Friday, July 31, 2009

Hotel Mayfair - Darjeeling

This is Hotel Mayfair Darjeeling....a hill resort which once was a summerhouse of the former Maharajah of Nazargunj.Only after few hours we got some inside information that the hill station might face an indefinite strike ....we took no chances and the next morning left Darjeeling...these are the only pictures i have of Darjeeling........Mandira and her daughters Namu-Tani,my kids proceeding towards the lobby..
This resort is very beautiful......

The lobby...they have a huge and i mean HUGE collection of art displayed all over the hotel.....
A view from just outside our rooms....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gangtok to Darjeeling

Darjeeling is a very famous hill station perched in the foothills of Himalayas...located in the northern extreme of the Indian state of West Bengal.It was a British hill station pre-independence.We covered a distance of 94 km. in three hrs.This road is very narrow,serpentine and follows a constant ascend ....sometimes you feel that your car is about to take -off like an aeroplane.All the vehicles stop at this view point......
Very tall and straight pine trees almost tower the road....this pic is from our moving car.

Kids dressed up in local Nepali costume......i don't know what happened to me,i offered these young ladies my lipstick ...there was a sudden change in them ..their way of talking,walking,smiling,looking changed....later these young ladies even refused some snacks and soft drinks in fear of smudging their lipstick...they are Namu holding my son Kaustubh and Tani holding my daughter Gauri.You can see railway-track for world famous TOY TRAIN.
This is Gurkha War Memorial...Batasia-Loop...5 km. away from Darjeeling.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Namgyal research institute of Tibetology - Gangtok, Sikkim

Gangtok has so much to see..this was my fourth visit there but the first with the kids...our sight seeing was arranged by keeping their comfort and meal times in mind.We skipped many important spots like Rumtek monastery,botanical garden,deer park etc..This institute is within the city and easily accessible so saves a lot of time.Namgyal research institute is a world renowned institute built in 1958 in a typical Tibetan style of architecture.Amongst thick dense oak and magnolia trees on a hill top this structure is is on walking distance from the STU PA.It promotes research on the largest collection of books and manuscripts on Mahayan Buddhism,there are about 30,000 volumes and translations of the original teaching of Buddha.The museum has an extraordinary collection of antiques,jewelleries and the most beautiful Tankhas(painted or embroidered scrolls).Sad part...PHOTOGRAPHY STRICTLY PROHIBITED.we saw some very beautiful things like old styled precious stones studded silver jewelleries,silver bullet case,cigar holders and many more.....hundreds of brass statues of Buddha and other must not miss this spot.

Just wanted to share this picture of Bakery falls between both the spots Stupa and research institute....a cup of coffee is highly recommended here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

M.G.Road - Gangtok, Sikkim

An evening stroll in the famous M.G. Road is a must those visiting can shop, eat or can just simply sit on one of the benches placed all over the market.The mood of this market is very lively and relaxed.....
A sovenier shop......Sikkim is a plastic free zone,so no plastic bags are allowed....chewing paan,paan masala gutka is prohibited here.......and the rules are followed very srictly here.
After a very busy day of sight-seeing and a heavy lunch it was an ideal place to relax....the vehicular traffic is not allowed here in the evening.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Duddul Chhoedten (Stupa)- Gangtok, Sikkim

It is one of the most important stupa of Sikkim.This place has a very interesting history...Once this place was said to have been haunted by evil spirits and people who wandered around this place became victim of their cruel wrath.Later, in course of time ,a celebrated Lama from Tibet "TRAHLING RINPOCHE" came to this place for hermitage.He built this stupa as per prediction made by his holiness Duedjom Rinpoche in 1946 in order to subdue the spirits.After his demise Rinpoche Dodrubchen came to this place and established his main Dharma preaching center in precinct of this stupa
The Deity enshrined atop this stupa is Dorjee Phurpa or Vajra Kilaya.Two Lakhangs also exist to the south of this stupa of Dodrubchen lakhang...prayer hall of Sikkim institute of higher Nyingma studies.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Banjhankari waterfall and solar energy park - Gangtok, Sikkim

