The beauty of Sikkim is very hard to be penned down. Still i will try my level best to do justice to it. Sikkim has been in my must visit list for a long time now. I was even more excited as it was going to be my First Hill Drive. Shared the idea with few of my friends and fellow R.O.A.D members and they agreed instantly. South Sikkim(Ravangla & Pelling) was the destination decided & hotel bookings were done in advance. Two cars will be going- My Beast(Ford Ecosport Trend TDCI) & Dhritiman's Creta(1.6 CRDI). Shantanu will be travelling in my car, Souvik & Dhritiman's acquaintances will be in his Creta. Our machine's were thoroughly checked up and thus the wait for D Day started.
Day 1:Kolkata to Siliguri- I left home at about 4 a.m,picked up Shantanu and waited at Nivedita Toll for Dhritiman, who was supposed to pick up souvik & meet us here. They arrived after sometime and we departed at about 5 a.m from Nivedita Toll. The route followed would be NH2, Burdwan, SH7, Moregram, Malda, raigunj, Botolbari Dhantola, islampur, Siliguri. Encountered local traffic at SH7 as it was early morning. Road Condition between Kuli & Moregram is still in Bad Shape for approx 15 kms. But it was quite manageable in High GC Cars. Halted for Breakfast at BPCL COCO Moregram. Malda as usual was mess. So took the yet to be completed Malda Bypass. But to our disappointment, we were reverted to town halfway through the bypass. After negotiating narrow by lanes of malda, we had to rejoin NH34 in Malda itself, thus loosing quite sometime there. Had late lunch at raigunj tourist lodge. then proceeded via botolbari route. Encountered traffic snarls at Islampur & Conventional City jam at Siliguri. Reached our hotel in Sevoke Road at about 8 p.m
Day 2:Siliguri to ravangla- Today i would be having my first experience of Hill Driving. Was very excited. left our hotel at about 7 a.m. Our plan was to cover all Sight Seeings enroute and then check into our hotel at Ravangla. Decided to take the longer route via rangpo as the conventional route via Melli was in bad shape. halted for breakfast at Rangpo and then proceeded towards Temi Tea Garden. It was a thrilling experience driving through the serene surroundings through curvy mountain roads and hairpin bends. Really was heavenly. Reached Temi in 1.5 hours time. Here we had our first clear view of The Mighty Kanchenjunga. And it was truly mesmerizing. Had Tea, did some photo sessions & Explored the surroundings there.Next destination was Samdruptse. But dhritiman was not feeling well. so he decided to go to ravangla directly and have some rest in hotel. Me, Shantanu & Souvik proceeded towards Samdruptse. Don't have words to describe the pristine beauty of this place & it's surroundings. So i will let my clicks do the talking. Had an awesome lunch here(Maggi & Momo). Next Destination was Char Dham, but i was skeptical of visiting it today as Sun was about to set. Ravangla via Char Dham was 35 odd kms from here. Didn't want to take the risk of driving in dark in mountain roads. But finally gathered enough courage and proceeded towards Char Dham. After visiting the temples in Haste, we proceeded towards our hotel in ravangla. It was dark already. Drove carefully till ravangla and reached our hotel at about 6:30 p.m. It was truly a memorable drive. Can't describe the thrill & excitement in words. It was chilling cold(Temp was 11 deg). After Dinner we decided to venture out again. We visited Buddha Park in Dhritiman's Creta(Knowing it would be closed now).
Day 3:Ravangla to Pelling- We were getting ready to leave for pelling when all of a sudden Dhritiman came and reported a problem in his vehicle. Standstill rpm was unusually very high in the range of 1200 rpm. plus the car was loosing power in 1st gear on high rpm.We consulted Hyundai and fellow R.O.A.D members. Most of them suggested to clean Air Filter. But Dhritiman had done it yesterday. He was using Performance Air Filter of K & N. We even tried to procure Air Filter of Creta in local market, but to no avail. The Roads to Pelling were in Bad Shape and were very steep at places. And in this situation it would be a huge risk to proceed towards pelling knowing the vehicle would be loosing power. After consulting Hyundai and Others,with a heavy heart we decided to Skip Pelling and proceed towards Siliguri Hyundai Service. On a positive note, it left scope for us to visit this part of sikkim again. Took the conventional route through Singtam, namchi, melli bazar. The road Conditions were bad to worse at some places. Driving through this roads was a really a true test of patience. We had late lunch at Melli while Dhritiman skipped lunch and proceeded towards Siliguri. On reaching Siliguri we found out that the problem was due to performance Air Filters of K & N. It's their characteristics that they have high standstill rpm at High Altitudes( Ravangla is about 8000 Ft). And they loose power as well at high altitudes. Air Filter was replaced and his car was thoroghly checked up as well. We spent the night at Siliguri.
Day 4:Siliguri to Kolkata- Left our hotel at about 7:30 a.m. Got huge traffic jam at raigunj due to some accident. Lost nearly 1 hour there. Skipped breakfast and had lunch at Hotel Golden Park, Malda. Crossing Malda was pain as usual. halted at Shaktigarh for tea & snacks & finally reached home at about 10 p.m after encountering heavy traffic at Nivedita Toll
. Loved each & every moment of our trip. And Sikkim will always be special for me as it was my first hill drive. Final Trip Odometer was 1411 kms. Wish it were more. Would be visiting Sikkim once more soon.. Till then... Cheers