In one of the worlds' most talked about countries- India, we take you to its less known destinations like Darjeeling, Sikkim and Kalingpong where summers are lovely , the people friendly and the world renowned Toy Train that winds its way up the green hills goes "choo...chhuk chhuk chhuk".
Day 01: Arrival Bhadrapur-Kalimpong
Day 02: Kalimpong-Gangtok
Day 03: Gangtok
Day 04: Gangtok-Pelling
Day 05: Pelling-Yuksom-Pelling
Day 06: Pelling-Darjeeling
Day 01: Arrival Bhadrapur-Kalimpong
On arrival at Bhadrapur Airport (400Ft / 122Mts), you will be met by our local representative who will assist you to board your vehicle to Kalimpong (3937 Ft / 1200 Mts, 130 km / 05 hrs.)
The town itself suggests of a place which is synonymous with fun and laughter, relaxation and peace, gaiety and harmony, the Kalimpong Is the leepcha language (lepcha are the original inhabitants of the region) roughly translates in to "Ridges where we place". It is believed that in the early stages of the development of the town hill tribesmen used to assemble in the beauty decked town for recreational purposes. Now after centuries of development refinement of its infrastructure, the town is without doubt one of the foremost and one of the most likeable tourist destinations of north East India. Historically a part of the Sikkim Empire, Kalimpong was later overrun by the Bhutanese before finally being annexed by the British in 1865. Since then, set in the roads of development by the then British government , Kalimpong has come long way now with all modern amenities requires for a major Hill Station in place. Kalimpong definitely is not one of those conventional tourist visitors are forced into the same routine which all others are forced into. It is a holiday destination for people who are looking for a break from the highly tension charged life of the cities. The quaint surrounding, the lush green hill, the terraced agricultural fields, the relaxed way of life and the crisp ad clean mountain aired is what tourists actually find pleasure in.
Day 02: Kalimpong-Gangtok
Today visit Flower Nurseries & Zang-Dhok-Palri Phodang. Afternoon transfer to Gangtok (5500 Ft / 1677 Mts 85 kms / 03 hrs).
Overnight at Hotel.
Flowers like Gerbera, Dahilia, Gladiolas and Cacti are exported from these nurseries across the world. Some of the nurseries in town twin Brothers nursery, universal nursery, pinewood nursery, Shangri-La garden nursery, ganesh mani pradhan nursery,etc.
Zang Dhok Palri Phodang
This is the largest and most beautiful monastery in Kalimpong. Consecrated by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in 1976 who also presented 'The Kangyur', in 108 volumes to it. Being situated at a height of 1372 meters on the peak of Durpin Hill, the monastery commands a magestic view of the Kanchenjunga and the adjacent peaks can be seen from this ground. The Zang Dhok Palri Phodang belongs to the Yellow hat sect of Buddhism ( Gelukpa Sect) to which the present Dalai Lama belongs.
Sikkim, the 22nd state, joined mainstream of the nation on 16th May, 1975. It is dedicated emotionally to the cause of national integration. There is complete harmony situation. No feeling of caste, creed and community prevails. It shares borders with Nepal, Bhutan and China, yet this is an island of peace, hospitality and tranquility with negligible crime. Heaven on earth, land of mystic splendor. These are just a few of the many phrases used to describe Sikkim, the tiny Himalayan state that is blessed by pristine and unspoilt natural beauty. Resting in the lap of the mighty Himalaya, guarded and protected by Mount Kanchenjunga and the towering mountains and sanctified by the age-old monasteries on every hilltop, Sikkim presents a diorama of diverse culture, religion, rich biodiversity, unequalled scenic beauty, spiritualism and adventure.
The capital of Sikkim is a unique hill resort of northeast India and undoubtedly one of the most oft-visited ones. Perched on the ridge of a hill at an altitude of 1700 mts, Gangtok is famous for its scenic beauty and spectacular views of the Kanchenjunga, their highest mountain in the world. Gangtok, Sikkim's capital sprawls over a forested hill that overlook Mt. Kanchenjunga, guardian deity of the land to the Sikkimese Buddhist. Since 1894 to 1975 it served as the royal it still bears a regal character around the areas that have not been affected by urbanization.
In the Sikkimese bhutia language 'Gang' means flat and 'Tok' means hill. Today, the 'flat hill' is better known as 'the Ridge' which then apparently was the area of choice to erect the Kings palace, 'Tsuk-la-khang', the Sidon's (dewans) quarters, 'Mintokgang', and the state secretariat, ' Tashiling'. Ever spur extending off Gangtok hill is the setting of a significant site. Above the Ridge of the palace grounds is the Enchey Monastery, and around a hundred meters below is the main bazaar and commercial hub, the half-kilometer long straight and flat street.
