Hey you guys!! How have you been? I am back again with another post ..about the trip to Queen of hills..
Yes, you guessed it right…Darjeeling..
Wanna know why Darjeeling is called the Queen of hills?
It is a tiny town in the state of West Bengal, which is situated at an elevation of 6,700ft.
And to be honest trip to Queen of hills was more fascinating than Gangtok..because?? you know right? NO?
OK, you will know it very soon.
OK so let me rewind a little for you guys if you haven’t read my previous blog(by the way, you should definitely check out) about Gangtok…
check out here…
Last month i went on a trip with my family to North East where i got to explore Sikkim and Darjeeling.It was a packaged trip with LAMA TRAVEL SOLUTIONS.
It was a bliss I must say.
Now, here I am to share my experience in this episode of #delightfuldarjeeling.
I woke up to-“LET HER SLEEP, LET’S LEAVE HER ALONE HERE AND WE SHALL GO, THE DRIVER IS WAITING DOWNSTAIRS AND THERE IS NO PARKING SPOT HERE, SO WE CANNOT MAKE HIM WAIT”.Dad said.
If you have read my last blog, you would know, my head was bursting due to hypoxia. So I woke up late with all dizziness.
But anyhow I packed my belongings, got freshen up, grabbed a bite and we were all set to hit the roads of Darjeeling.
Here I come to Darjeeling………
It was 8 am. we were supposed to begin at 7 am in order to escape traffic.
The distance from Gangtok to Darjeeling is approx. 115 kms.(4 hours).
I knew Darjeeling was holding a surprise for me.
So the more I thought about it, the more I became exhilarated and restless to reach there and do the adventure i was
“THE MOST EXCITED” for, the TOY TRAIN off course.
who hasn’t dreamt of Darjeeling’s toy train…
I being the typical 90’s kid who grew up listening to MERE SAPNO KI RANI KAB AAYEGI TU(movie-Aradhana) where Rajesh Khanna was seen wooing the gorgeous Sharmila Tagore, in this very TOY TRAIN So i had some nostalgic strings attached to it.
And also, it is the major attractions of Darjeeling.
On our way to the hotel, I was amazed to see that Darjeeling and Gangtok are chalk and cheese.
Darjeeling is populated but urban.
It was unbelievable, actually unusual to see that how a single road could fit taxis, buses, pedestrians,shopping stalls, eating joints and even train(seriously?)
I was aghast when I saw the toy train making its way without troubling the wayfarers and anybody else.
Don’t know why but watching the toy train pass us was an entertainment and also a sense of gratification for us.
I being an impatient child, asked the driver that when can we do this TOY TRAIN thing?
“You cannot do”-he said.
My dad was like why? Are any riots going on?
No,you need to book the tickets in prior. Did you?-he said.
Dad said “we were not informed about it earlier and also it is in our itinerary then what are we supposed to now”?
He asked us not to worry and to book the tickets for tomorrow’s ride.
TIP:- it will be your luck if you get the tickets on the same day(chance in a million),so i will suggest to book your tickets in advance(at-least a day before) if you want a ride on the toy train.
We reached our hotel YUMA around 12:30 pm and this time unlike the hotel in Gangtok, this one surprised me with their luxurious gigantic and spacious rooms.
The interiors were good so was the hospitality.
I was super happy.
And also not to forget the view from my room was just surreal. It gives the panoramic view of the sky where clouds were hovering on the hill top.
The best part of it? The hotel is located in the heart of town.
Darjeeling railway station, all the shopping and eating joints are(even BIG BAZAR) were located within a stone’s throw from our hotel.
I would strongly recommend this hotel if you are searching for a stay in Darjeeling.
We got freshen up and ready ,.not even exaggerating guys,but had one of the best breakfasts of my life.
Then we headed to the Darjeeling railway station to book our tickets for the TOY TRAIN.
And to our surprise the tickets were fairly expensive for a 2 hour ride which is a 14 km’s long (round trip)
Which was 800 rupees and 1310 rupees for the diesel and steam engine rides respectively.
But if you did not take a ride in this extravagant train..then did you really go to Darjeeling?
We bought the tickets for the next day and went to have lunch in a nearby local cuisine stall(Dhaba).
And ordered Nepali thali which included Dal, Bhaat(boiled rice), Tarkari( vegetable curry) and achaar(pickle) with a sweet item.
You can add dimension to your trip by exploring and trying out some local food of Darjeeling.The food here reflects the diversity and heritage of the state.
