Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalayas


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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery - Xylo takes on the heights of North Bengal Himala

Dalkhola to Kishanganj was about 30 km and took us around 20 mins. Kishanganj is where the highway briefly enters Bihar and re enters Bengal. As I neared Kishanganj, I Heard a shrill but peircing horn from behind but could not find any vehicle as the rear view mirror showed an empty highway behind me. It sounded again and much nearer. I looked again and found nothing.

Then suddenly out of nowhere appeared the Rajdhani Express as I had failed to notice the train line was very nearby the road and it sped past even as we were climbing a bridge over the tracks.
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It was the Delhi - Guwahati - Dibrugarh Rajdhani and approaching Kishangunj Station where it had its scheduled halt
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An idea crossed my mind. I knew that for the next 25 odd km the railway track was running parallelly and within handshaking distance with the highway. The roads were butter smooth and thought of running along if possible ahead of the Rajdhani as it moved out of Kishangunj. Calculations made.. It had the track and the Xylo had the silk smooth road. It had a max speed of 130 - 140 k/hr, the Xylo could do 130 k/hr after which the alarm chime goes on. It was evenly matched and taking on arguably India's fastest train was no less tempting.

NO.. I did not do it. Not that the Xylo chickened out, but I thought of respecting the pride of the Indian Railways and decided that enjoying its graceful stride would be better than taking on its might.

I pulled up the Xylo by the side of the track 2 km ahead of Kishangunj and waited for the Rajdhani to chug out of Kishangunj and pass by..
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And here it comes
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Rajdhani's accross India are pulled by electric locos but since this part of the country does not have electrification, it was a diesel loco.
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You could feel the road shaking as it sped past
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Yes its gone.. Its time I moved on
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery - Xylo takes on the heights of North Bengal Himala

Very nice pictures & detailed review, would like to write a review like this some time
do keep posting[clap]
 
Thread Starter #18
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery - Xylo takes on the heights of North Bengal Himala

Very nice pictures & detailed review, would like to write a review like this some time
do keep posting[clap]
Thanx for your appreciation Jayesh. You surely will, eagerly waiting for your write up.
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery - Xylo takes on the heights of North Bengal Himala

Day 2 - Mar 15 (Contd)

Yes day 2 continues and will take some time to end. Please bear with me.

It was the good roads as usual, picked up some speed thinking I still might catch up with the Rajdhani, but probably it was miles away.

The roads have improved... but commuting for locals is still as it used to be prior to such marvelous roads.
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We sped along directly to hit the Himalayas. The green paddy fields kept us company on either sides
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But it gave way to the tea plantations as we neared the mountains
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Trucks carrying tea leaves. A fantastic prelude to us before hitting the mountains
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The 4 laned highway ends near Bagdogra, but even the double laned road is smooth as a race track and I was pleasantly surprised with its condition as 1 year back I could feel the potholes on this stretch sitting in a Mercedes Benz double axle bus.
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Couple of years back, a friend of mine used to be managing the estate. Had a fantastic and memorable night in his bunglow. Felt nostalgic, but had no time to stop and revive those memories. The Xylo just sped past it.
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery - Xylo takes on the heights of North Bengal Himala

very good write up so far.

waiting for the complete travelogue. [:)]
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery - Xylo takes on the heights of North Bengal Himala

Chandranath,
I'm really impressed! boy, this is a fantastic travelogue. The Rajdhani crossing was covered excellently & thank god you actually stopped for it to cross. A video of a parallel action with the King would have been the icing on the cake!

Btw WDP4B is the locomotive, details are as under:
HP- 4500
Rated speed- 130km/hr
Weight- 119tonnes
W stands for broad gauge, D stands for diesel engine, P for passenger services, 4B is its power classification.

Probably you know all this, but thought I should write about it for the benefit of non railfans!!!
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery - Xylo takes on the heights of North Bengal Himala

Thanks Jazzy and Superbad.

Thanks once more for the info on the loco. No Apart from top speed and power I did not have the other info. It is useful knowledge for me.
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

Day 2 - Mar 15th (Contd)

We reached Siliguri around 11.30am. Having been in charge of Siliguri location 1 year back all my colleagues were excited that I was coming back exactly after 1 year. But I was racing against time to complete the journey, so could not afford the luxary of a night halt. I could not even enter the town as I stuck to the highway speeding along. I was slight paranoid that beyond Kalimpong and Pedong, the roads would be absolute off beat and wanted to reach those stretches well before sun down.

