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Thread: Journey through my eyes North Bengal Loleygaon, Rishyap, Lava and Pedong

  1. #1

    Journey through my eyes North Bengal Loleygaon, Rishyap, Lava and Pedong

    Content: Sharmistha DasGupta
    Photos: Shubha Shankar Dasgupta
    Prologue

    It proved to be one of our most cherished holidays till date. No special reason though but nothing beats the fun and pleasure experienced with childhood friends. After seven years of planning we four childhood friends could manage time together and what seemed to be just a thought was turning out to be reality. The excitement had set in much before the journey had actually begun. We bought little nicknacks for our tour, most importantly a good pair of shoes as a major portion of our tour was trek based. Everything was planned beforehand and all hotels were booked. The only thing that could not be arranged was the train ticket to Siliguri for everyone tries to encash the prized seven days of holidays in December. Somehow we managed to get the overnight Volvo tickets to Siliguri.

    Day 1 December 24, 2009

    We started our journey on December 24, 2009. The four of us reached Esplanade at around 6.30 p.m. and the bus set off at 7.30 p.m., halting briefly at Krishnanagar for dinner. Krishnanagar is famous for its “swar bhaja” which is a Bengali sweetmeat made from the butterfat of the milk. After our dinner, we gulped a few of them and woah! that was awesome. We had two consecutive double seats in the bus and, our chitter chatter had already begun and we chatted away merrily into the night. We were anxiously waiting for the next day’s arrival at Siliguri. Later, we fell asleep to recharge ourselves for the next day.

    Day 2 December 25, 2009

    We reached Siliguri the following day at 7.30 a.m. in the morning. Siliguri is situated in the plains at the base of the Himalayan Mountains. It is the largest city in North Bengal. We checked into Hotel Niladri to freshen up and had our breakfast of bread and butter with omelette along with a hot cup of Darjeeling tea. The rooms were big and clean but alas we were there only for a couple of hours. The next leg of our journey was to begin at 10.30 a.m. We were going to Loleygaon. A car was already booked and we set off for Loleygaon. Loleygaon can be reached from Siliguri with a 4-hour drive of 124 km up hill via Kalimpong. Kalimpong, the nearest town, is 55 km from Loleygaon. On the way up, we had serpentine roads along side the river Tista and had picturesque view of the town of Kalimpong. We took some time off to enjoy its beauty and the chilliness in the air was promising much more ahead. Loleygaon is one of the least trodden hamlets hidden in the Kalimpong hill. It is a stunning offbeat tourist destination. Normally, we would have reached Loleygaon at around 3.00 p.m., but unfortunately our driver, Prashanta did not know the actual route to Loleygaon, so we had to ask for the destination every now and then from the locals. To our surprise, many of them misguided us about the actual distance and direction and we ended up totally lost amongst the woods and at one time even had to do a U-turn and go all the way up about 4 km in the opposite direction. With no signals in our mobile, we were completely stranded amidst nowhere. Fortunately, an old couple helped us find the actual route, and we reached Lolegaon at around 6.00 p.m. It is a Lepcha village which is slowly gaining popularity among tourists for its magnificent view of the Greater Himalayan snow ranges over the entire horizon. We checked into Alpine Hotel, which is just beside the DGHC (Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Commission) bunglow, a small resting nest for tired souls.

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    It was the day of Christmas and we cut a small cake which we had brought all the way from home and had cups of tea at the hotel and spent the rest of the day exploring the mall, which was nearby. The mall consisted of a handful of shops. The small shops had everything from food to nicknacks and we just freaked out on the vegetable momos, something we barely have in Kolkata. The hot steaming soup and the tea proved to be life savers in the cold. We learnt from the locals that there occurs a “Haat” (open market) every Friday in the mall region where people buy all their stuffs for the entire week. The day was not a Friday and so we could not experience the “Haat”. By night, the temperature had fallen down by some degrees and the humid weather was spine chilling. Meanwhile we had visited the Buddhist temple alongside the mall and took a small trek downhill in pitch black darkness to a small village and on our way back to our hotel we enjoyed dinner at a cosy hotel and the people were kind enough to light us a bonfire.