Gangtok was a small hamlet until the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840 made it a pilgrimage center. It became a major stopover between Tibet and British India at the end of the 19th century. Following India's independence in 1947, Sikkim became a nation-state with Gangtok as its capital. In 1975 the monarchy was abrogated and Sikkim became India's twenty-second state, with Gangtok remaining as its capital.
Day 03: Gangtok
After breakfast go out for sightseeing covering Rumtek Monastery, Do-Drul Chorthen, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Directorate of Handicraft & Handloom (Closed on Sunday), Flower Show & Enchey Monastery. Evening free to explore Gangtok. Overnight at Hotel.
About 45 minutes drive from Gangtok, 24 Kms away, is the Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre, the seat of the kagyud order, one of the four major Tibetan Buddhist sects, Since the 1960s, after the arrival of his Holiness the XVIth Gyalwa Karmapa, the centre houses some of the World's most unique religious scriptures and rare objects. Traditional in design, it is almost a replica of the original kagyud headquarter in Tibet, it is almost 300 centres overseas.
Do-Drul Chorten (Stupa)
The Do- Drul Chorten or stupa was built by the Venerable Trullshik Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma Order of Tibetan Buddhism, in 1945 Inside the stupa, there are complete mandala set of dorjee phurba ( Vajra Kilaya) a set of Kang gyur relic (holy book), complete 'Zung' (mantras) and other religious objects. Around the Chorten, there are 108 mani lhakor (prayer wheels). These are turned by devout Buddhists while chanting 'Om Mane Padme Hum'(O jewel in the lotus) to invoke the Bodhisattva. It is surrounded by chorten lakhang and guru lakhang, where there are hwo huge statues of Guru padmasambhawa.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
The most prestigious of its kind in India, this Buddhist Institute is a treasure of vast collection of rare lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts,statues and rare 'Thankas'(Tapestries used in Buddhist liturgy). It has over 200 Buddhist icons and other prized objects of art. Today, it is a renowned world wide centre for study of Buddhist philosophy and religion.
Directorate of Handicraft & Handloom
Instituted with the aim of promoting and keeping alive the state's traditional art & craft, the DHH is a store house of hand woven woolen carpets, with traditional motifs, blankets, shawls and exquisitely carved 'Choktse' or table and many other gift items.
Flower exhibitions are organized round the year at the Flower Show venue near the White Memorial Hall complex, Orchid show held during the spring season is one of the most popular shows organized in the State.
An important seat of the Nyinmapa order, the Enchey Monastery is built on the Site Blessed by lama Druptok Karpo, a tantric master known for his power of flying. This 200 years old monastery has in its premises images of gods, goddesses and other religious objects. Every year around January, " Chaam"or religious masked dance is performed with great fanfare for two days. It is situated close to Siniochu Tourist lodge, 3 Kms from Gangtok Town.
Day 04 Gangtok - Pelling
Transfer to Pelling (6100 Ft / 1890 Mts, 116 kms / 5 hrs). Check in at Hotel. Afternoon visit Rabdantse Palace, Pemayangtse Monastery. Overnight at Hotel.
A fast-growing yet idyllic town, Pelling offers breathtaking views of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga, the guardian deity of Sikkim. The hillsides draped in Alpine forests are swathed in swirling clouds and bounded by majestic mountains. This quiet town with an abundance of history and nature has been attracting a steady stream of visitors.
Pelling itself consists of little more than a road junction, Helicopter pad and numerous hotels, creating the so-called "Bengali Boulevard", a strip of highly unimaginative identikit concrete blocks. Luckily, from most angles this development is hidden by the forested slopes and Pelling offers numerous attractive walks and hotel terraces from where one can gaze in awe at the world's third highest peak.
Pelling gives a spectacular views of the Mount Khangchendzonga, the Guardian Deity of Sikkim and the worlds third highest mountain along with other sister mountains bowing before the Godly figure in reverence. Pelling is an ideal getaway for tourists as its vicinity has numerous waterfalls, soft trek routes, villages and soothing atmosphere for all discerning.
Pelling also offers the view of Koktang, Kumbhakarna, Rathong, Kabru, Dom, Khangchendzonga, Pandim, Zopuno, Shimbho, Narsing, Siniyalchu and others.
Rabdanste Gyalshing was the second capital of the Sikkim after Yuksom and till the Year 1814 AD, the Rabdanste Palace was located few km from Gyalshing town, from where the King of Sikkim ruled Country from the place. Today, the ruins lie hidden from the main road at a walking distance from the Memayangtse Monastery. It can be approached by the following a footpath which branches off from the main road just below the Pemayangtse monastery. The Scenic View from the top of the ruins scanning across the deep valley to the mystic heights of Khang-chen-Dzonga ranges is something to be cherished and etched in memory.
