Today the day was booked for local sightseeing. We just had one day for sightseeing in Darjeeling and we wanted to utilize maximum of it. So we opted for the most common tour of Darjeeling which starts early in the morning at around 5 AM which is 3 point tour. We booked the tour in Innova for INR1500, for comfort.
Three point tour included
- Tiger point
We left for this point early in the morning at 5 AM. We were told we would be picked by 4 AM but the driver came latee. We were ready and waited down the hotel. It was very dark when we left. Tiger point is the sunrise point. We drove up the hil to see the sunrise. If the weather is clear we can even see the Kanchenjunga peaks from this point. There were long queue of cars parked on the hill. We had to walk for more than 10 minutes to reach the sun rise point. Tiger point also had few shops selling tea and Maggi and some woolens.
To be frank, I have been staying in Goa and Pune and for me, I have seen better sunrise points on the Goan beaches and at Lonawala and other hill stations. So, for me it was not so wow moment unlike others who were so excited to see the sunrise. Tourists were clapping and clicking pics with the sun. Unfortunately, I did not click any pic with the “Sun” and its rise.
- Ghoom Monastery
Our next stop was Ghoom monastery. We din spend much time here. It was just another monastery and can be skipped.
- Batasia Loop & War Memorial
Last stop was Batasia Loop and War Memorial. This war memorial is built in the memory of Gorkhas. Its a beautiful garden and the weather was pleasant. There were many street vendors selling nice jackets and shawls at very reasonable rates here. It was my mistake that i did not purchase here anything. Later during the day, i found the same stuff at accelerated rates in the other tourist places.
Our 3 point was done by 8 AM and we still had a long day. We inquired with the driver for taking us for another half day tour covering some basic points and he charged us for INR 1500 for the same. We were back at the hotel for breakfast and and then he picked us for next half day tour. It covered 4 points.
- Japanese Temple/Japanese Peace Pagoda
The place is very serene and quite. The temple is surrounded by beautiful trees.It is must visit place if you love peace. The place is good for meditation. One can chant the prayers with the help of drums here, as in the visitors are allowed to play the drums here. Opposite to the temple is the peace pagoda which is the Buddha statue white in color and place is beautiful. We spent an hour at this place and clicked some pics too.
- Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
Our next point was the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park. It is the known Internationally for breeding of red Panda. It is also known as it is the largest highest altitude zoo in India.But to our dismay we could not encounter the red panda.But yes, it has some of the rare species of animals here. The zoo is not very spacious. It has few animals but rare species.
It is must visit if you have kids, and you will have a gala time. There is an entry fee for the museum. The tour prices do not include the entry fees.
There is Himalayan Mountaineering Institute inside the zoo premises. One can have a look and also get inspired to trek and hike and learn mountaineering. It is very motivational and surprising too. They have full time courses where they teach mountaineering. School going kids will absolutely love this.
- Tea Estate
While coming to the hotel, the driver stopped at the local Darjeeling tea estate. There was no entry for these tea estates. After clicking few pics,we bought lots of tea for gifting. there were many stalls selling tea. Each packet costed us like 100 rs for 500 gms, pretty cheap. We purchased 10 packets for gifting. These tea did not have any brand name but rather a simple nameless packaging. Darjeeling tea is light and if you are used to CTC, then the flavor will be different. The stall owners suggested that we mix half of the Darjeeling tea with our regular tea powder to get a nice flavor.
After this we were back to our hotel. We took rest for a while and then walked down to the Darjeeling station. Oh did i tel you that we had booked toy train ride ???
Darjeeling Himalayan railway is also known as Toy train. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site located in India. The trip which we took was till Ghum station and back and we covered a total distance of 14 kms in 2 hours. We took the steam engine ride instead of the diesel engine ride as it was our firs time in steam engine ride.
I must say that the train tickets were expensive for the time we spent inside the train. But it was one of the most memorable experience I had. The steam engine sound, and the whistle, it actually blew my mind. The train ticket costed us INR1100 each. We had booked the ticked 2 days prior and luckily we got it. But i would advise you to book the tickets beforehand specially during the tourist season.
The seats were comfortable and there were only two coaches. The seats on one side are to the opposite to the other side.
The train tracks are on the main road itself. We can see the cars and bikes moving parallel to the train. The children waves out to the train passengers. It takes a halt at Batasia Loop for 10 minutes and then it goes to Ghum station.
There is a Darjeeling Himalayan Railway museum at Ghum station and it is must visit place. The entry to the museum is included in train fare. We can see lots of information about train and its history.
We had a halt of 30 minutes and then our return journey began. We reached Darjeeling station by evening.
We then went to MG road market. Shopped local teas from Golden Tips. We also shopped lots of Darjeeling shawls at a pretty cheap rate (120 Rs), again for gifting. Overall, we were very tired and our trip was coming to an end. We were pretty sad. We had our flight next day from Bagdogra airport to Mumbai via Delhi. We had our dinner at the hotel and retired to bed.
Next day we traveled to Bagdogra airport through shared cabs from Darjeeling. We had our flight in the afternoon at 3 PM to Delhi and from Delhi we had a flight to Mumbai. We reached Mumbai by 8 :30 PM. We had our dinner at Mumbai airport. From Mumbai, we had booked KK travels to Pune in advance. It is shared cab service, (950 Per person). But they take only 4 persons in Innova and last seat is reserved for luggage, and their drivers are experienced too. If you need their contact, let me know in comment below. We reached home by 2 AM. We were damn tired and were off to sleep.
This is how our trip ended with lots of beautiful memories.