Sunrise @ Kanatal

Sunrise @ Kanatal
Sunrise @ Kanatal

Friday, June 17, 2016

Darjeeling

Google Maps: Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
  • You need to walk a lot given the traffic situation in Darjeeling. Tea estate will take a good half day. Toy train will take another half. Carry an umbrella for sure.
  • Glenary's is a complete food destination. A restaurant at the top and a bar at the bottom complement the bakery at the ground floor. Sit at the balcony and enjoy a pastry.
  • Avoid Tiger Hill. The itinerary is too tiresome - waking up at 3 and counting on a clear sky is too much for a cloudy Darjeeling.
Darjeeling was once the queen of hill stations. The world heritage toy train was a marvel. The tea estates were part of many a travel wishlists. No more. Old buildings, dirty narrow walkways and congested roads support a crowd of tourist who come to see the glorious town of old but leave disappointed.

Happy Valley Tea Estate

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Namchi

Google Maps: Namchi, Sikkim, India
  • Take a cab to cover Samdruptse and Char Dham. They are in opposite directions so it will take couple hours each to cover them. We paid 10$ for this.
  • Stay in Namchi although its a small city. A better plan is to move to Darjeeling or Gangtok and spend the evening there. Both are three hours away from Namchi.
  • Start early if you are not staying at Namchi. Late in the evening the availability of transport options to move out of the city simply dry up.
Namchi came up on tripadvisor as one of the top five destinations within Sikkim. It was roughly on our way from Gangtok to Darjeeling so we went for it. How wrong we were. Not that Namchi disappointed us, but the road from Namchi to Darjeeling is so much in tatters that we were jittery all the way.

Shiva Statue, Namchi

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Tsomgo

Google Maps: Tsomgo, Sikkim, India
  • Nathula is closed on Monday and documents are to be submitted (including passport size photographs) one day in advance so plan accordingly.
  • Better come with warm clothes else you will have to take reused ones on rent. The trip goes to a height of 14k feet. At this altitude even oxygen is thin.
  • Go for the bunker of Baba Harbhajan Singh beyond Kupup. There is shrine much before the bunker where most people go but thats not real.
A trip to Nathu La is expected when you visit Gangtok. We didn't take it. In fact we crossed Nathu La from a mile and didn't take it. We were told its overhyped - being one of the three motorable roads to China from India does not mean you will see something out of the world. Instead we went for the farthest village called Kupup beyond which lies the shrine of soldier Harbhajan Singh.

Tsomgo Lake

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Gangtok

Google Maps: Gangtok, Sikkim, India
  • Book an early flight to Bagdogra and take a cab from there for Gangtok. Else you will reach late and tired and the day will be lost. Cover Banjhakri Waterfalls on first evening. Its refreshing.
  • Cover the three viewpoints and MG Road on second day. You may want to cover one of the monasteries (Rumtek, Ranka) the same day.
  • Sikkim Rum is a local brand which has become quite famous. Numerous shops sell it on MG Road. Try it with pastries from Baker's Cafe.
As we settled on our table in the restaurant located on the top floor of a hotel, hunger became secondary. Across the window the clouds were playing with mountains and our entire span of view was filled with this landscape. It was our introduction with Gangtok and I immediately fell to it.

View of Gangtok from Ganesh Tok

Friday, January 8, 2016

Patna Sahib

Google Maps: Gurudwara Sahib, Bihar, India
  • The road from Patna to Patna Sahib is congested and busy with limited parking facility. Start early or take a train to Patna City and from there take an auto-rickshaw.
  • A walk to holy Ganges through Kangan Ghat is a good idea but takes some time as the river has receded further.
  • Visit Agam Kuan and Kumharar en route, famous for events related to Emperor Ashoka who used to run his vast empire from Patliputra.

It may sound strange that I was born and brought up in Patna and yet I never visited Patna Sahib before. The birth place of the Tenth Sikh Guru Govind Singh is something I was not keen to keep out of my blog for long. Hence the visit this winter was a relief.

Inside Patna Sahib