A Sneak-Peek Darjeeling Tour

River Teesta on way back from Gangtok to Darjeeling

Yes guilty me, this time the Queen of Hills was not my prime destination; it was an one -day stopover for me between Sikkim and Kolkata. However, I did not forget to make the most of my 24 hours in Darjeeling.

The Queen of Hills with its Crown of Lights

Peace Pagoda

One of the first sites at the city was the Japanese Temple and the Peace Pagoda. Just like the other Peace Pagodas, this one also houses the 4 Avatars of Lord Buddha. This sacred white abode of peace is located at the slopes of the Jalapahar Hills. If you are lucky and is visiting this enchanting tourist destination on a clear day you can even view the beautiful snow capped Himalayas from here.

Tiger Hill

The Lush Greenery on my way to the Top

Yes yes, I know this should come first on the list as watching sunrise at Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill is one of the most magical experiences on earth. However, thanks to the continuous rains, unfortunately I could not witness sunrise here as well. However, enjoying the floating clouds from a height of approximately 9700 feet while sipping a cup of steaming hot tea (I enjoyed 2 cups!) is nothing less enchanting.

While I had the Himalayan Zoological Park and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, these were closed on Thursday and hence I decided to re-route my trip to Mirik.

Chauk Bazaar

An Eye Treat on the Way
Chauk Baazar- The Gateway to Nepal
Nepal Coins & Other Souvenirs
What to Buy & What not to???

My first destination on the way was to one of the gateways of Nepal, Chauk Bazaar. This is one of the unique tourist spots where on one side of the road you have Nepal and on the other side there is India and you get to shop from both sides. Quaint tea stalls, small curio shops and the buzzing local culture, this market on the Hillcart Road is just not a perfect place for shopping but also walking through the sloping inner by-lanes is a memorable experience.

Gopal Dhara Tea Estate

The Tea Estate wrapped with Fog
Authentic Darjeeling Tea

My next stop was at the Gopal Dhara Tea Estate. Travelling in the monsoons to a tea estate like walking through the clouds. Another best part visiting this tea estate was buying authentic Darjeeling tea at lower rates than at any of the famous markets of Darjeeling. You can enjoy tea testing at just a rate of Rs20 to understand which flavor you like the best and want to take back home. I am providing a link below to a complete range of Gopal Dhara tea available online.


Small Souvenir Shop
A Wide Range of Colorful Tea Sets

You can even pickup cute tea sets (kettle and cups) painted and showcasing the local culture here art an affordable rate.

Mirik Lake

On my way to the Mirik Lake I came across a nursery and I could not control buying some beautiful Echeveria. In between the splashing rains and the cool Himalayan breeze, a huge variety of succulents have found a perfect place to bloom and flourish here.

Beware- These Succlents can Steal Your Heart!!!

Witness The Blooms of the Hill Station

Boat on the still waters of Mirik Lake or just walk along the lush greenery of the Mirik Gardens; you can spend hours in this picturesque tourist spot just basking in the natural beauty. Last but not the least; do not forget to explore the shops right across the Lake. The handwoven, soft and beautiful woolen sweaters and shawls are available at quite affordable rates here.

You can also get succulents online at the below link-


Mirik in the Rains
Woolens that You can’t resist

The Mall Road

The famous Mall Road
Enjoy an English Breakfast at the Keventers
Curios that speak of Culture

My last destination for the day was the Mall Road, located at the top of the Nehru Road. One of the most famous shopping destinations of Darjeeling, you cannot control but go on a shopping spree. However remember to explore few shops, take quotes and then make your purchase. Being one of the most popular town centers, the products are expensive here. So while there is a wide variety of curios, woolen apparels and food products that you can buy here, it is necessary to get the right deal.

Visit for a luxurious sip of Darjeeling Tea

In case you are not visiting Darjeeling anytime soon, you can try out the flavor online!


Not a big fan of shopping? Take a pony ride or just take a seat at any of the benches scattered at the middle of the shopping site, and enjoy the scenic views of the Mall Road. So feel the vibe of Darjeeling at the Mall Road.

So do not be upset if you have limited time; in one day you can feel the life of the Queen of Hills.


