Showing posts with label siliguri. Show all posts
Showing posts with label siliguri. Show all posts




The first-daywe got little suspicious with the transport rates being quoted by Kanchan View Hotel Manager. We reported that back to Calcutta the tour operator Mr. D. Ghosh. But once you are away from home and you have limited option to negotiate a bargain. The Hotel person by now have charged us 2500 for the first day covering only Tagore Smritivan , monastery and forest bungalow. For the second day we paid 2500 to cover 5/6 places but the distance was more. By now we have checked few blogs and travel sites thanks to borrowed usb modem and quite certain that we are being robed :( The charge for travelling to Burniok to Kurseong was a whopping 4500. Somehow by now we kind of lost faith on that travel agent :( of Calcutta. 

Only good part we got a new Mahindra Xylo and started travelling back to Jorethang on the same road and took a turn there towards Kurseong The road was really bad as we entered West Bengal luckily we were in a SUV. The road was narrow, long and without any major village to stop or rest over for few minutes.
We called the guest house in Kurseong to get a direction and he explained the same to our driver. On the way weather also changed its mood and it became very dark and started to rain as we approached Kurseong. Ghum (highest point on Toy train line ) was completely submerged in cloud. We could hardly see anything beyond few meters. Once we reached Kurseong we were lost with direction and had to come back to towards Darjeeling again to reach our home-stay. The home-stay is on a hill top near St. Mary. We approached it via such a narrow lane that there was no chance for our SUV to go to the end and had to drag our luggage ourselves. It was not a pleasant way to approach a new place & moreover there was no help from the home-stay and it was raining. By the time we got into our room it was almost 2:30 PM and it was really cold. Although the house had wooden floor but it was really cold and we felt little unprepared for this weather in the middle of summer. We had some hot Maggi and sandwiches as snack or late lunch. My mother decided for a rest while we decided to explore the market of Kurseong. So we walked back to the highway (Darjeeling -Siliguri NH 55) and got a shared jeep (taxi) which took us to the market.

The market we explored about travel option of our own this time. We fixed one taxi for next day's sightseeing and also inquired about rate for going to Darjeeling and Siliguri. With that our suspicion became reality ? that we were cheated by our travel agent.

We walked around the market area and it started to rain. We left the market area behind and tried our luck in stopping a taxi to drop us back. But that turned out negative and we continued and reached “Kurseong Tourist Lodge”. Stopped there for a break we ordered coffee and French fries for Aarush. Must admit after a long time had a good coffee in the kingdom of tea :). The sky got little cleared and we started walking back again on NH 55 to reach our home-stay. Walking along the Highway and toy train had its share of fun. Aarush did an excellent walk of 3 KM walk with uphill. Dinner was a simple-one egg-curry with rice and we headed to bed as it was really a long day for us.

Next day, the weather was not better compared to first day. After breakfast we started with our sightseeing. The first stop was Dow Hill Girls School. The place was not open to public that day and due to rain and cloud we could hardly see anything. This school is 130+ years old started in 1879. From there we went to Dow Hill (Deer Park) which is little further on the same road. It seems there is a big plan to make a zoo/entertainment park with rope-way in couple of years. Knowing it is West Bengal I have personal doubt that it will ever be made.

From there we went to Makaibari Tea Estate, normally on a regular day you can visit the factory and have a guided tour of tea leave processing. But being Sunday factory was closed and we just bought some tea. En route we passed Castleton Tea estate which is one of the most expensive Darjeeling tea. While heading back we stopped for few minutes to explore Cochrane Place and taking pictures around tea garden as Sun suddenly came out between the cloud. This resort/hotel is really cool and worth checking out if you are looking for better stay with excellent view.

After this we came to TV tower which is also known as Eagle Crag. It is a high point and provides panoramic view of the valley down . The sky was not very clear but it was better than the initial morning and we could see the road going to Siliguri and the great flat land near from there. The river Torsa;’s white mark was very faint.

The driver suggested some options which really did not appealed us but then he suggest Goethals Memorial School. For that we drove past our home-stay. This time we got lucky and guard let us in the school yard. This school is the boy’s convent started in 1907. There are many distinguished alumni’s who represented India from Olympics to Corporate leadership. It was a real nice feeling to explore this school from outside, reminded us of the Montfort School of Yercaud,TN.

The driver dropped us back to the same place where we had snacks previous day evening. The place was packed with tourist but luckily we managed a table and had some hot meal there. We went back to our home-stay with a local Taxi.

