Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Experience of My Delhi – Kolkata – Darjling – Sikkim – Delhi Journey – Part 5

I already had booked the hotel so I fulfill some formalities and acquire room. Room is good and from window, I can see the cluster of houses but all are old architect houses so not disappointed. I take quick shower and come out. Hotel is in market so it was not difficult to find a restaurant. Market is absolute lazy and lifeless. I ask to restaurant guy the reason. He says taking my order – its off season. In monsoon, nobody come here. Restaurant is almost empty and no food was prepared there. He starts cooking everything after taking my order. I get food after half n hour. He serves food with sorry and justified that he made everything new so it took time. But I am happy with it coz I get fresh and tasty food…

After food I stroll on road. I can see the presence of locals on road. Mostly are women wearing local dress and some are in new stylish dresses too. Generally, shops are running by women. I can feel the women empowerment. Crossing market, I reach to Mall Road. Mall Road is main road of the city like all hill stations. All posh buildings and offices are on Mall road…


I saw many old architect buildings on the road but an old church seeks my attention. Church is abandoned so can’t go inside. I capture few pictures from road and move. Governor House is also in the road. Many dogs are sitting outside the building. Seems they are assuring the safety of building. Anyway, as I move further it become fogy. One side of road is cover with green deep jungle and other side is open valley. I can only see the jungle because valley is underneath of deep white fog…


In between the road many sitting points has made. People are sitting there and enjoying weather with company. All faces are smiling. Most of them are old. They are rotating bead garland in fingers while chatting with their friends. New generation is also here. All have their own groups and they are busy with themselves. This is good to see. Weather is clear now so I can see the open valley along with many villages. I stand for a while to enjoy the beauty, and watch people enjoying…


Now I turn to the opposite direction of road. I found a huge field where many shops are taking place. Huge golden statue of Nepali poet Bhanu Bhakta Acharya  is seeking attention. Youngsters are strolling here. Their faces language and dress pointing that all are locals. I spend some time here then back to hotel. In evening, I open my window and saw the city engulfing in the arms of night and suddenly city starts lighten by the lights…



I went out for dinner and stroll in market streets. Each street is connecting with another street and all streets have different stuffs to sell but market is lifeless due to off-season. I went into sweet shops street. I bought some sweets and talk to shopkeeper. He tells me working – I am from Bihar and settled here and running my own business. He says – most of the Biharies working here because there is no work in Bihar. He packed my sweets and I back to road again. After strolling for some more time, I went into restaurant. I can guess that the restaurant is Bihari coz music playing inside is Bhojpuri. Few customers are inside but all looks locals though Bihari. I order for dinner. Restaurant guy asks me – where you from ? Nainital – my straight answer to him. I ask him along with my answer – where you from ? He replied with smile – Bihar. You can see many Bihari here. He again repeats the same lines, which I have already listened. He curse politicians for not to develop Bihar. I finish food and back to hotel. By the time, I back to hotel market have been closed and silence is overtaking everything…

In morning, I went for morning walk. Its fogy and drizzling. I took different road from mall road and walk through the societies and colonies and local buildings. Kids are getting ready to school. Housewives are busy in household work while working people are getting ready for work. Women are also going out wearing their traditional dresses. I take a long walk between all these daily works and back to room. Finish morning works quickly and back to road again. After breakfast, I went to the market…

This time market is bustling with people but yes, most of them are locals. Market has decorated with flags. I think some festival is near and people are decorating market for the festive season. I roam around and saw many slogans asking for Separate Gorkhaland. They want their regain separate from Bengal coz they think their culture their language their atmosphere and their other problems are different from Bengal. While I stroll in market, many touts and guides come and attract me with their city tour plans and discounts. Some says - we would show you 7 points some says – we will show you 5 points some says - 11 points and accordingly telling charges and off season discounts. All are telling me what they will do but nobody understands what I want. For some time this is okay but after a certain point, it irritates…

I ignore everyone and hired a taxi not to visit tourist points but to see city. Though I wanted to go for trekking but as it’s rainy so everybody advised me not to go for trek. So I plan to go for tea gardens and zoo and if I will get back on time I will ride on toy train. My first destination is Zoo. Darjling zoo is the highest altitude zoo. My interest to going there is to see Red Panda, which I have not seen before. I cross the market with full of traffic jam. I am surprised to see that when there is no tourist still traffic is jamming what will happen in tourist season. Anyway, car move further and I get rid of jam and market…


Drizzle has started and fog covered everything again. Darjling is undoubtedly a beautiful place and in monsoon, it becomes more beautiful. City is neat and clean too. I didn’t see any water logging here. Water has properly drained out. Viewing the city, I soon reach Zoo. In India, this is the largest zoo. It spans 675 acres in the altitude of 2,133 meter. Driver drop me on road and from there I take a walk uphill to reach zoo. Way is decorating with many wild life stuff and road is cover with different species of trees and shrubs and bushes… 

