Archive for the ‘Hill Stations’ Category

Walking Tour of Pelling, West Sikkim

June 27, 2019 3 comments

Walking Tour of Pelling, West Sikkim

Chenrezig Statue, Skywalk, Sangachoeling Monastery, Rabdantse Ruins, Sidkeong Tulku Bird Park and Pemayangtse Monastery

Also see: Chalamthang and Yuksam, a family tour of South and West Sikkim

Pelling in West Sikkim offers breathtaking views of Mt Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak of the world, no wonder it is one of the most visited tourist spots in the whole of Sikkim.

Pelling Sky Walk 1

Giant statue of Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara), Pelling

Apart from Kanchenjunga Pelling also has a host of other tourist attraction, which includes Rimbi & Kanchenjunga Waterfall, Khecheopalri Lake, Rabdentse Ruins, Pemayangtse Monastery and Singshore Bridge.

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Chalamthang Homestay, South Sikkim, a home away from home

June 20, 2019 16 comments

Chalamthang Homestay, South Sikkim

A home away from home

Also see: Chalamthang and Yuksam, a family tour of South and West Sikkim

Sikkim is known for its breathtaking views of Kanchanjunga, the third highest peak in the world. Places like Gantok, Pelling, Ravangla, Rinchenpong, etc offers great views of the majestic snow peak. No wonder they are always on the top of the priority list for tourist visiting Sikkim.

Chalamthang 2

Chalamthang Homestay in evening

But the landscape of Sikkim is never restricted to Kanchanjunga alone meandering rivers, deep gorges, rolling green hills and high altitude passes forms an integral part of the Sikkim landscape.

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Chalamthang and Yuksam, A family tour of South and West Sikkim

June 12, 2019 2 comments

Chalamthang and Yuksam

A family tour of South and West Sikkim

A family vacation to the Himalayas was long due. In fact our last Himalayan vacation was our honeymoon a decade and half ago. Although I have been in the Himalayas quiet a few times during this period but could never manage a trip to the Himalayas with my family. This was also the first Himalayan holiday for my nine year old daughter.

Rimbi Falls 1

Family pic at Rimbi Falls (Pic courtesy: Shyamal)

It was a six day seven night tour (including journey) and included a three night stop at Chalamthang (South Sikkim) and two night stop at Yuksam (West Sikkim).

The itinerary was as follows:

Day 1 (May 26): Transfer from New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Station to Chalamthang. Night halt at Chalamthang Homestay.

Day 2 (May 27): Day trip from Chalamthang covering Temi Tea Garden and Buddha Park, Ravangla.

Day 3 (May 28): Day trip from Chalamthang covering Tarey Bhir and Sandruptse (Char Dham in Namchi had to be dropped due to a political rally).

Day 4 (May 29): Transfer from Chalamthang to Yuksam. Night halt at Yak Hotel.

Day 5 (May 30): Day trip from Yuksum covering Rimbi Falls, Sky Walk and Chenrezig statue, Sanga Choeling Monastery, Pemayangtse Monastery, Rabdentse Ruins and Khechiperi Lake.

Day 6 (May 31): Trek to the Dubdi Monastery and visit to the Throne of Norbugang. Transfer from Yuksam to New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Station. Night train back to Kolkata.

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Uttarakhand Tourism Blogger’s Bus

May 31, 2018 22 comments

Uttarakhand Tourism Blogger’s Bus

A tour of Rishikesh, Yumanotri, Harshil, Sat Tal and Rauthal

Blogger’s Bus, a concept of Uttarakhand Tourism, is a 5 day (15 May – 21 May 2018) bus trip of selected travel bloggers. The trip would take the bloggers across the state of Uttarakhand introducing them to the known and unknown tourist destinations of the state.

UK Blog Bus D1 1

Bloggers of Gongotri and Yamunotri Blogger’s Bus, Uttarakhand

The first ever Blogger’s Bus focused on the Gongotri and Yuamunotri two of the Char Dhams (the other two are Kedar and Badri) but also included a few lesser known hamlets, villages and even a small trek.

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Tea Processing at Margaret’s Hope, Kurseong

July 6, 2017 3 comments

Margaret’s Hope, Kurseong

Tea Processing

See also: Maragaret’s Deck FAM

The most common legend related to the discovery of tea dates back to 2737 BC in Yunnan province in China. It happened during the reign of the Emperor Shen Nong. The story narrates that while the emperor was drinking from a bowl, a few leaves from the nearby tea plant fell in it. He liked the resulting beverage, which lead to the world wide phenomenon of tea drinking.

Margaret's Hope tea Factory, Kurseong

Margaret’s Hope tea Factory, Kurseong

Although historians doubt about the authenticity but it was this Yunnan Province that gave the world the habit of drinking tea.