Now like weather our camera also made a big drama, one of the plastic pins of memory card got broken and it refused to work. We explored St Mary’s Hill in the evening. It was a nice stroll from home-stay. We crossed Eastern Forest Rangers' College (another British Legacy) on our way. It is a scenic natural area covered with lush green forests all around and the way leading to The Grotto. A statue of Mariam (Mother of Isa) is placed inside a open cave. There were only one or two worshipers when we were there to lit candles.

Well that is also end of Kurseong, settled the bill & booked a Taxi for next day morning to take us early in the morning to train station to get a ride on famous Toy train to Darjeeling


West Sikkim - Hee Bermiok

We initially planned to visit Bhutan during summer vacation of ’13. Somehow during the planning phase we found it was overshooting our budget. And moreover, was advised against it during late April & Early May as there is a high chances of rain during that time. So we had no plan and no places to visit while we are going to be in Siliguri for 10/12 days.

We called one travel agent in Calcutta from train and told him about our requirement and he said he would be able to put an itinerary of 6 nights ( 2nights Sikkim, 2 Kursuang and 2 in Darjeeling). We had no clue on the suggested itinerary as we were too preoccupied with our trip to Gaya.


The d-day before of our trip cab driver called and informed us he is coming down to pick us. He suggested it would be a good idea to start from Siliguri as early as possible. We started around 7 from home to Bermiok (West Sikkim) via Sevoke road. The road along Assam riffles was just magnificent straight road without any potholes(a miracle in India) and trees lined on the both side. Soon we were climbing the twisted roads and crossed Coronation Bridge over the Teesta river ( few days later the bridge become news when “An Indian Guinness World Record holder who attempted to cross a river suspended from a zip wire attached to his ponytail has died during the stunt”. We continued on the Siliguri-Gantogk(NH31A) road and took a turn at Melli for Jorethang and continued on Melli-NayaBazar Road. After Jorthang the road became more steeper and narrow you really need to know how to manage those hills and steep incline and hairpin bends with zero visibility. Only relief was there were not many cars on the road. We reached Bermiok after passing by Nayabazar, Rinchenpong, Kaluk. The road was more or less well maintained but many places would be quick target of rains and land-slide is common which would cause major havoc for commuters.

The Hotel( Kanchan Hotel) was pre-booked and we were the only one to stay there. Surprisingly, the last visitor to this place was two months back. The rooms were nothing great but as they are on the hill you could see Kanchenjunga Range from your room. Suddenly, we realized we are feeling cold as this place is 5650 ft above MSL. But the caretaker gave us the first surprise mentioning we need to spend 2500 on Taxi for sight seeing. It was a shock but we did not have a choice. In the meantime, the sky was getting cloudy which is very common post noon in hills. We had a simple Bengali lunch Dal, some veggies and fish.

Post lunch we started with Tagore Smriti , a nice park dedicated to Rabindranath Tagore. Personally, doubt did Tagore ever visited this part of Sikkim as there is no solid proof for the same but the local tour guides thinks he did. From there we went to Rinchenpong monastery. There were small monks inside the monastery for their afternoon classes so we did not went in. This is a very old monastery built in 1717 with wood. The driver/guide told us there is another monastery ( Resum Monastery) if we are willing to walk up-hill. We wanted to explore so continued it was long walk up-hill with many steps. My mother stopped climbing in the middle and we three continued. It was a price-less walk reminding Master-card Advertisement as it was complete silence and the soundings are too green and pristine. Once we reached the top there was not much to see honestly. There is a old monastery which seems now part of dispute between different sect or family and there are few families staying as caretaker. Photograph of the monastery was not allowed so we took some pictures outside and headed back.

Now we headed towards to the British “Dak-Bunglow”( Now Government Guest House) , we crossed Poison lake on the way. The story of poison lake goes like this “when the British attacked Sikim(1860). They reached up to Rinchenpong when Lepchas (the original inhabitants of Sikkim) poisoned the water of the pond, the only source of water in Rinchenpong. In the process killing almost half of the British troops and forcing them to retreat.”

Well it became dark by 4:30 PM and we headed back to hotel and enjoyed hot tea with pakodas. Sitting at the rooftop restaurant we enjoyed clear sky and innumerable number of stars glittering on the sky, the lights of Pelling and Gayzing was illuminating like diamonds. Cold was getting unbearable so after an early dinner we retreated to the room quickly.


