukpa or the Yellow Hat sect and was constructed in 1850 by the famous Mongolian monk and astrologer, Sokpo Sherab Gyatso. 
the Gelukpa or the Yellow Hat sect
Photography is allowed here.
Stupa at Ghoom Monastery 
Small Survivor shop inside Monastery 
You can also rotate giant Prayer wheel here
Final Shot outside Ghoom Monastery 
Then we visit he Batasia Loop (Entry Rs.15) is a spiral railway created to lower the gradient of ascent of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
Ticket Wondow
Batasia Loop was commissioned in 1919 because it was an engineering requirement for the toy train to be able to handle a steep gradient. Just after Ghoom (which is the highest railway station) there is a sharp fall as the toy train moves towards Darjeeling. There was no way the toy train could negotiate such a drastic fall of about 140ft unless there was a way to somehow reduce the gradient of the slope. 
way in
You can walk along the track and complete the loop for yourself. During this time there is no trains on track, so local vendors stall every where. 
Stalls near railway track
Here you take the many pathways in the garden and walk around, enjoy the many flowers and the surroundings. 
Eco Garden in Batasia
There is also an Eco Garden in Batasia. It provides a lot of information about organic farming and plantations in Darjeeling. At the center of the Batasia Loop is the War Memorial. 
War Memorial
This was opened in 1995 to commemorate the Gorkha soldiers of the Darjeeling Hills who sacrificed their lives in various wars after India's independence. At an elevated platform there is a Cenotaph and a statue of a soldier paying homage. You will need to take the same walkway back for the exit. As you come out, you will see a small market area. If you arrive early in the morning, 
Food & tea stalls outside
right outside there are temporary stands put up where the locals sell snack items like the hot Tea Samosas, Momos etc. after having good amount of Breakfast we continued.

Our next stop was The Rock Garden (Entry Rs.10) is also known as the Barbotey Rock Garden which is located some 10kms (or 6.2 miles) away from Darjeeling town in a valley down below. 
Way to down hill
Passing through Orange Valley Tea Estate
Ganga Maya is another park area located further down. As you take the right turn from the main Hill Cart Road of Darjeeling towards the Rock Garden, 
Passing through a Village
you know that you are in for a nature's treat. In about 25 minutes, this narrow winding downhill road descends by several thousand feet to a valley where the rock garden is located.
Way to Rock Garden
As you walk towards the garden, you will know why this is called Rock Garden. Because the entire garden area has been created by cutting rocks at different levels and making terraced seating arrangements at various levels. 
Water fall at Rock Garden
Stairs to up hill
There is a wonderful waterfall that comes all the way from the top and over the rocks to down below. 
Path to uphill is full of falls
You will need to keep climbing stairs, go up the ramp and cross small bridges across the rocks to reach up to the top. From the bottom, it's not possible to see the point where this water flow is entering the garden. 
Awesome Falls
The climb all the way up may be tiring for some. However, there are beautiful flower gardens, trees and shrubbery at all levels along with nice seating arrangements. 
Highest Fall
So you can rest and relax, enjoy the views around as you go up. But you need extra Stamina here, because there is too much walk here.

About 3kms further down is the Ganga Maya Park, (Entry Rs.15) which is another relatively new addition to the special attractions. 
Entry Gate & Ticket Counter
Once you enter the premises of the park, you can find yourself at the foothill of mountains that come from all sides. Yes, this is a valley surrounded by hills and having a natural water stream flowing through it. 
at foothill of mountains
Long walk
Boating in Lake
Bridge over lake
Water Passing from lake
There are beautiful small bridges built over the stream from where you can look at the crystal clear water flowing over the rocky bed. There is a small lake where one can also enjoy boating on paddle boats (Fees Rs.50 for 2 seater & Rs.80 for 4 seater). 
Enjoyed our Boat ride
Small fall in Boating Lake
At the end of the park, there is also a lovely fountain. If you walk around the park, there are wonderful flower gardens, trees and shrubs all across. 
Flowers all around
Building near Lake
It's easy to get to one of the many large rocks that are sitting right on the stream. After boating we start our onward journey.

