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.


The landscape changes rapidly as you climb from Siliguri. Vast tracts of tea estates all hurtle pass as the car passes through orchid laden forest road of Pankhabari. The land of white orchid, Kurseong is a tiny school town which has not been discovered by tourists yet. Kurseong is scattered on a forest ridge and its cameo like beauty and tranquility inspired Rabindranath Tagore and Mark Twain to stay here. The toy train passes right through the center of the town. An excellent choice is the walk to Nagri Spur with its stunning view of tea gardens and forests. Eagles Crag looks over the Teesta River. Castleton Tea Estate borders Kurseong town. A walk among the tea bushes is a good time to spend a day and relax.

Kurseong Tourist Lodge has a bar and a restaurant which offers hot momos and chai. Other options are Shyam’s and Hotel Amarjeet. Kurseong recently has its own swank Cochrane Resort where you can spend a few days in ultimate bliss far from the madding crowd.


Kalimpong was once a part of Bhutan. In 1865 after losing to an armed British intervention Bhutan ceded Kalimpong to British India. The British missionaries came in during late 1800s and left a legacy of good schools, charitable institutions and architectural styles of the English countryside.  Over the years, Kalimpong has developed its own cultural pot pourri, cuisine, home decor and more.

Kalimpong and the surrounding area with its ideal location of 4000ft provide mild weather conditions throughout the year. For the visitor a 365 day holiday choice is available. From spring getaways to rice harvest in autumn and getting wet in the monsoon rains and sharing a blanket in winter. Kalimpong is emerging a ultimate holiday destination in the Eastern Himalayas. It is covered with forests and terraced agricultural land. From tropical foothills to the alpine regions there are 4000 species of flowering plants, including 400 species of orchids, ferns, mosses, grasses and medicinal plants. Floriculture is a major activity here. There are numerous flower nurseries, many of them producing for export and the home market.

The town makes an interesting offbeat track if you enjoy walking. You can see the majestic Kanchenjunga Range and the Teesta valley from Durpin Dara and Deola Hills. Among the monasteries dotted on the verdant hills, the Thongsha Gompa or the Bhutanese monastery is the oldest established in 1962. Built on Durpin Dara, personally consecrated by the Dalai Lama in 1976 Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Gompa contains the Kanguyar in 108 volumes, brought by Dalai Lama when he fled Tibet Also check out the Tharpa Choeling Gompa. Kalimpong evokes memories of the British Raj most evident in its colonial homes and hotels. Morgan House and Tashiding are now government owned tourist lodges and open to visitors. Visit the famous Dr Grahams Home situated less than a hours walk at the base of Deolo hill. Carry a picnic for the trip. The original school and the stained glass chapel are worth looking. Also visit St Theresa’s church built to resemble a gompa.
Rafting on the Teesta River is hugely popular adventure holiday option. Based at Chitrey this excursion is a full day affair and possible from November to February.

At an altitude of 2184m Lava is a serene town 34 km away. It lies on the old trade route to Bhutan and is surrounded by pine forests. Views of the Cholla Range are breath taking. A jeep ride for 14km and then a 8km trek will take you to Rechila Danda 10600ft the highest point of Neora National Park. This park is known for its bio diversity. You can find Royal Bengal Tigers, Red panda, Gaurs, Black Deer, clouded Leopard and various birds.
24km from Lava, Loleygaon along a lovely forest drive offers a grand view of the Relli Valley and snow capped Himalayas.


Tiger Hill is a favorite early morning destination for holiday’s makers in Darjeeling. Join them at your peril. You will be jostling with loud tourists impatient to get their photographs taken against the backdrop of the Kanchenjunga Range.