This park is a new tourist attraction.....built around a very beautiful waterfall .Banjhankari park is totally operated by solar -energy....built in honour of Jhankari tribe...The Jhankaris are traditional healers who use herbal medicines and perform certain rituals to heal sick people.
One can notice solar panels all around the is a fun place for kids...the moment you leave their hand woooosh they are gone.....taking pic is the last thing on your mind
The greenery all around the park is very cool to the eyes as well as mind......the beautiful sound of falling water is music to one's ears...they have many statues placed at various spots ,some look almost real.
The park is very vast.....a small trek takes you to this waterfall..which is breathtakingly beautiful........stand near it and feel zillions of tiny waterdrops falling all over you....not much..not less,just modern spa or shower unit can recreat this effect..i bet.
K ids were very happy.......when water fell on the ground it created a rainbow kinda effect and it was too exciting for them.Below is a model of Banjhankari ritual.
these statue depict the way they heal people.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rope way ride - Gangtok, Sikkim

Rope way ride is one of the main tourist attraction of Gangtok takes the riders to the highest point of the city..covering a distance of about 1 km. in only 7 minutes.It has three terminal station...lower starts from Deorali market,middle at Namnang and the upper one below the seceterate Tashiling.This ride provides a bird eye view of the city and the surrounding valley
The cable car accommodates 24 people at a time....only negative point is there are no seats and when the gate man tells you not to move much during the ride it gets unnerving.....with every movement the riders make ..the car starts shaking and our car was fully occupied
For taking pics it has only two tiny open windows.....if you don't hold your camera securely ,you might easily drop offer the riders a chance for pics..the ride halts for two to three minutes midway and those are the longest three minutes(it was windy that day)
Since you can't move much ..view is restricted to one side only
My son pointed out those kids playing down

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tsomgo (Changu) Lake- Sikkim

While Gangtok is situated at a height of 5800ft.....TSOMGO LAKE 40 km. away from Gangtok is situated at a height of 12400ft. at Gangtok-Nathula Pass(near China border).It is one of the most beautiful landscapes of Sikkim....a special inner line permit is essential to visit this place...our hotel(TIBET HOTEL) arranged for it as a photographer came to click the pictures of all our group ....
Tsomgo means "Source of Lake" in Bhutia language i.e.TSO means lake and MGO means head.It is considered very sacred by both Buddhist and Hindus.It remains frozen during winters up till derives it placid water from the melting snow of the mountains around.It is one km. long,15 mt. deep and oval in is difficult to capture complete lake view......if one climbs little more higher it gives a very beautiful and complete lake -view......but i settled for this one as i was getting short of breath.
On my previous visits there was a beautiful market here which is now shifted to another area ........local people started approaching the tourists with their Yak for some pics and if interested a 15 min. ride.
Mandira my close friend was very sporting ..she gladly agreed to share this picture with all of you...and she says HI to all of you....
This peak was on the other side....the best thing was the ever changing minutes it was getting crystal clear the time you call others to see it ..its changed was nature's own slide show...
There are many shops in this market just few mts. away from the get only Maggi noodles and momos to eat......we had a cup of tea while kids had noodles....
A view of the market..

