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 Himalay

We reachd pedong from Reshi in less than an hour. Kazi asked us to wait in the taxi stand, but we overshot it as the stand had only 7 to 8 taxis and before we could realise that it was the taxi stand where we were supposed to wait we had crossed it. The road was narrow and was on a steep incline with army trucks coming from the other side.

Even local jeeps had a hard time and I drove it upwards and waited for Kazi t o come along. Kazi got confused as I could not spesify the exact coordinates where we were waiting. I asked an elderly lady and she gave me the landmark of the house of a christian missionary whose house Aalok has been clicking all along.
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Kazi was their in 5 mins time and we set off for Sillery Gaon. We had to bend from the main road to a non gravelled path.
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Their was a poster of St, Xavier's school. Aalok and I belonged to the same school in Kolkata and though the management of the 2 are totally different, we decided to stop and pay our respects to the institution and wish all its student rs and teahers the very best in life


The non tarmac road with a gradual incline was supposed to be for the next 5 to 6 km right up yo Sillery Gaon.


But Kazi told us to stop the car in between and trek a km down to a valley called Silent Valley. Stopped the Xylo and made sure that it was leaving enough room for other cars to pass thogh I was told that not more than 10 cars pass on an average daily.
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The valley can be seen at a distance even as we trek down with Kazi leading the way.
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It is said that this valley was a lake which had dried up. Even now in the monsoons it forms a lake and local children enjoy a swim out here.
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The name of "Silent Valley" was justified. Th only sound in between the tall trees you could hear was your own heart beat
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

Reached Sillery in approx an hour's time from Pedong. It was a village where time stood still and where the advantages of modern living had still not reached.

It was a village comprising of not more than 250 people (personal estimate), with no electricity ( but few of the 6 to 9 homestays offer a genarator for a couple of hrs [ost 7 pm to allow all guests to charge mobiles/ handycams/ laptops. I had nothing to recharge save myself so was not unduly bothered..
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

Day 3 - 16th Mar (Contd..)

Just before reaching Sillery, we got down nd halted the Xylo to take some walks and to catch some views. But the weather was very smoggy (mind you not fog) and Kunchenjunga was hidden well behind it. We just satisfied ourselves with the walks

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The Xylo continued on its way on some rough roads and then after one sharp bend the village of Sillery appeared before us through the trees.

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The first views of Sillery
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And we found a young agriculturalist. So much for child labour [;)]
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Kazi Tamang's house was the second last construction in the whole village where the village actually ends. I was told few months back the road (if you can call it a road) did not reach his house but now cars can go upto his house where the road also ends.

I was pleasently surprised at the kitchen garden that Kazi had withiin his boundary. Oh boy! This surely was the Village stay I was looking forward.
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The Xylo drops off the luggage in front of Kazi's house and reverses to find a parking slot within the vegetable garden. It had done a good job today and enjoyed the pollution free air also.
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I did a quick inspection of Kazi's house. The room open behind me is where he lets guest's come and stay. He had two other such rooms on the other side of the hut. The room closed is the one he uses as a store and a prayer room.
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We were not staying in any of the rooms as luck would have it, Kazi had 14 guests for the day who had informed him before us, even as the other home stays in Sillery were fully empty.

Kazi had arranged for our stay in a house just beside his and Aalok already found a cosy corner to sit and relax on it.
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The inside of the room which was not larger than 7" by 8".
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This was the village road which was their in front of us
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Rooms were basic and with attached western toilets. This was the life we wanted to lead for a day and so we were happy.
 
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Thread Starter #49
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

If Kazi Tamang's house was the second last house of the village, a small school building was the last construction of the village. It was a small three roomed hut where students are taught upto class VIII. The three rooms is meant for students of different classes.
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The toilets were separate
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And they had a huge playground
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It was a friday but still school was closed much to my surprise. Next day had met a senior teacher of the school. Incidentally we had put up in his father's house (the house which Kazi Tamang had arranged for us by the side of his as he could not accommodate us). Got the information that all teachers of Kalimpong and adjoining area had a meeting to attend on Friday and hence school was closed. I enjoyed myself sitting in front of the closed school lost in my thoughts.
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It was almost 1 in the afternoon and I got hungry. The freshly grown vegetables all around had actually worked as a catalyst. Kept on pressing Kazi for the food and actually had got irritated a bit that it was taking so long by my standards.
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Kazi was doing his best and said the vegetable (Lai Sag from his garden by the side of which the Xylo was standing) was getting the final touches. And finally they arrive. Was impressed by the utensils and the hygene and cleanliness with which they were serving.
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Was even more impressed with the food. The Vegetable (Sag) was out of the World. The Dal was great and the Egg curry outstanding, The papad and potato fry was just an icing on the cake.
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We had planned to trek to the ruins of Damsang Fort after lunch and so were prepared for a light lunch. But things were so tasty and more importantly so fresh that I could not resist more than a square meal for myself (as it is I am a foodie and rarely resist good food). The ambience added to it and I needed a full one hour's rest before I could move.