Sikkim in Rains- An Ethereal Experience

Hill Stations and Summer Vacations go hand in hand right? However, what does it feel like to walk through the hills in rains? Well, my recent journey to East Sikkim was a romantic bliss; well not between a couple but between the mountains and the rains. As I started leaving Bagdogra Airport towards Gangtok (East Sikkim), I was accompanied by River Teesta; the lifeline of Eastern Himalayas. As I moved up, the calm beauty of the River became wilder…

Teesta On Way To Sikkim

After passing through the changing landscape through Shevak, Kalimpong to Gangtok, I reached my hotel to rest and revive my energy for the next excitement. My first day journey was just an introduction to the lush green beauty of East Sikkim.

A Day Excursion To Baba Mandir & Changu Lake

Peace Flags On Way To Baba Mandir

My Day 2 was a journey to the famous East Sikkim tourist destinations to Baba Mandir and Changu Lake. But to me it was the journey that stood out more than the destinations. Yes, Baba Mandir is a tribute to ultimate place of holiness. The beautiful temple located at an height of approximately 13k feet will evoke your devotion.

The Roads That Speak Of Life

Changu Lake, also known as Tsomgo Lake, at a height of approximately 12k feet was a sight to behold. To add the to the joy, you can enjoy some fun rides on beautifully decked up Yaks. Besides enjoying the deep blue waters of Changu Lake, you can also opt for boating at the Hangu Lake, located between the Baba Mandir and the Changu Lake. Encircled with the Great Himalayan Range, just sail forgetting all your worries.

Get prepared for the trip by packing some woolens as given in the below link-



A Ride On A Yak

Now coming to the road-experience, as my car went up and up and up through the rocky roads, I was welcomed by wild, free flowing waterfalls. While there are some significant ones worth mentioning like the Mandakini Waterfalls, all through the snaky trail, there are one or the other, small or large falls, gurgling down the hills.

Sikkim in Monsoons is Green & Gorgeous

As you travel to the top, there are several food stalls where you can enjoy steaming hot momos, maggi or local Sikkimese food with cups of hot tea and coffee. Trust me, how much and how expensive coffee or tea you might have in your whole life, sipping this simple cup of coffee or tea from the paper cup at this height, as the drizzles wet the roads, can be one of your best caffeine moments. In case you are not carrying enough warm clothes and start feeling the prick of cold, these stalls even have warm clothes that you can buy or even rent. If you want to go ready, you might checkout the below products.


Day 3 – A Cultural Tour To The Flower Exhibition Center, Do Drul Chorten & Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

If Day 2 was a treat to your eyes, today was a day to explore the Sikkimese culture. However on my way to the Flower Exhibition Center I found another spark of nature at the Bathan Waterfalls.

Bathan Waterfalls- Live & Real

The Flower Exhibition Center was my next destination. Here I witnessed some of the best blooms from across the state. If you want to take a piece of these rare and beautiful blooms, you can get seeds, bulbs and pots from the center.

Some Glimpses Of Floral Sikkim

Exploring the culture of Sikkim is incomplete without a visit to the Do Drul Chorten. Roll the prayer wheels at this white-gold monastery just not to wish but to get the peace of mind.

Do Drul Monastery- An Abode Of Peace

In the same complex there is the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. This place exhibits the history, culture and characters of Buddhism. There is a small curio shop right outside the Institute where you can pickup some souvenirs. While expensive, the artefacts come with intricate carvings.

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
Some Gems Of Buddhism

M G Marg- The Shopping Destination

Well, if you are a shopaholic like me, a visit to the M G Marg is a must. Lined with numerous shops selling warm clothes, showpieces and handicrafts, there is something for everyone. However, as per my personal experience, you must checkout few stores and do some bargaining before buying stuff to get the best deal. Personally I loved the pure rabbit wool sweaters, super soft and available in soothing pastel colors. The ceramic jugs, mugs and teapots showcase the Sikkimese culture through its colorful paintings.

Shopping I couldn’t resist!!!

Besides M G Marg, you can also visit Laal Bazaar for shopping.