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    The hotel was decorated in a modest yet cute manner for the occasion of Christmas and surely we were not at all missing the charm and blessings of Christmas on this remote hilly hub. As we made our way back to the hotel, I looked up and saw an array of stars twinkling in the pollution free sky. The moon was looking like a large silvery plate amidst the vastness which lay ahead. It was a bit foggy, and as we walked through the silence of the night, a feeling of adventure and mysticism grasped us all.

    The weather was chilly and the roads were deserted. We hastened ourselves back to the comfort of our hotel rooms. Soon we retired for the day with excited anticipation for the next day as we knew we had rooms from where we could view the Mt. Kanchendjunga, and were eagerly awaiting for the next morning for its magnificent view. The night saw us crashing into our beds, tired but content.

    contd..
    Last edited by sharmistha; 17th June 2011 at 08:39 PM.

  2. #2
    Day 3 December 26, 2009

    The next day began with an early rise to witness sunrise and also to have the view of the Mt. Kanchendjunga from our hotel rooms, but alas! It was very foggy. We did not go to Jhandidara, which is a view point for Mt. Kanchendjunga as well as the Mt. Everest, due to the fog. So, after breakfast, we left for a small excursion in the adjoining forests guiding us to the ‘Canopy Walk’.

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    At an altitude of 1850 meters in the midst of undulating slopes and adorned with towering Dhupi and Cypress trees, Loleygaon is the place of ethereal wilderness. The Heritage Forest of Loleygaon proved to be full of surprise.

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    The unique 'Canopy Walk' over the century old mossy Oak was a thrilling experience. All of us took many pictures and climbed the bridge.

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    We were feeling stress free already inhaling the fresh air of the forest and its silence was like music. While returning from the Heritage Forest, we came across a small roadside stall selling tea and pakoras. Feeling hungry all over again, we decided to grab a bite. As we seated ourselves on a wooden bench we saw an old local man sitting on the opposite side of the road with a pile of woods stacked beside him.

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    There was a bonfire lit in front of him and that made a perfect frame for Shubha. He quickly clicked a few snaps and now conscious of our interest, the man invited us to join him and we happily obliged. His name was Jung Bahadur and the boys started to chat with him in broken Hindi. He was an old local. The soft words, innocent smile and the innumerous wrinkles on his face made the encounter more intriguing.

    contd...
    Last edited by sharmistha; 5th June 2011 at 07:21 PM.

  3. #3
    We had our lunch at a hotel in the mall. While we were having our lunch, we could see the weather changing in front of our eyes and it was all misty within seconds. The hotel owner said that it was quite normal in this part of the country. With a happy belly, we started to trek again downhill to a local sleepy village.

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    On our way down to the village, we saw a little boy carrying a big log of wood on his small shoulders. He was soon joined by his family who were carrying piles of wood too. It was a sight of the tough mountain life of the villagers, as even the children had to work very hard for their living.

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    After some trekking, we found a small monastery. There was a small hut alongside that used to be the residence of the monks. A few children came to us with inquisitive eyes and smiled innocently. One of them spoke Hindi and opened the doors of the monastery for us. Truly, the innocence of the hilly people is a thing to be marveled at.

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    The children informed us that the head lama lives just a few yards away and if we would like to meet him, they are willing to take us there. We all instantly agreed and started off towards our destination. Apparently, we all thought that the lama would be an elderly man, but to our surprise we found him to be quite young. It all dawned upon us how from an early age the Buddhists dedicate themselves to their religion.

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    We spent the evening wandering places surrounding the DGHC bunglow and the Mall. It was a quite dark and chilly evening and we had to have some food to warm ourselves up. For evening snacks, we had Thukpa, omelettes and chicken momos from a small stall at the Mall but our appetite did not seem to die down. Soon we returned to our hotel for dinner and retired to our beds for the next leg of our journey to Rishyap.

    contd....
    Last edited by sharmistha; 5th June 2011 at 07:36 PM.

  4. #4
    Wonderful pictures. Lolaygaon is the ideal place to take a break. Nothing fancy "touristy" but the place is somehow magical. I have been twice and would not mind going again. Please continue with the rest of it.

  5. #5
    Have you gone for another trip? no updates? Waiting for the rest of it.

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