While going on uphill we stop at Orange Valley Tea Estate for some photography in traditional tea picker costume (Rent Rs.50).We also brought some Organic tea from here.
traditional tea picker costume
Experience Tea Picking & can buy some tea from here
Say Cheese !!
Our next destination was Zoo & HMI, the zoo is officially known as the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, but more commonly as Darjeeling Zoo. The combined ticket is Rs. 50/- (subject to change). There is also additional charge for taking cameras inside (Rs. 10/-). 
Main Entry Gate

Ticket Counter Zoo & HMI
Some of the highlights of the zoo includes the conservation programs where you can see vulnerable and endangered high altitude Himalayan animals like the Tibetan Wolf, Red Panda, Snow Leopard etc. all in semi natural habitats. And then there are Siberian Tigers, Yaks and lot more. As you enter through the main gate, you will see some curio and souvenir shops on the left. And right in front is the Aviary, a huge circular birds cage. You can see different kinds of birds inside including Rose Ring Parakeets, Hill Mynas, Ring Necked Pheasants, Blue Gold Macaw and more. The striking ones are the two very large size birds of yellow and blue combination Macaws. 
Guide Map of Zoo

Out Ticket of Zoo & HMI

Central Area

Large Bird Cage

Fortunately we spotted Red Panda

Back Bear Resting

Royal Bengal Tiger
As you walk along, high up on your right you can see the cages made out of iron nets. That's the upper section of the zoo. In about 75 meters from the main gate, you will see a road on the right which is going uphill. That's the one to take to see the upper section. Otherwise you can keep going straight to visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and cover this area on your return. 
Way to HMI
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was built as a tribute to Tenzing so that he could impart his skills to all those who pursued climbing activities in the Himalayas. Tenzing was the first Director of field training in HMI. Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is now a complex of various activities and units. It is said to be a destination by itself and a pilgrimage for all the climbing enthusiasts. 
Main Building at HMI
Tenzing Memorial Rock
It comprises of a residential school for mountaineering students, Swiss style houses for the Sherpa trainers, a well-stocked museum with whole host of mountaineering artifacts and many expedition displays, a restaurant & a tea parlor, a souvenir shop and more. 

Few distance ahead on the Lebong Cart Road for practical training of rock climbing.  you can have reached at Tenzing Rock, a gigantic natural rock in Darjeeling is named after Tenzing Norgay.
Tenzing Rock
First my son tried it

My wife also did it
The man who created history by climbing the Everest first time along with Edmund Hillary in 1953. This rock can be used by amateur climbers or even tourists for climbing. However, one needs to take help of guides and pay some nominal fees Rs.50. The gradient of the right face is gentle and surface is easier for climbing. You must try this. After clicking some pix we move ahead.

Our next destination was Darjeeling Ropeway, one of the best ways to experience the panoramic views that Darjeeling is so famous for, is by taking a ride on the ropeway. It's also called the Rangeet Valley Cable Car because of the spectacular view of the valley around the river Little Rangeet.
Main Entry Gate

Ticket Counter

Queue for Cable car
You will need to board the cable car from Singamari which is some 3km away from Darjeeling Chowk Bazaar. As you ride the cable car. It takes up to 4-6 persons in a gondola. From an altitude of about 7,000ft you will go downhill to about 6,000ft at Tukvar. You can get off at Tukvar, enjoy the view of lush tea gardens and get back. The total round trip is about 5kms. The cable car moves quite slow and takes about 15-20 minutes each way plus stoppage time at destination.

From the cable car you can get breathtaking view of the valley below, see the spread of lush green tea gardens on the hill slopes, flowing rivers, forests, waterfalls. Tickets Rs. 175/- per person (to & fro). Child (3-8 years) is Rs. 80/-. During peak season you can find very long queue here.
Start Point
Cars on the way
Cars revealing from clouds 

Enjoy great View

Base Station

Small  Park at Base Station

again line up for return  journey
It’s almost 5:00 PM now & sun is about to set & one more destination were left.

Japanese Temple & Peace Pagoda, was located near main town so we need to reach here before dark, & unfortunately we stuck in a traffic due to Durga Puja Festival Procession, but somehow we managed it, but sun was sat now.

