Friday, December 22, 2006

Mungpoo with Ashok

Ashok is a nice and friendly guy working at our Darjeeling branch. He bought a brand new Maruti Swift car. Previously he was with us at a trip to Mirik, where Debasisda was present, but then he did not have a car of his own. This time we planned to test his new car and also bring back some oranges from the famous orange orchards of Mungpoo. The time was the middle of December (20th December to be precise), peak time for the oranges to ripe.
Myself, Mrinalda and Ashok started off early from Darjeeling. Took a left turn from Jorebangla. We rode on through the quite Peshok road towards Mungpoo.
Gyalshen (Ashok's agent) was waiting for us. He showed us the various attractions around Mungpoo Bazar including the famous Rabindra Bhawan. Various writings, photographs, paintings and artefacts of the world famous Bengali poet are displayed here. Articles used by him are preserved with utmost care.
I had a feel behind the wheels of Ashok's brand new Maruti Swift. Took it to a few fast rounds around the large ground of Mungpoo. Ashok treated us with a modest lunch at a small restaurant overlooking the Mungpoo bus stand. Mrinalda had a taste of the local drink Chhang. After lunch, we set of towards the orange orchards of lower Mungpoo.
Oh, such oranges! Large in size and very tasty. I regretted to have taken so heavy a lunch. I could have stuffed my stomach solely with those oranges. I tried my best to pluck the largest of them. The orchard was located alongside the residence of the owner, on a hill slope. Because of Gyalshen, the owner of the orchard treated us with much respect. He himself showed us the proper way of plucking oranges. Since the orange trees were already sold out to traders, according to local convention, we could eat the oranges there, but could not carry them home. So we bought some oranges from the local market for our homes. They were very cheap there.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bijanbari & Rammam -2

We set out for Rimbik in the trusted Mahindra jeep after having a nice breakfast at the I.B. The road was backbreaking. The jeepable road was curved on faces of steep slopes above deep gorges. We crossed the Rammam khola river by a very narrow hanging bridge. Few hours of bumpy ride took us to the Rammam hydel project I.B. It was just before lunch time. We secured our rooms and ordered our lunch. Waiting for lunch, we wandered nearby and took photographs of the river Rammam flowing through a deep gorge just below the bunglow. After almost an hour, lunch was served.
Continued our journey to Rimbick. Old memories kept on coming. Tried to compare the present Rimbick with the past. Visited Sherpa Hotel. It seemed more beautiful. Went to visit the home of Arup's co-worker.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bijanbari & Rammam -1

Arup is now my closest friend at Darjeeling. He works as an assistsnt engineer at WBSEB, Darjeeling. He took me & Asis Biswas(Bank Babu) to a wonderful trip to Bijanbari, Rammam & Rimbick. We spent the two nights of the wonderful weekend at the Inspection Bunglows of Bijanbari & Rammam respectively. We started after saturday office on 14/10/2006. Three of us took a trip on a commander jeep service from Darjeeling to Bijanbari. In this journey we climbed down by a very nasty road along the hilly route on the hill facing the town of Darjeeling. We found that Bijanbari is at a much lower altitude than Darjeeling. Temperature is much warmer and comfortable. Arup's collegue and friend, Mr. Maity welcomed us there. He showed us the Incpection Bunglow(I.B.) which was our place of stay for the night. The I.B. was small but quite cosy and homely. Even at the late evening, Maity took us on a visit to the tiny Bijanbari hydel power plant. We went there in his official jeep. He also took us to the catchment area for the water which runs the power plant. It was a lovely place flanked by an orange orchard on one side and a steep hill on the other. The gushing water gleaming in the moonlight was a lovely sight.
Early next morning, we all went for a walk to have a glimpse of the surroundings. The I.B. appeared to be residing atop a ridge, flanked by mountain streams on both sides. The two streams meet to form a wider river after just a hundred feet or so. On the other bank of the left stream, a chilling plant of HIMUL milk and a trekkers' hut can be seen right from the bunglow ground. Firstly we searched the bazaar area and had hot tea and "nimki". We crossed the wider river by a hanging bridge and went to venture the other side. There was a big banyan tree on the other end of the bridge. Beyond the banyan tree, a stony path goes winding through tea plantation area. Lot of birds could be seen there.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Mirik from Darjeeling

On 9 th September'05 I went to Mirik with Debasisda. Although I had been to Mirik from Siliguri several times, this was the first time I went to Mirik from Darjeeling. Firstly, the scenic beauty of the route is breathtaking, one of the most wonderful in this region. Secondly, we had the program of night stay at Mirik, which I had never done before. Our friend and fellow colleague Ashok Rai went there on the previous day to make arrangements. He works as a Development Officer in our office. One of his objectives was to arrange a business meeting of his agent organisation. The other objective was travel.

