Thursday, November 08, 2007

Latpanchar from St. Mary's - 2

We started late from the Rangers' College for our next destination Bagora. We took the path starting at the back of the huge college campus. The path started a steep climb right from the beginning. The sun was shining in all its glory. The sky was ultramarine with only a few wisps of white cloud.
Although we started late, we carried on with no great hurry, savouring our thirsty eyes with the startlingly wonderful surroundings. All of a sudden, we spotted a snake crossing our path. It was medium in size, with a peculiar red band on its head. We halted all of a sudden. Tried to take a snap, but it moved away swiftly and hid itself within the cracks between some rocks.

We moved on, until we reached our targeted landmark, the "Roller Point". Here, the track devides in two, and we were to catch the left hand way. The right hand way leads to Dowhill. The "Roller Point" is named after an abandoned road roller, lying there for many decades. With renewed vigour, we took the left track towards Deorali Busty.

Already late for lunch, we reached Deorali Busty at around 2.30 pm. Finished our modest lunch with vegetable momo stuffed with squash and soyabin chunks. It was the best thing available!
Reached chimney. Rested for a while. Reached Bagora. Called for Tshering Daju, retired forest guard of the forest rest house. He declared that he does not have the authority to provide us accommodation in the forest rest house as he had retired. Nevertheless, he took us to beat officer Mr. Rasaily. Mr. Rasaily turned out to be a very helpful man. He explained us that the main bunglow is undergoing decorations for the arrival of the chief conservator of forests on the next day. So he is unable to allow us in the main bunglow. But he arranged for our accommodation at the new drivers' cottage to the annexe of the main bunglow. It was totally made of wood, wonderful place to stay. Thshering daju arranged for our dinner at a local home. They provided us wonderful tibetan food. Most notable was salad made of Gundruk(dried Rai mustard leaves). The pickle (my favourite) was also delicious.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Latpanchar from St. Mary's - 1

Our stay at the Rangers' College of St. Mary's Hill was largely an accident and we are thankful for that. Our original plan was to stay the first night at Kurseong. The Inspection Bunglow of Electricity Board was booked for us. But in the last moment, at about 3 pm I was kindly intimated that our booking has been cancelled due to the arrival of the honourable Governor of West Bengal, Mr Gopal Krishna Gandhi. I was frantically searching for other places for night stay. I requested my friend Arup(who made the I.B. reservation) to arrange for an alternative place. He then introduced through phone to his colleague at Kurseong who made an alternative staying arrangement in a local hotel. Bata Tapash, one of our friends in the agents' circle, suggested a better place which seemed much interesting to us. On his proposition, we contacted Pankaj, who works in the Ranger's College of St. Mary's Hill, Kurseong. I have never heard of the place before. It was only on Tapash's recommedations that we risked to go there. But the place turned out to be a hidden treasure.
After leaving our office early, we started from our home at 4:30 p.m. in rikshaw. Reached the Jeep/Sumo stand for Darjeeling. It was already late to find a share vehicle. After much searching, we managed to find a Chevrolet Travera which was heading our way. Reached Kurseong via Rohini at around 7.00 p.m. Took a Maruti Omni for Rs. 100 to St. Mary's Hill which is a little above 3 Km. from Kurseong. Therfore at 7.30 pm, we found ourselves staring in awe towards the imposing stone structure of the Rangers' College. The splendid building was constructed by the British some 150 years earlier. Its huge wooden floored corridors reminded us of playfields. They were such huge.
It was one hell of a place to stay. Pankaj was not present then, but he was to meet us on the next morning. He arranged everything for us. All four of us stayed in the same room, two on beds and two on the floor. Having dinner at the huge dining room was another memorable experience. We were the only diners present at such late hours. I found the 'Rasam' to be most delicious, which is a South Indian appetiser soup.
Had a nice walk into the surroundings at dawn. Visited a wotnderful church. Had some tea. Pankaj arrived in the morning. We were introduced to the other staff and the principal of the Rangers' college. Had a long chat with the principal Mr S. K. Mitra. In fact, due to this courtsey visit with the principal, we had to start late for our trek. We started at about 11.45 am for our next destination Bagora.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Remember my first electric baby car last year? Well, I admit that my progress is very slow. But nevertheless, I am going somewhere. In my last post about electric vehicle, I expressed my wish to work on a new project of electric bike.
Well, I tested my first prototype on 22nd June 2006. It was fitted with a motor used for running a windshield wiper for a bus or truck. I tested it with a very small motorcycle battery and it carried me fairly well. The speed is still painfully slow, but I am confident to evolve it into an electric vehicle for everyday use. I mounted the 12 V DC motor over the rear wheel but I think that using a hub mounted motor will improve its performance. Then I realized that the power of my wiper motor is not quite sufficient to carry an adult person. So I kept the electric bike at bay for the time being and concentrated to improve the baby car.