Pema Yangtse literally means " Perfect sublime lotus", founded on 1705 and belongs to Nyingma sect, It is one of the oldest monasteries of the state. Originally established by Lhatsun Chempo, one of the revered lamas to have performed the consecration ceremony of the first Chogyal ( Religious Monarch) of Sikkim. This ancient monastery belonging to the Nyingma Sect has been considered as one of the premier monasteries in the State. It has been entrusted with the task to perform all religious functions of the erstwhile monarch.
Originally, it was established as a high class monastery for " Pure Monk" (Ta-sang). Inside the monastery there is a wooden structure depicting the Maha Guru's heavenly palace (Sang-tok-palri), which is considered a masterpiece created by Late Dungzin Rimpoche. The monastery, located on a hill top at an altitude of 6300 ft. commands a magnificent panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges, the surrounding hills and the countryside.
Day 05:Pelling - Yuksom - Pelling
After breakfast we drive to Yuksom (5840 Ft / 1780 Mts, 35 Kms / 02 Hrs) on way visit Khecheopalri Lake (6000 Ft / 1829 Mts), it is one of the sacred Buddhist mountain lake and it is believed that whatever is wished in front of the lake comes true. Myth is that when a leaf falls on the placid clear water surface, it is picked by a bird. A further drive takes you to Yuksom (the meeting place of three monks) - the first capital of Sikkim. This was the place where the first Chogyal (a ruling dynasty in Sikkim) was crowned. Evening Back to Pelling and Overnight at Hotel.
Situated at a distance of 25 kms from Pelling, it is considered to be one of the sacred lakes of the state both by the Buddhist and the Hindus. The Lake remains hidden under the rich forest cover. The birds do not permit even a single leaf to float on the lake surface. There is motorable road from Pemayangtse right up to the lake area. For those interested in spending a night or two in the peaceful environment, a trekker's hut is available. There is a pilgrim hut.
Yuksum was the first capital of Sikkim, the first Chogyal was consecrated by the three holy lamas. About half an hour walk uphill is the Dubdi Monastery, one of the oldest in Sikkim. Yuksum and Zongri are two places in West Sikkim between which there is a trekking route in the form of bridle path. the best time to venture on a trek on this route is April to June and September to November. Till Yoksum there is a motor able road.
Day 06 Pelling - Darjeeling
After breakfast transfer to Darjeeling (7380 Ft / 2250 Mts, 125 Kms / 5 Hrs).
Check in and Overnight at Hotel.
Darjeeling in grandeur and beauty of towering snow-capped mountains with India's Abode, the Mighty Kanchenjunga, the king of the mountains, dominating the solemn, snowy sentinel lies the Jewels of a town, elegant, sophisticated and incredibly beautiful, the name, of Tibetan origin, means where India's thunderbolt or scepter rested (Dorje which means thunderbolt & ling means place). The name has been derived from the Sanskrit word 'Durjay Linga' which means 'Shiva of invincible prowess, who rules the Himalaya'. The town was laid by lord Napier of Royal Engineers, in 1835; the British separated the area of Darjeeling from Sikkim and transformed it into a mountain resort. The place is ideally suited for taking a few days of rest in between tiring tours in a healthy excursions, for example to Kalimpong and Ghoom as well as, for hiking and trekking tours, from the city one enjoys a magnificent view of the 8597 mt high and is the 3rd highest Mountain in the world.. Looking at Darjeeling's bustling streets today, its hard to imagine that 1839 there were not more than 20 families in the district. Darjeeling has Dr, Campbell, a British official who became the Station Superintend, to thank for his 22 years of devotion to developing the region at that time. From these humble beginnings, Darjeeling has today grown into one of India's premier hill stations, visited by tourists from across India and from all over the world. Darjeeling district of west Bengal has an approximate area of 12,000 square miles. According to the 2001 census of India, the districts population is 1.6 millions, with 67% of that number living in rural areas. The literacy rate is 81% for men and 64% for women.
The district extends from the tropical Tarai plains, at above 300 feet (91 meters0 above sea level, to the cool heights of the sandakphu-phalut ridge at 12,000 feet (3658 meters). Darjeeling borders of Sikkim to the north, Bhutan to the east and Nepal to the west. In addition to its namesake town of Darjeeling, the district also includes the hill resorts of kurseong and Kalimpong at (1482 meters) and (1249 meters) respectively.
Day 07 Darjeeling
Early morning tour to Tiger Hills (8364 Ft / 2550 Mts at around 4 AM) to view sunrise over Kanchendzonga Peak (subject to clear weather). On way back visit Ghoom Monastery. After breakfast go for a half-day sight seeing of Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park & Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (Closed on Thursday) Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Center (Closed on Sunday) & Tea Estate. Overnight at Mayfair Resort.
Drive to Darjeeling Railway station to board Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. This joy ride will be for 02 hrs from Darjeeling to Ghoom & back.
