Thursday, April 9, 2015

A trip to Sikkim : Gangtok and Pelling

    Sikkim is the most preferable holiday destination for people of West Bengal and near by states. In the midst  the Himalayas, the state has many hill stations, where people can breathe free from their busy working schedule and relax their body and mind. Throughout the year, the temperature of these hill stations remain cool and enjoyable.

    As part of our annual trip, this year we had been to Gangtok and Pelling. Gangtok, the state capital of Sikkim, is a famous hill station with all modern facilities. Though a crowded place like all other state capitals, the city life enjoyable and not so complex. Pelling is a city of Sikkim in the West Sikkim district. Both the places have near-by site seeing places and monuments. People, planning to relax, should opt for lesser travel time on the hilly roads. Though this was my 3rd trip to Gangtok in 6years, still I enjoyed each moment of it.

    It was the first time, I was traveling in a large group of 30-35 people. We started our journey from Sealdah Railway Station, Kolkata by Darjeeling Express and reached NJP in the morning around 8 AM. Our whole trip was organized by Saikrupa Hotel people. We had our breakfast at the station and headed towards Gangtok. It took close to four and half hours to reach at Gangtok. We took rest for the day. Few of us enjoyed the World Cup cricket match staying in the hotel and rest of the people went to the market at M.G. road in the evening. The evening rain fall in the hill station, made the weather chilling cold.

Panoramic View of Chhangu Lake and Snow covered mountain

    On day 2, we had the plan to visit Tsomgo (Chhangu) lake along with Nathula Pass and Baba Mandir. In the morning, we came to know that, last day evening, there was a heavy snow fall in Nathula and Baba Mandir area. Hence, we could not get a pass to visit the two places and we have to cut short our trip only Chhangu Lake and Snow Play near by. We leave from the taxi stand at Gangtok around 9AM. On the way to the lake, we took snow boots and had some snacks and tea to keep us warm. We reached Chhangu lake around 12 O'clock. We visited the Shiv temple and the holy lake. The melting snow is the sole source of water for the lake, hence chilled. Yak safari was at Tsomgo lake to have a ride. We enjoyed the view of the lake and played with snow balls. Due to fog at high altitude, the visibility reduced and our driver suggested to leave the place as soon as possible. We had our evening snacks at the hotel and went for shopping.

    On day 3, we left Gangtok and headed towards Pelling. It was little more hectic in terms of journey, as the roads were not that good to travel such a long distance. In the afternoon, we went to Kanchenjunga Waterfalls and Khecheopalri Lake. The view of the waterfall was really amazing and we also took few picture there. Khecheopalri lake is treated as a holy lake, in the shape of a huge foot print.

    On day 4, few of us visited the monarchy, raj-palace and did some sight seeing at Pelling and rest of us preferred to take rest before getting into the cab for NJP. We board our return train at 8PM and reached Kolkata on next morning. Though few part of the journey was tiring, we enjoyed the whole trip to its fullest.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Christmas Eve and New Year Eve Family Trips in and aound Keonjhar

    On the eve of Christmas and New Year, I have been to my home town. It was fully a family time to enjoy, as my sisters and relatives also visited to our home. We had few small trips near my home and around Keonjhar.

    Our first trip was to the Gadachandi Temple and Hadagarh Dam. The motor bike ride in the forests of Baula Mountains was an exceptional experience to cherish about. The Gadachandi Temple is situated on the foot hills of Baula Mountain, around 8KM from my home. Lord Gadachandi is the adobe of the temple. A small fountain flows in front of the temple, provides water for the temple as well as to the visitors, round the year. The source of the fountain is still unknown, most probably from the Salandi River, flowing though the rocks of the mountain. Visitors, preferably the youth, prefer climbing the rocks along side the fountain through the forest. Due to insufficient time, we could not climb for a ample amount of time. The banks of the stream is the best place for picnic for visitors in the season from October to March of the year.

     Hadagarh dam is situated amid the Baula Mountains, around 17KM from my home. The dam is built on the Salandi River, joining two mountains, one from either side. During rainy season the dam becomes full with water and the view of the gushing water from the top gates to the bottom of the dam is really amazing. The sub-merged hill inside the dam also creates a beautiful scenery for the visitor. In the dry seasons like from February to June, the water level of the dam reduces. During summer, one can go till the hills by walk, which were generally submerged during rainy season. Hadagarh has guest houses from tourists and visitors can stay overnight there.

    Our next trip was to the places near Keonjhar Garh, around 100KM from my home. We started our journey early in the morning. While going to Keonjhar, we have to cross the Ghatagaon, the place of Maa Tarini. There is a famous folk-tale related to how the deity came to Keonjhar and selected the place for her stay. Ghatagaon also has temples for Lord Shiv and Lord Jagannath. Maa Tarini is also famous as Nadia Rani, the coconut queen. People send coconuts to the temple on fulfillment of their wishes. The coconut transport service to Maa Tarini Temple is the largest free transport service. Not only from Orissa, but also from near-by states, coconuts comes to the temple. Due to the availability of huge amount of free coconuts, Ghatagaon also hosts to household factories of coconut subsidiaries.

    We offered our prayer in the temple, had prasada and had our breakfast there. From Ghatagaon, it took us around 1 hour to reach Keonjhar. Our next destination, Khandadhar waterfall, which is around 50KM from Keonjhar. [Wikipedia] It is a 500 ft (152 m) high waterfall in the midst of a dense forest. It has a "smoke like" appearance created by the spraying of water as it cascades down the rock face. The ride from Keonjhar till the fall was really enjoyable. In rainy season, the road is closed, as the road crosses few high speed streams on its way. To reach the falls, we had to climb the stair-cases from the bottom of the hill.

    After spending some quality time at Khandadhar waterfalls, we went to Bada Ghagara [Wikipedia], a waterfall nearly 6KM from Keonjhar. The source of the water to the fall is from a dam, which in turn comes from a stream from the mountains. The Bada ghagara dam is the source of water for Keonjhar city. Both Bada ghagara and Sana ghagara are famous picnic spots, which are very close to the town, still very much different from the city life, in the lap of nature. Next we went to Sana ghagara [Wikipedia], which is just besides NH6, around 4KM from Keonjhar. People come to Sana ghagara round the year for picnic, due to its accessibility and the facilities provided there. In Sana ghagara, boating facility is available in the lake, children's park is available for children. Apart from these rose garden, cactus garden and the rock garden are the major attractions apart from the waterfall. Visitors has to pay for entry to the park and waterfall. Separate entry fee is charged for picnic in the area.

    Due to lack of time, we had to conclude our trip at Sana ghagara. Apart from these, close to Keonjhar, there are many more tourist destination, like, Gonashika (the passage of Baitarani River through a cow nose shape rock), Sitabinji, Keonjhar Jagannath Temple etc.

Few Links  of Keonjhar Tourism : Orissa Govt , Holiday IQ , Keonjhar Tourism