While in the continuous rains, I could not witness the sunrise or the sunset, but I can surely say, this was a journey to have a true connection with the nature. While mine was a short trip to East Sikkim, there are multiple other tourist destinations to explore, like the Seven Sisters’ Waterfall, Himalayan Zoological Park, Tashi View Point and Nathank Valley, to name a few. So if you want to spend some memorable moments far from the maddening crowd, the hills of Sikkim is there to embrace you.


The most popular way to travel to East Sikkim is via West Bengal.

  1. You can get down at the New Jalpaiguri Station and hire a cab to Gangtok
  2. Board a bus and get down at the Siliguri bus stand and hire a cab to Gangtok
  3. Bagdogra Airport is the fastest way to reach North Bengal. From there you can again hire a cab to Gangtok


Now shopping becomes more interesting with the Kolkata Handicrafts Fair 2016

Do you love shopping??? Are you busy surfing the online stores to get the best home décor for your new apartment or is it that you love the Bengali art and style. If answer to any of the above question is yes, the Kolkata Handicrafts Fair 2016 is your place. This fair is a celebration of Bengali culture as you find people from all districts gather here and exhibit the best crafts from their place. From the lavish silks of Murshidabad to the clay art of Krishna Nagar, you will be spoilt for choice here.



The fair caters to the need of all essential items of your daily life, be it furniture or apparels. The collection of wooden dining tables, bamboo baskets, sofas and chairs made from bamboo can completely change the look of your house. The jute bags, earrings made from natural products, hand stitched dress materials with unique designs and flowers made from paper and thermocol are both budget friendly and beautiful.



Another interesting part of the fair is you find artists painting and preparing the crafts just in front of you. Here you have the chance to speak with the maker of the product and buy it from him/ her; the charm of which is quite different from that when you get your product online or from a retail store.



Food is the heart of any Bengali fair and the Kolkata Handicrafts Fair 2016 is not an exception. From a wide range of tangy pickles to the famous sweets of Bardhaman,”Joynagar er Mowa,’ foodies have lot to explore here.



Hence make your winter afternoons picture perfect, soaking in the warm sun, roaming at the Milan Mela ground, picking up the gems of Bengali Handicrafts.

Location: Milan Mela, Near Science City

Till: 11th December’16

Bolpur Beckons…

The Spectacular View On The Way

No Bengali can deny the fact that at least a part of his/ her life has been influenced by Rabindranath Tagore; popularly known as Kabi Guru. As the train chugs into the Bolpur station, you are in the land of laal maati (red soil), the dreamland of this great Indian poet and Noble laureate. There are three prime tourist destinations here; namely, Shantiniketan, Konkalitala and Sonajhuri.

Back in Time

Vicinity of Peace

Your trip begins at Shantiniketan, the place which witnessed the renaissance of Bengali literature, art and music. Shanti meaning peace and Niketan home, had been the dream come true for the poet. The quietness of the place beckoned the young heart of creative Rabi and he decided to shift here.  Gradually the place became an open-air gallery of exquisite paintings, fine sculptures and classics. Visiting Shantiniketan will unravel the golden age of Bengali literature in front of you.

Breathing Images

Astounding Creations

Soulful Environment

Ride next to Konkalitala, one of the 51 Shaktipeeths of Hinduism. Dedicated to Goddess Sati, this place is blissful.

The Goddess

The Holy Kund

The Magic of Baul Music

Sonajhuri is a treasure island of Bengali folk dance and song. Tap your feet with the Santhal women at the beats of madol or enjoy the vibrancy of baul song and music, famous worldwide. This place also gives you a feel of a typical village market, haat; Birbhum is known for its leather handicrafts, bags, clay toys and apparels with unique prints and the haat is a shopper’s paradise. Last but not the least; relish authentic Bengali cuisines at complete Bengali ambience here.

Bolpur Beats

Cute Creations

Nature on Paper

Beauty in Black

The Melody

Jewels of Bolpur

Colorful Drapes

Leather Gems

Life demands some respite after a hectic week and now a relaxing weekend is just within your reach at Bolpur. Located at the Birbhum district of West Bengal this place is a complete package of fun, frolic and serenity.

Lip Smacking Cuisines

How to Reach:

Bolpur is easily accessible via rail, road and airways. There are regular trains from all over West Bengal to the Bolpur Station. Both private and government (SBSTC) buses ply to the city on a regular basis. The Kolkata International Airport is the nearest airways to the place.

