Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Siliguri is a metropolitan town situated in close vicinity of the eastern Himalayas. It is renowned commercial center in North Bengal. The town is well connected by land, rail and air routes. All tourists have to pass through Siliguri to go forward to Darjeeling & Sikkim. For this reason, the town has developed into a hub with great facilities like good hotels, taxis. Due to its strategic geographical location, Siliguri becomes the transit hub and plays a pivotal role in connecting three major states – Bihar, Assam & Sikkim and three neighboring countries – Nepal, Bhutan & Bangladesh.
Siliguri retains its door open round the clock to welcome you to touristy destinations like Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Gangtok, Thimpu, Paro, Dhaka, Katmandu etc.
Come and explore this spry, fast developing and bustling commercial city containing all sorts of tourist pleasures.

Places of Interest

Coronation Bridge: Built in 1930, a relic of British excellence in design and architecture this bridge spans the River Teesta. Feed the friendly monkeys as you approach this bridge. From the hereby Shiva Temple and numerous photo points developed by the Cinderella Hotel.

Sevoke Kali Mandir: An adobe of the living goddess Kali is a wish fulfilling destination. Puja can be offered on all days from 8 am to 2 pm.

Matigara: With a distance of 6 kms away from Siliguri, this place is well-known for potters’ village. Whenever you manage to reach, your artistic mind would snatch you to go for searching terra-cottas and other meticulous sorts.

Salugara Monastery:  His Eminence Kalu Rinpoche constructed this one hundred feet stupa contains five types of relica and is an object of veneration to one who visit this sacred site. Distance 5 kms.

North Bengal Science Center: A unit of national council of science Museums is about 6 kms from Siliguri town at Matigara on NH-31. Set up on sprawling area of over 10 acres with its elegant building and Science Park., it is a major visitor’s attraction in the district. The center has galleries on popular Science Life and a comprehensive exhibition on the Himalayas. If you want to go beyond the limits of our planet, the inflatable dome ‘Taramandal’ will satisfy your inquisitive mind by transporting you to the amazing world of twinkling vastness.

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary at Sukna: A must see wildlife sanctuary 11 kms away from Siliguri. This forest consists of 300 Botanical plants and declared wildlife Sanctuary in 1976. Situated on national highway-55, this sanctuary attracts different species of migrated birds.

Madhuban Park: Maintained by the Indian Army, is also an excellent picnic site with a distance of 17 kms from Siliguri.

Savin Kingdom: The latest gift to the people of Siliguri – their very own amusement park. You can spend a whole day on rides, go carting, munching on snacks, chips, cola & Ice-cream.

Cosmos Mall: This New Year we got our first fully fledged shopping mall. Do visit to have a great shopping experience. Siliguri has always been a great shopping center. You can buy woolen goods, electronics, toys & other trinkets for friends and relatives back home from shops at Bidhan Market, Hong Kong Market, Vishal Mega Mart and Seth Srilal Market.

How to reach Siliguri: 
Strategically located on the northern part of West Bengal, Siliguri is one of the main cities in the state and this part of India. Siliguri serves as the communication hub for northeastern states of India. As a key trade center, the city is equipped with a well develop transport network of air, road and rail. If you need to travel to cities like Darjeeling, Kalimpong in West Bengal and Gangtok in Sikkim, Siliguri serves as the entry point for the same.
How to Reach Siliguri by Air: The city has a domestic airport in Bagdogra, which is only 12kms away from the city center and connected by regular flights to Kolkata and Delhi. Several private and public airlines service the airport.
How to Reach Siliguri by Road: Siliguri is an important trade center and much of a gateway to the exotic north east of India. An extensive road network connects Siliguri to Kolkata, which is in turn linked to the rest of the country. Siliguri is also connected to Indian state Gangtok, and countries Nepal and Bhutan by road.
How to Reach Siliguri by Rail: New Jalpaiguri is the nearest Railway Station to Siliguri. One of the key Railway Stations in the region is linked to Kolkata (Howrah and Sealdah), Guwahati and many railheads of the country. You may approach Siliguri from any part of the country by rail...


Sikkim lies nestled under the protective shadow of its guardian deity. Mt Kanchenjunga. This little Himalayan jewel is fast becoming a favorite getaway. Sikkim has a incomparable range of flora and fauna, the majestic mountains peaks, the dense foothill forests and frothing rivers and also lush paddy fields.

State East District, Sikkim
Location Capital of a tiny state sharing borders with Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. Gangtok is at 5,047ft, 125km from Siliguri.

