Monday, June 23, 2014 By

The miles I traversed ! - From Ooty To Bangalore

 Millions of people traverse the road millions of ways , but I have my own way of knocking at aliens door.To me journey does matter, not always arrival. The quest of what will happen in the next turn always provided me the zeal to travel more, to spend all my hard earned savings into traveling.So I will publish a series of "The miles I traversed !" in every weekend.
After spending 4 days in Ooty and Coonoor's sublime atmosphere , it was time for taking farewell from the land of blue hills.I was traveling back from Ooty to Bangalore traversing a long stretch of course(275 km).It was an awesome engaging voyage through diversified landscapes of mountains,planes and wilderness of Bandipur - Mudumalai forest with lots of wild animal sighting . I gaped at the road side scenery open mouthed and clicked , clicked , clicked ...on the run.
After crossing famous 36 hair-pin bend ,sharp 'U' turn of narrow steeper  Kalahatty ghat roads, I landed on the foothill Jungle of Masinagudi from blue mountain .It was amazing way of high-jump from hills to land.But enjoy the high jump with careful  and reasonable driving.
We landed into the foothills ,with sparking azure sky on top and a welcome by crowded woods of  bare trees. Meandering road fades away in distant while bare brunches crawling into the crystal clear sky.
A few kilometers away from Masinagudi we entered into Mudumalai tiger reserve and further along Bandipur tiger reserve fringed by Kabini and Moyra rivers where several endangered flora and fauna preserved .The jungle with mile high old woods ,thick canopies of tender ,young leaves beneath the blistering blue sky  and wild animals deep inside thrives.It was a wonderful drive through wilderness accompanying  loud winds , screaming monkeys and rustling of leaves .This road is closed  by evening 6:PM and again opened for vehicle in the morning at 6'o clock.So plan your journey from Ooty to Bangalore or vice verse accordingly.

The large mother langur was resting with her child after her day long swinging from one branch to another.  

Peaceful soul of deers looking for home, frightened by the road side vehicle as in jungle nothing is for fun.
The trails of jungle left behind as I run and  countryside seemed   anew with plentiful of  Amaltas and Krishnachura

The flowering crest of Krishnachura blazed merrily welcoming summer.The only thing I love about Indian scorching summer is the flaming red Krishnachura in my neighborhood and the flowery cushions scattered on my course.

Bangalore To Ooty Route :

Bangalore – Mandya- Mysore – Gundlupet – Bandipur – Theppakkadu – ( via Masinagudi or Gudallur ) – Ooty  ( Almost 6-7 hours journey and approx 300 Kms)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 By

A Piece Of Heaven In The Wild

Heaven , is a perception and it differs from one individual to other. Heaven can be a place, a state of mind , related to many aspects. To me heaven is enigmatic and heaven is wild too.
Might be a heaven hidden inside the haze of wilderness, ahead of this shadowy murkiness?

We are not always aware what lies ahead of us.

I have found a piece of  peaceful "Heaven" in the wild . 

A Hidden Heaven Inside Undisturbed Wilderness
When dimness conquers my heart over the cognizance, I define that darkness heavenly .

Let me know how do you define your heaven ? Incase you are wondering about the place, it is Goa.

 Related Article

Swapnagandha Valley ,Chorla Ghat Goa

Sunday, June 8, 2014 By

Trip To Kaluk - Rinchenpong , In West Sikkim

Discover Unmatched Beauty Of Kaluk And Rinchenpong In West Sikkim

Sikkim is not a mere travel destination for me, Sikkim is a symphony to me which lingers in my senses, still after I go away from Sikkim. After visiting idyllic village-scape of Kaluk and Rinchenpong, my Sikkim-syndrome created a crescendo that reminds me my desire for a peaceful life, desire to escape urban din. Kaluk village is one of the many remote yet beautiful hamlet resting peacefully in the plunging valleys of Sikkim, dazzled with rhododendron grooves,hemmed by Himalayas, the mighty Kangchenjunga.Every hidden corner of this little hamlet exclusively focuses on ethereal beauty of Kangchenjunga floating over distant clouds without any hype (obviously in a clear sky day). Mysterious Kangchenjunga prefers to disguise her gracefulness inside a deep veil of clouds(winter is best bet).