Local Vehicles:

Rickshaws are easily available outside the railway station and the main bus stand. You may also book a cab through the hotel where you are staying.

Belur Math

Belur Math- The Abode of Peace

Belur Math has always been one of my favourite spots near Kolkata, where I love to spend at least a piece of my weekend. It is really awesome to be amidst a surreal environment, far from the honking horns and dust filled air of the metropolitan. If you also want to find out yourself, removing all the tension of daily life, just be at Belur Math.

The Main Temple

As River Ganges flows through the heart of Kolkata, several shrines have developed at its bank to enhance the divinity of the place with the touch of the holy waters. Belur Math is another religious centre of India, located at the Howrah district of West Bengal. Established by Swami Vivekananda in 1898, this place is visited by people from all walks of life, just not for pilgrimage but also to experience some soulful moments, far from the maddening crowd of city life.

The 40 acres of sprawling land is dotted with several temples; dedicated to Lord Ramakrishna, Ma Sarada and Swami Vivekananda. There are monasteries for the disciples of the Ramakrishna Movement and a children’s home, known as Sister Nivedita Children’s Home. The main temple of the place worships Ramakrishna Paramhansa, this is the site where Swami Vivekananda worshipped the urns of Ramakrishna; it is said that Swami Vivekananda carried the urns on his shoulder to the place.

Blossoms in Full Bloom

You can spend a whole day here, strolling through the green meadows, listening to the joyous chirps of birds or relaxing at the banks of River Ganges, listening to its ripples. You can also enjoy a pleasant boat ride over the river, which takes you to another popular pilgrimage of West Bengal, the Dakhineshwar Kali Temple. This is where Ramakrishna used to worship Ma Kali as a priest. There are boats at regular intervals till 8.00 pm in the evening which take you to and fro Belur Math and Dakhineshwar Temple.

River Ganges at Dusk

Another attraction of the place is its museum. There are relics and paintings depicting various phases of life of Ramakrishn, Ma Sarada and Swami Vivekananda. The shopping arcade consists of photos of various Hindu gods and goddesses, books on the Ramakrishna Movement, preaches of various philosophers and story books based on Indian mythology.

Devotees gather here at afternoon to have the ‘bhog.’ This simple meal is just not a lunch with people but a way of life of love and togetherness. Last but not the least; the evening aarti rejuvenates you. The aarti starts at 6.00 pm in winter and 6.30 pm in summer. Devotees gather at the main temple to witness the aarti. The soulful music and melodious hymns sung by the monks; known as ‘Brahma Sangit,’ relieves you from all stress.

The Swami Vivekananda Temple

Are you looking for a different kind of Durga Puja celebration this year? Be at Belur Math. The Math is known for its unique Durga Puja rituals, which also includes the Kumari Puja. The Math also celebrates Saraswati Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Kali Puja, Shivaratri, birthdays of Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Ma Sarada, Jesus Christ, Sri Krishna and Lord Chaitanya.

Durga Puja at Belur Math
Durga Puja at Belur Math

If you want to engage in some charitable work, Belur Math is one of the best places to do so. The Math is engaged in rehabilitation and relief work and also has its own charitable dispensary.

Hence take your time out this weekend to spend some time of solace at Belur Math.


An Escapade From The Hustles Of City Life At Deulti

Stressed and tired of the everyday city life? Escape the commotion this weekend at Deulti. A quaint destination, Deulti is just an hour and forty minutes drive from Kolkata. You can reach the place via local trains and Paskura local is one of the best options to travel to this little hamlet of peace and serenity.

On The Way

Way Back

There are a number of resorts at Deulti, one being the Nirala Resort. From premium private cottages to affordable rooms, the resort offers you different types of accomodation amidst lush green meadows. As you play around in the cool waters of the swimming pool of the resort with your loved ones, the layers of stress wash away.

The Resort

Blossoms Of Beauty

The Soothing Greenery Of The Resort

Swimming Pool At Nirala Resort

Deulti also beckons you with its rich heritage. The great Bengali author, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay had spent much of his life here and his house is popularly known as Sarat Chandra Kuthi or Samtaber. The visiting hours of Samtaber is from 3 pm to 5 pm and you can explore the whole of this two storied Burmese styled house to get an insight into the simple living style of the ‘Katha Silpi.’