It is much more civilized to walk up and reach by afternoon, catch the evening views and if time is not the factor stay the night and catch the early sunrise before the rush starts. If you have kids along, don’t worry just rent a pony from the stables at Chowrasta, put them astride and let them follow. The hike start from Chowrasta in Darjeeling (2,134m) going past the stables on the quite but wide Tenzing Norgay Jeep track, past the settlements of Toong Soon and Aloo Bari, with its old monastery. The greenery around Aloo Bari thickens and you enter a peaceful era away from the mad rush of Darjeeling. Along the route to Jorebungalow, you will pass a few small hamlets, inhabited by the Tamangs, Rais and Bhutias, who trace their roots to Tibet. Stop here for a meal of local food. Beside the ubiquitous momos, try the gun drunk with rice and the sel roti with dum aloo. In route there are many spots where you can just lie down in the bright sunlight and enjoy solitude, particularly Money Point, marked by a cheery little brook, 3km beyond the Mag Dhog Monastery. Just before you reach the dingy, damp town of Jorebungalow, there is a trail to the right, climbing up for about 2km. It ends at the Jalapahara Cantonment, a British Raj remnant and the ST Paul’s School. On returning from Tiger Hill, you can walk back to Darjeeling town via Jalapahara and catch lovely views of Kanchenjunga, the hills around Darjeeling even the far away Kurseong, Mirik and Sandakphu and the distant plains of Bengal. From Jorebunglow, you can hike up about a kilometer to visit the Jathe Rinpoche Monastery, associated with the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism or carry on to Tiger Hill. 

If you wish to see a sublime sunrise, camp overnight. There is abundant water and space in the grounds to the right of the welcome gate. Early next morning if you are lucky with the weather, hold your breath. You will see the most awesome sight of the sun gilding over the great Himalayan Range...

Monday, November 8, 2010


It is India’s highest mountain peak and the most beautiful mountain of all mountains. Mount Kanchenjunga lies in the Taplejung district straddling the frontiers of India and Nepal. The Kanchenjunga massif is in the form of a gigantic cross, the arms of which lie north, south, east and west.  The individual summits connect to neighboring peaks by four main ridges, from which four glaciers flow. The rough translation of Kanchenjunga is ‘Five Treasures of the Snow’, as it contains five peaks, four of them over 8,450 meters. Until 1852 Kanchenjunga was regarded as the highest mountain in the world, but calculations made by the British 1849 Great Trigonometric survey showed Mount Everest to be the highest and Kanchenjunga as the third highest. There are five peaks of Kanchenjunga. Three peaks are on the India-Nepal border while the other two are in Nepal. In 1955 a Britisher Charles Evans climbed the mountain but in difference to local religious belief stopped a few yards from the summit. Permission to climb the mountain from the Indian side is not allowed because of its remote location in Nepal the Kanchenjunga region is not explored by trekkers. It has therefore retained its pristine beauty.

In Sikkim trekking in the Kanchenjunga region has just been started.  The trek is gaining popularity among tourists. It goes to the Goecha La Pass which is located right in front of the huge south east of Kanchenjunga. Another trek to Green Lake basin takes up to northeast side of Kanchenjunga.
In the winter months the sky is usually clear almost every morning. It presents an image of a white wall hanging from the sky. The camera is never able to do full justice to the view. The mighty Kanchenjunga shows its majestic profile from the mall in Darjeeling. The visitors get their best gift at the dawn of a new sunny day. It is from Tiger Hill at an altitude of 2590m you get to see the famed sunrise over the Kanchenjunga and the Eastern Himalayas. Even Mount Everest is visible from here. The beautiful state of Sikkim is situated in the eastern Himalayas, in the lap of the Mt Kanchenjunga. The Sikkimese revere it as there protective deity. The breathtaking peak guards its valley, turquoise lakes, streams and gorges. A friend suggested Pelling, a town in Sikkim for best view of the Kanchenjunga. The mountain glows in the light of the full moon against an inky violet blue sky, looming so high that it seems to fill up the firmament. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Dense natural forests, Wildlife sanctuaries, Unending tea gardens, Babbling Rivers, A paradise on earth. The dooars where nature has kept her doors wide open. A journey through the rolling hills, widespread lush green tea gardens separated by meandering mountain streams, high Sal forests, small ethnic villages, and vast meadows with the Great Himalayan range forming an outline and the endless sky….you are in Dooars!! Lying in the Himalayan foothills, Dooars has a great natural beauty. A drive through the Dooars plain is a lifetime experience.

Buxa Tiger Reserve once famous for dolomite mining, Buxa was declared a tiger reserve in 1983 and a National Park in 1992. Located in the Assam Bhutan border, Buxa has an area of 745 sq km, the largest forest in North Bengal and has second highest population of tigers after Sunderbans. The park also holds maximum number of elephant, Indian bison, leopard, and many species of deer, birds and various reptiles. Buxa is also rich in rare orchids and medicinal plants. 

