ENCHANTING EASTERN 12 NIGHTS / 13 DAYS
01 NIGHT KOLKATA, 01 NIGHT KALIMPONG, 02 NIGHTS GANGTOK, 02 NIGHTS LACHUNG, 01 NIGHT GANGTOK, 02 NIGHTS PELLING, 03 NIGHTS DARJEELING
DAY 1: ARRIVAL AT KOLKATA
Arrival at Calcutta & transfer to hotel. Rest of the day proceed for sightseeing of Kolkata city coverning Dadawadi mandir, glass temple ( Parasnath Jain temple ), Kalighat temple, Dakhneshwar temple, Birla temple, Victoria memorial, Tagore house, marble palace, museum, botanical garden, sp paul church, mother house, etc. Overnight at Kolkata.
DAY 2: KOLKATA TO BAGDOGRA TO KALIMPONG
After morning breakfast at hotel transfer to Kolkata airport to board the flight to Bagdogra. Reach Bagdogra airport & proceed to Kalimpong (4000 ft) a drive of 80 kms also called the garden of flowers. This town has almost everything- scenic beauty, flowers, greenery, waters, mists, clouds etc.. Checkin at “the silver oaks”, the only 4-star luxury hotel in Kalimpong, just 2 minutes from the mall. Built originally in 1930, the present day building has been spruced up with modern amenities housing 23 fully equipped rooms, Multicuisine restaurant etc.. The hotel has more glass than walls which allows the breathtaking beauty of the great outdoors to fill the indoors.. Night halt at the silver oaks, Kalimpong.
DAY 3: KALIMPONG TO GANGTOK
Leave the hotel early morning by 7.00am for a half day sightseeing of Durpin hill (which has the famous Zong dog Palri Fo- Brang monastery which belongs to the same Buddhist sect as the present dalai lama) , Jelapla view point, pine view point, chitra Bhanu & Kalim temple, dr graham's homes complex with its historic church & well maintained grounds founded in 1900 by rev. Dr. J a Graham, a scottish missionary, delo hill (5556 ft) appears to be the roof- of- the- world, is the highest point in kalimpong. Delo also has the town’s picturesque water reservoir. Then on to Mangal dham temple constructed in memory of the late Guru Shree (108) Mangal Dasji and dedicated to lord Krishna, Kalimpong arts & crafts centre, nature interpretation centre (forest museum). Back to the hotel by 10.00 am. Depart for a 2hr 30mins journey to Gangtok (5500 ft), Sikkim - the land of the pristine and unspoilt natural beauty with alpine landscapes and thick luxuriant forests, rivers in torrent and peaceful lakes. Checkin at the Norkhill - the erstwhile guest house of the king of Sikkim, a heritage property. With rich traditional interiors, 25 rooms having satellite tv, direct dial phones etc., a Kanchenjunga view, Multicuisine restaurant, there is no better place where one can experience a mix of culture-modern lifestyle-natural beauty in the ambience of history. Rest of the day at leisure, explore the city. Night halt at Norkhill, Gangtok.
DAY 4: IN GANGTOK
After breakfast proceed to Tsomgo lake (12,210 ft), a 40 km drive which takes 2.5 hrs. This lake is located very close to Nathula pass which is the entry point to china termed as the “silk route & remains frozen for most parts of the year. Legend has it that the lamas use to forecast the future by studying the colour of the lakes waters. Enjoy the surroundings, majestic snowy peaks which feed the lake and the clean fresh air. Back to Gangtok by 1pm for lunch. After lunch, visit Nam Nang vp/ropeway ; do-Drul Chorten (Stupa) which is one of the most important Stupas of Sikkim, built by the head of the nyingma order- trullshi rimpoche in 1945. It contains rare details of dorji phupa, holy books, mantras and is encircled by 108 prayer wheels ; the Namgyal institute of Tibetology built in 1958 in traditional style, a renowned worldwide centre for the study of the Mahayana Buddhist philosophy & religion, a treasure house of rare “thankas”, statues, over 200 Buddhist icons and prized objects of art. Evening free for leisure or go shopping for Sikkimese traditional handicrafts. Night halt at Norkhill, Gangtok.
