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Friday, 20 November 2009

Sikkim and Darjeeling: Eco-travel at its Best - Page 7

Written by Christina Kay Bolton
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Sikkim is the greenest state in India in more than one way. It is lush and vibrantly green due to its unique micro-climate, created by its location in the shadow of Mt. Kanchenjunga and between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. Books have been written about the miniature biosphere created here, and the region’s multitude of different species. The cyclones of the Bay of Bengal reach up to the Himalayas and to Sikkim in particular; that, combined with the monsoon, means Sikkim receives more than its fair share of rain, but it is also ‘green’ in an eco-sense. For instance, plastic bags are banned so they don’t end up on roadsides and in rivers like in the rest of India. Shops use paper bags or newspaper to wrap things and shoppers can buy inexpensive re-usable bags in most places. In fact, Sikkim is definitely the cleanest state that I’ve been to in India.

Sikkim and Darjeeling: Eco-travel at its Best, travel india, travel Sikkim, travel Darjeeling, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Eco-travel, Quest Himalaya Adventures, Arthur Pazo, The Orchid Retreat, Kalimpong, Elgin Mount Pandim, Pelling, Norbu Gang House, Hotel Tashi Gang, Yuksom, Mayfair Gangtok, Mayfair Darjeeling, Gangtok, Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling, KurseongWe made it back down to the single-gauge steam railway in time and watched its coal-fired engines get started. The train moves very slowly and much of the time is directly next to the road, but it is still fun to be on it as everyone seems to stop and wave as the train chugs past, with its loud horn blowing every couple of minutes. Due to the slow pace, it’s very easy to take pictures and there are great views, but you could get there in half the time by driving. The drawbacks are that the train is filthy – it looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in years, and the glass is so dirty you can’t even see out of it, so you have to keep the window wide open – and there are plumes of black smoke coming out of the engine that waft right into the passenger cars. There were two attendants on the first class (!?!) car I was on – and one of them slept most of the trip. I don’t know why they don’t have one of them clean the train once in a while. It is interesting seeing them operate it, though; there is a large wheel right in the compartment that needs to be turned sometimes and at the frequent stops they shovel piles of coal into the engine. I would choose the train for a short haul – just for the experience.

Kurseong

Sikkim and Darjeeling: Eco-travel at its Best, travel india, travel Sikkim, travel Darjeeling, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Eco-travel, Quest Himalaya Adventures, Arthur Pazo, The Orchid Retreat, Kalimpong, Elgin Mount Pandim, Pelling, Norbu Gang House, Hotel Tashi Gang, Yuksom, Mayfair Gangtok, Mayfair Darjeeling, Gangtok, Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling, KurseongOnce I arrived in Kurseong I was picked up by my driver and guide for this area, Raju. We drove up to the top of Dow Hill, but it was a long round trip considering that there was not much to do. It was supposed to be a viewpoint because it’s the highest spot in the area, but I found the view from my hotel, Cochrane Place , to be better – it looks over the mountains on both sides and down to the valley below. You can hike from there down which would be a better use of your time, and you can see Dow Hill without the long drive.

I was in a standard room at the hotel which was decent, though I got a glimpse of the superior rooms and they looked much better, and at only a few dollars more it is worth it. My bed was really hard, so I didn’t get a good night’s sleep as I kept waking up, also the bathroom smelled. The food was very good, however, and I had a number of tasty items out of their tandoori oven. Breakfast was good, too, and from Kurseong it is a smooth, easy ride to the airport – only about an hour and a half.

Darjeeling and Sikkim are great areas to explore – especially for nature-lovers, ‘green’ travelers, and hikers. There are many outstanding treks that go through the area; from Sikkim and Darjeeling: Eco-travel at its Best, travel india, travel Sikkim, travel Darjeeling, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Eco-travel, Quest Himalaya Adventures, Arthur Pazo, The Orchid Retreat, Kalimpong, Elgin Mount Pandim, Pelling, Norbu Gang House, Hotel Tashi Gang, Yuksom, Mayfair Gangtok, Mayfair Darjeeling, Gangtok, Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling, KurseongGoche-la in Sikkim to Sandakphu in Darjeeling; that, I think, would be the best way to see the area, and I wish I had gone on one myself as I heard many great reports along the way. But, as I found out, many creature comforts can be found along the way as well if you want to stay in hotels every night and do more of a cultural tour with day hikes included to see the villages. Again, if you want a trek or tour organized for you, contact Quest Himalaya Adventures.

©Christina Kay Bolton

Darjeeling and Kurseong Photos: ©Arthur Pazo

If you go:

Treks and Tours:

Quest Himalaya Adventures

http://www.questhimalaya.com/

Quest Himalaya Adventures, Grand Hotel Bldg. Top Floor, Opposite Police Headquarters, 31-A National Highway, Gangtok-737101, Sikkim, India

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Accommodations:

Note: at time of press there are approx. 47 Indian Rupees (Rs) to the US dollar.

Kalimpong

The Orchid Retreat

http://www.theorchidretreat.com/

The Orchid Retreat, Home Hospitality Guest House, Ganesh Villa, Kalimpong, Darjeeling West Bengal, India – 734301, Phone: +91-3552-274517, E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Reservations required. Rs 2250 single or Rs 3300 double w/breakfast and dinner (approx $48-70).

Pelling

The Elgin Mount Pandim

http://www.elginhotels.com/thepelling.html

Elgin Mount Pandim, Pemayangtse (Pelling), Sikkim
Telephone : +91-3595-250756/273/353, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Rs 5100 single, 5400 double including breakfast and dinner.

Yuksom

Hotel Tashi Gang

(no website – book through agent) http://www.questhimalaya.com/comfort/index.htm

Gangtok

Mayfair

http://www.mayfairhotels.com/gangtok_about.aspx?page=gangtok&sid=abt&lid=ovr

MAYFAIR Gangtok, Lower Samdur Block, Ranipool 737 135, Gangtok, East Sikkim, +91 359 2250 555, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., From Rs 12,000 double with breakfast and dinner.

Hidden Forest Retreat

http://www.hiddenforestretreat.org/

The Hidden Forest, Middle Sichey , Gangtok - 737101, Sikkim, Tel:91-3592-205197, 91-3592-203196  Mobile :(0)9474981367, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Rs 1900 single, 2500 double with breakfast and dinner.


Darjeeling

Glenburn Tea Estate

http://www.glenburnteaestate.com/


Phone : +91 33 2288 5630/1805, Phone(mobile): +91 98300 70213, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rs 12000 single, 18000 double including meals, activities, guides, transfers, laundry, etc.

Mayfair

http://www.mayfairhotels.com/darjeeling_about.aspx?page=darjeeling&sid=abt&lid=ovr


MAYFAIR Darjeeling, The Mall , Opposite Governor House, Darjeeling – 734101 , +91
354 225 6367, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Rs 9000 double with breakfast and dinner.

Kurseong

Cochrane Place

http://www.imperialchai.com/ Phone No : +91 99320 35660
+91
354 2330703   E-mail : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., From Rs 2750 single, 3650 double with breakfast and dinner.

Access to the area:

Bagdogra airport or New Jalpaiguri railway station. The toy train makes its way up to Darjeeling from Siliguri, but taxi’s or busses are much faster.

(Page 7 of 7)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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