Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ghoom/Batasia Loop & Darjeeling - Two leaves , one bud - 2009

We went to Ghoom to stay in my Sterling Resort. It is quite nice. Normally people stay at Darjeeling . But we stayed at Ghoom, which is the highest railway station in India.Most of the interesting Buddhist Monasteries are is in Ghoom .

We (Mohua and I) left Siliguri by Darjeeling Mail (10.05 pm) from Sealdah and reached Siliguri next day at 8.30 a.m. We took a shared jeep straight from New Jalpaiguri station( i.e. Siliguri) @ Rs 130/- (which is slightly higher than normal rate of Rs 110) and gave the driver Rs 100 extra to drop us at Sterling Resort at Ghoom . With luggage it is a better idea to use the Jeep to reach the resort. We reached there at around 12.30 p.m.

We took rest and had our lunch at the resort. The resort is located at a nice location and one can have a good view from the room itself. The resort located at a place higher than the Hill Card Road. The daily service charges at the resort is Rs. 350. We stayed at the last room of the row. It was more or less empty.

In the evening we spent some time in the entertainment section of the resort, enjoying(?) Tambola with other guests of the resort. All the guests were Non Bengalis(Marwaris mostly). But we must say that the young Nepali guy at the resort who was conducting the Tambola game entertained us more than the game itself. We were touched by his simplicity and innocence. We had dinner at the nice dining hall of the resort.


On 21st we left the resort after breakfast and visited four monasteries in a row located on the stretch from Ghoom to Darjeeling, starting with the monastery almost sharing the outer wall with our resort. The distance from Ghoom to Darjeeling proper is about 12 kms. We kept on walking and visiting one monastery to another. Every monastery was different from the other - environment wise and ambience wise and the one beside our resort was the best. However,we enjoyed company of the kids playing football at one monastery. after visiting the last Gompa in the line, we started walking towards Darjeeling .

On the way there is Batasia loop. It is actually a war memorial on an elevated place encircled by well maintained manicure garden and providing fantastic view. The entry fee is Rs 5 (?). The ribbon like loop through which the toy train passes is the most common picture of toy train one can find in any souvenir. There we spent close to an hour watching nature and beautiful Darjeeling town from a distance. While walking towards Batasia loop we met one elderly retired Nepali gentleman who spent considerable part of his life in Kolkata and remembers Bengali quite well and thinks Gorkhaland is after all a good idea, since there is no development in this hill state for quite some time. We chatted all the way to Batasia loop . The walk was pleasant since the height of Ghoom is higher than Darjeeling.

From Batasia loop we took a shared jeep to go to Darjeeling (Rs 10) . On reaching Darjeeling we bought some ready to eat food from Big Bazaar ( hypermarket chain of India's largest retailer) and some ham for my dinner (since we have kitchen in our resort). Then we went to our favourite Restaurant Glenary's and had our lunch there. We had Fish Kebab , Tandoori Roti and egg Bharta (Rs 45). It was quite good . In fact, we realized, if we were on budget, one plate of egg Bharta would have been enough for us.

After lunch we went for shopping , buying souvenirs and tea from Mall area for different people. Police band was playing beautiful tunes of Tagore Song. After they finished their music then we started walking along the right hand side of the mall and kept walking for 5-6 minutes to sit at the bench which offers very good scenic view. Then we started walking towards the Zoo to drink tea at our favourite joint "Hot stimulating cafe" . But luck was not on our side. We found it closed. It was getting dark , so we had to rush our way back to our resort by taking a Jeep. It was around 7 p.m. The last few jeeps already left for Ghoom . We were bit scared , but ultimately , after waiting for almost close to an hour we were lucky to get an over crowded Jeep.


We finished breakfast with Maggy made in our kitchen. We went to Darjeeling from Ghoom and went to the most amazing Happy valley tea estate on Hill cart Road (near the jeep stand).It was full of mist. We saw people plucking leaves: two leaves , one bud. We even went inside the factory. Only premium teas (@ Rs 2000/ Kg) are sold at the counter.We did not buy from that place.

Then I went to the garden and spent some time there. I saw a ceremony going on in the hamlet of the tea garden. Mohua sat at the top and did not get down (as usual). Any way it was the end of the trip. We went back to hotel and it after lunch we left for Siliguri to catch train in the evening.

Chronological order