Situated about 11 Kilometers away from Darjeeling and at an altitude of about 2585 metres, Tiger hill offers one of the most magnificent views of the Kanchenjunga, talung, kabru, pandim and Siniolchu which are all located in Sikkim. In the North-east, the beautiful peak of chomolhari in Bhutan peeps over the chola Nathula range. On a clear day even the tips of Mount Everest and Makalu can be seen far away. The plains of Siliguri can be seen rolling below as far as the eye can see.
The view of the sunrise from Tiger hill is breathtaking, it looks as though a ball of fire is emerging from the bosom of the earth and as it does so the snowy range transforms from a cold white to a fiery crimson. As the sun rises, the mountain-tops are lighted one by one and then slowly the probing sunlight enters the valleys revealing forest and rivers.
One should reach Tiger hill before 5am to be in time to enjoy the sunrise in winter and 4am in summer. On the way back to Darjeeling town, the taxis halt at the Ghoom monastery and the Batasia loop. A word of caution however there is no point going to tiger hill if the sky is overcast.
In Ghoom one can visit the bazaar, along the road and a Buddhist monastery. The monastery is said to have been built around in 1850, by the Mongolian astrologer-monks lama Sherap Gyatso. The specialty of this monastery is that contains the statue of the 'future coming Buddha' known as Maitreye Buddha. The colors of the hall and vessels have been dimmed by the smoke of many butter-lamps. Photographs can be taken inside against payment of small fee.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
Established on 14th August 1958 the zoo was dedicated to the memory of Padmaja Naidu, former Governor of West Bengal on the 21st November 1975. Considered one of the best zoos in the country, it is the only centre that breeds the Tibetan wolf in captivity. Breeding programmes for the endangered red panda, snow leopard and the Siberian tiger are also carried out at PNHZP. The zoo is open on all the days except on Thursday and other national holidays.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was set up following the successful ascent of Mount Everest-the highest peak in the world by the local hero Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary on 28 May 1953. The oldest mountaineering institute in the country carries out various mountaineering like Nawang Gombu (the man to summit Everest twice) and lattoo Dorjee Sherpa has helped build the reputation of this pioneering institute. The institute is presently under the purview of Ministry of Defence.
Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre "Our way may be hard and long one, but I believe that the truth and faith must ultimately prevail". His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
After His Holiness escaped from Tibet, thousands of Tibetan refugees came to reside in India. Darjeeling too became a home away from home for the Tibetans in exile. Le. To rehabilitate the community a ten-member committee centre which was known as "Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre". The centre was established on October 1, 1959 and the residents of the centre are today known for their handicrafts. The centre makes excellent carpets, woolen goods, woodworks, etc, which are famous across the globe.
Darjeeling Tea occupies a place of pride for the whole of India. The aroma and taste of Darjeeling orthodox tea is unparalleled in the world. There are a total of 78 tea estates in the hills which have been accorded the status for its produce , as Darjeeling Tea by the Tea Board of India. These estates cover over 17,500 hectares producing over 9 million kg of tea engaging about 50 percent people of the district.
The Darjeeling Tea industry is the mainstay of the economy up in the hills and provides a rewarding life to its workers by way of a steady livelihood and to its facilities like housing, statutory benefits, allowances, incentives, crèches for infants of working mothers, children's education, integrated residential medical facilities for employees and their families and many more.
In Darjeeling the first trail plantation of seed was planted at an altitude of 700ft. by Dr A Campbell and in 1845 an experimental nursery in Darjeeling was set up by the Government. In 1847 the Government planted a nursery at lebong and the rest as they say is history.
The Darjeeling logo is hallmark of excellence launched in 1986, the Darjeeling logo has come to represent high quality muscatel flavoured tea with the unmistakable class that only Darjeeling can offer. The logo is a significant landmark in the history of the industry. Conceptualized by the Association in Darjeeling and launched in the international and domestic market by the tea board, it guarantees genuine Darjeeling tea, tested and packed for the connoisseurs of the throughout the world. The Darjeeling industry is happening place and has more surprises to unfurl.
Toy Train ( Joy Ride) Trains came to India in the early part of the last century- among the very first and most novels is the famous Toy Train of Darjeeling. It is 100 years old, having made its maiden trip in September 1881.
In 1870 an agent (Franklin Prestige) working for the Eastern Bengal Railway came up with a brilliant idea to reduce the cost of transport. It took eight years for prestige to submit his scheme to the Lt. Governor, Sir Ashley Eden, who gave an immediate sanction; it was named the Darjeeling Steam Tramway Co. on September 15th, 1881, and remained as such till it was taken over by the Indian Government on October 20, 1948. 1948. The construction had begun in 1879. The work was completed on 4th July, 1881 at an estimated cost of 42 lakh i.e. 60,000/- a mile.
Day 08 Darjeeling - Bhadrapur
Transfer Bhadrapur (140 Kms/ 05Hrs) for your onward connection