Friday, January 13, 2017

Himalayan Diaries_3 : Darjelling Explorations

When we reached Darjelling base camp, we saw some people having food. Were surprised to see so many people on the reporting day before the reporting time.
but when we met Tanmay, we got to know that reporting is not yet started and we can come after 3:00 PM. We were one of the first set of people for the group SG06 to report over there. Reporting is not started means we would not get food or place to rest !. So, went into the city of Darjelling again in the search of food.

We visited the Darjelling Himalayan Railway(DHR), the first railway route built in this region. Altough the map reads it to cover 79.27 km stretch from New Jalpaguri to Darjelling, its daily heritage rounds cover only 6 odd km between Darjelling and Ghum. Forgot to mention earlier that on the way to Darjelling, we would be passing via the ghats of Panchabatri. Here is the region where temperatures start changing to cold. Once you reach Casteton , you can start seeing the snow. Eventhough DHR is preserved as a heritage site, journey rates are not so cheap. People say that we need to book the rides in online in advance. But the ground reality is you would get seats for the rides between 8 am to 6pm on that perticular day as well.
The rate details are given in next screenshots for the reference of friends who are planning to visit Darjelling later.

DHR timings

DHR fares
We crossed the Petrol pump and took the road which goes in right of it. On the way of our food hunt We had seen the clock tower on the walls  of Darjelling Muncipality which is built on 1850!
Darjelling Muncipality building built in 1850

Kunga Restaurant: 
We visited Kunga Restaurant which is specialist in Tibetan food. Wanted to taste chinese since long time. But did not know that i would be tasting Chinese, Tibetian, Sikkemese, Malay, Nepalese , Bengalese food in a span of 15 days ! Being a veggie, i could get Veg Bhagthuk and Veg Thenthuk soups(pics are next) and veg memo. Those being my first tibetian foods were memorable because of the good taste of Kunga Restaurant as well. Probably Shailesh can name the non veg foods of Kunga :-)

Next to Kunga , there is a info booth where you can get info about various places that can be seen around Darjelling based on your available timings. A quick snap of it for next time visitors.

That info booth is in a junction as well. If you take left from there, you would reach Kunga , Kali Mandir, Mahakal Market and other places. Right would take you to Bose institute, Japanese Mandir which i am covering next.

Bose Institure: 
It is a national facility working on introparticle and space ciences. It is one more building in Darjelling which completes 100 years in 2017. Other one with more than 100 is mentioned already .
Japanese Temple: 
It is a complex which houses Budha temple and an idol of BUdha. OPening timing of Budha temple is from 4:30 AM to 7:00 PM. You can take pictures inside in all times except when the worshipping is going on. only thing is we need to maintain the silence.  It has the boards of Na-Mu-hyo-ho-rem-ge-kyo which means Ahimsa Paramo Dharma(Ahimsa is the ultimate Dharma). It has various paintings as well. If you go during the Pooja timings, you can play the small drums and can see the priest taking a walk with that instrument till the budhst staatue. You can hear chanting the same mantra.

Budha Staute: 
It is one more beauty of the place. It has statues of Budha in four directions and carvings depicting the life story of Budha. You can also enjoy the view of Kanchanaganga and surroundings from the heights.

 Back to Hotel Orchid: 
By the time we saw the Budha statue, it was evening and had to return back to base camp. It was around 5:45 and we completed our registration formalities by producing the yhai membership card, trip booking certificate and a passport photo. My number was 211 for that camp. Thought of taking bath. But could see the board that hot water is available only in the afternoon and from 12 to 4 at a cost of 40 Rs per bucket. Four of us got a room and Could not think of bathing in cold water at that moment as temperature was nearing 10 degrees and we were not yet used to the icy touch of floor and water. Got to know that 3 more would be coming to that room and we were planning to adjust somehow as that was for 2 days. But later got to know that some guys were reaching the next day and only 2 more are coming to our room. One was Ghosh bhai and other one was Yo Yo Faizan.

 Dinner was served around 8 and during lunch got to know about Prashanth, Praveen, Sunil, Anusha, Sweta, Yashaswini from Bangalore as well . It was quicker than other trekkers might be because of the common language. Probably were more tired to get introduced to all and were back to room soon. We were all flat in some time. As Ghosh bhai and Faizan had their rest in the evening, they were more active and Faizan was more interested in star gazing that sleeping :-) He got one more room as well and 5 of us were supposed to be in sound sleep in some time if the sleeping budha in our room allowed. But the sound effects made sure that few of us were awake in mutiple times during the night to wake the sleeping budha and make others sleep :-)
Dinner at YHAI base camp
 The next day schedule was as follows.
YHAI SG06 Day 1, 2,3 schedule

Coming up Next:
Himalayan Diaries_4: Acclamatization in Darjelling

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