Inside the gate, there is a souvenirs shop. Crossing this I enter into zoo and feel like different species of birds are welcoming me by chirping in different tunes. Zoo is almost covering with fog but luckily not raining. I saw a Himalayan Black Bear strolling in his open area though the area is huge but who can trust on bear so its safe to move. In this zoo I saw few animals first time like black panther and cloud leopard. Endanger species are here too but my curiosity to watch Red Panda is still there coz I have seen many animals but not the Red Panda… 

Due to off season I can enjoy everything according to my choice. I am strolling one cage to another cage hoping to see Red Panda and for my pleasant surprise in next cage two Red Pandas moving on the tree branch but drizzle start just now and Panda went into his little home and pop out his cute face from there. It was so good to see this cute animal live. They look like a toy. I don’t trust my eyes if they don’t move. My wish to come here is fulfill now…



By now heavy downpour starts. I get shelter in a shop outside the zoo campus. Shopkeeper is again from Bihar and selling snacks. I back to cab where driver playing cards with his friends. When I saw him he giggle at me and come to the cab…

Now I will go to the tea gardens. Weather is clear, I can see the huge valley, and in this huge valley, I can see few villages too. Mountains are very high and terrain is very tough here. After crossing a long way through the valley, I reach tea gardens. Driver shows me huts along with road and says – these are tea garden owner’s huts. They sell tea here from there garden. They grew many varieties of tea in the gardens. He then drops me in front of particular hut. I went inside. A lady actually a girl working here says –You please go to the garden first. When you will back I will serve tea from our garden… 

I get amaze to see the garden. Small little green bushes have covered all the land and I can see only green bushes as far as my eyes can see. Being alone in the garden I wander freely though it’s still drizzle and fogy. I saw a poster hanging on every bush written something in Hindi Script. I went near. These are the regretting words from the workers, who pluck tea buds. This is emotional. I have never seen this anywhere. I want to spend more time in garden but rain start and I get back to hut. Though it’s a different hut and no idea whom garden I was strolling coz all are connected. Anyway guy in this hut show me my hut... 


Gorkha Girl, shot height broad face and small eyes, welcomes me again. I get wet so she offers me a place near fire to sit and ask my experiences about tea garden and she also asks me about myself coz she is amazed to see me alone. After small chat she show many types of tea and ask me which tea I would like to drink. I am not a tea lover so I ask her about the teas. Then she points the first counter and says – This tea is very expensive. If you smell, you will find it sweet and soothing. Then she explains about others tea. Its still drizzle and become cold. Lady now stands in front of gas stove to make tea for me and after a while she offers me tasty tea. No idea what tea is this but it’s tasty. I can feel the hard work in the taste and remembering the song sung by Bhupen Hajarika ji - ek kali do pattiya. This beautiful song is base on tea workers…

I bring two different type of tea which are according the lady is famous tea from the garden…

I back in drizzle. Whole city is in the grab of deep layer of fog. Though I can’t see anything but this is giving awesome feel. I want to ride on toy train so the driver drops me at the taxi stand and tell me the way of toy train station…

I reach station but nobody is here and no any train I can see on station. After strolling a while  I come to know that station has been closed now. Last train has left.  With heavy heart I back to market finish food and went to hotel in heavy rain…


In the evening I went out for dinner but it’s little late. All shops and restaurants have closed. I only saw a street stall selling street food. Two Gorkha sisters are running this stall and selling egg roll, momo and chowmien. I order for egg roll and talk with the girls –you both are running this stall ? One who is more confident answer me – yes ! we are sisters. Then I ask - So whole day you work here like this ? No. We are studying in collage. In daytime, we go to college and in evening, we come to market and run this stall. I ask them a little political question now – Do you think Darjling should be separate from West Bengal ? They both replied together – Yes. Darjling is completely different form Bengal. Darjling is hill area. Our culture and language is different. We have so many issues here. Darjling should definitely separate from West Bengal. For a while I thought that I have started wrong discussion but both get normal soon. I finish egg roll and when I turned one of them says – don’t worry. You are safe here so don’t get tensed as it is dark and alone. We everyday go in the dark. I smiled and back… 


This is my last night in Darjling. I saw outside. Silence is all over. Front buildings, streets, market, temple all are silent. I gaze sky, which is covering with clouds. its about to rain and getting cold too. I back to bed and fall asleep…

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10 comments:

  1. Hello Vineeta,
    Nice to read your report about this trip and with wonderful pictures.
    Special to see the rocks and nice your visit on the Zoo and see that Red Panda. Thanks for sharing this.

    Kind regards,
    Marco

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  2. Although the weather was not ideal, it sounds as if this part of your trip was very enjoyable. You got a wonderful photo of the red panda. I also like your night photos.

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  3. Hi Vineeta, absolutely stunning of your photos.

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  4. Loved this post. Beautiful pictures and interesting narration. So sad that there are more Biharis working outside Bihar than in Bihar!

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  5. Thanks for the excellent photos. As I wrote earlier, I felt like I roamed the streets of Darjling with you.

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