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Sunday, 3 February 2019

Darjeeling Journals! (Part 4)


~~GANGTOK TO DARJEELING~~
On our 5th day of the tour, we left from Gangtok for Darjeeling. It was about a 3 hour journey. Thankfully, the roads were really good for the duration of this journey so it didn’t feel like 3 hours. In Darjeeling, we had booked an AirBnB cottage named Pradhan Home Stay. More details about the cottage in the next post!

It was colder in Darjeeling that it was in Gangtok. At nights, the temperature went down till 6 degrees! Undoubtedly, we were hopelessly cold & to be honest, I just wanted to go back home. We decided to postpone the plan of watching sunrise at Tiger Hill the next day. Because, for that, you need to get up at 3 AM & reach there by 5 AM. Since we couldn’t even imagine how cold it would be at 3 AM, we postponed the Tiger Hill plan.

We reached around 1 PM in Darjeeling. We decided to enjoy the cottage stay for a few hours. Since the sun sets early, we only visited Darjeeling Mall or popularly known as Chowrasta on the first day. It was similar to M. G. Road but I liked the former one better. M. G. Road was a single straight road whereas Chowrasta was a bit of an uphill walk. It felt more crowded too because it was quite a narrow road. There were many souvenir shops & restaurants there. So, obviously we did a bit of shopping for ourselves & for others. There is this one shop Habib Malik & Sons. It’s been there since the British rule. It has the most amazing silver jewelry & a variety of other items too. You must visit it!
Well, it got dark soon & we got tired, so we decided to head back & have dinner at the cottage itself.

On the next day, we covered many places in Darjeeling & it felt like we were literally walking all day. Here we go!

~~JAPANESE PEACE PAGODA & JAPANESE TEMPLE~~
Our first destination for the day was Japanese temple & the famous Japanese Peace Pagoda. While the temple was a small one, we got to see how people there conduct their prayers. They sit in the Vajrasana position & make sounds with a plate & drumstick at every few beats. And along with that they say their prayers. It’s extremely silent so you can concentrate on the prayers. It feels quite peaceful & you should try it, even for a few minutes.
While the temple is just at the beginning, the Peace Pagoda is up some stairs. It portrays all four avatars of Buddha. It stands tall at 28.5 meters with a diameter of 23 meters. This statue is also visible from quite a distance. The Pagoda is white shaped like an upside-down bell. There are gold statues & wooden carvings on all of its sides. So, you can walk in a circle viewing all of it. All these art pieces are phenomenal & just too beautiful. You can also view the mountains, so it’s another great place to click picturesque photos! Don’t miss this spot!

Entry fee: None.
Time Taken to Explore: 45-50 minutes
Timings: Temple – 4:30 AM to 7 PM





~~HIMALAYAN ZOOLOGICAL PARK &
HIMALAYAN MOUNTAINEERING INSTITUTE~~

Our second stop was the most interesting one. It’s among one of the most famous tourist attractions in Darjeeling – Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park & Himalayan Mountaineering Institute! Both these places are in the same premises. While the Zoological Park is almost 90% of it, the HMI makes up for 10%. Along with these 2 places, there is another museum inside dedicated to Tenzing & all the hikers & mountaineers. You should really visit this place & when you do, prepare yourselves for a lot of walking while exploring these places.

The Park is divided in 2 sides. As you enter, you will find animals like snow leopard, wolf, tiger, black bear, herbivores etc on the left side ahead & on the right side, there are pheasants, carnivores, reptiles & red pandas! The Park is very well maintained. Since it’s so huge, it has got these arrows to tell you how to start your expedition. There are directions everywhere so you get to cover everything without missing out anything.

In the Park, the animals are kept in huge spaces, which is a good thing for them. But, because it’s a huge space, you may or may not actually see the animals. Some of them might be in a corner or too down below. We got to see some animals. Check them out-
Himalayan Wolf, Monkey & Black Bear.
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is at the end of the place. It has a rock climbing arena where you can go and try rock climbing! My brother tried it. And given the kind of hiker he is, he easily climbed up to the top. It’s quite a fun activity! Give it a try if you visit.

The BNH Museum is kind of like an extension of the Institute. It is dedicated to Tenzing Nirgay, who was the first person to climb Mount Everest in 1953. The museum showcases all the mountaineering history, has models of mountains & mountaineering gear & just a lot of things! Photography was not allowed in the museum, so you have to visit it to witness all the beauty & history.

Entry fee: Rs. 30 per person & Rs. 10 for camera
Time Taken to Explore: 2-3 hours
Timings:
Zoological Park: 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM
HMI: 9 AM to 5 PM



~~HAPPY VALLEY TEA ESTATE~~
We were exhausted after walking for hours at the Park, so we just stopped at the remaining places just for the sake of it. Tea Gardens was the next stop. Luckily, it was in close proximity from the main road, so it did not involve much walking. We went there, clicked a few photos & headed for the next point.


~~TENZING ROCK~~
This Rock was not far from the Tea Gardens. And, also, it was right there next to the road. So, we just clicked a photo from the car itself & headed ahead.

~~TIBETAN REFUGEE SELF-HELP CENTER~~
This place is divided into 3-4 quarters. We got to see only 2, the shop & the museum with photographs. The closed ones are actually the most interesting. At those place, they actually work, where weaving, threading, and sorting of cotton etc takes place.
After covering so many places, we were very very very tired. And yet, the highlight of the day was pending, which was DINNER AT GLENARY’S! More about Glenary’s in the next post! After having delicious food there, we headed back to the cottage. We had to get up super early to see the sunrise from Tiger Hill, so we slept early.

Stay tuned for some stunning sunrise photos plus info on best restaurants & luxurious cottage stay!

You can catch up with the earlier posts here, here & here!
Until next time,

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