A Spectacle to gape open mouthed, for which veteran travelers rushing to Sikkim years after years
Enroute to Kaluk:
Without much knowing what was lying ahead of me,I whispered a farewell to queen of hill,Darjeeling and started for Kaluk.The picturesque avenues approached through unending slopes of sprawling tea plantation  towards my destination.From Darjeeling I descended down and down  up to the foot-hill town Jorethang bustling beside roaring Rangeet river valley.The roar of the river reverberates in the valleys.
The river , the mountains and the valley where lives thrives,Jorethang a foothill town at West Sikkim
After crossing suspension bridge over cascading,restless Rangeet( river),it was stiff climb through densely wooded mountains occasionally interspersed with little hamlets surrounded by rice terraces.By-passing serene Soreng,waving hands of  road side children,at-last I reached Kaluk,after three and half hours journey. 

Immersed into the mountains of Sikkim
I spent two days with absolute peace of mind enjoying each moment of serenity and deeply immersed into the mountains of Sikkim.I walked through unknown mountain trails,soaking in the strong aroma of moist woodlands infused with the fragrances of wild flowers.Tall trees,wild flowers, dense canopy made a beautiful sight and no wonder beautiful birds made Kaluk their nest.See graceful bird's picture at Dawn Chorus At Kaluk and the flowers  at Summer Blooms In Sikkim.

A paradise for nature lovers, aflame with wild flowers
Kaluk cocooned within her own rhythm so as the villagers.Without socializing with shy yet friendly villager experiencing rural Sikkim would be incomplete.An absorbing visit to Azing Lepcha's organic Farm made my last wish a fulfillment.Spent few hours inside Azing's organic farmland and with the family, sharing stories with the family how they took personal initiative to produce everything organically from sting-less honey to alcohol free fruit wines and some are unique like jack fruit,gurush (flower of rhododendron)and banana wine.I tasted couple of variety wines.That's how beautiful rural Sikkim is!Life is a journey and I am the one to make it ethereal.
She is a simple village lady unique with her own idea ,and I feel she is as beautiful as her work

Kaluk with handful of houses and shops entices me with brisk weather,flowering bushes,clamoring birds ,little known mountain trails,orange-pineapple-grapes grooves and cheerful friendly villagers.The best part of these countryside is ,it has managed to be pristine pure while giving all comforts for a family holiday.
That,s how beautiful is Rural Sikkim !
This time I was in no mood of hoping from one sight to another or traveling rigorously, I restricted myself into the walking distance.So next day morning after a little walk through unspoilt mountain trail surrounded with wild grass flowers in adjacent village Rinchenpong,I reached to the mountain top and found a memorial stone with a poem written over it.
                            "Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
                             Where knowledge is free..."
Sunshine looks so lovely on the grass flowers
First time I realize my journey can be as beautiful as a poem, indeed its a poetic place.We were into  Rabindra Smriti Ban,a memorial for legendary poet and Dak-Bunglow where Rabindranath Thakur spent some time in verdant solitude. A rice and fish curry Bong basking in the warmth of sunshine could see only sprawling mountains down below as far as eyesight could reach.Mist rolled in and out playing a hide and seek with the mountains.
My next stop was third oldest Rinchenpong monastry.I approached through atmospheric avenues of colorful prayer flags set on long bamboo poles towards the Tibetan style Buddhist monastery,adding splash of vibrant vermilion and sunshine yellow to the green ridge-top.The chanting sounds of Buddhist script by resident Buddhist monks resonates into the valley.I feel the tug of Shangri -La .

There is a feel of  spirituality in Sikkim's invigorating air
 Soon low lying monsoon clouds engulfed the hills and the slopes with a white transparent sarong. It started down pouring and I prayed for this downpour wholeheartedly.Because only a torrential rain can clear the embracing clouds and mysterious Kangchenjunga might come out of her disguise.But soon the cold breeze, the rain-drenched greenery and the sweeping mist embracing me,the mountains,the valleys would remind me why rain is so romantic to me despite the lack of sunshine.