Wow! what a sun-rise with rain washed blue sky we got a clear view of Kanchenjunga Range. It was simply magnificent. We clicked many shots and special thanks to Pamela for being up so early. Post breakfast we left for other local destinations. We started with Chayataal a picnic spot. This a Government resort on a remote hill top. The road is really bad there was no tar and with previous night rain it was really muddy. We found it bit strange and could not understand why government of Sikkim is allowing guest house/hotel/Govt- Bunglow like mushrooms. If it continues for another couple of years this remote part will become like Uttarakhand tsunami one day.The USP for this western Sikkim is remoteness, being closer to nature with plenty of trees if that is gone it will be a real shame.

From Chayataal as headed down we stopped at Rock Garden; another park/picnic spot. It is located next to a stream and it was walking up and down taking pictures. The place is really nice to enjoy yourself with nature and not being bothered as there was no other tourist around.

Now we traversed the hills towards Pelling(Major town of West Sikkim) and crossed the beautiful valley of Dentam, stopped at Cheese Factory and bought some cheese for ourselves,. We took the road going towards Uttarey and visited the famous suspension bridge ‘Sinshore bridge.’ From Sinshore Bridge we took an U-turn came down to Dentum and drove towards Changey falls. Now we are on the complete opposite hill range and could see the road that we came in the morning. The Changey falls was OK but as we were end of summer there was not much water but good enough.

On the way back to Dantum we asked the driver to stop Kalej Khola, this is near Dantum Bridge. We went to the stream to soak our feet the water was cold but it was really relaxing. We were hungry and headed back to our hotel for lunch. Post lunch we went for a stroll on the same road for couple of kilometers.


Sweet potato dessert

Sweet potato dessert (Ranga Alur Puli) is an age old Bengali dessert - a sweet lover's delight for sure. Its crispy outer layer mesmerizes gastronomic senses. As for its availability, it is more of a traditional sweet, prepared in households. These days some sweet shops are starting to include this in their repertoire to cater to the time-constrained generation.

Sweet Potato

My hubby being born with a sweet tooth, do enjoy sweet of any kind. So, this recipe is actually initiated and arranged by my mom-in-law for him while I prepared it under her guidance on our short stay at Siliguri this year.


    For Puli Dough:
  • Sweet potatoes: 500 gms
  • Flour: 1 ½ tablespoons if preparing stuffed one (otherwise 100gm for plain one)
    For Stuffing: (optional)
  • Milk: ½ litre
  • Sugar: 1 tablespoon
  • Coconut: ½ (grated)
  • Cardamom (green): 2-3
  • Raisins
    For Syrup:
  • Sugar: 1 cup
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Oil for frying
Method:The Puli Dough:

Wash and boil the s.potatoes until soft. Peel and mash. Add the flour and knead into dough. Keep aside.

The Stuffing: (optional)

Bring the milk to a boil by adding a tablespoon of sugar in it. When the milk starts to thicken, add the coconut and the raisins and condense it to a thick, sticky consistency. Remove from heat and add crushed cardamoms. Let it cool.

The Syrup:

Add a cup of sugar to a cup of water and bring this to a boil. The syrup should be of medium consistency. Let it cool.

pulis are ready
Making the pulis:

Take a small portion of the dough in your hands and shape them accordingly unless it is stuffed. If preparing stuffed pulis then flatten the dough and make a cavity in the centre and fill it with a little of the above stuffing. Seal the edges of the dough and give it the shape of a puli. Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the pulis in batches. Remove from oil as pulis start browning or golden. And dip the pulis into the syrup carefully, one by one. Serve hot or cold.

Frying the pulis

Frying Pullis: We prepared plain puli without stuffing but stuffed one are really mouth-watering and delicious….no doubt! Actually, Ranga alur puli (fried sweet potato dessert) along with other pulis like Muger puli (made of moong dal or yellow moong lentil), Chirer Puli (made of poha -beaten rice), chana dal puli, Chaler puli (made of rice) use the harvest produce—rice, coconut, date palm juice and jaggery etc speciality items of Shankranti.

Finally all ready


Hue of the sky

Siliguri is gateway to the North East of India. It is commercial city of North Bengal where tea, timber and transport are the main business. It is a base point to head towards Darjeeling, Sikkim, kalimpong, mirik etc. Besides, it is also the transit point for air, road and rail traffic to the neighboring countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

snow clad mountain seen from Siliguri railway staion

Situated at foot of Eastern Himalayas it has very pleasant temperature but weather is very unpredictable as it gets shower any time. Summer is not like other parts of India which burns in hot lava. It hardly exceeds 32 C in day time and after every 3-4 days there is a light rain sometimes short sharp downpour. Winters are really biting cold with mercury level hardly rising to 15 C at day time. During winter, on clear day it gives excellent view of Himalayan peaks with an opportunity to see as backdrop of snow-clad mountains.

