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Rising in the East

Posted on 24/09/14

Last week in the month of August I had a good 4 days in hand, thanks to lord Ganesha 's visit to Mumbai city & privilege leaves on my platter; I decided to venture to some place in India. As always East being less explored on my list the plan was to experience "Darjeeling" so I got my mind and companion (My Mother) fixed, and started checking deals for the same. Thanks to my previous connect with Holidaymine it was a breeze to finalize the itinerary & get my requirement for flight and land sorted. I received a wonderful package with the desired inclusions within a couple of days on my table ready.


So here I was a day before my travel with a little push to myself and my mom, because we knew it was a 4.5 hour journey plus a 3 hour drive to hit my destination. I called it a night early so as to utilize the best of my next day, had to take an early morning flight of 7:25 am from Mumbai. All things being in place I was boarded and buckled for my first stop over at Guwhati, a little sleepy but grooving on to my music. The flight was quick and gave me a boost to cover the remaining 50 odd minutes for the next one landing me in Siliguri (Bagdogra) the airport closest to Darjeeling.

As I stepped out of the airport with the signage guy eagerly waiting for us, I removed my pair of shades and put them on - hot afternoon sun gave me a feeling that I had a long day of travel and drive awaiting me. As we marched towards the parking lot I could see an Innova with the proactive driver running towards us to pick the luggage. In a few minutes we were off to 'Queen of Hills', Darjeeling.

Zipping though the city cum village like road from Siliguri, passing the Cantt areas in not less than an hour we were on the curvy up and down tea plantation hills. I could see the hot sun disappearing and the foggy clouds covering the sky as well as my shades. I rolled down the car windows and glanced out at the breathtaking scenery, as I entered into a beautiful lush green paradise. The drive wasn't that long anymore, as I was at the door step of my hotel Summit Spa, a woody 4 star property. After freshening up and ordering dimsums on the menu which were mouth watering I took a good nap and woke up to the glimpse of sunset from my Kanchenjunga facing window. It was a pleasant feeling making me look forward to my next day full of action. I had an early night to make sure we wake up at 4am - to view the spectacle of Sunrise at Tiger hills, with this thought in my mind I switched the lights off.

Curvy Road

Once again an early rising ( miracle ), I was up before the alarm and was ready to drive off to admire the view everyone was talking about. It was extremely dark and neither of us could spot a soul on the road. It looked as though it had rained in the night, So !! pressing on my hope with gloomy skies still covering early morning sky. We headed along the curvy roads and further up the hills a diversion from the road took us to our destination, As we approached the main point I was jittery about the clouds bursting into rains and ruining my view. Thinking of time when I was contemplating my decision to visit the hills in the month of August, as the ideal months being from October to May. Nevertheless I could see the flags swinging up toward the toll point to Tiger Hills. As we stopped to get down of the car a ray of light in the sky gave us a signal we were on time and the show was about to begin. I saw a bunch of people who had reached before me to experience what I thought only my eyes were lucky to see, Phew!!! We fastened our pace to find the perfect spot to capture the wonderful phenomena. And within few minutes; I remember it was 5.15 am - my eyes were glued at the tiny yellow orange color stripe peeping out of the clouds, the cameras started clicking and in a few seconds I could feel myself "Rising up in the East" to a sunrise full of hope; refreshing my mind and energizing my spirit. The Tiger Hills is the place to visit when the first rays of the sun grace the Kanchenjunga. But folks the weather can be unpredictable unless you are a lucky like me :)


With great satisfaction and memorable pictures we finally headed back to our hotel. We had planned to halt at a Japanese temple to complete the first day of our itinerary. The halt was worth because of the peaceful atmosphere at the temple which gave me a heads up I needed. But before that I needed to sleep before we ventured out again, and headed back to the hotel. We relished a healthy breakfast and slept for couple of hours. We set out at 10:30 am to pay a visit to the Mountaineering Institute and Zoo which was a part of our itinerary. It was a short steep walk of 2 kms. We took a tour round the museum which consisted of many old mountaineering tools & loads of historic data. Animals in the open zoo gave me a flashback of my childhood memories at Hyderabad zoo.

It wasn't even noon and we felt that along day of sightseeing was ahead of us, however the aches and pains of previous days travel had vanished somewhere in the beauty of the hills. After that we headed to experience the rope way ride which excited me even though the cable wires looked scary as they descended downwards. I admired the tea gardens which captured the ethereal beauty of the city. The famous St. Joseph's school white & grey building an epic structure and should not to be missed on this route. Post the 45 minutes of the cable car tour we were back on the road for some more tea gardens to visit. We clicked a few pictures and dressed in the local attire which costs 100 bucks. You will get freaked out as you won't be able recognize yourself, but at the same time you will feel like you belong to the land. We took sips from small cups of local tea and headed back to our car leading us to the market of local handicrafts in the main town. Unfortunately these handicrafts have do not have much potential as these beautiful items are not promoted in our country.

Tea Estate

With loads of hunger in our stomach we returned to the hotel, took an amazing body spa, slot booked for ourselves to curb all aches, munched and ended the day in our room watching some movies. Next morning we were ready to hit the road to drive to our way to Lake Mirik which was just 40 kms away but the winding roads takes you 2 hours. With serenity at its splendid best we entered the Nepal border where I halted for a few clicks of the magnificent mountains dividing India from Nepal. The drive ahead for an hour was mesmerizing as we passed through the short curves all surrounded by pine trees and fig all around. The distance was minimized as we were lost in these dense forests with peculiar creatures sound in the background which was very soothing. Listening to our favorite playlist which is highly recommended here. Within no time we could view the lake in front of our eyes. As you park and walk along the lake which is 2 Kms in diameter to be covered, the horse ride is an option to complete the circle around the lake but a walk makes you more close to the nature.

Lake Mirik

The aroma of the delectable Momos stall across the lake side tickled our taste buds and kept us wanting more. There we realized that we had spent quite some time. As we headed back, we stopped at the Buddha monastery which was just another tourist point but, a tall Buddha statue is worth running down the steps. Almost at 5 pm we were at the hotel after visiting the local markets to grab some tea packs to enjoy back home and to distribute it to the tea lovers. With a fruitful day we ended up packing for our departure the next afternoon. The thought of going through the roller coaster road ride on our way to the airport was not disturbing, as we just did not want this trip to end. It was proper mix of travel and leisure during this monsoon, the foggy weather adding a touch of magic to the dazzling valley. Clear skies interspersed with magnificent showers give you a glimpse of heaven on Earth. Darjeeling is a great mix of divine beauty coupled with unmatched simplicity it is not a destination; it is a journey that you will remember for a lifetime!!



Amreeta Kunwar


Blog by Wander Lost- Holidaymine's guest blogger, who is a great travel and adventure enthusiast. Life for her is all about the search for adventure and exciting challenges. A freespirit at heart she wishes to explore every corner of the world. She enjoys  food and good company, she can debate and discuss movies even in her sleep.