Rajabhatkhawa is 12 kms from Jayanti. It is ideal place for nature lovers and the watch tower deep inside the forest gives you an opportunity to see the elephant, tiger and the bison at close range. Nature Interpretation Center at Rajabhatkhawa is also a must see.

Gorumara National Park is you cannot afford to miss in your trip to Dooars.  A two hour journey from Bagdogra/NJP through winding roads and tea garden takes you deep inside the National Park. Located on the banks of the River Murti the Gorumara National Park has a large variety of flora and fauna. The grassland of Gorumara is famous for Asiatic one horned Rhino. The watch tower beside the forest rest house gives a panoramic view of the entire park and the Murti Valley. This is the best place to observe the wild animals. If you are lucky you can spot elephants, deer and leopards at the salt reservoir just below the tower. Major bird species seen are pheasants, hornbill’s cuckoo. The Brahminy duck, Ibis, stork and other birds are migratory birds.
A 45 min drive from Siliguri, your first step into the Dooars. As you leave Siliguri and drive through the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary the melody of nature begins. Cross the roaring Teesta over the historical Coronation Bridge and you reach Mongpong, 30 kms from Siliguri. The mighty Teesta caged on both sides by rocks is liberated at Mongpong. Here it divides and flows through the marshy land. Situated on the banks of the Teesta the lofty Mongpong forest house offers panoramic view of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and the Teesta valley. The chorus of cricket and beetles animate the surrounding forests. A leopard roars by as-night falls in Mongpong. It is now time to return to your nest, it is coziest in this region.
At a distance of 82 km and a 3 hour drive from Siliguri, Samsing offers a beautiful landscape. Situated at 3000ft it is a cool shady place. The journey to Samsing is memorable too, as you slowly roll uphill through the Dooars tea garden. Several trek routes originate from here. Most fascinating is the Neora Valley National Park. Stay the night at Santhaley Khola Resort.


Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas in Alipurduar, is about 124 kms from Siliguri. Situated near the Bhutan border, the rich alluvial soil and over 800 mm of annual rainfall combine to ensure rich growth of grass. This sanctuary was constituted in 1941 for the protection of one-horned Rhinos, an animal threatened with extinction. River Torsa runs through the Sanctuary. The forest is mainly savannah covered with tall elephant grasses. The wildlife in addition to one-horned Rhinos, consists  of Royal Bengal Tigers, wild elephants, deer’s, sambhar, barking deer, spotted beer, hog deer, wild pig, bisons and a number of birds. Elephant riding through the Jaldapara forest in search of wild animals particularly the Rhino has become a craze among tourists. An adventurous ride in the morning will take you deep into the grassland for the real excitement. The sight of a Rhino in a muddy pond, the herd of elephants or the running deer is thrilling to watch. Jeep safaris can also be arranged. Set out with a binocular and see the majestic flights of many species of birds.

How to get there: Bagdogra is the nearest airport, from where one can go by private vehicles to Hollong Forest Lodge/Jaldapara Tourist Lodge. Nearest railway station is Madarihat which is just 7 kms from the sanctuary. The express trains stops at Birpara/Hasimara station which are 20 kms.

Best Season: March, April when new grass is growing.
Off Season: 15 June -15 September. The Sanctuary remains closed.


Tea tourism is high on the West Bengal Government’s radar. It intends to upgrade accommodation, construct log-cabins, renovate heritage bungalows and undertake landscaping to give a boost to this sector. Some tea-estate owners have already got tea tourism off ground. Among these are Raja Banerjee of Makaibari Tea Estate, The Chamarias of Phaskowa and Anshuman Prakash of Glenburn Tea Estate.
Glenburn, which was opened to tourists around three years ago, is a exclusive boutique hotel where guests put up at the Burra Bungalow, or the Glenburn lodge on the banks of the Rangit River. At Rs 8,000-10,000 per person per night, it is very high-end, and as much as 80 percent of the clientele comprises foreigners.
Tea-tourism at Makaibari, an initiative that’s about a year old is of different kind. Visitors here have the choice to stay at the Heritage Stone Lodge where the four suites have separate toilets and running hot water, or they can stay in any of the 20-25 houses of tea-garden workers where they can be close to nature and the community.

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