DAY 5: GANGTOK TO LACHUNG
Depart early morning for lachung (8610 ft), a distance of 126 kms. On the way stop enroute and enjoy the wonderful locations like Kabi Lungstok (25km from Gangtok where a blood brotherhood was signed between the Lepcha chief, Thekong tek & the Bhutia chief, Khye bumsa. The spot where the ceremony took place is marked by a memorial stone pillar amidst the cover of dense forests) ; Naga waterfalls ; the confluence of Lachen chu & Lachung chu at Chungthang- the starting point of the river Teesta. Chungthang is predominantly a Lepcha region, the nodal junction for the two passes- Lachen & Lachung. Stop at the twin waterfalls & Bhim Nala waterfalls before reaching Lachung. Lachung is an exquisite valley town , resplendent in its crown of snow capped mountains, breathtaking waterfalls & sparkling streams. It has been described as “the most picturesque village of Sikkim” by Joseph Dalton in his ‘Himalayan journal’ (1855). C/in to the modern residency hotel and get refreshed. The rest of the afternoon is spent nature exploring & local sightseeing around Lachung village with avisit to the Lachung monastery. Relax, sleep off & rest your tired body. Night halt at modern residency, Lachung.
DAY 6: IN LACHUNG
After breakfast proceed to Yumthang (11800 ft) a 23 kms drive taking 1.5hrs. This is where the tree line ends & the rhododendron groves cover the landscape in a surreal shade. Also called the valley of flowers as in spring wild alpine flowers carpet the land. In winter there is snow all around and the snow clad mountains add to the ethereal beauty. This place is also known for its hot springs which have healing medicinal properties. Picnic in this beautiful valley, trek to reach the high points all around, take a bath in the hot springs. Back to Lachung by evening. Night halt at modern residency, Lachung.
DAY 7: LACHUNG TO GANGTOK
After breakfast depart for Gangtok with lunch served at Mangan. Enroute, visit the Phodong monastery 38 kms from Gangtok which is famous for its exquisitely delicate mural paintings and frescoes. Built by Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal in the first quarter of the 18th century for the Karmapa, Phodong is the first kagyupa monastery to be set up in Sikkim. Reach Gangtok by evening. Night halt at Norkhill, Gangtok.
DAY 8: GANGTOK TO PELLING
After an early breakfast, visit the Rumtek monastery, 24 kms from Gangtok was built in 1960 by his holiness the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa & this is a replica of the original Kagyurpa monastery in Tibet, a must see for every visitor, the seat of the “Kagyu order” . Behind the monastery is the lavishly decorated Karmae Nalanda institute of Buddhist studies which attracts students from the world over. Here one can find the most unique religious scriptures & art objects of the world. Then proceed to Pelling (6800 ft), a 5 hour journey (112 kms) via Ravangla (6800 ft) , a small township & transit point to various destinations in south & west Sikkim, situated at the base of Meenam hill (10300 ft). A visit to the Tibetan refugee settlement camp just above the town which houses the Kheunpheling carpet centre where one can buy fine Tibetan style Woollen carpets. Lunch at Ravangla & then a fleeting visit to the bon monastery at Kewzing, 5 kms from Ravangla which is one of its kind in Sikkim, a symbol of the determination of the community to preserve their religious traditions. Arrive at Pelling & checkin at the elgin mount Pandim. This is one of the closest points to the Khanchenjunga range & one can see it upfront touching the sky from Pelling. Night halt at the Elgin mount Pandim, Pelling.