We headed to PADMAJA NAIDU ZOOLOGICAL PARK which is a 7 acres zoo.
It is closed on Thursdays so you can plan accordingly.
Do not suspend this humongous zoo, thinking this is yet another typical one that you see in any city.
The entry fees were very affordable(30 per head).
Here you can spot some endangered species and high altitude Himalayan animals like Siberian Tigers, Tibetan wolf,snow leopard,black panther,colorful parakeets, mynas and many more , well camouflaged.
This was the most peculiar zoo i did ever see.. so picturesque, lush green,neat and clean and very well maintained. we took many pictures there.
Next up was HIMALAYAN MOUNTAINEERING INSTITUTE which is located adjacent to the PADMAJA NAIDU ZOOLOGICAL PARK.
It is one of the top notch and leading mountaineering institutes of the world.It is a world class institute which aims to train the people who have zeal to understand the mountains.
It encourages and promotes the young people about mountaineering.
Courses such as rock climbing, camping, trekking, water sports and many and other activities are being conducted here.
The nation built the HMI in Darjeeling to pay tribute to the success of SHERPA TENZING NORGAY(First man to reach MT.EVEREST summit in 193).
As you know my father becomes a story teller if something is related to history.
He said the story of SHERPA and sir EDMUND HILARY about how they reached MT.EVEREST risking their life and limb,and we nodded.
Then we head to the MOUNTAINEERING MUSEUM where photography was strictly prohibited.
Sherpa tenzing norgay failed 6 times before reaching mt.EVEREST OMG!!!!
I remember ,by the time we reached the mountaineering museum,i was totally touched,curious and also motivated by the story of SHERPA that my dad narrated out of his knowledge.
I saw a relief model of Himalaya with other respective peaks(including Sikkim and Darjeeling)as soon as you enter the museum. It was quiet fascinating.
All the artefacts and equipments used by and while the Everest summit like ice hammer,snow boots,sleeping bags,ropes ,jackets,gears and many other were preserved in a glass chamber.
Which said DO NOT LEAN ON OR TOUCH THE GLASS.
I even saw a body of an Eagle ,flying squirrel and crow inside the chamber which was spotted at very high attitude.
I learned one thing.i usually do not visit museums or find them monotonous and boring but…
TIP-do research or read in a brief before visiting museums,this will inspire you a bit to explore and understand more about the artefacts and things around.
Next up was TEA GARDENS which i was not in mood to explore then,but that was the most unrivaled(nothing could beat it) and spectacular site if you ask me.
No camera could do the justice on how magnificent the view was. The slanted valley was sleeping in the blanket of clouds. It was drizzling even.
You will see all green and well groomed mountains as long as you can extend your vision.
I could feel the aroma of tea everywhere. It was very revitalizing.
You can also rent local dress from there and snap it up for memories ,though we skipped it.
No wonder ,nature has done his artwork on fleek.
It is said that “BEAUTY LIES IN THE EYE OF BEHOLDER“.And we, being the beholders(observers) know why nature is beautiful and a gift to us.
You can also buy tea from the shops adjacent to the tea gardens. if you are with your local guide or driver, then good luck to you…you can get them at concessionary prices.
On our way to PEACE PAGODA AND JAPANESE TEMPLE,we caught a glimpse of TENZING ROCK.
This was the rock where Sherpa Tenzing used to practice as well as train his pupils then.
But now Darjeeling being more commercial, they have carved foot grooves and rope dangles for the enthusiastic tourists to climb.Also the place is quite worn out now with many itsy-bitsy shopping joints there..
You could skip it like we did.
Mini japan in Darjeeling? what??
Yes, you red it correct..
We reached the JAPANESE TEMPLE which is located in a hill top,also known as Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple.
We got the opportunity to go inside the temple. There is a big statue of Buddha in the front .
As you walk upstairs(it is a two storey temple) , there is a huge prayer room you will find.
You can see the priests enchanting prayers ,beating huge drums and blowing Tibetan horns.
The whole room was filled with the feel of salvation and redemption (so peace and no fear from an evil) and every inch of my soul could feel it too.
In the vicinity ,PEACE PAGODA was located . It is very close to the city as well(approx. 4 kms).
This white Buddhist temple visions to unite the people of all the races for world peace.
As you climb up the stairs,you can see the Buddha avatar craved out on the wall and polished in gold.
As we did parikrama around the temple we felt the ultimate solitude ,holiness and devotion as it was far flung from city’s hullabaloo.