Filled up the Xylo in Siliguri and it returned a healthy 13k/ltr, a km more than what it registered the previous day in Malda.
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But my colleagues had already caught me over the phone and a couple of them, Prabhat and Menaka were waiting for me at the exit point of the town near the checkpost. It was great meeting them after so long.
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I recalled those sales calls in the mountains, jungles and tea estates that we used to go together in bike or car. It was like a family and wanted to meet up with the rest of the gang but I had a journey to complete and miles to go before I could sleep.

The road now passed through Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary which had a sizeable elephant population.
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Reached Sevoke around 20 km from Siliguri, from where the road climbs the Himalayas. Had a wonderful Dhaba where I used to have team meetings over dinner and fun. They served lovely country chicken. Stopped to have lunch at my sentimental favourite place and here are the views from the eating table.
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The rail bridge over the River Teesta can be seen at a distance. That is the route the Rajdhani would have passed sometime back. The track passes through some dense North Bengal sub Himalayan forests and animals specially wild elephants getting killed is a regular feature. Despite strong campaigns on restriction of train movement in the night or lowering the speed has still not yielded much result.
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

Time was a constraint but the country chicken curry at Sevoke forced me to a state of relaxation amidst nature. Left Sevoke for Kalimpong at 1 pm and had a reasonable decongested road.

The tiny hamlet of Kalijhora comes in between and at one point of time the bed of the River Teesta was a fantastic tourist spot. Today it is a pollution filled area with a dam being constructed. We sped past it and reached the place called Teesta Bazar, where we crossed the River Teesta
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A route to Darjeeling originates here. Anyone who visits Darjeeling from Kalimpong or Gangtok needs to take this route. We climbed to Kalimpong in a matter of one and half hours and negotiated with the thick traffic for 15 mins and were on our way to Pedong.
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The destination for us for the day was Reshi cottage on the banks of Reshi river which divided Bengal with Sikkim.Thr are only 2 accommodations available. The first and original one belonged to Mr. Sebastian Pradhan who is a champion of village tourism in these areas. The other one was of Mr. Chumbi Bhutia which was a more modern one. I had called up Mr. Bhutia the previous night from Raigunj tourist lodge to tell him that 2 of us were travelling to Rshi and if he could accommodate us. He said we were most welcome.

So once we left Kalimpong we called up Chumbi Bhutia to say that we had left Kalmpong on our way to his place. He said he was in Pedong the last town on the way, and that is where he stays. He asked us to stop at his place on the way for further instructions on route.

Pedong hamlet and I strike a chord with Chumbi Bhutia
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The market place
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The Xylo stands alone in the shivering cold.
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Chumbe Bhutia apart from his cottage in Reshi also runs this small eatery in Pedong which is his original house. His mother stays here in Pedong along with other family member.
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We were treated to delcious tea and prasad from previous day's Puja do Lord Buddha. Chumbe was a Buddhist.
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From here Reshi was another 15 km. I wanted Chumbe to come along but he said he had some work, but he will catch up late evening and would come in his avenger. But he stacked up all essential items for us in the Xylo. We left Pedong for Reshi along some very lonely roads
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

Fantastic pics with well write up..

Keep it coming:)
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

very nice write and pics Chandranath, your log is quite informative and detailed like the way you presented facts which surely helps the future travelers. Thanks a lot for sharing.
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

Thanx for all your appreciations everyone.

Will continue with the story. Please stay with me.

It will get interesting..
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

Day 2 - 15th Mar (Contd..)

As I promised it will be a long day.

Pedong to Reshi was 15 odd km and we took around 25 mins to reach the village of Reshi over some lonely dusty roads.
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The village of Reshi is in Bengal. The cottage which is by the river bed of Reshi river is also on Bengal but about 3 km ahead of the village. But thr is no road from the village to the cottage through Bengal. So the Xylo needed to cross over to Sikkim over the Reshi River over a sturdy bridge. The checkpoint while entering Sikkim was a very lonely and deserted one as compared to the Melli and Rangpo, the ones to which I am more used to and the ones through which normal traffic flows. As a matter of fact it had a sign post saying foreigners are not allowed though this post and they need to compulsorily enter Sikkim through the other two posts. Quite understandabily had to answer a question or two more to the Sikkim police and the Xylo was stopped for identification.
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This route (starting from Kalimpong through Pedong) is known as the Silk route and in ancient times was used to as trade between India and central Asia through Zuluk in India passing the Jelep La Pass and on to Lhasa in Tibet.