The temple is also known as the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple. The two storied white building was built in a traditional Japanese style in the year 1972. Close to the temple is the Peace Pagoda that showcases four avatars of Lord Buddha. 
Way to Pagoda
Buddha Temple 
As you enter the temple, there is picture of the founder Fujii Guruji. There is also a model of Buddha suggesting that it's a Buddhist religious temple. 
Main Hall 
Walk up the wooden stairs and you will reach the large prayer room upstairs. The prayer timings are from 4:30am to 6am in the morning and again from 4:30pm to 6:30pm in the evening. If you can time it right, you can also join the prayers and get an opportunity for introspection and feel the divine peace the temple offers. we had that opportunity. In the prayer room you will see the present Guruji or the chief priest offering the prayers, beating a huge drum (also known as Ho-ko) from which a reverberating sound originates that fills the entire temple premises. 
prayer room upstairs
The humming sound and the chants add to the solemn atmosphere. As you enter the room, you will be invited to sit and join the prayer. A small drumming pad and a stick will be given to you so that you too can drum in the same rhythm. I was amazed how such a small pad too can generate similar resonating sound. You can leave anytime you want. On your exit, you will be offered small sweet balls that represent the deity's blessings. While photography is allowed inside the temple, it is prohibited in the prayer room when the prayer is going on.
Close to the temple some 100 yards away is the Peace Pagoda. the very appearance of the Peace Pagoda is an embodiment of Lord Buddha that radiates peace and non-violence. 
Peace Pagoda

Peace Pagoda
It purifies the land as well as the mind and soul of the people. The Peace Pagoda here showcases four avatars of Buddha. This is the tallest free standing structure in Darjeeling. Its height is 28.5 meters and diameter is 23 meters. As you climb up the stairs in the Pagoda, you will see two concrete models of lions on two sides at a lower level. The avatars of Buddha are all large statues carved in the walls and polished in gold color. The Peace Pagoda was designed by Dr. M Ohka of Japan and took three years to construct. You will see the four avatars of Buddha during the Parikrama, that includes Buddha's postures such as Birth, Meditation, Sermon and Death.
Birth (Janma)

Meditation (Dhyana)

Sermon (Dhamma Prachar)

Death (Nirvana)
From the top of the Pagoda, if you lucky you get a panoramic views of Darjeeling landscape including the Kanchenjunga range.

Our sightseeing tour was ended here, we extremely tired due to walking every ware.
Today was our last day in Darjeeling, we want to visit Chowrasta again & do some shopping, Chowrasta Market is not so far from Peace Pagoda, so we start walking and within 15mins we reached there. We brought some Gifts & souvenir for our relatives. Now we are very hungry, my son wants some Chinese food today & my wife wants some south Indian. So first we went to Hasty Tasty famous veg Restaurant on Chowrasta, 
Hasty  Tasty 
Food was good here but service is very slow, then we went to some local stalls near Chowrasta Circle operated by women they make fresh n hot Noodles, Momos etc. We had some food there, its tasty, so many people here. 
local stalls

local stalls 
Finally, we end up our day in Bed…  

Day 7

Today we are leaving from Darjeeling, at the time of planning this trip I booked our return journey through Toy train from Darjeeling to Siliguri we Have to check-out by 10:00 AM and train is at 10:30 AM, we order some breakfast in our hotel (Tasty Puri Bhaji) and visited nearby temple of Durga Devi “Dhir Dham”, and went to Railway Station to do some inquiry of our train. 
Entry Gate

Main Temple
After looking here and there, I was unable to locate my train on platform I went to Inquiry Window, I was shocked when I come to know that the train was canceled due to derailment. 
at Station
We are very excited for this scenic journey, but our entire plan was flop. Now we have to find some alternative for return journey, we went to taxi stand and asked for Siliguri, there many Privet & sharing taxis available. We took Sharing Taxi at Rs.250/- Per head, and reached Siliguri by 5:30PM. This Route is also very Scenic,  Our train is from NJP so we hire an auto upto NJP.
Taxi to Siligiri

Beautiful Route

Sonada Station On the way

Famous Railway Station "KURSEONG"

From NJP we were going to Sealdah to meet one my friend, our train was on 8:15PM and next day reached by 8:30, 

Day 8

We meet him and spend few hours with him and proceed to Airport for our flight to Mumbai.

Within 3 hours we at our home, overall it’s a great Journey, 
I Hope you liked it. and may be helpful to you during your trip.

Cost given here in above is as per year 2016, subject to change.
for any other assistance you can mail me on


1 comment:

  1. Love these foggy views and look forward to more interesting travel posts like this one.
    cheap airport parking
    compare gatwick parking