What happens when your sister comes to visit you for a week and you want to, on a whim, go on a road trip with her? Being in Kolkata all my life, my dream destination had always been Shimla, Ladakh and Nainital that is the call of the mountains. Off late, the seas have also beckoned me, and the first name that came to my mind was Goa. I haven’t explored my own state West Bengal much. Maybe that was because I felt I could always visit any part of West Bengal whenever I wanted to, but faraway places seemed more exotic to me. Whatever be the reason, I had never ventured far from my city, the furthest being Shantiniketan. My Mumbaikar cousin had a different plan this time: all-girls road trip. So, we decided on a place which was nearer and at the same time easier to travel: Dooars. Since the destination was close our parents agreed easily. A reliable car rental in Siliguri with an experienced driver was booked by my father. Once we had packed our belongings, we set off for our weekend trip.
The Doors to Bhutan
An overnight train journey took us to Siliguri and we found our driver waiting for us. The early winter morning chill woke me up. After loading our luggage in the car, we headed for our hotel. Once in the car, I started doing my research: Places to visit, the timings, routes etc. I properly planned the two days so that I could accommodate all that we had on our wish list. Finding me busy on my tablet my sister started shouting at me. She had a valid point. She insisted me to live the moment. She pointed to our windows. We were crossing the Teesta river and many shades of green and blue flashed by our speeding car’s window. All too soon we reached our hotel. Once we had checked in and had breakfast, we headed out to our first stroll outside.
Some roads are better unplanned
While I was all about prior planning my sister insisted on instant plans. After we headed out, we went to the first place she found intriguing - Samsing. The forest was truly blissful. Being less crowded, we had a great time in that forest pretending to be the only ones alive. My childhood was revisited by being in that place. The birds singing and the rushing water gave a nudge to my creativity and I sat down to pen a few verses. We spent almost the whole day at Samsing and rushed to Selim Hill Tea Estate. Well it was just a tea estate but the journey and the weather increased my appetite and when we went to the nearest restaurant we gorged on two plates of momos, a plate of noodles and had cups of coffees. That day when we collapsed on our bed I felt happy after a long time. Sleep came fast and I dozed off into a deep slumber.
Wildlife amidst the mountains
Next day we headed out early. I wanted to spend quality time at Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary while my sister wanted to visit Latpanchar and because both of us had different wishes, we agreed to visit both. First stop was Mahananda. It is beyond beautiful with the Himalayas in the backdrop. I was in for a treat of a lifetime and I can say my sister enjoyed her time too. I got lucky and saw cheetahs but missed out on catching a glimpse of leopards or tigers. I really wanted to see a tiger roaming around. A two-hour drive took us to Latpanchar. This vintage village took our breath away. The flowing Teesta and the mountains made me wish if I could settle down there forever.
Spending a day in Darjeeling
We had to board our train from Darjeeling while returning. How could we miss Tiger Hill when we were so near? So, at night we set off for Siliguri and after that successfully booked a cab for Darjeeling for having a comfortable and convenient journey. After all, it was a late-night ride since we planned to reach Tiger Hill before sunrise. Once standing at the edge, we saw the sunrise. I cannot explain the feeling I had, and honestly, words will fail to justify the experience I had there. The changing colours of the snow peak of Kanchenjunga as the sun rose is a sight I could watch every day and still feel like that was the first time I experienced that mighty view.
After a toy train ride, we decided to spend the rest of the evening at the railway dorm before our train was scheduled. I felt grateful to my sister. She insisted that we head for Dooars otherwise it would still be on my wish list. Dooars, thank you for welcoming us.