Places to See Around Kaluk: 

Tucked away from touristy track Kaluk offers so many things for the veteran travellers
  • Singshore Bridge - Asia's second highest suspension bridge.
  • The Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is a must-visit.(In April you will be surely spellbouded by the riotous rhododendrons )
  • Rinchenpong Monastry,Temi Tea Estate and  nearby ravishing RavBangla.
  • Explore the adjacent alpine jungle and it is bird lovers paradise surrounded with wild flowers and exotic faunas.
  • Khechipalru Lake.
  • Pelling is also 2 hours drive .

 Staying At Kaluk:

Ghonday Village Resort draped with exotic foliages and floras welcomes every guest with never ending bird's clamor.This resort offers a peaceful homely  retreat to every visitant with a grassy lawn to unwind and a children's play area. The honest effort of the owner as well as the resort-stuffs to please each and every guests reflects everywhere from hearty meal to matchless service,from spotless cleanliness to beautification. Rooms are unfussy, big, with wall to wall window tastefully decorated with wooden furniture and beautiful upholstery.Being situated on the upper side of Kaluk this resort offers you gorgeous view of Mount Kanchendzonga range in a clear sky day.
PHONE: 03595 - 245267, (M) +91-0-95939 79695, 94341 10039, 99330 01127
Mandarin Village Resort is also equally good bet to stay in Kaluk. 

A genuine hospitality at Ghonday Village Resort

How To Reach Kaluk:

Most of the resort arrange pick up either from nearest railway station NJP /airport Bagdogra and fare is 3500Rs. Or From NJP /Siliguri you can come to Jorethang , main transport hub of West Sikkim by sharing cab.From Jorethang last  sharing Jeep for Kaluk leaves at 2:30 PM.In that case you can save a lot transport cost.Even from Darjeeling you can come down to Kaluk via Soreng. But the 26 Km stretch from Melli Bazar to Jorethang is pathetic due to double lane road construction work.

Best Time To Visit Kaluk:

You can visit Kaluk all through the year, except perhaps during the monsoon. The best time to go is between April and mid-June as in April hills dazzled with riotous rhododendrons and summers are soothing. If you do not shy away from the cold, however, the winter months (mid-September to mid-December) are best bet for clear weather and getting a panoramic view of the snow-capped peaks.

Related Article About Kaluk:

 Dawn Chorus At Kaluk 

Summer Blooms In Sikkim

Monday, June 2, 2014 By

Princep Ghat :Kolkata Delights!

 Romancing With Setting Sun At Princep Ghat, Kolkata

It does not always matter where I am and it is not feasible to be in "so called" exotic destination always.Being a resident of Kolkata, a 300year old historical heritage city,I feel I am always inside an incredible city full of vibes and  eye catching milieu.Sunset always fascinates me.Princep Ghat is a place where I ( not only me you can too) can  romance with setting sun.
A gleaming white majestic heritage structure,memorial of James Princep built by the side of Hooghly river standing grandly ,a silent spectator of the most  romantic spot of the city.

I love to be there in twilight hours, being sited inside a hand rowing boat, sailing down the vastness of river, Hooghly.

Cotton clouds add colours to my sky-ways. Scarlet, vermillion, orange bands spread out across the sky with a golden luster and shimmering ripples make a hypnotic sound Lap Lap Lap while embracing the river bank. I gape at the spectacle .

In the evening monument is all lit up and it is beautiful panorama. The Vidyasagar setu and just opposite Howrah bridge scintillates over the darkness of river Ganges .My city looks resplendently beautiful.To experience this romanticism you have to spend 200-300 Rs, an inexpensive exotic stress buster.Lets romance !

Thursday, May 29, 2014 By

Summer Blooms In Sikkim

Summer Blooms In The Courtyard of Sikkim, In the Wild Bushes of Mountains Trails

If nature is mother then flower is obviously soul of mother nature. Flower has a soothing power to attract,to charm and to mesmerize.The mountains of Himalaya are embellished with plenty of flowers.
Sikkim is a world's one of the major flower hub ,very rich in biodiversity with 600 species of orchids, 240 species of trees and ferns, 150 varieties of gladioli, 46 types of rhododendrons along with a variety of magnolias and many other foliage plants.Flowers love to bloom in the cool moist temperate climate of Sikkim's high mountain ridges or on the slopes of plunging valleys or into the deep of known - unknown forest trails, so as the Sikkimese love to protect nature.Sikkim also host an International Flower Festival every year from  March to May to display exotic varieties of flora native to Sikkim .