The moment the first whiff of juniper steers its way into your near frozen nose, you know its April in Sikkim. Yes, it is beautiful in April. Well it’s another thing that it’s beautiful in May, June, July, August and every subsequent month.
The drive from Siliguri to Gangtok takes four hours. There are quite a few stopovers on the way. I remember Chitrey for its rafting; Malli for its beer factory and Rangpo is a busy check post. You can stop at every shack for hot momos and chilled beer along the turbulent Teesta River.

City Lights 

While there are many sightseeing spots like Ganesh Tok, Hanuman Tok, Tashi View Point but it is best to take a walk. You will truly enjoy because the scene changes as you head out of town. On a good day you can see the Kanchenjunga and the rest of the range in all its majestic glory. You can spend hours staring at the peaks as they change colors through the day.

Those interested in Buddhism, must visit the Institute of Tibetology. Home to prince less antiques, rare scriptures and gorgeous thangkas the institute spearheads the study of the Tibetan language culture.
If you want to shop for curios, head for the Old Market, New Market or the Lal Market. Also take a walk along the Ridge.
A beautiful 40km drive out of Gangtok is the magical Tsomgo Lake. Surrounded by frozen hillsides, the Tsomgo Lake looks like something out of a Japanese calendar. Over a kilometer long and 50ft deep, the water was part frozen in April also. You cannot stay here for more than an hour for security reasons, anyway the cold gets to you and you are dying to go back. One road forward leads to the Nathu la Pass from where you can see China. The road is not open to civilians though you can take permission from the Army. Tourists also flock to pay homage at Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial.

No trip is complete without visiting the Rumtek Monastery, 300 years old and the largest monastery in Sikkim. It was renovated completely in 1960 and houses a school, an aviary and a special section where monks take off for meditation in isolation, sometimes for years.
You can also see Enchey Monastery in Gangtok town, Himalayan Zoological Park, Pastanga village two hour’s drive from Gangtok, where you can see waterfalls, bamboo and dense magnolia forests, Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary 25km from Gangtok, richly forested area is home to various species of wild animals and birds, Saramsa Garden , home to exotic orchids is an excellent picnic spot, Ropeway is a thrilling ride of 1km starting from Deorali to Nam Nag and the upper terminal at Tashiling and Aritar Lake three hour drive from Gangtok.


It is a five hour drive west of Gangtok. Pelling is a small urban settlement with abnormally high number of hotels. The upper Pelling hotels have a breath taking view of the Kanchenjunga Range. The mountains surprisingly look near, as if you can touch them.  When the weather is perfect you can see the proud giants Koktang, Pandim, Kabru, Dom, Kumbakaran, Rathong, Zopuno, Shimbo, Narsing, Siniolchu stand tall.

Sango-Choling Monastery is Sikkim’s second oldest monastery. The monastery complex has a little graveyard with tall white flags fluttering against the blue sky. The King of Sikkim ruled from this place now called Rabadentse Ruins.
The highest bridge Singshore in Sikkim is located at 25km from Pemayangtse Monastery a place worth visiting. About an hour’s drive is a Kanchenjunga waterfall.

The Khecheopalri Lake is considered to be the sacred lake by both Hindus and Buddhists. It lies hidden under the thick forest cover. The birds do not let a single leaf to float on the surface of the lake. Yuksom was the first capital of Sikkim. It is the base camp for the trek to Dzongri and the base camp to Mt Khanchenjunga begins here.


Samdruptse is 72km from Gangtok. A 135ft statue of Guru Padmasambhava is installed here. Dalai Lama laid the foundation of the statue.
Namchi meaning ‘sky high’ is nestled among hills at an elevation of 4400ft. An ideal stopover is the Rangit Water World the lake formed by the Rangit dam. Situated 26km from Ravangla it is fun place for boating, fishing and swimming. Mainom peak is a 12km uphill trek from Ravangla.

You pass through the Temi Tea Estate if you visit Ravangla. This is Sikkim’s sole tea garden and connoisseurs will tell you that with a gem like this the state does not need any more, it’s a true solitaire. The tea produced here enjoys international repute commanding premium prices at tea auctions.
Singchu Thang is 45kms from Gangtok and is located at an altitude of 3500ft on the banks of river Teesta. It is ideal for white water sports and picturesque picnic spot.
The Flower Festival at Namchi has gained enormous repute is organized annually during the months of February and March. One can see rare species of Orchids in a riot of colours.


