Monday, 13 May 2013

Chronicles of my Last Summer Vacation: The Beauty that North-East Is

Of all the things to do during summer vacations, going on a trip is, without doubt, the most exciting! Planning one for your summer holidays is a big task but doing it well in time surely saves you loads of trouble. Take this advice for it comes from experience. I had planned right and well in advance and so, I had the most wonderful vacation of my life last summer. North-East India had been on my list for long and I finally decided to explore it. This is the route I took:


Bagdogra>Kalimpong>Gangtok>Lachung>Gangtok>Pelling>Darjeeling>Bagdogra


As soon as I landed at Bagdogra airport, I couldn’t wait to board a taxi to Kalimpong. Every sight in this quaint town overlooking River Teesta with snow-capped peaks in the backdrop is picture-postcard-perfect. Really, Mother Nature couldn’t have been more kind!

A priceless gem of the Eastern Himalayas, Kalimpong is a 3 hour drive from Bagdogra and (surprise surprise!) is a great place to shop at. It wasn’t long before my bags were filled with Tibetan handicrafts, artifacts and junk jewellery. After satisfying the shopaholic in me, Kalimpong greeted me with ancient monasteries, beautiful temples, serene churches and bustling flower markets. I also discovered that paragliding is the best way to enjoy the magnificent mountains there.

Enjoy stunning panoramic views in Kalimpong | Photo Credit: wikimedia commons/Anuj Kumar Pradhan
Gangtok was my next stop and it had loads to offer in terms of sightseeing, shopping and culture. It is home to the third highest mountain peak in the world, Mt. Kanchendzonga. The sight of the mountain peak from Tashi View Point was one to behold. Rumtek and Enchey monasteries, Hanuman Tok and Namgyal Institute of Tibetology were other attractions I covered at leisure in the two days that I spent in Gangtok. To my surprise, Gangtok had a very vibrant nightlife too with loads of bars and pubs dotting the city.

An unforgettable and extremely enjoyable experience was the yak ride at Tsomgo Lake and the visit to Baba Mandir (about 38 kilometres away from Gangtok.) The yak I rode was christened Tshering and he was adorned with colourful pieces of cloth. Also, for anyone visiting Gangtok, I would highly recommend an excursion to Nathu La Pass, the mountain pass on the India-China border. About 55 kilometres from Gangtok, this pass is among the highest motorable roads in India. One thing to keep in mind while visiting Tsomgo Lake and Nathu La Pass is that you need permits for entry.


The breathtaking Tsomgo Lake, 38 kilometres from Gangtok

My next stop was Lachung. I booked an SUV from Gangtok and halted en route at Kabi Longtsok, Seven Sisters Waterfall and Singhik View Point to capture some memories of the mesmerising scenery. For a perfect ending to my day, I hiked up to the Lachung Monastery, which is open only during the Losar festival in February.

My excursions around Lachung began the next morning. The many shades of green, countless rhododendrons, hot springs and a meandering river made Yumthang Valley (25 kilometres from Lachung) truly picturesque. And how could I miss Zero Point, 30 kilometres ahead of Yumthang, famous for the beautiful views it offers and its snow. As you would have guessed, fun pictures, snow fights and a snow man followed.

The picturesque Yumthang Valley
The next day, I headed back to Gangtok and this time paused on the way to click marvellous pictures of the Bhim Nala Waterfall and Twin Waterfall. After spending a day and a night in Gangtok, I departed for Pelling, where the serenity was enough to levitate my senses. There are monasteries, waterfalls, views of Mt. Kanchendzonga, pretty valleys and loads of opportunities for adventure enthusiasts like hiking, fishing, rafting and mountain biking in Pelling. After the adrenaline-pumping paragliding tour in Kalimpong, I thought trekking would be a great idea for me.


Entrance to Pemangytse Monastery, Pelling | Photo Credit: wikimedia commons/Kothanda Srinivasan
 At last, I reached Darjeeling. The unadulterated beauty of the tea town stole my heart. It is, without a doubt one of the best travel destinations in India. To treat my senses to even more visual delights and for some adventure, I decided to board the toy train of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. As the train was winding through the mountains, I hummed the popular song from the movie Parineeta, “Kasto mazza hai lelaima ramailo o kaali odhali” which literally translates to ‘it is great fun when the train twists and turns in the hilly terrain’.

Take a joy ride aboard the toy train in Darjeeling | Photo Credit:wikimedia commons/Vikramjit Kakati
Tasting the uplifting Darjeeling tea at a local café was a wonderful way to begin my tour of this town. I headed towards Tiger Hill to capture the amazing sunrise on camera. My love for animals also took me to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute Zoo where the sight of the endangered red panda fascinated me. The majestic hill views, ornate monasteries, lovely tea gardens and the warmth in the air are reasons enough to make anyone fall in love with Darjeeling. They sure did for me!

Welcome to the Tea Town of India, Darjeeling
I left for Bagdogra airport with my packs of Darjeeling tea, a refreshed mind and a million beautiful memories. If you too are looking to have a peaceful and relaxing holiday like me, then this is the ideal route for you. The fresh air and scenic beauty in these parts of India will be the perfect recipe for rejuvenating your senses. MakeMyTrip offers various all inclusive vacation packages with flights and hotels to make your stay comfortable.

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