We needed to go a further three quarters of a km on this route from where we leave the main road for a steep climb down to the Reshi River over some muddy, narrow road with boulders.

And that is where we need to climb down
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And that is Sebastian Pradhan's route indicator on how to reach the river bed. It was just 1 km. But it was a km to remember.
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And here we go
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If ever I valued ground clearence it was now. When comparing the scorpio and Xylo had checked on the Xylo's 186 mm GC as opposed to the Scorpio's 180. Not that the scorpio will have any issues on this road but remembered my decision making process at the time of buying and was psycologically boosted.
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We went further down
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I was too focussed on the road but Aalok had time to capure the far away settlements
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And then you need to negotiate the u bends over some steep decline. Believe me they were not easy on the way up.
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And then the road being more silty and dusty over the boulders as we neared the Reshi river bed.
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

Day 2 - Mar 15th (Contd..)

Promise you the day will soon end after the post

While going down these roads I was pretty sure that probably the Xylo was one of the widest cars passing the route as at some places it was quite narrow. Even as I was thinking so I saw a Tata truck down below in the river bed and moving upwards towards us, but dissappeared in one of the bends.

I wondered whether we have taken the correct route or not as we should have taken the route of the truck. BUT behold on one such turn I found the truck standing headlong in front of me.

The truck stopped. The Xylo stopped. Facing each other. With not an inch of space either way. Both me and the truck driver looking at each other. The truck driver got down. Aalok got down. Both were negotiating as to who who should move back. We were on a weaker wicket. We were going downhill and more importantly the request came from the other side that we had a smaller car.

Now I got down and told the other driver that it was almost 700 mtrs to the main road and it will be impossible to back the Xylo on those steep inclines through the sharp bends. But he insisted that thr was a gap in between where both of us could pass. I went to check and indeed thr was a semblence of width, 300 mtrs back.

Reversed the Xylo on those roads and took the side of the mountains for the truck to pass. The rear wheel advantage which the Xylo had while climbing was now negated as it was moving back on those inclines. The wheels did spin a little too much but eased on the accelarator and immediately the Xylo found its grip.
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The truck driver got down tho thank me for letting him pass. I noticed that like smaller vehicles Tata has set up 24 hr road assistance for these heavy trucks where in they need to call in the toll free no. The sticker was pasted on its front screen as opposed to the rear one of small vehicles.

I asked the driver if any other vehicle was down below and if so I would rather wait in this causeway and let it pass. He replied only a bolero was down which had ferried some tourists, but was not coming up immediately as it was getting washed on the river bed.

We went further down and sighted the bolero
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The bolero had brought in 6 young adventure lovers from Kolkata and was going back after dropping them. They were staying in Chumbe Bhutia's cottage where we were also going. On the way the Bolero was taking a wash.

Even as the Xylo came near the driver waved at me to slow down and made way for me.
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The Bolero moves to pass the Xylo over the river.
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The one the Xylo crossed is actually a small river which was merging with a slightly bigger Reshi river. Their is a Y formed on which the Xylo is now moving. During monsoons these rivers assume a fierce face and any car moving here is likely to get washed away.
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And here is where the Xylo will rest for the night. On the river bed, within the state of Sikkim.
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And now I need to cross this Bamboo bridge over the Reshi River to re enter Bengal where our cottages are. Bid good bye to the Xylo but promised to come back in the night to crank it up. I was on a weak battery and though temp was not very low, the chillness of the wind was bothering me for the next day.
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The cottage on the other side, the bengal side is visible from the Sikkim side
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We quickly moved in to Chumbi Bhutia's retreat / Cottage to be greeted with some very good tea....
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...even as the Xylo stood alone on the river bed.. in the middle of 2 rivers.. in a different state.
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It was not a full moon night that we spent here. But the moon was out and some rays reflected on the river. No Electricity and we were sitting in a machan sort of a thing in the night. Chumbi came in the night and arranged our food. Sat down telling his stories.

Dinner was chicken and vegetables and it was great. Post dinner at 11 in the night went up to start the Xylo with a torch. It was an adventure.

Came back and had a sound sleep in the cosy cottage.

This concludes my day 2.
 
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