Yumthang is located in a flat valley whose sides reach up to the towering mountains of 11800ft. It is referred to as Valley of Flowers. Wildflowers, primula and rhodendron bathe the landscape in rich colors. A must see is the hot springs at Yume Samdong. About 17kms from Gangtok is Kabi Longstok is where the Tibetan chieftain and Lepcha shaman signed a blood brotherhood pact. The spot is marked by a stone amidst the shadows of the forests. Phodong and Labrang monastery are famous monasteries in North Sikkim.
GuruDongmar Lake (17800ft) is the sacred lake of the state both by Buddhists and Hindus. The lake remains milky in colour, it is believed tha Guru Padmasambhava touched the lake while crossing to Tibet from this area.

For the more discerning traveler, Sikkim Tourism presents the Sikkim Helicopter Service from Gangtok to Bagdogra and back. It is just not a mode of transport but to see Sikkim in an entirely new way. It also conducts mountain flights. See the majestic Himalayan peaks from close Fly over Gangtok and see the layout of the town.


Apart from regular attraction, festivals and ceremonies of Sikkim have charm of their own. The pageantry of the religious festivals and masked dances of the lamas to the tune of typical music and chants enthrall visitors. Each time a festival arrives it brings with it immense joy, celebration and fun.

Pang Lhabsol is one unique Sikkimese festival in which Mt Khangchendzonga, the guardian deity of Sikkim is worshipped with great devotion. Pang Lhabsol falls on the 15th of the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar, which corresponds with the month of September. The popular mask dance at the Pemayangtse Monastery in west Sikkim is significant.

The Jorethang  Maghey Mela to celebrate Maghey Sakranti is another attraction. Traditional food stalls are set up selling local food. Cultural events like the Dhaan Naach by the Limbu community are put up. The fair becomes a local trade hub where local agricultural produce is offered for sale. The fair goes on for six days and a football match is also held. A merry gathering, one could be thrilled to watch the colours of tradition and rural lifestyle. The confluence of the Teesta and Rangit is one auspicious point where people are seen to take a dip in the early morning.

Bumchu at Tashiding Monastery is a sacred festival where level in the Bumchu, a water vessel, tells the luck of the year ahead.
Sage Dawa, celebrates Buddha’s birth, enlighten and nirvana. The festival is marked by monks taking out the procession of Holy Scriptures. It falls on a full moon of the 4th Buddhist month somewhere around end of May and beginning of June.
Tendong Lho Rum Fat is a Lepcha festival worshipping Mt Tendong in south Sikkim.

Dussehra is a Hindu festival celebrated in October. A fortnight after comes Diwali, the festivals of lights which is celebrated in Sikkim with much fanfare. Goddess Laxmi is worshipped for a favorable livelihood and the women go about singing in village till late at night. The following day the men and boys go around in groups for Deosay.

The Drukpa Teshi is yet another Buddhist festival. On this day in far North Sikkim yak races are held to mark the celebrations.

Losoong marks the end of harvest season and also end of the Tibetan year. Chaams are performed at the Phodong, Rumtek Tsuklakhang monasteries which symbolize the riddance of the evil spirits and inviting the good ones. Archery completions are held during the day.
Apart of traditional festivals, Sikkim has a lot of music and food festivals and mahotsavs to offer. The 

Gangtok Food Festival is an annual event held in December. The Mangan music festival is gaining popularity. Other popular mahotsav is the Namchi Flower festival. Similarly festivals at Pelling and Ravangla are fun to attend. So next time if you plan to visit Sikkim, be a part of the festival and enjoy your stay... 


In the floral drama, it is the orchids who are prima donnas. Sikkim’s orchids are of two categories epiphytes and terrestrial. The epiphytes are better known. And include the famous Dendobrium genus. The dazzling Dendobrium hookerianas, with their rich purple spots compete for top spot with pouch shaped Calceolaria whose wardrobe favors’ white, pink and yellow.

The Cristata species of the Coelogyne genus, on the other hand spurns showy display. It goes for the virginal look, with snow white flowers and languidly drapes itself over tree steams and rocks. With jungle stripes and pouting lips, the Arachanthe cathcarti has attitude written over its fleshy large flowers. It chooses the moist warm tropical forests to display its chocolate stripes and hinged lips.

The Orchidarium outside Gangtok presents several stunning species.


Tibetan Buddhism is divided into the red and yellow sects. The red sect comprises of Nyingma, Kargyu and Sakya lineages and the yellow sect consists of the Gelugpa lineage. The rituals performed, monastic discipline and the founder differentiate the sects and the lineages from each other. However the differences tend to blur with rituals of one lineage overlapping the other.

Sikkim’s near about 200 monasteries or gompas belonging to the Nyingma and Kargyu order have not only been influencing the cultural heritage and lifestyle of the people, but also demonstrating the ancient rituals in practice.

