Darjeeling and West Sikkim

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Darjeeling and West Sikkim

Tea Plantations--Darjeeling

Tea Plantations--Darjeeling

The train arrived on time in Siliguri; after an egg roll (chapati with egg inside rolled up) we found a shared taxi to Darjeeling.  I managed to get the last room at the Tranquility Hotel up on the ridge in ‘Darjeeling.  Alas, nice room, but no view.

It is the end of the tourist season, so many of the hotels are empty.  I spent a couple of days wandering up and down the hilly streets of Darjeeling.  I had planned to take the “toy train” to Ghuum which is the highest train track in the world and visit a few  monasteries from there.  But the train was booked for 3 days so I decided to leave the next day for Pelling

Siliguri is a gateway for travel to Darjeeling and Sikkim.  The major train destination is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) which is also the start of the “toy train” (narrow track railway).  The road follows the track, but it is much as it takes 4 hours in a shared jeep and the train takes 8 hours.  It is possible to take the train part way from Kurseong.  It leaves Kurseong a little after 1pm so you can take the shared jeep half way to Darjeeling and then take the train the remainder of the way.  Because the train travels so slowly you can enjoy the views and take photos of the emerging Himalayan skyline.  During peak season it is important to book the train in advance.  I tried to get a ticket from Darjeeling o to Ghoom and then walk the 7 kilometers back to Darjeeling but the train was booked for three days.

 The first morning the sky was clear and from the rooftop of the Tranquility Hotel I saw the Himalayan skyline. Darjeeling has plenty of steep, narrow streets… It is a bit tiring to walk around – also because of less oxygen in the air. I walked to the oldest gompa: Bhutia Busty Tibetan Monastery – you cannot go there by car as many of the streets in Darjeeling are pedestrian only. The location is nice and since few people go there I was let inside to monastery.
Then I visited Happy Valley Tea Plantation – 25 percent of Indian teas comes from Darjeeling so it was worth to see how the production looks like. 

British in Darjeeling

British in Darjeeling

In Darjeeling the evidence of the British is everywhere from large churches to the tower clock and the historic hotels.  After Darjeeling I head to Sikkim where I need to arrange a travel permit.  This process has become easier as I got it from one of the five tourism offices.  I visited the office across from the Glengarry Bakery and after filling out the form, providing a photo and a photocopy of my passport and visa I received the permission paper.  What happens with all these paper documents? Siliguri is a gateway for travel to Darjeeling and Sikkim.  The major train destination is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) which is also the start of the “toy train” (narrow track railway).  The road follows the track, but it is much as it takes 4 hours in a shared jeep and the train takes 8 hours.  It is possible to take the train part way from Kurseong.  It leaves Kurseong a little after 1pm so you can take the shared jeep half way to Darjeeling and then take the train the remainder of the way.  Because the train travels so slowly you can enjoy the views and take photos of the emerging Himalayan skyline.  During peak season it is important to book the train in advance.  I tried to get a ticket from Darjeeling o to Ghoom and then walk the 7 kilometers back to Darjeeling but the train was booked for three days. 

he first morning the sky was clear and from the rooftop of the Tranquility Hotel I saw the Himalayan skyline. Darjeeling has plenty of steep, narrow streets… It is a bit tiring to walk around – also because of less oxygen in the air. I walked to the oldest gompa: Bhutia Busty Tibetan Monastery – you cannot go there by car as many of the streets in Darjeeling are pedestrian only. The location is nice and since few people go there I was let inside to monastery.
Then I visited Happy Valley Tea Plantation – 25 percent of Indian teas comes from Darjeeling so it was worth to see how the production looks like.
 

In Darjeeling the evidence of the British is everywhere from large churches to the tower clock and the historic hotels.  After Darjeeling I head to Sikkim where I need to arrange a travel permit.  This process has become easier as I got it from one of the five tourism offices.  I visited the office across from the Glengarry Bakery and after filling out the form, providing a photo and a photocopy of my passport and visa I received the permission paper.  What happens with all these paper documents?

Road from Siliguri to Darjeeling

Road from Siliguri to Darjeeling

 

By |November 14th, 2010|Categories: South East Asia 2010|Tags: , |2 Comments

About the Author:

Marilyn Drews is a spirited bolder woman who has traveled to over 80 countries and is still counting down. Take a look at the list on my website. http://spiritedbolderwomen.com/ I invite your comments and suggestions.

2 Comments

  1. Linda and Alec November 24, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Hi Marilyn
    It’s wonderful to read about your adventures. Your story-telling is captivating.
    We look forward to seeing you when you return to Victoria
    Linda and Alec

  2. Craig Stanhope-Jones August 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Hi Marilyn

    I am going to be in Darjeeling in late September, i was wondering if you by any chance have Hotel Tranquility email address.

    All the best
    Craig Stanhope-Jones

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