Statue of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay at Samtaber

The Burmese Styled Cottage Of The Author


Belongings Of The Author

Last but not the least; bask in the surreal beauty of River Rupnarayan at Deulti. A walking distance from the residence of the writer, the riverside is a sunset point; as the sun bids goodbye to the day, the fusion of red and orange rays create a magical aura over the blue waters of River Rupnarayan.


River Rupnarayan At Sunset

Hence, inhale some fresh air this weekend far from the maddening crowd, at Deulti.

Kolkata International Book Fair

A rendezvous with books- Kolkata International Book Fair

Durga Puja is the biggest festival of Kolkata? Well, Kolkata International Book Fair is not far beyond, it is a festival for the City of Joy; whether you love books or not, Kolkata International Book Fair beckons all.


Kolkata International Book Fair is held every year during the last week of January and runs approximately for 10 days. From local book stalls to international book stores, you have a varied flavour of books here; United States, Costa Rica, Bangladesh and United Kingdom create a magnificent fiesta of books at the Milan Mela ground, Kolkata.

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Kids never feel left out at Kolkata International Book Fair; they are the special guests of the fair. From the colourful comics to the happy mascots, kids learn to love books at Kolkata International Book Fair.



Are you an academician? Dive into the ocean of knowledge at the book stalls specially stuffed with books of science, history, art and technology. While the English and Bengali detective books are there to sharpen your brains, discover the thrill of jungles with Jim Corbett.



Kolkata International Book Fair is just not about book stalls, it is a get together of creativity; throughout the fair, several literary meets are arranged at the halls along with the little magazine counters, where you get to see and hear your favourite authors; who want to miss the golden opportunity to autograph their favourite book from their favourite author?



Now, Kolkatans love food and hence any fair without food joints are incomplete; Kolkata International Book Fair is not an exception. From tangy chaats to sumptuous lunch platters, from lip smacking ice creams to piping hot tea, you have all to set off the right mood for books.



Kolkata International Book Fair is a huge event not only for the city but people throughout Bengal gathers here to feel books. Hence to keep the momentum, numerous buses are arranged for accessibility while subways look into the safety of the booklovers.


Hence it can be fairly said, how popular may be e-books, we still love to bask in the fresh smell of book pages.

Kolkata Bidhan Nagar Mela

Kolkata Bidhan Nagar Mela- The Global Handicrafts Market

Have you just been to your neighbor’s house and fell in love with the Egyptian wall hanging? Well, now you need not visit Egypt or pay a high price online to get such exquisite handicrafts and wall hangings; just be at Bidhan Nagar handicrafts fair, popularly known as Bidhan Nagar Mela. Held every year during January, it runs almost a month and is a perfect New Year gift to the city.

Egyptian Paintings

Elegant Pakistani Onyx Inlays

Traders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Turkey have gathered at the Bidhan Nagar Mela 2016. While the stock of delicious dry fruits of Afghanistan attracts food lovers to their stalls, the grace of the Turkish mosaic lamps beckons people passionate about art and craft. The stalls of Egypt are as varied as their culture. While the paintings and sculptures represent the rich culture of Egypt, the small pyramids and sets of Egyptian wine glass glitters under the afternoon sun.

Illuminous Turkish Lamps

Yummy Pickles

The Golden Beauty

If you are in love with saris, a visit to the stalls from Bangladesh is must. With their infinite stock of Dhakai Jamdani and silk, these stalls can be your excuse to start puja shopping! Get wonderful gift items at the handicraft stalls of Pakistan. From onyx marble showpieces to large marble statues, you will be spoilt for choices here.

Gorgeous Bangladeshi Saris

Sparkling Souvenirs From Egypt

Classic Carpets


Precious Egyptian Showpieces

Last but not the least; you have numerous Indian handicrafts to fulfill your shopping spree. From soft hand woven carpets to embroidered pashmina shawls and salwar suits, you cannot ignore the magic of Kashmiri handlooms. The magnificent jewelry designs of Kolkata, clay toys from Krishanagar and lip smacking pickles from Suri represent Bengal at the Bidhan Nagar MelaBengal.