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Guwahati to Gangtok

Sikkim is a very small hilly state of India and is one of the 18 bio diversity hot spots of the world.The world's third highest mountain Mount Kanchenjunga is regarded as the guardian deity of Sikkim.Sikkim is a very popular tourist destination owing to its culture,scenic beauty and bio diversity.It is approx.590 km. away from Guwahati.We decided to travel by train as for my kids specially my daughter really wanted to travel by train.Rajdhani Express (ghy-delhi) was the obvious choice .....we boarded the train at 6.45 as departure time was 7.05 am.It was a beautiful and exciting 6 hr. journey till NJP(new jalpai guri-West Bengal).....morning tea,breakfast,soup,lunch everything was provided by the train pantry(free ofcourse....).These pics are from moving train.This pic is showing JUTE-PLANTATION.We crossed miles and miles of tea-gardens.
It was a cloudy day with little drizzling......the gardens looked lush and very fresh.On reaching NJP we hired cars ,though GANGTOK(Sikkim's capital)is only125 km.away from NJP takes nearly 4 hrs to cover this distance .
The road is very narrow and serpentine but offers you some real breathtaking capture them from a moving car is tough and you can't stop your car as it effects the traffic flow.....i got some angry looks from drivers of the other cars following us...teehee.This is river almost flows right across the length of Sikkim-it originates from from Lake Cholamu where it is hardly a stream.
During monsoons TISTA becomes swift,muddy and dangerous......we witnessed many landslides on our way because it was raining continuously for last few days......people were busy clearing the road
I was sitting on the right hand side and while crossing these landslide areas i was avoiding looking at the river side of the mistake and down you go......and our driver was very kind too ...telling us about all the accidents which happened in recent past......still the journey was fun......driver played a great collection of Nepali was alltogether a very different experience.
It took us nearly four and half hrs. to reach Gangtok because of the poor condition of the road.
It is off-season now because of monsoon .....but a large influx of tourists this year was surprising to even local people.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kumauoni Nath - Nose Ring Worn By Uttranchali Women

                        My dear mom

Uttranchal is a beautiful hilly state in India ,most of you must have heard of Nainital ,Almora Kausani ,Ranikhet , Musoorie .This large Nath(nose-ring)is worn by married Uttranchali women in special occasions.For me my mom was the most beautiful woman,specially when she wore this beautiful Nath.This is my mom wearing a large beautiful Kumauoni Nath....this picture was taken few days after my parents got married.

Meet my Nani (granny ) . Nani tells me that in those days it was worn all day long and at bed time it was worn around the neck .I always used to ask her if it was painful but she would answer no,we are genetically designed to bear the weight of Nath.With time size of Nath has seen many changes,now it is much smaller and convenient to use.
This is Ruchi my dear sister-in -law and below is my kid sister Mamta......both pictures are of them as brides.It is not only worn by a bride but also at times when there is a birth in the family,a religious occasion,a marriage and other auspicious festivals like Diwali etc.I too wore one as a bride. Now often i miss the chance to wear it because it is not worn here in Assam....i really look forward to wear this whenever i am visiting my parents and there is a function to attend.Last time i wore one was on my brother's marriage 7 years back.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Hospitality in Assamese Way

Bell metal utensils were once very common in an assamese household ,but their use is very limited in present day households my home bell metal plates and bowls are used in lunch time,so as to keep in touch with old tradition otherwise kids never get a chance to learn about all these important things.Once in a while we use banana leaves as plates to serve the love it a lot ...infact Gauri (my daughter) loves to arrange the table that day.The picture below is of BAAN-BATI ........used to offer honoured guests JALPAAN .
JALPAAN means traditional sweet items which mainly consists of a varieties of puffed or flattened rice (cheera ,akhoi,muri,hurum,kumol chawal,bora chawal) ....served with curd(sweetened or plain) or can be further sweetened with jaggery.Just this morning right after our breakfast we received a call that a group of seven people(our village folks) are coming to our house.Whenever they have some work in city ..they rent a vehicle and come in group ...this way they save money,help each other plus elderly folks are in constant care of the younger less worries back home until they reach back.Once they reach Guwahati our house is a convenient place for them to refresh and have a cup of tea or so.......we to get to meet them and update ourselves with all the latest news from village.
Two elderly khuras(uncles) don't eat cooked food outside so we served them DOI-CHEERA(sweet curd and beaten rice)........for rest of the group including driver it was LUSI-GHUGHUNI(puris made with maida and lobia)......luckily we had LALMOHANS(gulabjamuns) as sweet .After a round of hot cup of tea they left the house........all of them had brought something for us......lemon,green veggies of varied varieties,rice,home made cheera etc......and of course two packets of LAYS CHIPS too. I am taking a week break here friends see you all after a week or so.......REGARDS for all of you.