So being on a honeymoon is an awesome feeling one can get. But what if the whole task of planning it falls on you, not the tour company, not the husband! YOU! Guess, who planned the whole trip? I did. I mean I already gave it away. My bad. So I pulled up my socks and planned for the 7-day Darjeeling and Gangtok trip.
Right from the hotel reservations to flights to train bookings (oh! the toy train). I was all over the place because I wanted it to be perfect. Don't you all want the same, for the honeymoon of all things, to be perfect? I kept the local tours and sightseeing shenanigans saved for later. We decided that we will book them locally after we land there and see what unfolds.
We had quite a time of our life considering this was our first travel as a couple which was a week long. We had new experiences, tasted different foods, saw millions of trees, wore ethnic local wear, took a ride on a century-old train, almost missed a flight, stalked locals (sorry, we legit did not do that), visited monasteries for the first time, stayed in a British era hotel and many more!
We will share them all, with you. Let me take you on a ride. Stay tuned, folks!
Day 0: Travelling Day (Hope I can go back in time and change slight but significant details)
Our journey began from Nagpur by taking a flight to Delhi. Ours was not a connecting flight as I had booked two separate flights from Nagpur to Delhi and Delhi to Bagdogra (closest airport from Darjeeling) which is in the state of West Bengal. Don't judge me, they were cheaper that way. One thing to keep in mind is to give a minimum 3-4 hours between two domestic flights to avoid missing your flight. However, our flight had almost 2 hrs of a layover. Wrong move!
We landed in Delhi and came to know that our next flight was from a different Terminal, hold on, it's not that easy. Different. Airport. Altogether! Apparently, Air-India and Spice Jet flights worked on different airports in Delhi. We came to the arrivals and luckily; we got our luggage faster than the speed of light, quite a win there. We rushed outside the airport to catch a taxi (we were not on the ground for sure; we were flying to grab everything) but they had pre-paid taxis (Who knew! Felt like a ) so went to the counter and booked it.
The airport was 15-20 minutes away by car. So we requested the driver to drive us quickly, he said he can take us there in 5 min if needed (hope; he was joking, but he wasn't). We came back to the ground and told him to take his sweet time but still hurry!
We hurried to get inside the airport and lined up for getting the boarding passes. We took a sigh of relief when we saw we still had 20 minutes before the 45-minute window of departure.
The person giving out the boarding passes was wonderful; she enquired about the journey and we told her the fiasco we just had. We then got our passes and rushed to security.
Guess what we caught the flight to Bagdogra, well within time. Mic drop!
Bagdogra has a military airport so they don't allow to take photographs as far as I remember. We had to book a prepaid taxi at the exit however we approached a fellow passenger who was also heading to Darjeeling with his family, to share the prepaid taxi. This is how we tagged along to Darjeeling. That was an amazing start, what a view we got to see right from plains to mountainous terrain with twists and turns and every corner. This filled us with anticipation of our trip this coming week.
We reached Darjeeling at around 8 PM and checked into the Gleneagles Hotel on the iconic Mall Road offering a mind-blowing view of the Himalayas. Ours was a club room with a living and a bedroom. I felt like the rooms were colonial style, having artifacts kept in the living room. Surprise Surprise! I entered the room, and it was full of balloons, also a wine bottle and a cake. This was Animesh's doing I was sure. What a romantic ending to the otherwise chaotic day!
Day 1 Darjeeling sightseeing tour
Before going to Darjeeling I had planned to see famous sunrise points, but we skipped that tour (Who will wake up early in the morning while on a honeymoon!) and had a complimentary breakfast in the hotel. As I mentioned earlier that we had no pre-planned tours planned, going ahead. We asked the hotel to arrange for a private cab tour and went on a Darjeeling sightseeing tour. It costed us Rs. 1600 for a Wagnor car. The driver well knew of the landmarks and drove us everywhere; right from the beautiful monasteries to the majestic Gondola rides overlooking the Himalayan Mountain range.
You can find more details about Darjeeling local sightseeing in one of my blog post
Darjeeling has many historic and scenic spots in its heart. The more we traveled, the more fell in love with the magnificence and beauty. We went to Monasteries, Museums, Himalayan zoo, had fun while clicking the uninterested animals, took a Gondola ride, visited Japanese style temple, Tea Gardens, Batasia Loop, war memorial, bought Darjeeling tea, drank Darjeeling tea.
I also wore traditional ethnic wear, clicked pics in them, saw people doing rock climbing, thought of doing rock climbing, saw Tibetan school while taking a stroll, watched IPL through a projector installed in the square, had fun walking, eating ice cream on Mall Road.
This definitely seemed like an amazing start to the honeymoon. It made me confident about the trip I had planned, putting all of my heart to it.
Day 2 Darjeeling Joy ride and some Mall Road shopping
This was a beautiful day to take a train ride. The Darjeeling toy train is in working since the late 19th century with all its steam engines still intact. They also have trains equipped with the diesel engine and the tickets prices are half to that of the steam engine toy trains, I have written more about it here in my blog. There is no difference in the train route of both train types. It is the cost which varies.
I had booked the Darjeeling Toy Train tickets in advance through Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation LTD to avoid the last minute horror of standing in long queues and watching the show getting houseful. No Thank you!
The Darjeeling railway station is beautiful with its European setting and old world charm, the Himalayan fog surrounds most part of the station. There is a museum to visit at the top floor depicting the history of the iconic toy train and its journey through the time. The train journey is a round trip from Darjeeling to Ghoom Monastery and back. The toy train took us through the beautiful town that is Darjeeling and offered amazing views of Himalayan Mountain range while doing so. I couldn't enjoy it much though as we were sitting on the other side of the train.
