All over the world, Darjeeling is quite synonymous with tea and tea gardens; yet in this Darjeeling trip we hadn’t visited one single tea plantation. We had seen in Google maps that even the nearest tea garden is quite some distance away, a distance which cannot be travelled on foot in a limited time.
I decided — to hell with logic, and set off on foot to visit the nearest tea garden and return to the main city within a couple of hours (since I had a train to catch)! I took the logical husband along.
Sometimes I am so awed at how Sayan handles all my craziness.
I gave up after a few minutes of uphill walk and a brisk talk with a local tea seller. The day before a dishonest cabbie in the taxi stand told us the Shrubbery Nightingale Park had shut down and is no longer operational. The local shopkeeper however informed us, that not only is it fully operational, but also easily accessible on foot! The kind lad even showed us the way.
Now we know where we were heading to!
Shrubbery Nightingale Park
We reached the park at around 10 AM. The entry price cost us INR 10. Apart from us, there were around 10 more travellers in the park. The giant space, beautiful decorations, a cafeteria and several park staff working on beautifying the area ensured it is fully functional.
Mount Kanchenjunga was clearly visible from the park. The clear blue sky and the pleasant sunshine encouraged us to try out ‘photography skills’.
We meandered around the centre of the park with occasional photo-stops until it was too late. We hurried back to our Darjeeling nest and checked out of the hotel bidding adieu to one of the best hosts we have come across.
The Jeep Full Of Locals
A traffic personnel helped us get on a shared jeep to Siliguri from Darjeeling town. The jeep was jam-packed with locals. We got two back seats.
We whooshed passed the houses, the Darjeeling railway station, the unfinished Buddhist learning centre, Batasia Loop, Ghoom. “Shit! We are indeed leaving the Himalayas” kept crossing my mind.
An aged co-passenger boarded off the jeep; the gap was soon filled by a beautiful young girl. Unfortunately, the girl didn’t have the best time since another oldie with oily hair almost sat on top of her.
The locals merely paid something in the range of INR 10- 20 to get off at point-to-point locations. The jeep provided regular shuttle service for them.
The vehicle dropped us off at Siliguri for INR 125 each seat. We got into a modified autorickshaw to get to the New Jalpaiguri Station. Just a matter of around 20-30 more bucks per head.
Waiting for the train in the station we thought to ourselves, “Though we aspire to travel the world, including the Polar Regions, it doesn’t matter how far we go, how luxuriously we travel, this Darjeeling trip will be the most special trip of our lifetime forever.”
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