It was an approx 5 km trek each way and we started at 3 in evening.

The Xylo stayed back waiting for us to come back and stood alone facing the entire village of Sillery.
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Will continue with the story....
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

Day 3 - 16th Feb (Contd..)

The trek to the ruins of Damsang fort was not very long and about 4 km each way. I was told thr is absolutely nothing left of the fort now except for some bricks piled up, but still would be interesting visit if one is keen on history. So after allowing my body to recover from the pampering of the delicious lunch we started late evening accompanied by Kazi himself and a young village boy who also volunteered to come with us.

The initial route was a steep climb over some rocky steps
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But then it eased out as we left the village behind and the dense forest took over.
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We also realised it was not just the 4 of us trekking, but the fifth member, a dog of the Sillery Village, had also picked up the scent of some adventure and decided to accompany us and at times following us to check that the last man is not left behind at times ahead of us to show the way.
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After almost three fourths of the journey covered Kazi just detoured us for a climb over some rocks and slope and suddenly we found a beautiful road far below.
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It was 20th mile between Kalimpong and Pedong. Was sure no one on that road or habitat knew they were being watched from so high above.

We continued through the lonely woods.
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Came across almost 5 different trees which had a common base root. They were really rare.
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And then we reached Damsang Fort.
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If anybody expects the Red Fort or the Amber Fort they will be disappointed. This does not have the grandeur and is in ruins. But the History of the more than 400 year old fort was no less interesting. It was built by the Lepchas but conquered by the Bhutias by treachery then fell to the British. It witnessed a whole lot of onslaughts from all possible enemies around including Tibetians and Gurkhas from Nepal.

We were the latest to conquer it.
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The tall trees all around were probably as old as the fort.
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And he too took a liking for the fort too and went on a meditating mode.
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We started our journey back after spending half hour amidst the ruins. As we neared Sillery we could get a good view of the village from above.
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And the Xylo was waiting patiently for our return at the other end of the village.
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The night was dark and cold. Aalok and I decided to soak into the atmosphere and not sit inside the room, which as it was very small, but to sit out in the small balcony / terrace / extension outside our room.
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The locals also came and joined us and it was a great exchange of knowledge about each others culture.

Cranked up the Xylo at around 8.30 in the evening and then after dinner at 11 parked it, in between two huts to cut out the exposure to the strong winds that were blowing across in the open space that it was initially.

Dinner was chicken along with fresh vegetables and Dal. Just that I had chappati instead of rice as in lunch. Went of to sleep by midnight to conclude my 3rd day.
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

Very nice updates Chandranath, your Xylo looks good in this terrain and food was mouth watering.
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

Very nice updates Chandranath, your Xylo looks good in this terrain and food was mouth watering.
Thanks Tough Guy.

Yes the Xylo colour was in sync with the environment something which was a clinching factor when I was selecting the colour at the time of buying.

The food WAS mouth watering. You are spot on and the ambience made it suit our taste buds.
 
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Day 4 - 17th Mar

The sleep was good and tight. It was a small room and was warm and cozy.

Got up early at 5 to check if the smog had lifted and Kuncehnjunga was in sight. Got disappointed and went back to bed. Repeated it at 6 with same results. Gave it up and consoled myself that it was a matter of luck of getting the good fortune of seeing his Majesty, but my soul was still uneasy because in all my previous occasions I was in the right end of my luck.

The Xylo was standing between two huts where I parked it last night to save it from strong winds, and the first rays of the morning sun was just about reaching its bonnet.
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I got out of the Hut. Aalok prepared himself to go to Ramitey view Point which had grand views of the peaks and the Teesta River but was thoroughly disappointed as the smog had engulfed the region and nothing was visible. He came back early and we took a walk around Kazi's house in the morning mist even as the village was waking up.