The train halts at Batasia loop which has a beautiful garden and also has a war memorial. This is a perfect spot for Instagram lovers. It offers Mt Everest's majestic view of Kanchenjunga peak along with the hilly town of Darjeeling. The train then resumes its journey after going around this loop and goes back to Darjeeling. We got off the train feeling merry and headed to some legendary shopping spree.
The Mall Road in Darjeeling is an iconic landmark being present in the heart of this lovely town. The locals have various restaurants, ice cream parlors, shops selling things right from souvenirs to winter clothes, to Darjeeling tea, to an Internet cafe (yeah we used it). It also has a 'Chowrasta'- a square for leisurely activities where we saw one IPL (Indian Premier League) match shown to the public on a big screen through a projector.
Day 3 Transition day - Darjeeling to Gangtok
Well. this was a sunny day to start our journey through the mountains. Gangtok is north of Darjeeling but is close to Sea level. So the temperature was more favorable than that of Day. We didn't take a private taxi instead this time we went to the Darjeeling taxi stand and found out that some private shared taxis were going to Gangtok in Rs 200 each.
We hopped on to it and before we could say we were on our way to Gangtok. The journey to Gangtok was a memorable one. up with forests, enormous and majestic Tea gardens. Being on a shared taxi, we could not take a stop at our will so we have pictures taken from the car.
Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim, a state in North-Eastern India. It has gone full organic in its farming methods and is a plastic-free state. The state of Sikkim is moving towards a better ecological balance. we were strongly looking forward to visiting such a destination which believes in fighting climate change. While entering Sikkim, authorities may check your Government-issued photo ID, so keep it with you, if the need comes.
When we reached Gangtok there were rain showers over the city, we checked into the La Residency Hotel after reaching there via private taxi we took from the stand.
We ordered Aroma Veg Biryani later, which was delicious. After inquiring at the hotel we came to know about the local tour booking in the vicinity. So we went out for a walk and also booked the tour. We explored the locality for a while, walked over the elevated city lanes present throughout the city, planned to visit MG Road on the last day, which was just a 10 minutes walk from the hotel.
We also came to know that for visiting NathuLa Pass we need to have a permit. Let me first tell you about it, it is present on the India-China border and the trade between the two countries mostly happen from there. So for getting the permit, we handed over passport sized photographs and copies of our Govt ID. (if you don't have photographs, don't worry, they have various studios nearby, for that purpose.)
Day 4 Local Gangtok Sightseeing
Meet the driver: In the morning, we met our driver-cum-tour guide who came to pick us up at the hotel, we hoped-on in the car and our tour started. The driver was also a bouncer in one of the city's clubs, awesome, isn't it? He barely fit into the tiny car of 4. at the end of the tour, he even invited us to visit his club sometime.
He drove us right throughout the city and nearby landmarks. Right from the flower exhibit to botanical gardens, from monasteries to prominent viewpoints of Himalayas, from waterfalls to temples, from museums to para-gliding venues.
I had my favorite Maggie noodles near one waterfall, wore ethnic local wear, clicked some pictures while doing so, read some history about the Buddhist Ideology, rang the bells in the monastery, chanted some mantras. More details in my other post.
You can find more details about Darjeeling local sightseeing in one of our blog posts and Gangtok local sightseeing in our upcoming blog post
This was an amazing tour with an amazing guide who drove us around the city at our own pace. It costed us Rs. 1800. felt mesmerized with the beauty around this hilly town of Gangtok.
Day 5 lake and Hanuman
This was the day of giving a visit to places beyond city limits. The most one was () Lake. It is around 40 km from Gangtok and is on the way to Nathu La Pass. By this day we came to know that bad weather. So our other option was to visit the Beautiful lake, and it was worth the trip.
While we all want to hang out on a beautiful place for as much time as we want but to visit the Tsomgo Lake we have to start off early as the fog surrounds the lake area at around 2 PM. You can find more about the Tsomgo Lake visit in our other upcoming post
Darjeeling diaries: beautiful and historic spots to visit in the mountains
While returning to Gangtok, we went to 'Hanuman ' a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, it is present north of the city. It is a spiritual place where visitors come to worship, it also offers a serene view of Gangtok city and the valley surrounding it. It has a beautiful viewing space in front of the temple, for the visitors.
Day 6 M.G. road, time for some hardcore shopping!
This was a day we kept open for city exploration and buy stuff for us and our family. We went to Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Road, which is a spit-free and litter-free zone and also a smoke-free zone so don't one! We saw different shops lining up on the road depicting local culture. There are also restaurants, coffee shops, bars, souvenirs shops lined up over the street. There are pole lights in the middle surrounded by beautifully groomed plants, flowers plots hanging over the poles.
If you want to buy anything, then just sit on the chairs also lined up on the street. We could see a Mahatma Gandhi statue in the middle
Day 7 Time to go to Bagdogra, met Teesta River on the way.
We booked a private cab to Bagdogra Airport, for Rs. 2500. During the journey on a 4 hrs long route, we came across the Teesta river which starts in Eastern Himalayas. Apparently, it forms the border between the states of West Bengal and Sikkim which we were just exploring from the past 7 days.
It is a magnificent river cutting through the thick northeastern forests and making its way south to fall into the Bay of Bengal. We reached the Bagdogra airport well when we had to catch a flight to Delhi.
It was such a great trip; I didn't want to go back home. The beautiful weather, spectacular views, the monasteries, the Himalayan presence, oh What a magnificent time! But there is an end to everything, and we loved this mesmerizing one-week trip.
Would you go on such a trip with our loved one? Let us know in the comments.
Check out our other posts on hill stations and iconic forts .
Beautiful Sinhagad Valley: a mountainous escape out of the city
A remarkable visit to the inspiring Raigad Fort, in monsoon
Darjeeling diaries: 10 beautiful spots to visit in the mountains