Cultural tour to Darjeeling
The Sandakphu Trek was established by the British during the Raj period. It was so popular that even the then Nawab of Hyderabad wanted to visit Sandakphu and Phalut to view the mountains. Since his physical condition was such that he could neither walk nor ride a horse for that distance, therefore, he paid the Public Works Department of the then Darjeeling to build a motorable road to Sandakphu and Phalut (21 km away from Sandakphu). The first vehicle to reach Sandakphu was in 1947. It was only after ten years, in 1957 to be precise, that the vehicles started to go to Sandakphu. Trekking into Sandakphu starts off from an altitude of 1,524 mtrs and gradually climbs up through forests of rhododendron, giant magnolias, spruce and other trees of sub-alpine and not to mention, more than 600 varieties of orchids the largest to be found in one geographical area in the world. The view of mountains from Sandakphu is unsurpassed by any other view anywhere.
Day 01: Arrival transfer to Darjeeling, alt. 2300 mtrs (85 kms, 4 hrs drive). First part of your journey passes through the plains then begins gradual climbing to the hill station, following the route of the toy train en route to Darjeeling founded in 1833, as a British sanctuary from Calcutta’s intense summer heat, the city sits some 2300 mtrs above sea level, on a ridge facing the Himalayan peaks. Quote of Mark Twain on Darjeeling “The one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once-by even a glimpse would not give that glimpse for the shows of the rest of the world combined”. O/N Hotel.
Day 02: AM: Early morning excursion to Tiger Hill (11 km) to view the sunrise over Mt.Kunchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. En route visit Yigacholing Ghoom Monastery. Later sightseeing tour of Darjeeling includes, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Zoological Park, Panda Breeding Center, Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center and the nearest tea garden to witness the orthodox manufacturing process of Darjeeling tea. O/N Hotel.
Day 03: Joy ride on Toy Train from Darjeeling to Ghoom and back to hotel by a private car. Later take a short walk to Bhutia Bustee and Aloobari Monasteries. Just 1.5 km from The Mall, descending from “Step Aside”, the house with the past, is the Bhutia Bustee Tibetan Monastery. With a long and colourful history. Evening at leisure.
Day 04: Transfer to Pelling, West Sikkim, alt. 2100 mtrs, 72 kms, 4/5 hrs drive through steep down hill till Nayabazar on the Sikkim side passing through the tea gardens. Later drive through terraced farms and lush sub tropical vegetation on flat running just on top of river Rangeet then uphill through occasional villages, hamlets and forests. O/N Hotel.
Day 05: Pelling offers the magnificent views of eastern Himalayas including Mt.Kunchenjunga on a clear day. In Pelling visit the famous monasteries – Pemayangtse and Sangacholing including a short walk to ruins of Rabdentse, the second palace of erstwhile Sikkim. O/N Hotel.
Day 06: Proceed to Yuksom via Kechipalri Lake – wish fulfilling lake. This lake remains hidden in the rich forest cover. It is believed that birds do not permit even a single leaf to float on the lake surface. Later visit the Kechipalri Monastery and leave for Yuksom. O/N Hotel.
Day 07: Yuksom was the first capital of Sikkim, where according to the historical records, the first Chogyal of the Kingdom of Sikkim was consecrated in 1641 AD by three learned lamas. The evidence of the consecration ceremony is still intact at Norbugang Chorten in the form of stone seats and footprint of the head Lam on the Stone. Later visit the Dubdi Monastery located on a hill top above Yuksom surrounded by verdant forest. It can be approached by trekking only, negotiating steep slope for about 35 minutes. It is an ideal place for seeking meditational recluse. O/N Hotel.
Day 08: Proceed to Ravangla (60 kms, 3/4 hrs ) via Tashiding Monastery which is constructed on top of a heart shaped hill with the backdrop of the sacred Mount Kunchenjunga. Ravangla is located at the base of Menam Hill, a small township and transit to various tourist destinations in South and West Sikkim. It is also an upcoming tourist spot. O/N Hotel.
Day 09: Explore the surrounding areas visiting “ Shar Chok Bephu” – a sacred cave and hot spring site. One can also take a short trek to Menam Hill situated at an altitude of 10,300 ft to enjoy the unsurpassed views of the Himalayas (Mt.Kunchenjunga etc) to its best. On a clear day, it is possible to see the plains of India spanning across Darjeeling, Kalimpong hills and the Indo-China border towards north.
Day 10: Proceed to Gangtok (70 kms, 4 hrs dirve) .
Day 11: Sightseeing tour of Gangtok includes visiting Rumtek Monastery the Dharma Chakra Centre (27 kms) and return via Namgyel Institute of Tibetology. Later visit Enchey Monastery, Du Drul Chorten (Stupa), Tashi View Point, Handicraft Emporium and flower show. O/N Hotel.
Day 12: AM: Day excursion to Phodong Monastery, one of the six major monasteries in Sikkim which is located 38 kms from Gangtok. 4 Kms beyond Phodong is the famous Labrang Monastery. En route visit Kabi Lungchok where the historic treaty of blood brotherhood between the Lepcha and the Bhutia Chiefs was signed ritually. The spot where the ceremony took place is marked by a memorial stone pillar amidst the cover of dense forest. PM: Walk around the little town of Gangtok for souvenir shopping. O/N Hotel.
Day 13: Transfer to Kalimpong (76 kms, 4 hrs drive). To-day one will immensely enjoy the driving alongside the Teesta River with its blue green water rushing over boulders which is another image not to be forgotten.
Once a gateway to the old Tibet trade route, Kalimpong still offers the charm of old British Raj. The sightseeing tour of Kalimpong includes visiting Zangdok Palri Phobrang Monastery, Jelepla View Point, Durpin Dara and Deolo View Points and enjoy the wide varieties of orchids and thousands of other flowers in a private flower nursery. Later explore the inner town especially the Haat Bazar (local market). On the market days one can see traditionally dressed Lepcha and Gorkha rural folks selling their wares. O/N Hotel
Day 14: Drive to Bhadrapur Airport ( 125 kms, 4/5 hrs hrs) or Bagdora Airport for outbound flight.