This was the poultry.....
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And the cow shed.....
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And this was the kitchen which was preparing our breakfast
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while the locals started there daily chores
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Post breakfast and after a thorough wash (done by Kazi Tamang himself) the Xylo was ready for the day.
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The locals did some hitch hiking. It was just two of us in the big car and some locals who had familiarised themselves with us on the previous night asked us if we could drop them in civilised habitats where they wanted to go for as varied a reason like marketing to picking up money from ATM. The Xylo obliged and they were pleasantly surprised with the amount of space that the Xylo had to offer vis a vis the Boleros, Maxx and the occasional Scorpio that they are more accustomed with (though I believe a Maxx has greater space than the Xylo).
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The Xylo climbed down through the same lonely, less traveled, boulder strewn path...
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Even as the Xylo made its way to the regular tarmac and we sped along to Kalimpong these were faces of Sillery Gaon which I could not forget in a hurry..
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

Sorry for the delay in uploading. Will try and finish brfore hectic schedule next week

Day 4 - Contd

The road leading to Kalimpong was less frequented but good compared to what the Xylo had to undergo reaching Reshi and Sillery.

Kalimpong has some very good nurseries and somehow known for the flowers it grows. We stopped at a small nursery en route and checked on the colour and vibrance it had to offer. Both of us bought a couple of siplings for our home. They packed it neatly.

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The orchids looked good and fresh
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Kalimpong on a Saturday morning was jam packed with traffic and humans jostling for space on the narrow roads.
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Finally we left Kalimpong and breezed down some steep roads to Teesta Bazar. It was a weekend and upcoming traffic from Siliguri was heavy. Here is a short video of this road where a Gypsy and a CRV makes way for the Xylo (as it is they were moving aside [;)]).

Kalimpong - YouTube
 
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Day 4 - contd

We reached Teesta bazar at around 11. 30 a neat half an hour from Kalimpong. We sped past the Teesta following it right up to Sevoke

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Here is a video of the Xylo flowing along with the Teesta. To soak in the ambience we put on a Bengali song on the river Teetsa on the sound track and it had a beautiful effect.

Teesta - YouTube

We reached Coronation Bridge in an hour where we got on back to NH 31 which was coming from Guwahati and going to Barhi.

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Took another hour to reach back Sevoke to stop by the same Dhaba for lunch. Sevoke marked the return of the Xylo to the plains and from here Siliguri took us another 40 mins. The Siliguri jam near the Salugara check post as usual was terrible and negotiating out of it took some time.

Some of my ex colleagues had once again come to meet me and had a stoppage of 5 mins. From there on it was back to the tea gardens and greenery of North Bengal.
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Post lunch took our first tea break in Islampur at around 3 pm. This is where the Highway runs parallel to the railway track and witnessed at least 4 trains passing even as we finished a glass of lemon tea along with a double omlette.

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We continued our journey and crossed Kishangunj and Dalkhola. Came accross two broken bridges which created minor bottlenecks.
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Reached Raigunj at 6 in the evening. Aalok asked me if I want to call it a day, but I was game for the remaining 75 km to Malda, to make the next days journey shorter.

We covered the distance in less than two hours driving into the sunset and through plenty of diversions. Malda has some good private hotels but we preferred the Tourist Lodge as usual. They accommodated us despite some pressure in a deluxe room. After two days of village and home stays the room was a welcome break.
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Thus concluded day 4 which was the penultimate day of the tour.

The Xylo covered a distance of 340 km which did not appear much but from the heights of Sillery to the plains of Malda, from the clean air of Himalayas to the pollution of a trading town, from the basic homestay of Kazi Tamang to the comforts of a Govt. run tourist lodge it was a fair distance.
 
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Day 5 - 18th Mar

The concluding day of the trip and was expecting a bad drive. This was the stretch which gave us the maximum hol ups on the road. It was to pass through narrow roads congested with slow moving traffic and shops all over the place. The main bottlenecks were farakka, Umarpur, Dhulyajan, Behrampore.

The only saving grace was it being sunday was expecting less local crowd, specially the slow moving ones. And we judjed it right. Though the auto and cycle rickshaws, the hand pulled carts and horse driven tongas were present they were nowhere in the numbers that we saw while on the onward journey.
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The drive back was relatively comfortable and was a breeze. The greenery on both sides of the road were noticeable.
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We strated at 8.40 in the morning from Malda and by noon had reached Behrampore in almost 3 hours flat which was unthinkable. Did not stop at the tourist lodge for lunch as it was at the beginning of the town while coming from Malda and wanted to cross the congestion and bad roads of Behrampore as early as possible.