In the month of May, we went there for 10 days which was a great escape from Mumbai’s heat and frequent power failure. These pictures are from the terrace of my in-law’s house.

Day time at Siliguri


Sunset at Siliguri


China rose

white china rose

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into. - Henry Ward Beecher.

I don't know really why I love to picture flowers. Wherever visit if they fascinate me, try to make them my subject.

My dad loves garden; for him it is most sociable of hobbies.Truly said, the very nature of one's field of activities demands an audience. No one wants flowers to blush unseen or waste their sweetness. So, every time we are there we are taken around. This is one of the variety of china rose although not much redolent from my parents garden. Currently, we are on a 10days vacation at Siliguri to escape humid heat and fast life of Mumbai. As said, we tried to take lots of pictures this time of flowers with my new gadget Canon-G7 camera. Just could not stop my self from posting the same. Link to Album


Sikkim - Gangtok

My current home in India is Siliguri, north of West Bengal may not be the most alluring for tourist destinations. But it is the most important city in the entire Eastern Himalayas due to its geographical location. As city is unabashedly an industrial centre and gateway to seven sisters of North-East along with Sikkim & eastern part of Nepal. My parents moved here ten years back and by that time I had just started my career; never had ample holidays to explore any thing around. Always I used to be too tired to get out of home and end up with novels and old music. But this was for the first time I did take days out to visit Gangtok.

Though journey was not very memorable or different than that of those I had while growing up in North-East region except that Pamela was with me this time. Traveling by Jeep through those narrow winding roads is an experience in itself where our co-passengers thought that we are going for honeymoon trip. The drive was very scenic with Teesta River flowing all the way. The forested hills are still green but truly there is continuous deforestation going on for either cultivation or smuggling woods.

We reached Gangtok after midday and the Taxi Stand was the most active part of the city like any other small or hill town in North-East. There are too many touts to rob you. If you travel light and are able to carry your luggage yourself you can avoid them. We stayed in a ITDC hotel near to M.G.Marg where we had our lunch at its expensive restaurant. Then we went out for booking our trips for sightseeing & daytrip for next 2 days. Being a tourist place it seems everyone wants to rob so you need to have good negotiating skill & make sure what you need you get the same. After bargaining we were able to book our trips for next 2 days. Then from there we went to the Government Institute of Cottage Industries (also called the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom) which promotes and teaches the ancient crafts of Sikkim (like painting, mask making, weaving, wood carving) to keep them alive. It is located at zero point, few km uphill from the main Gangtok town.

Day II, we had Allu paratha as breakfast early morning near to Bus stop at Agarwal restaurant & got the same packed for the route also. Then we headed towards our agency. Indians are famous for their IST so our co-passengers. After waiting a while for them to join we started our trip to Tsomgo Lake.
Tsomgo Lake is situated at an altitude of 12,310 ft on Gangtok-Nathula highway. Just few kilometers away from Indo-China border. This road also continues to Lasa, Tibet. Drive to that region is again very different with snow capped mountains & this whole belt is undertaken by Indian military. Salute to our Indian army who are taking pain to guard those borders to make our life easy & peaceful. Really I wonder sometimes how they are struggling there to earn their meal in those extreme cold regions far from there near one.
On reaching Tsomgo lake (pronounced as Changu Lake which means source of lake) we hired snow boots as all the travel agents take their customers to respective brothers stall for hiring jackets, snow boots and water-proof boots. Because of the high altitude heavy woolens are required which we already had.
From there we went immediately to Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial which lies between Nathula-Jelepla pass which is at still more higher altitude of around 13,450ft. Actually, it is built in memory of a sepoy of 23rd Punjab regiment. It seems after few days of his missing he appeared in the dreams of his fellow comrades & expressed a desire that monument be built in his memory. Now it has acquired a statue of a pilgrimage, being Sunday there was langar (free meals served after Sikh services) offered by Indian Army. After one hour stay we came down to Changu Lake.

Weather was getting worse. Tea, snacks & film rolls are available at the dozen of temporary stalls near the lake. But there is no facility of accommodation or proper toilet for the tourist. Rides on yaks and mules are also offered which was worthless to enjoy for Pamela at that temperature.
In the evening, we walked on the main street of M.G.Marg which is normally closed for all vehicles from 5 to 9 PM. Looked for budget restaurant for our dinner; we found one and also found a long queue waiting for their turn. The wait was delightful.