Flowers mesmerize me at every place whenever I am into the highland of Sikkim. Mountain slopes ,wooden homes,gardens,resorts ,roadsides,monasteries all are adorned by various mountain flowers.And the upper ridges of the hills like versey, yumthung valley dazzled with the crazy bloom of white pink and red rhododendrons in spring. I rush to these highland every year in summer /spring like honey bees attracted towards flowering grooves.

The bunches of small wild roses are very common in these mountains in abundance and  their smells with moist air soothes me like nothing else.

I have seen many variants of Azaleas (varieties of small Rhododendrons), but  eyes were delighted with these soothing bloom of peach pink one.

And the morning dew freshens up the white Azaleas .

As the first ray of sun kisses the petals of maroon -violet Lilly, they brighten my days.The colors are so uncommon ,so vivid ,should I say maroon or violet or mixture of both the tones?

These tiny little bright blooms adorn the mountain walls like a flower woven carpet stitched passionately.

I don't know the names of theses small dazzling beauty.But the fiery orange with a brighter yellow in the middle, with soft green rounded leaves all over shows nature has its own style.

And who cares about these soft tender wild grass flowers on the both sides of meandering mountain trails ?I feel they are charming and makes my voyage a picturesque one .

There are many more to explore and will share some more in coming days.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 By

7 Reasons To Visit Darjeeling Now - A Photo Feature

My Darling Darjeeling - A home in the mountains

After getting baked, grilled and fried at above 40 degree Celsius in Kolkata, I can't stop myself dreaming of soothing summer of Darjeeling . Now even I have forgotten the counts, how many times I have climbed to this age old Himalayan city, built by British ,a home away from home. Why Darjeeling is my darling when queen of hills is over populated down the years, unplanned and torn apart by continuous strikes, on demand of Gorkhaland, a separation from Indian state of Bengal. My top seven reasons to visit Darjeeling:
Darjeeling , a Heritage Hill Station, often known as Queen of Hills

1.Climbing through Clouds ,Conifers and Flowers:
Once I left behind my college, city jungle of Siliguri vanishes like a magic. The road passes through tall sal ,segun trees of Sukna forest, passing Gulma tea estates, Madhuban and then towards Rohini with soothing green all around ,bordering shadowy mountains in far distance. As I drive past Karseong our car ascends up and up ,deep valleys, mountain tops everything  immersed under the quilts of clouds, as if we are floating on top of cloud. Meandering roads disappeared into the haze.

On the way to Darjeeling

The hill side house emblazoned with flowers

 In between , sudden glimpses of flower emblazoned wooden homes made brightest canvas amidst blurred background. The  flowers release their scents into the air, the cool, moist air tingles and the eyes are delighted by the seasonal colour changes. In a little while we drive past towering pine woods, possibly darkest deep green  in colour and winds passing through the pine chains whisper :welcome to Darjeeling.

The chain of pine trees a symbol of Darjeeling
 2.Magical Morning :
Watching sun rise over Kanchenjunga from Tiger hill is a magical moment if the mysterious Kanchenjunga  wishes to uncover herself behind the clouds. But walking ups and down towards gleaming white Japanese peace pagoda through the winding fogged roads guarded with slender conifers, or up to the Ghum Railway Station ,swirls of mist obscuring vision, a joy of getting drenched in sudden summery drizzle happens in Darjeeling.Summer is lovely with soothing cold ,when clouds come close to the bed with those open windows, sarong of fogs intimately embraces, refreshes. The bright sunshine with occasional snowfall and company of panoramic view of snow dazzled Kanchenjunga from every nook and corner in a clear day makes the city, a special destination for winter, too.
The snow Capped Himalaya as seen from Darjeeling

Japanese Peace Pagoda,Darjeeling

3.Sipping “Champagne of Teas”: 
I want nothing more than to  sip wonderful cup of steaming Darjeeling tea and taste is wonderful! Divine! Inspiring!. In every morning ,after a walk in the mall either we will sit  into Kaventers or Glenery's to sip freshly brewed tea and afternoon ritual is to be in tea lounges of Nathmull's to taste flavours of different variety. Tea has a magical effect on me. Tea is enough reason to ascend to this highland. Tea is Darjeeling's soul,reason to be famous among world's elite class. Neighbouring hill slants of Darjeeling are carpeted with perfectly trimmed tea bushes, miles after miles adding a verdant lush landscape. Without this rolling green tea gardens it's  impossible to imagine existence of Darjeeling. Happy Valley, Orange Country, Makaibari are few of the names of world's finest tea growing estates.