The morning was as bright as it ever could be! The bright sunlight and fresh morning air was intoxicating. Me and Debasisda stopped at several places to savour the flavours of nature. Greenery of the purest colours covered both sides of the road. The large conifers such as Cryptomaria(Dhupi) and Pines were at their most virgin colours. Some stretches were covered with a very small and slender species of bamboo. This particular bamboo is used for ornamental hedges and is also the favourite food of the Red Panda. Black rocks mottled with the white and grey lichens give ample proof about the freshness of the atmosphere.

We saw some uprooted conifers on the roadside before Simana. Simana is the border with our neighbouring country Nepal. Pashupati is a market place on the other side of the border. Here you can find winter clothings at a bargain. A strong wind passed through the area on the previous night. Few trees were uprooted and the electric supply of quite a large area on the hills were in jeopardy.

We passed the well-known Okayti tea estate where my friend Mukul works as the garden manager. Before long, we reached the lakeside picturesque town of Mirik. Ashok was very enthusiastic about our visit. He promptly met us at lakeside Krishnanagar and took us to "Sadbhavna" hotel where our room was booked. Soon, ashok took us to a quick tour to a large Buddhist monestery overlooking the hill station. Major expansion work was going on at the monastery. It was standing with all its splendour of rich brown and golden colours. We had a panoramic view of the Mirik lake from its terrace.

Next, Ashok took us to a very remote location with a bird's eye view of large surrounding area. He started to identify and describe the far off hilly locations to me and Debasisda. After his description, I started to fill in the gaps with a lot more detailed information about the terrain. I started to tell the facts about many a nook and corner. Ashok was quite impressed to learn about the depth of my personal experience. Then he pledged ignorance about the limitations of his travelling compared to mine.

All afternoon I had nothing to do when Ashok & Debasisda were busy in a meeting with some field workers in the hotels conference hall. So I spend the afternoon reading a book and taking a small nap.

We spent the evening together, crossed to the other side of the lake. Had a wonderful dinner at a small inn of Ashok's choice. He is a frequent customer there.
Started our return journey on the next morning. Visited Mukulda's bunglow at Okayti. Visited Jorpokhri lake. Took a brilliant shot of the swimming swans. Joined office just in time.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tiger Hill Trek

On May 2006, just before the onset of the monsoon rains, we did a wonderful one day trek to the Tiger Hill near Darjeeling. Tiger hill is a popular sunrise point visited by large hoards of tourists. The trek started at 6.00 am from our Darjeeling residence at Toong Soong. We were four in the team. Myself and my Darjeeling friends Srikanta, Poulami & Moumita. We passed through the Senchal protected forest and also bypassed the Senchal lake. Its a pity, we did not see any wild animals except some mischieveous monkeys and birds. Most of our trail near the top passed through dense outgrowth of a species of very small bamboo plants. These bamboo shoots are the favourite food of the red panda. Since all the other members were first-timers in the world of trekking, we walked in a very leisurely manner. Thus we reached to the top of Tiger Hill in four hours. At 10 am, we did not find any tourists since they left just after sunrise. The weather was pleasant with a totally overcast sky. On the top, we made wonderful sandwitches made of mayonese, tomato, onion & cucumber slices. We also had some fruits and boiled eggs.
We are thinking about of some more treks of this type.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Tukvar Puttabong

Sagarda came to Darjeeling on one of his frequent visits. Though he came here on official trips, he always had time to spare. He stayed mostly at the Plaza Hotel. On his insistence, I had to stay with him at the hotel many a time. But this time he decided to stay at my place.

We decided to go on a short trek to Tukvar Puttabong, on the Sikkim side slope of Darjeeling. On 4th August 2006, we took a Maruti omni car which dropped us at the entrance of Tukvar Puttabong Tea Estate. Met the accountant with reference from my friend Supriya Biswas. He worked here once before joining LIC. The accountant showed us around. Outside the factory, there was a big sign announcing a declaration. It states that the tea from this factory made a world record by fetching a record price of Rs. 10,001/- per kilogram on the year 1992. The tea garden and factory themselves were heritage sites since they were established back in 1852.

Started our downward walk. Went to the base of ropeway tower. Started our upward walk towards Darjeeling. Chewed some dry fruits such as cashewnuts and raisins. It was a warm day. I was exhausted and sweating profusely. After a few kilometres walk, we got aboard a pickup van from the Tea Estate. Came back to Darjeeling.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Greencar (Electric Car)

Most weekends I return to my original home at Siliguri, in the foothills, about 80 kms from Darjeeling. Here I carry on my other hobby (other one is travelling) of tinkering with technology. My love of hobby engineering goes back to my school days, when I used to participate in different science fairs.
20th May 2006 was a memorable day in this regard. On this day I completed the first prototype of my Green Car (Electric Car). It runs on a 12 Volt DC motor and power is supplied by a 12 volt lead acid motorcycle battery. This is my first success after many days of trial and error. Although it is only kid size(designed for my two year old neice), I plan to make a bigger version in the near future. I will carry on with its development in the coming days.

Thats my cute little niece Rimjhim driving the Green Car on our roof.

Along with this, I am starting work on my next project which will be an electric bike.