And also we saw the four different avatars of Lord Buddha sculpted on the temple’s wall.
From the top of the PAGODA..you can notice that the JAPANESE TEMPLE exactly looks like a Doll house, with all pine trees encircling it, dreamy it was.
No,doubt the nature was portraying and exhibiting an excellence presence.
We captured some beautiful shots from the above .
It is also said that you can spot MT.KANCHENJUNGA from there ,but as it is monsoon,so we couldn’t get its sight.
It was almost dark, i was excited to get back to my hotel room and cannot wait for the view from my window to be starred at.
We got back to our hotel rooms. we had dinner and came back to our room(me and my brother were sharing a room so were my mom and dad).
to know more about me..
My brother went to talk on the phone and i sat near the window from where the view was phenomenal and i could see the whole city lit up.
It was damn beautiful.
Then i went to sleep with all adrenaline rush of thrill, after watching t.v for sometime and recollecting and rewinding the pictures in my phone’s gallery.
And yes!!guess what is the plan for tomorrow? THE TOY TRAIN!!!…
SHOPPING!!!(being a girl,can shopping be more exciting than anything else?) kidding:P
Next day i woke up to slow breeze kissing my cheeks, reminding me to look forward to another wonderful day.
I was over the moon..so happy:) . I got freshen up at the speed of light and had one sumptuous breakfast.
My brother and me clicked some cool #ootd pictures. I wore a black poncho with black high waisted pants.
We reached Darjeeling railway station on-foot. My Dad stuck onto a board at the entrance of the railway station to gain some additional knowledge about DARJEELING HIMALAYAN RAILWAY and compelled us to read along with him.
The TOY TRAIN has been declared as a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE STATUS IN 1881.
And then? we headed to the most coveted ride.
We were allocated the back seats of that particular bogey.
And the ride begins..
We all were super excited. my brother took the window seat and i sat next to him.
The TOY TRAIN ride offers some breathtaking landscapes as it moves to hilly terrains .
I was fascinated to know that these mini coaches are being pulled by small engines and also operates on the narrow gauges since 1880.
Also i was left dumbfound when i saw the distance between the moving train(which was running on one side of the road)and the gates of the houses and shops was literally less than a meter.
The train makes an amusing horn noise and runs on a snail’s pace,that you even can see children smiling and capturing the train(with their phones).
But be aware!!
TIP-please be careful if you are seated on the back seat with the window open,fine pieces of coal(which goes up in the air when the train emits fume(steam) can get in to your eyes causing itching and redness and pain.
These are very difficult to remove ,so be alert.
I did see my brother being troubled by this when a big piece of coal got in to his eyes ..poor guy 🙁
The TOY TRAIN stops at BATASIA LOOP for 10 minutes.
BATASIA LOOP is basically a war memorial built in honor of GORKHA soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the Anglo-Nepalese war(1814-181 ).
You can go and click pictures there with their tradition local costumes and also have a peak through telescopes.
Then after exact 10 minutes,the train makes a spiral loop around this uncluttered and beautifully manicured gardens(BATASIA LOOP).
Then the train stops at DARJEELING HIMALAYAN RAILWAY MUSEUM at GHUM. you can find the oldest toy train (The Baby Sivok).
did you know? GHUM railway station is the second highest railway station in the world.
We clicked some pictures with these vibrant train models and got back to our bogey.
To conclude this ride experience ,i want to say that toy train is a masterpiece as well as the pride of Darjeeling,you should never ever afford to miss this ride.
We went back to our hotel with all smiling faces and i did some shopping at the streets near my hotel.
If you ask me ,i would say that you can get variety and trendy clothes which are directly imported from china and Korea.(If you are a shopping spree just like me)
As we had to check out of our hotel ,so i could not shop much.
Best sun rise spot in Darjeeling- a gift to nature lovers
One of the major attractions of Darjeeling which we regret skipping it was TIGER HILLS. one can spot one of the best Sun rise and Kanchenjunga from here.
TIP-to unfold this magnificent Sun rise,you need to visit Darjeeling in the month of October.
On the way back to siliguri. i spotted many pine tree jungles which looked like a painting,capturing the beauty and grandeur of the landscape.
I was mesmerized and hypnotized over the charisma of the nature.
My soul did not want this incredible trip to end.
But this was the conclusion of my trip to Queen of hills. I had an amazing experience .Thank you NORTH EAST for being nice to us..
I will be back soon with another exciting blog..so stay tuned for that.