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Tea and much more, Margaret’s Deck, Kurseong

June 10, 2017 6 comments

Margaret’s Deck, Kurseong

Tea and much more

See also: Maragaret’s Deck FAM

Kurseong, has always lived in the shadows of his more illustrious sister Darjeeling, considered as the queen of the hills. Kurseong, literally meaning the land of the white orchid, has always been a quick stop for a bite of momo and a gulp of tea, for tourists heading for Darjeeling. (Also read: Kurseong, the land of white orchid)

Margaret's Deck Tea Lounge, Kurseong

Margaret’s Deck Tea Lounge, Kurseong

The small eateries and road side sacks have served plates of steaming plates of momos and bowls of thupkas to hungry tourist heading for Darjeeling. But now there is a difference, enter Margaret’s Deck, an exclusive tea lounge. Margaret’s Deck is an initiative of Goodricke Tea Pot at the Margaret Hope tea garden in Kurseong.

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A date with Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Toy Train, Kurseong

February 23, 2017 11 comments

A date with Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Toy Train


See also: Maragaret’s Deck FAM

A hundred miles, a hundred miles,
A hundred miles, a hundred miles
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles

500 miles

We heard the whistle blow, but it was not hundred miles away, in fact it was less than hundred yards away. It was a foggy winter afternoon and we were at the Margaret’s Deck digging into a exotic lunch spread.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Toy Train in front of Margaret's Deck

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Toy Train in front of Margaret’s Deck

Off went your lunch and we rushed out of the Margaret’s Deck, with our cameras, to photography the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Toy Train (Also read: Chasing the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Kurseong – Mahanadi), an UNESCO Heritage site.

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Tea Tasting at Margaret’s Deck, Kurseong

February 15, 2017 12 comments

Tea Tasting at Margaret’s Deck

Goodricke’s Margaret Hope Tea Estate, Kurseong

See also: Maragaret’s Deck FAM

If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are exxcited, it will calm you.

William Gladstone, former Prime Minister of United Kingdom

My first stint with Tea Tasting happened at the Goodricke office in Kolkata. I remember tasting several version and trying to distinguish between the different tastes and flavoures.

 Margaret's Deck, Goodricke Tea Pot, Kurseong

Margaret’s Deck, Goodricke Tea Pot, Kurseong

But I always wanted to have a tea tasting experience at the heart of chai country. The opportunity again came from Goodricke, with MSL Group as the public relation partner.

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Srinagar ~ Mughal Gardens

“The concept of paradise as a garden is one of mankind’s oldest ideas.The paradise promoised in the Quran consists of several terraces of gardens, each more splendid than the other.”

World Heritage Series, Humayun’s Tomb

“Inheriting the Greek love of order and logic, Islamic gardens – like their buildings – are regimented into lines of perfect symmetry; balance and design is all; nothing is left to impulse or chance.”

William Dalrymple, City of Djinns

Babar, the first of the great Mughals, introduced into India the Timurid – Persian scheme of a walled – in – garden, subdivided into four quaters by raised walkways and canals. As the Mughal empire spreads its wings into India the Mughal gardens started coming up in different parts of the country.

Obviously Kashmir, the paradise on earth, was the ideal place to built the mughal gardens, the paradise promised by the holy Quran. It was fourth Mughal ruler Jehangir, who took up the initiative of building of first Mughal Gardens of Kashmir.

Sirnagar, the present capital of the state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), houses three spectacular Mughal Gardens, complete with raised walkways water channels lined with fountains. Mughal Gardens of Srinagar are a prime attraction for tourist and locals alike.

Cheshma Shahi

Royal Spring

Cheshma Shahi (Mughal Garden), Srinagar, J&K

Cheshma Shahi (Mughal Garden), Srinagar, J&K

Cheshma Shahi, the smallest but most elegantof the Mughal Gardens of Srinagar, was built by the governor Ali Mardan Khan, under the patronage of Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 – 33. Cheshma Shahi (or Royal Spring) derives its name from a water source, a spring located at the uper most terrace of the Cheshma Sahi Garden. The water of the spring is said to posses some curative properties, especially for stomach ailments.

The triple terraced Cheshma Shahi garden is strategically located and offers great view of the Dal Lake and the adjacent Jhelum Valley of Srinagar.

Shalimar Bagh

Abode of Love

Central Pavilion, Shalimar Bagh, Srinagar, J&K

Central Pavilion, Shalimar Bagh, Srinagar, J&K

The most spectacular of the Srinagar’s Mughal gardens, the Shalimar Bagh was constructed by emperor Jehangir for his beloved wife Nur Jahan. Shailmar (abode of love) Bagh follows the three terraced Mughal Garden layout with  a dimension of 587m by 251m.The first terrace housed the public garden, the second the emperor’s garden and the third and final terrace housed the zenana (harem). The Shalimar Bagh also served as a royal court, during the summer months, and houses the Diwani Amm (public audience hall) and the Diwani Khass (private audience hall).

The Shalimar Bagh is built on a flat land with four radiating arms from a central water source. The water channels are lined with fountains and are marked on both sides by chinar trees.