Day III started for us early morning as we wanted to return to Siliguri ASAP. We started our sightseeing activity from Rumtek monastery (largest monastery of Sikkim) and ended with exotic orchid show along with Enchey monastery, Do-drul stupa.
Gangtok is a blend of the traditional and modern, where modern concrete multi-storied structures clings to the hillside along with stupas and monasteries; buddhist prayer flags flutter with the mountain breeze; young college girls in trendy dresses while elderly matrons clad in traditional 'bakus' and lamas in colorful maroon.

Now, looking forward to travel to North Sikkim some day which we heard is more beautiful with valley of flowers and lakes to explore.


Vacation on the horizon

Yes I am going to take vacations! It has been a while (after May 2005) when we went out from our current address in Paris. In our standard of travelling it is a record for good or bad...that can't be said. May be it is the effect of Chateau, Bateau, Gateau.We would love to visit some country-side or mountains now. But, unfortunately Pamela is not at all interested for any ski-trip as she is complaining about the Paris cold all the time. So no trip in Europe for now.
Well, this vacation I am cheering but may be it will be just like another trip to India where my days are more hectic with relatives and long journeys and at the end I question myself was it a vacation or my social duties.
For sure I am going to travel a lot as I will start my trip of India with Delhi and ending the same in Bombay. In between I am going to stop at Siliguri, Calcutta & Durg for sure. I am adding this map with pointers to give an idea.


Shan & Pam-The Perfect Wedding

It was the 27th April’02 evening,

Every thing was geared up for the Mumbai meeting,

Our “Rosy” flower, made “Shan” like a bee humming,

Not showing outside, Pam thought it was her prince charming,

Santanu was convinced it was the end of  his findings,

Gandhiji was nervously smiling,

Shan’s mother in law thought it was perfectly matching,

Pam’s mother and father in law were unable to hide the exciting,

Sensing wedding bells ringing,

Choton proposed an early ring exchanging,

Everyone in both sides were priding,

Thought it was a great timing,

Then came a series of e-mailing,

Thousands of miles kept two hearts parting,

While Technology brought California & Durg closing,

And the two did each other some measuring,

At Satna there were forgotten few, who were guessing,

When at Durg “The Great Jija” felt something missing,

Why his sali’s plum looks gave way to slim & beauty tantalizing,

8th Nov’02 kept them waiting and waiting,

14th Aug’02 traditional ring ceremony gave some consoling.

On 5th Nov’02, “Jija & Co” left Satna with lot of worrying,

And sight of his father suffering,

Believing everything will be OK till returning,

Only Shiva knew, Kolkata will be far from reaching,

When news at Gaya came like a bolt thundering,

Your father is no more, came a voice grieving.

The “Biye” at Kolkata, started with Agni offerings,

Shudh Mantras, the Brahmin was reciting,

Santanu’s patience got some testing,

The “destined future “made home and parents from Rosy departing,

Hectic jaunts, (Kolkata to Siliguri to Durg and back to Kolkata) made both of them panting,

As Siliguri & Durg were places of “Chaturtha-mangal” and partying,

Finally, to California the two birds were flying,

But Hong Kong made them hopping,

The Album kept us waiting,

We opened to find “Shan & Pam –The perfect Wedding

By Jija & Co. - Ashim, Maitrayee, Tumpa & Tini



It all started around very early 2002. After few correspondences between our parents I was asked to come to India in April. After doing some travelling around, on very last day I met Pamela in-person at Bombay on 27th April. It did not took much time for deciding about the biggest step of our life.After phone calls and emails for next six months, we got married on 8th November at Calcutta.I reached Siliguri on 5th November whereas Pamela reached Calcutta at 30th October from Durg. I with few of my family members reached Calcutta on 8th morning by an overnight train journey. The main function was at night, which started around late evening and ended at 2AM.Next day, evening we started again for Siliguri from Calcutta. There was reception at Siliguri on 11th. We started for Durg on 14th to attend another reception there. It was for all those who could not attend Wedding reception at Calcutta. We started from Durg again on 15th for Siliguri via Calcutta.Yes!! We did travelled a lot on Indian Railways that time. On the way to Durg, Pamela applied for her US visa at Calcutta on 15th. And finally on 23rd we started for California.

Day 3 - Rishikesh

The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we...