DAY 9: IN PELLING
Leave early for the Khecheopalri lake, also called the “wish fulfilling lake”. It lies in a depression surrounded by prayer flags & forested hills. Then to Yuksom (5800 ft) . This is the first capital of the kingdom of Sikkim & the coronation site of the first Chogyal. Evidence of the enthronement ceremony can still be seen in the form of stone seats and the footprint of the head lama on a stone. The stone throne constructed for the great event stands today at Norbugang which has been declared a heritage site. If you have the time & energy, trek up to the dubdi monastery at Yuksom. This is a 30-35 mins trek into the forest negotiating steep slopes. It was built in 1701 after the consecration ceremony of the first Chogyal. It is an ideal place for lamas seeking meditation and recluse. Dubdi means “the hermit’s cell”. On the return stop to see the khangchendzonga water falls. Back to the resort by evening. Night halt at the Elgin mount Pandim, Pelling.
DAY 10: PELLING TO DARJEELING
Proceed to the Pemayangtse monastery (7021 ft), 2.5 kms from Pelling. Built during the late 17th century, it is one of the oldest & most important monasteries of the Nyingmapa order of Buddhism in Sikkim. Even today, it is only the monks of this monastery who enjoy the title of ‘Tasang’ or pure monks. The monastery follows the Mindroling tradition & has 108 monks. The main attraction of the monastery is the wooden replica of Zangdog Palri , the celestial abode of guru Padmasambhava, built by Serdup L Dorje Rinpoche in 1971, the Rabdentse ruins -the second capital of the erstwhile king of sikkim till 1814 a.d. This is also very close to the Pemyangtse monastery, a 30mins walk from the main road. The scenic view from the top of the ruins scanning across the deep valley, to the mystic heights of the Khanchenjunga range is something to be cherished & etched in memory. Onwards to Darjeeling (7100 ft), a 72 kms drive taking around 3-4 hours, the “queen of the hill stations” , its name derived from “Dorje-line” which means the place of “Dorje”, the mystic thunderbolt. After a very scenic drive thru the mountains, tea gardens etc., reach Darjeeling by late afternoon & checkin at “the Elgin”, Darjeeling. The Elgin – a 120 years old property, now given “heritage status” is located at 2 minutes walking distance from the mall. The snug & cosy feeling, Burma teak furniture, wooden floorboards and Panelling, crackling log fireplaces, well thumbed volumes at the library, candle-lit dining tables with soft strains of the melodies wafting from the piano…. Each has a story to tell – the story of the stylish lifestyle of its first owner, the maharaja of cooch behar. Having 25 well appointed rooms equipped with satellite tv, direct dial phones & a view of Kanchenjunga, the Elgin also provides hospitality alongwith a flavour of history. Spend the evening lazing around or walk up to the mall. Night halt at the Elgin, Darjeeling.
DAY 11: IN DARJEELING
Start the day at 4am with an early morning trip to tiger hill (7800 ft) to catch the sunrise from behind the majestic Kunchenjunga range. On the way back visit the Ghoom monastery & Batasia loop. Back to the hotel for breakfast. Rest a while & then visit the Himalayan mountaineering institute, zoo, Tenzing rock, labong race course, tea garden, Tibetan refugees self help centre & rope-way. Back to the hotel by late afternoon. Take a walk to “Chowrasta” the centre point of the mall area. Do some window shopping. Night halt at the Elgin, Darjeeling.
DAY 12: IN DARJEELING
After breakfast take a trip to “Mirik” (6000 ft) – the newest hill-station in the Darjeeling hills. Famous for its squash (the vegetable) & the picturesque lake, this quiet township is also surrounded by gardens which produce some of the finest teas. The lake offers boating and fishing apart from a view of snowcapped peaks. Enjoy the fulfilling experience of nature in its purest form mingled with the unique culture prevalent here. Spend the rest of the day at Mirik to reach Darjeeling back by sunset. Night halt at the Elgin, Darjeeling.
DAY 13: DEPART FROM DARJEELING TO BAGDOGRA AIRPORT
After morning breakfast at hotel proceed from Darjeeling to Bagdogra airport to board the flight to onward destination with sweet memories of the tour.