Nishat Bagh

Garden of Bliss

Nishant Bagh, Srinagar

Nishat Bagh, Srinagar

Nishat Bagh (Garden of the Bliss) is the largest of the Srinagar’s Mughal Gardens. Built in 1633 by Asaf Khan, the brother of Nur Jahan the garden is not a royal garden. As Nishat Bagh is not a royal garden, its hierarchical than the other Mughal Gardens of Srinagar. Nishat Bagh has twelve terraces, each representing a zodiac.  The terrace begins from the public street level, which connects the garden’s water to Dal  Lake. The twelfth terrace is located in the zenana gardens.

A central water stream, nearly 4 meters wide and 20 centimeters deep, flows down from the top of the garden through a channel decorated with fountains and occasionally divided into fountain pools. Chadars, stone ramps engraved with wave patterns to render the flowing water more beautiful, transfer water between the various terraces. In several places, stone benches cross the axial water stream near a chadar, and serve as seating platforms for the visitor’s enjoyment.

Nishat Bagh creats a striking contrast with the Dal Lake in the foreground and the towering Zabarwan Hills in the background.

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Other blog entries on Jammu & Kashmir (J&K)

GULMARG ~ The Ultimate Paradise

October 4, 2011 10 comments

It is said that the Eskioms have a hundred synonyms for the word snow. Standing on the snow slopes of Gulmarg I wondered if the Kashmiris have more.

Day Break at Gulmarg

Day Break at Gulmarg

It was early winter and the snow was yet to come in Srinagar, and the leaf less Chinar trees welcomed me in the valley. After spending a couple of days in barren landscape and under an overcast sky I decided to head for Gulmarg.

Rani Temple, Gulmarg

Rani Temple, Gulmarg

As my jeep gained altitude patches of snow started appearing. Soon the patches grew bigger and bigger and by the time I reached Gulmarg (2653 m) it was snow, snow & more snow. It was first time in Kashmir I felt that I was in paradise.

After checking in one of the numerous hotels, and a quick brunch, I was out to explore the place. But was soon surrounded by the sledge wallas. The sledges are nothing but indigenous version of the Calcutta hand pulled rickshaw, where you are pulled along the snow in a wheel less wooden carriage (rather a piece of log) by a fellow human being. It was nothing adventurous and I decided to give the sledge ride a skip but the in the process denied a poor man of his income.

J&K Tourism Office, Gulmarg

J&K Tourism Office, Gulmarg

I was soon out of the clutches of the sledge wallas and was out to explore the place. My first stop was the Rani Temple. Built in 1915 by Mohini Bai Sisodhia, wife of the last king of Kashmir Hari Singh, the Rani Temple is strategically located on a small hillock and is visible from every part of Gulmarg. I followed the snow covered slippery steps to the temple only to find it locked, but the view was incredible.

Bidding farewell to the Temple I headed for the J&K Tourism office. Located about 500 meters away, the British cottage styled building was totally covered with snow. But the office was open and the young tourist officer provided me not only with tourist brochures but also chalked out an itinerary for my one and half days stay in Gulmarg.

Golf Club, Gulmarg

Golf Club, Gulmarg

Next to the tourism office is the Gulmarg Golf Club. The century old Gulmarg Golf Club is situated in a similar cottage. Bypassing the club house I headed through the snow covered golf course towards the St. Mary’s Church, located on a hillock overlooking the golf course.

Built in 1902 the church contains some stain glass work. After a brief stop at the church, I made my way through the snow covered meadows, where the enthusiastic tourist tried out their newly learnt skiing skills. Considering me unfit for skiing, I decided to give it a skip, and wondered aimlessly to a hill top, said to provide great mountain views.

Gulmarg during snowfall

Gulmarg during snowfall

It was late afternoon and by the time I reached the view point the clouds have reigned supreme and it was all set to snow. I took a shortcut and made it to the warmth of my hotel room just before the snowfall began. The snow continued all evening and late into the night.

Next morning I was greeted with the most spectacular sight. The snow had stopped and the skies have cleared. Without losing time I was out with my camera to shoot the snowscape.

After a breakfast I headed for Gulmarg’s prime attraction the Gondola Cable Car. As my four seater cable car started to move I was rewarded with a spectacular view of the Gulmarg valley crowned with the eternal snow peaks of the Himalayas & Karakoram. The ride was short and I was soon in Kongdori (3045m), where there was more snow.

Icicle, Gulmarg

Icicle, Gulmarg

Giving the ski training a skip I walked past the frozen seven springs, known for seven natural outlets of water, and headed for Khilanmarg. Located 4 km away Khilanmarg is known for its breath taking views of snow peaks extending all the away to Pakistan. But within a kilometer the snow reached well above my knee forcing me back. I headed back to Kongdori, from where I took a cable car back to Gulmarg.

Now it was time for home. As I retraced my steps back to Srignar, I was reminded of a line from J&K Tourism Brochure “They say a visit to Kashmir can divide your life into two halves – before & after Kashmir.”

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