Darjeeling High On Tea
 4.Riding The Rails: We, Indian adorably call it as toy train and this little train has become identity of Darjeeling and a UNESCO world heritage site too. These little trains climbed through the clouds into the wonderful Indian hills from Himalayas in north to Nilgiris in south. From last 125 years it ferries passenger into the Himalayas and to the Darjeeling with narrow 2 feet wide track. I took a ride from Karseong to Darjeeling and it touches my heart .Train huffs puffs through fogged narrow twisted track passing pine chains, quaint villages, peaceful lives ,tea estates towards the clouded mountains and my eyes misted up.

Riding through Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

5.Eating at Elite Eateries:
From legendary movie maker Satyajit Ray( In Kanchenjugha movie) to recent hindi movie Barfi, none of them, not able to ignore Kaventers,a tradition of rooftop dining arrangement and how can I, an ardent lover of food?And my other favorite is Glenarys,a famous bakery plus cafe plus restaurants, a good place to grab my English break first with a good view of Darjeeling. I love small Tibetan restaurant Dekeling  for momos , fried pork and mixed chowmin. Dekeling is famous for westerners who prefer less spicy Chinese cuisine. Sunset Lounge of Nathmull's with fine valley view is my favorite with free wi-fi.And don't miss to peep into Cake Lady's place who will surely mesmerize you by her mouth-watering sweet smelled cakes. Joy's Pub is a relic reminiscent of an English Country Cottage.
Tibetan style Chinese At Dekeling Restaurant ,Darjeeling

6.Royal Treatments with colonial Hangover: Experience the Raj - era , at heritage Hotel Windmere on top of observatory hills,a perfect setting with most stunning view of Darjeeling .The Glenburn Tea Estate is a colonial gem on the outskirts of Darjeeling where you can relax in elaborately decorated rooms inside tea estate with elegant touch.From accommodation to eateries to boarding school ,Darjeeling is draped in all sorts of colonial hangovers. To escape summer heat of Indian plains, British developed this hill station, a home away from home. Windmere hotel to Glenarys or North point School to St Paul Church, you will find the smack of old colonial architecture, a tradition .

A Morning Walk @Darjeeling Mall

7. Spoilt for so many things to do:

Real Cuties ,Red Pandas @ Darjeeling Zoo:
Darjeeling Zoo is always on my things to do list  for pandas and birds .With good variety of Himalayan birds(varieties of Monals) and animals (Himalayan wolf,tiger,snow leopard) this zoo is largest high altitude and famous for endangered Himalayan red panda sighting .Why red panda's are so much in craze , because they are real cuties and see my photos:

Red Panda @ Darjeeling Himalayan Zoo

The silver pheasant at Darjeeling zoo

  •  Shopping at Chowrasta, Mall market.
  • Visit to Rock garden ,Japanese Peace Pagoda, Happy valley Tea estates, Zoo
  • Experience Sun rise from Tiger Hill
  • Trek to Sandakphu and Manebhanjan

Cascading Waterfalls at Rock Garden at Darjeeling

Darjeeling has lured  me to her beautiful slopes  and  from my pen words will flow and my stories will grow on & on .

Beautiful Rock Garden @Darjeeling

Travel Tips: Darjeeling is beautiful round the year. Avoid monsoon .Best time to visit for clear sky and views of Kanchenjunga is September to February(autumn to winter). March to May is soothing summer ,but foggy and cloudy all the time.
Budget Hotel: Darjeeling is a place to fit everybody's bill. I would recommend a Tibetan Hotel Dekeling at very convenient location, close to every facilities and Mall too.But they don't have room service and fooding is available in below restaurant like Lunar and Dekeling.Super delux rooms don't have any view of Darjeeling.Delux rooms are on the road side , having Darjeeling view,but little noisy.
Dekeling Hotel, A tibetan family run homestay cum hotel ,the family lives in the hotel too