Getting high - Darjeeling

I awoke to light streaming on my face through a heavily tinted car. On drawing the windows down I realized what a stunning drive this was! Crisp cool morning air that steals all remaining sleep, passing through flat rice fields, teak and tea plantations the road starts to climb into the foothills of the Himalaya. The thickly forested land was originally acquired by the British who introduced tea growing to this awesome scenic land and eventually Darjeeling developed into a hill station.

Darjeeling ( from Dorje Ling - The place of the Thunderbolt ) sits pretty with the gigantic Himalayas; a typical hill station, displaying interconnected steep stairways, trails to walk on, Gothic architecture, home to many Tibetans in exile. There is a large and thriving Buddhist community along with the predominant population of Nepalese descendants, Lepchas and refugee Tibetans – all of them sporting smiles brighter than the sun. I felt so poor compared to them. And shamed. Such happiness with so little.

Given we had a very short time here in Darjeeling, we tried to pack in lots. But could not venture to its outer limits -the Shangri-la called Sikkim. These places will always be there and will be kept for a future journey for us to enjoy fully. This trip was a flirtatious tryst with time. Soaking in the splendid views - balm for the city tired spirit.

Some of the world’s best teas are produced here in the East. I was privileged to see quality teas of which one was priced at Rs.55k /kg! Now that was definitely some select picking. The food was typical Tibetan - we munched into soup noodles 'thukpa' and steamed dumplings 'momos'. The only thing I could not bring myself to have was the 'yak butter coffee' - I pined for the very least, an Udipi coffee.

Higher altitude Darjeeling offered a wonderful Himalayan panorama. Mountain views surrounded me with Kanchenjunga at 8580m towering on the horizon. We visited 2 tea gardens, the Dali Monastery, the seat of the Drukchen Rimpoche ( head lama of the Drukpa Kaygu sect) which had a huge Buddha Statue and offered stunning views of the rolling hills. Of course the camera worked over time here. And this visit certainly took me back to the time I was in Bhutan amidst pure untouched nature

Despite not being a mountain person – being high in the hills and mountains brought with it tranquility, balance and a sense of calm. Or perhaps it was the influence of all those deep red robed monks and monasteries:)


Anon said...

Wonderful posts both - Kolkotta and Darjeeling!


muse said...

Lovely, shall combine a Cal , North East holiday and take tips from you..
How do u manage Mumbai after such a tranquil experience?

Anon said...

am very envious that u were in Shillong!!
hope everything is grand!

Anon said...

Enjoying reading about your lovely travels. What a nice place....Wish I was there :)


Payal said...

Nice!! Honestly my memories of Darjeeling are not as lovely...thought it has been ages since I visited. I mostly remember it as damp and dirty :(

But given you said it reminded you of Bhutan - and I absolutely LOVED Bhutan - am guessing there is a lot I didn't see :)

But yes - you must visit Shillong sometime in the future

Mee said...

@Payal- we did go to Shillong too, also Kaziranga. Hope to pen down these posts soon too.

Anon said...

Have you ever been approached for advertising space on your travel blog?! If not you should be. It is so good!


Y Trip said...

Oh wow!

That pretty much sums up my reaction to your picture.. I have to have a larger picture of the tea plantation !!!!!!!

Mee said...

@Ajoy - have you stopped writing? Dnt receive any reminders from you...that brand of humour is rare- so do pls continue?:)

@Muse- Mumbai is an assault on the senses and I must be a pervert hahaha:) I love Bombay as do I love all things places and people- everyday is a new experience:)

@Jo-All is good. Trust the same with you?:)

@Faizah- Hopefully one day the Indian govt will one day stop being so short sighted

@Suguna- you are too kind to say this:)TY

@YTrip- ty:) am beaming:)

kbguy (福生) said...

Thanks for the sharing. Darjeeling in one place I want to visit when I reach Calcatta. You have anything to share about New Delhi ? I will be there this April.