Colourful Bengal Clay Art



Delicate Mirror Work

Tired of shopping? Just sit and relax to enjoy cultural programmes organised everyday at the ground. The rides not only enhance the glamour of the fair but also are a fun place to the kids. Hence soak the warmth of winter sun filling your bags with precious antiques at Bidhan Nagar Mela.

Cultural Programmes

Exhilarating Rides


Rediscover spirituality within simplicity at Kamarpukur and Jairambati

Ramakrishna Paramhansa, known as the Prophet of Modern Age and his wife and spiritual counterpart, Ma Sarada are known to bring renaissance to the religious life of the common men. With their simplistic lifestyle and preaching in lucid language, these nineteenth century mystics rule the hearts of masses till date. Ramakrishna Mission runs on the preaching of Lord Ramakrishna and Ma Sarada and is engaged in various social services.

The Divine Duo
The Divine Duo

A pilgrimage to Kamarpukur

Kamarpukur is the birthplace of Lord Ramakrishna, located at the Hooghly district of West Bengal. Besides regular bus service, you can also reach the place via car.

The Ramakrishna Math

The Durga Temple

As you approach the birthplace of the saint, you will come across several schools, guest houses and dispensaries constructed by Ramakrishna Mission for the upliftment of the locals. The guest houses are affordable, offering simple food and lodging. The best time to visit this place is during the ‘Kalpataru Utsav,’ which takes place every year during the first week of January; it is the celebration of the divine transformation of the Lord into a Kalpataru (magical tree) which has the power to grant all your good wishes.

The Vishnu Temple

The Deity of Lord Vishnu

The birthplace of Lord Ramakrishna is located within a complex, maintained by the Mission. The whole place is enveloped with peace and serenity; attain the evening aarti which is accompanied with melodious chants to rejuvenate your heart and soul. Among the other must visits are the ‘Haldar Pukur,’ the bathing ghat of the Lord and his family; the pond is also known as the ‘Choto Ganga,’ meaning the small Ganges.

Choto Ganga

Visit the ‘Pathshala,’ the village school where Ramakrishna Dev used to study. Just opposite the small school lies the Durga Temple of the Laha family, the then zamindars of Kamarpukur. The nearby Vishnu Mandir was the seat of Ramakrishna, (known as Gadadhar that time) for painting pictures of Goddess Kali, escaping from his school. The guides accompany you to these places narrating the remarkable incidents of Ramakrishna Dev that took place at Kamarpukur.

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A blissful journey to Jairambati

Located just 6 kms from Kamarpukur is Jairambati, the birthplace of Sarada Devi. Jairambati is located at Kotulpur region of Bankura district. You can also be at Jairambati first and then at Kamarpukur, as there are lots of vans available at Jairambati which take you to Kamarpukur. Both these spots have safe parking facilities.

The Hamlet of Peace

The Simple Life

As you reach Jairambati, you get a glimpse of rustic village life of West Bengal. The thatched huts, the small ponds and the easy lifestyle of the locals enhance the beauty of your journey. Here also the birthplace and the house of Sarada Devi (which is a mud house with thatched roof) is looked after by the Mission. Prayers automatically come out of heart as you sit in front of the large serene statue of Ma Sarada. The whole complex is not only stunningly clean instead of having so many visitors day in and day out but is also impressive with bright, aromatic flowers.

The Temple

Floral Exhibition

Devotees do not miss to have ‘bhog’ here, a simple but delicious lunch of rice, vegetable curry, sweets and fruits. You have lot of souvenirs to buy here; be it the idols of Goddess Kali or rare photographs of Lord Ramakrishna and Ma Sarada. Do sip the steaming hot tea and savory sweets to get the real taste of Bengal.

Yummy Sweets

Religious Souvenirs

Iron Utensils

Last but not the least; the visiting hours are stringent:

April to September:

6 am to 12.00 pm & 4 pm to 9 pm

October to March:

6.30 am to 11.30 am & 3.30 pm to 8.30 pm

Best Time to Visit: First Week of January which is the time for Kalpataru Utsav. 

Hence enjoy a weekend where a different facet of spirituality evolved; be at Kamarpukur and Jairambati.