Lamas robed in red chant ancient mantras to the rhythm of drums and trumpets while soft lights flicker from decorative lamps placed before statues of the great Guru Padmasambhava. Feel the peace and quiet of being one with nature and close to the almighty as scared words mingle with the whirring prayer wheels. The gompas are adorned with lifelike frescoes of hoary Buddhist legends, rare silk and brocade thangkas. Also preserved are ancient Tibetan manuscript, exquisitely carved woodwok and icons of silver and gold…


At the northern tip of Bengal at 7000ft, Darjeeling is nestled in Eastern Himalayas. Take the last winding bend on the mountains and feel pure adrenalin jump through your veins. Darjeeling wears its crown of the Queen of Hills wearily but the crowds still come running to “Dorje Ling” the land of Thunderbolt. For it still remains alluring with its little villages, tiny waterfalls and the even tinier toy train track.

If you have time and inclination do take a ride on the Darjeeling Toy Train which the UNESCO recognizes as world heritage site and commands the same kind of respect as the Taj Mahal. The Guinness Railway Book describes the DHRs’ ascent looping and curving on its way up as one of the most spectacular train journeys in the World. The 2112m gain in height from Siliguri station to Darjeeling, a distance of 88km, might be slow but never tedious.
Today the old engines continue to pull the mighty blue wagons uphill to Darjeeling via Kurseong to the highest station Ghoom, where the line drops dramatically at Batasia, in full view of the snow range. Here the track coils twice around itself to lose height and enter Darjeeling 200m lower.

Things to see and do

The hill town is an important base point for mountains treks, but it’s also got tea estates and monasteries.
Chowrasta, the town square, is lined with shops, restaurants, curio dealers and hawkers.  It’s a perfect place to take restless kids. Ponywalas will let you canter around for Rs 60 per hour or Rs 250 per day. The Kanchenjunga is omnipresent. Hotels, cafeterias all are positioned to get the stunning views of one of the world’s most beautiful mountain peaks. In the monsoon, you may get an elusive image of the brilliant sunset. But from October onwards you get unparalleled view of the entire range from dawn to dusk. Concentrate on the splendor when the peak shakes off the night and dresses in the hues of dawn at Tiger Hill.

Your visit to Darjeeling is incomplete if you do not visit (HMI) Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the Mecca of mountaineers. Established in 1954, the (HMI) is considered India’s premier mountaineering institute. Co-located with Himalayan zoo, it has a beautiful museum divided into two parts. The first part depicts mountaineering and the second part deals exclusively with Everest, its history and chronological study of various attempts made by humanity to climb this mountain.

Beside HMI you can also visit Shrubbery garden, Lloyds Botanical garden, Rock Garden, Gangamaya Park and Peace Pagoda a beautiful built Buddhist temple in Japanese concept.
Darjeeling is also famous for its chai (Tea) industry. Large estates with bungalows from the Raj era dot the map. Some tea gardens are open to visitors. Some of the best are Badamtam (has a 14ft Buddha statue), Runglee Rungliot, Happy valley, Thurbo, Margaret’s Hope and Castleton which holds the record for getting the highest price per kg tea.

Visit Darjeeling you won’t miss the adventure…

Thursday, November 11, 2010


At 5800ft is newest hill station discovered in North Bengal. Best draw in Mirik is Sumendu Lake, set amidst hills carpeted with tea, orange and cardamom plantations. Stretch your legs around 3.5km track around the lake enjoying the splendid view of the Kanchenjunga. The lake has an 80ft bridge. Boating in this lake is a fascinating activity for the tourists. Hire a boat for Rs 40 per hour. A pony ride around the lake (Rs 50-60) and for Rs 250 they will take you around town.

The main tourist area Krishnanagar is south of the lake. A 10 minute walk takes you to Bokar Gompa, home of the Mahayana monks. A short walk leads to the temple of kali, Shiva and Hanuman. Catch the sunset and sunrise from Rameetay Dhara. Raidhap is a popular picnic spot and the pious can pay homage at the Singla Devi Mandir on the west banks of the lake. The Manju Picnic Spot is fresh and untouched and the latest getaways Mirik offers to tired minds. A new picnic spot with beautiful scenery and a swimming pool is Rang Bhang Khola. There are lovely walks around the tea estates. The Soureni Tea Estate is one of the better gardens of the area. A conducted tour will help in knowing the mystic flavor of Darjeeling tea.

About 2kms, from Mirik situated on the spur lie the famed orange orchards. Mirik is the largest supplier of oranges in West Bengal. Worth a visit is the cardamom plantation in and around Mirik. A day’s teak down to river Balasun again climbing uphill to Kurseong on the opposite mountain range is a fascinating experience. Recently built Don Bosco Church offers solace to the soul as you travel.