Sunday, 22 April 2012

Destination Victoria Memorial

Red breasted Parakeet

Common Myna
Rose Ringed Parakeet
Asian Pied Starling
Cattle Egret and common crow
Yellow footed Pigeon  and Parakeet
Blue Throated Barbet

 My recent trip to kolkata left me with few unexpected surprises. The stark contrast of the day to day life out there from the one out in Bangalore was expected but to see friends of the feathered kind galore amidst of the harsh life in a metropolitan city left me in a state of amazement. The first morning in this city was the best i had in a long time. Though we were staying in the heart of the city, we were woken to chirps of hundreds of sparrows. It was a bitter sweet moment as i was enjoying the wake up call, i also recalled that the sparrows of Bangalore have almost completely disappeared. I wish sparrows would come back to Bangalore and feel at home like they do in Kolkata

The second morning in Kolkata just got better. We decided to visit Victoria memorial gardens. I had no clue that it is bird watcher's paradise- a heaven on earth. I wished the morning could last forever considering the variety of birds we spotted in the short time we were out there. I really wonder why we don't spot so many birds like this in Cubbon park or Lalbagh. I  want to know what kolkata is doing that bangalore is not. I salute you kolkatans for being true to nature.

Location: Kolkata, West Bengal,India
Date of travel: March  2012

Tip: Dawn/ Early morning is the best time for catching birds!
Must do: Visit Victoria memorial Gardens.
First: Spot birds never seen before.
The travel connection: Bird watching

Friday, 6 April 2012

Destination Gangtok Day 5

Gangtok  at a height of 4700 ft is on lower Himalayan ranges. It's a dense town with small roads and 5 storey concrete boxes packed next to each other. The hub of the town for tourism is the M G road. It is traffic free in the evenings and has its souvenir shops, cafes and the other tourist nick nacks.
It is an eco friendly city as plastic is banned.The city is doing its best to promote local tourism by having a flower show and handicrafts museum and view points in and around the town.

 The place of interest that I would recommend is the Do Drul Chorten where I finally turned the prayer wheels which was a long time wish. The stupa is close to museum of tibetology which has some interesting items on display. Rumtek monastery about 25 kms from the city is also a good place to dive into meditative state.

Gangtok though not an exciting place, is an ideal stopover for the journey to the north and beyond. I hope to return there one day on the way to Gurudongmar lake.

Location: Gangtok, Sikkim,India
Date of travel: March  2012

Tip: Pick up Buddhist chant cd!
Must do: Tibetan pilgrimage
First: Turn prayer wheels
The travel connection:Spirituality in the raw.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Destination Lachung - Day 4

Lachung natives i was told were hostile towards tourists about 10 years ago. I can totally understand their sentiments. For every sensitive nature respecting tourist, you will find one whose idea of holiday is to make merry with food/ drink, litter around, play music, talk loudly in the serene surroundings and leave their mark around by vandalizing. Maybe such tourists would be more comfortable in the city environment rather than out in wilderness. But if they do want to be one with nature, i request them to respect  and treat it with TLC. Maybe then the indigenous people will not be against tourism.

Over the years, North Sikkimese have realized the potential of tourism and have welcomed us to their home. Lachung now has about 120 hotels averaging 20-25 rooms each. But it is still unspoilt and not touched by commercialism like the popular hill stations.There are no view points or  lakes that you can go boating. There is no manicured  garden where you can take a leisurely stroll. There is no mall or MG road where you can spend the evening. I truly hope it remains that way as i could vote this place as one of my favorites. It's pure unadulterated natural world.


Unfortunately  the hotel we stayed at is an indication of changing times. All hotels in Lachung are very basic with just a simple bed and home cooked food with no entertainment, frequent power cuts and hot water bottles for comfort in a cold bed.But Yarlam had 24 hour power back up and hot water, LCDs with satellite TV, electric heaters and all the other facilities you would find in a good hotel. It also cost about 3 times more than the other hotels in Lachung. But the views it offers is worth the price and i would totally recommend it.

Due to heavy snow the roads from Lachung to Yumthang and zero point was closed. I hope to be back one day to experience these places.

Location: Lachung, Sikkim,India
Date of travel: March  2012

Tip: Carry essentials as we didn't see any stores!
Must do: Meditate the blissful nature
First: Sight of crows at 10,000ft
The travel connection: Respect Mother nature.

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