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.