This is the next version of my baby electric car. It is a part of my ongoing projects of electric vehicles. I put the same wiper motor on this baby car. The motor comes with a worm gear pre-fitted with it. Now the motor is sufficient to pull the small car. I used a bicycle chain sprocket assembly for transmission and reduction. It was intended for my friend Samir Baraik's son. But before Samir took it home, my daughter took advantage of the situation. Here is she having a trial joyride on our rooftop.

Please visit my picasa web album to view other photos.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Panighata Top Bunglow

The British tea planters left their sign throughout the Darjeeling hills and the accompanying Dooars area. Panighata is such a place. Its main attraction is an old British bunglow on a hill top and the accompanying deciduous forest. The bunglow is also known as "Saheb Kuthi" or simply "Top Bunglow".
This tour started from Siliguri on 2nd June 2007. Tour convenor was Biswajit who works at a bank at Panighata. Our other members were Parthoda & Sagarda. All arrangements were done by Biswajit, after much anxious persuation by Sagarda.
Went by Sagarda's WagonR car. Kept the car inside Panighata police station. Shyambihari, a worker of Biswajit's bank, accompanied us as an escort to show us to our destination. Languid walking accompanied with much resting took us to the top in 1 hour 30 minutes. We were heartily welcomed at the top by Kaley Tamang, a local resident of Panighata hilltop having his residence nearest to the Top Bunglow.
Fooding and other services were provided by Kaley Tamang. It was a warm day. The Bunglow did not have any electric supply. The wind was very very refreshing. So we decided to spend the night outside on the verandah. Wonderful night view of Siliguri and accompanying plains. Parthoda took a few experimental night shots with my digital camera. Sprinkled carbolic acid (Pheneol) around our sleeping spot as an antidote to keep away snakes. The season being summer, and the spot being an abandoned bunglow, there was every possibility of meeting some snake. Even in the peak summer month of June, the breezy atmosphere was very cool. At night I had to fully wrap myself with a bed sheet to protect myself from the cool wind, which was no longer a breeze.
Went for a dip at the Changa khola rivulet on the next morning. Kaley's son and grandson accompanied us to show the way. The water level was hardly sufficient to drown our bodies. Two of them constructed a small dyke of sorts to enclose the water. The level of water rose a bit to enable us to dip.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Lot of barebodied men of all ages skin dipping in a pool of water. The water is rather warm than hot. An appearance analogous to a fish market, where a large number of live fishes are kept in a barrel for sale. This, in essence was my first impression of the Tatopani hot spring site.
Our next adventure was to Tatopani of Sikkim. Night hault at our earlier favourite place Bijanbari I.B. As usual, our trusted Mahindra jeep was ready for a backbreaking trip. The day was 26th January 2007. Initial plan was to go to Rangpo, Sikkim. After reaching Rangpo, decided to visit the hot spring at Tatopani, at the insistence of our host. He was a contractor of S.E.B. According to him it is a very auspicious, 'must see" place. On the way to the famous tourist spot Peling, it was a calm and serene place on the bank of Rangit. After reaching there, we discovered that the place is a real treat to the eyes as well.
Firstly there is a near vertiginous climb down a narrow flight of steps. Then we had to cross a worn out suspension bridge over the crystal clear river water. Walk for about 200 metres to reach the spot of hot springs. It is a very small pool of water just above the main flow of the river. Hot water overflows from this pool into the river. It was so full of people that we lost the interest of dipping in it. Just above the hot spring, there is a cave. It is considered very auspicious by the local people. Mystic Sikkim at her best!