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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 By

Bird Watching In Sikkim

Dawn Chorus at Kaluk,West Sikkim

This summer I visited Kaluk ,a little hamlet immersed peacefully in the mountains of west Sikkim where spring is resounded with bird songs,tweeting,whistling.Though it was not my bird watching tour, but I loved to awaken at the peep of dawn with the chorus of different birds. Basically West Sikkim is heaven for bird watchers.I spotted many beautiful species like white cheeked himalayan bulbul,green-backed tit,whistling thrush,flycatchers around my resorts,Ghonday Village Resort,Kaluk. Often these little birds camouflaged themselves with the color of the nature ,so spotting them is difficult and even capturing them is more difficult. 
I spotted one little copper-sulphate bluish Verditer Flycatcher, peeping through the thick foliage, ready to take aerial pursuit for catching flying insects.

Magical Bird:Verditer Flycatcher, spotted at west Sikkim,Kaluk

Verditer Flycatcher , photographed at Kaluk,West Sikkim

 My mornings were melodious with the thin whistle like te te te ... of little blue beauties, asian verditer flycacthers.I was in the search for more birds and spotted an adult green-backed tit a small songbird on the backdrop of greenish yellow bamboo grooves, a perfect blending of colors.

Green Backed Tit ,photographed at Kaluk ,West Sikkim
I was sitting idle on the lawn chair and soon spied a white cheeked friendly bulbul , a himalayan variety with a crest on head sitting on a high branch and  searching for her company.

White Cheeked Himalayan Bulbul, photographed at Kaluk,West Sikkim
And my days were full off chirping sounds of dozens of restless himalayan black bulbuls , always hopping from one branches to other.I was a silent spectator of spring in the peaceful adobe of birds.

Himalayan Black Bulbul, photographed at West Sikkim,Kaluk
South and West Sikkim : Altitude  500 - 4000m. Contains  hotspots like Pelling/Pemayangtze (1500-2000m), Yuksom (1800m), Ravangla (2000m), Maenam Wild Life Sanctuary (3000m), Khechopari Lake (2000m), Dzongri, Versey Rhododendron Sanctuary and Kanchenjunga National Park.