However the roads were fairly empty on a Sunday afternoon and we stopped for a tea break after crossing the town. I pull up a chair and sms home as to how far I was from them. This was something I kept on doing throughout the day as to where I have reached and the countdown to reaching Kolkata as the km started reducing.
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Bethuadahari is a deer park which is a Forest dept listed wildlife sanctuary. It falls on the highway and we reached it by 1.30. Made a small stop, but to enter it and see around would have taken a lot of time. So gave it a go.
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Aalok was fairly obsessed with the bus and took more shots of it than it deserves. Later I realised that it had his wife's name inscribed on its body which might have drawn a bit too much attention from him[;)]
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The Xylo took its final pit stop nearing Krishnanagar where the imaginary line of the Tropic of Cancer passes. We got down to savour the moment.
 

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This concluded the 5 day trip which for me was satisfying my mix of passion for the Himalayas and driving. Just for information on the 2 places I stayed

Reshi Cottage - Mr. Chumbi Bhutia
Sillery Gaon (Village stay) - Mr Kazi Tamang / Ms Dipannita (Kolkata)

I am not sure of the rules of the forum of giving the contact nos on the thread (mods please clarify). In case any one is interested please PM me.

The most interesting part is the amount of money we spent on this tour... Rs 11,000/- for both. Yes you have read it correctly i.e Rs 5,500/- per person. This includes accommodation on all days, all meals, tips and yes the Xylo's diesel.

No, we were not on a shoestring budget. But there are places like this where even if you want you can't spend.

The Xylo & me
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For me my bond with the Xylo grew even stronger. I know it is a powerful workhorse but this was whereI tested it to the limit. It performed magnificiently. Its ability was never doubted. Like in places wherever I said in advance that I am reaching by driving my own car, the first question I was asked was which car. When told the Xulo they were relieved but they still doubted my ability of handling it on those roads. It drove up steep mountain faces effortlessly on the 3rd and at times on the 4th., picked up max speeds of 130k/hr, returned a decent mileage of 13km/ltr on plains and 11.5 km / ltr on the mountains. All in all we bonded well and I am sure it must have been pleased with my style of handling it.

Thanks to all for being patient enough to go through the long TL. Planning the next drive to Varanasi, Lucknow belt in Oct / Dec unless something else crops up in between.

Till then happy driving to everyone. Leaving with a pix of the Xylo in the mountains
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

wonderful pictures and travelogue.

i have one question do you think the xylo had been a much better vehicle had its GC a bit low?

hypothetical question i know but since you drove it extensively just had that query.
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

wonderful pictures and travelogue.

i have one question do you think the xylo had been a much better vehicle had its GC a bit low?

hypothetical question i know but since you drove it extensively just had that query.
Thanx for your appreciation.

See GC high or low, is just a trade of between balance at hi speed corners and off roading. A lower GC would definitely have given it a better balance by bringing down the Centre of Gravity, but then would have taken away its ability to effortlessly sail though some rocky roads.
 
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Re: Kolkata Siliguri Reshi Sillery: Xylo Takes on the Heights of North Bengal Himalay

We reachd pedong from Reshi in less than an hour. Kazi asked us to wait in the taxi stand, but we overshot it as the stand had only 7 to 8 taxis and before we could realise that it was the taxi stand where we were supposed to wait we had crossed it. The road was narrow and was on a steep incline with army trucks coming from the other side.

Even local jeeps had a hard time and I drove it upwards and waited for Kazi t o come along. Kazi got confused as I could not spesify the exact coordinates where we were waiting. I asked an elderly lady and she gave me the landmark of the house of a christian missionary whose house Aalok has been clicking all along.
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Kazi was their in 5 mins time and we set off for Sillery Gaon. We had to bend from the main road to a non gravelled path.
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Their was a poster of St, Xavier's school. Aalok and I belonged to the same school in Kolkata and though the management of the 2 are totally different, we decided to stop and pay our respects to the institution and wish all its student rs and teahers the very best in life


The non tarmac road with a gradual incline was supposed to be for the next 5 to 6 km right up yo Sillery Gaon.


But Kazi told us to stop the car in between and trek a km down to a valley called Silent Valley. Stopped the Xylo and made sure that it was leaving enough room for other cars to pass thogh I was told that not more than 10 cars pass on an average daily.
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The valley can be seen at a distance even as we trek down with Kazi leading the way.
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It is said that this valley was a lake which had dried up. Even now in the monsoons it forms a lake and local children enjoy a swim out here.
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The name of "Silent Valley" was justified. Th only sound in between the tall trees you could hear was your own heart beat
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After seeing St Xavier's School in your photograph, I became nostalgic. Since I do business of foreign books, I supplied so many collections for their library in the year 2007, 2008 & 2010. Principal Sr Jane was a true gentle lady.

Thanks Chandranath for recalling me the place.

Warm regards,
Soumalya
 
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