Darjeeling Day 1: The Flashpacking Honeymoon

“I don’t care if it is too cold to be romantic, I don’t care if it is too short for a trip to the mountains, I want nothing but the Himalayas as my honeymoon destination” I grudged on.

We got married in 22nd January 2017, a time when winter is at its peak in India. Many would consider going to the Himalayas suicidal and the least romantic honeymoon idea during this time of the year; but well, I wasn’t looking for a romantic honeymoon at all, in my mind it’s all about adventure.

kanchenjunga darjeeling 6

Brooding Me

Our dates were pretty tight. The marriage party was 4 days long from 21st January-24th January, on 29th January there was another ritual at my home that we were supposed to attend, the ritual of ‘Ashtamanagala’. On 2nd February we had our one-way ticket booked for Mumbai 6 months ago. The schedule left us with just two window period of 25th January-29th January morning and 29th January evening- 1st February in which we could go honeymooning. We chose the former one.

The Husband

Unfortunately, in a marriage the groom ends up having no role apart from just being the groom. The guests, family, friends, caterers, photographers, decorator, tailor, make-up artist, jewellers, florists, selfie-takers and everyone else waltzes only around the bride caring and fulfilling her wishes!

The husband saw this coming and in a desperate attempt ‘in having some role’ he took up the responsibility of booking accommodations in Darjeeling.

darjeeling roads shadow

“Us”

The Night in Train

When we bought the railway tickets to New Jalpaiguri station the 3AC and 2AC were already sold. We had our luck left only with sleeper coach of Uttar Banga Express train which originates from Sealdah station.

At 7:35 PM the train pulled away from Sealdah. The night in train was freaking cold and it turned out in the marathon of marriage we have somehow managed to underestimate the harsh weather.

Darjeeling blog post

This Is What Happens When You Underestimate Cold, Go On, Laugh At Me!

The long distance Indian trains are plagued with passengers who travel without reserved berth. In the depth of night when those with reserved ones are deep asleep, the others squeeze their butt in an empty part of the seat. Not to mention the thieves always take benefit of the situation.

This classic problem of the Sleeper Class coach kept us awake the whole night. This was our 5th night of insufficient sleep in a row.

New Jalpaiguri – Darjeeling

The train reached New Jalpaiguri station on scheduled time at 6.45 AM. As soon as we got out of the station building several men surrounded us. Some were trying to sell us hotel stays, some were offering transportation services, others an entire tour package. Experience had taught us they are best avoided.

 Shared jeeps can be hired from NJP station to various tourist destinations like Darjeeling, Kalimpang, Gangtok etc. These jeeps can roughly accommodate 10-13 people excluding the driver. The general rate is INR 200 per seat from NJP-Darjeeling. The journey takes about 3 hours. Alternatively private AC and non AC cars can also be booked. The nearest bus station is at Siliguri which is an autorickshaw ride away from NJP. Buses to various routes ply from Siliguri.

It was the morning of a national holiday in India, the Republic day- 26th January. On this happy occasion the cabbie of the shared jeep to Darjeeling increased the price of each seat of the jeep from INR 200 to INR 250.  The jeep took almost an hour to get filled.

Me and Sayan were the first passengers so we got the two front seats beside the driver.

As the jeep rolled forward I could feel the mountain girl in me getting excited. This is the first time in life I would get the two love of my life together: Sayan and the Himalayas.

Sevok road - NJP to Darjeeling

 Road To Darjeeling

The greenery of the wooded road and the blue sky put a smile on my face. The jeep was rising up an incline. We were vertically moving away from river Teesta and watching colourful houses go by on both side of the road when finally I gave in to my sleepy eyes and Sayan’s welcoming shoulders.

Valley- NJP to Darjeeling 4

Himalayan Hamlet

Ten minutes after I woke up we got the first sighting of Mount Kanchenjunga. The last time I had seen Kanchenjunga was in 2011 from Sikkim. I had been to Darjeeling once before when I was a school kid of eighth standard but Kanchenjunga was for the entire time hidden behind the veil of cloud.

Kanchenjunga - NJP to Darjeeling

First View Of Kanchenjunga

The driver politely asked me to stop my paranoid camera madness and re-assured me of continuous good weather in the days to come. Little did he know he would be proved wrong.

Valley- NJP to Darjeeling 2Valley- NJP to Darjeeling 3

A very steep climb and direction from locals brought us to Dr.Zakir Hussain Road. More than a road it felt like an alley. The buildings on both the sides of the road looked residential; the rustling of the bright pink flowers was clearly audible in the pin drop silence.

darjeeling- Zakir Hussain road - flowers

Way To Our Hotel

Mr.Banerjee impressed me with the choice of the hotel. We were given a warm welcome by the ever smiling host.

After the much needed afternoon siesta we set off to chase the Darjeeling sunset.

Darjeeling Mall Road and Kanchenjunga

We haven’t seen Mount Kanchenjunga since alighting from the jeep. Not that the weather wasn’t good, we were not on the right side of the mountain. The road runs in a loop around the Darjeeling Mall.

darjeeling road to kanchenjunga view point 2

Loop Around Mall Road

I was expecting a very busy Mall Road- the heart of all actions in Darjeeling, but, winter seemed to have dampened everybody’s energy. No I am not complaining, rather I was feeling happy. I like visiting places when the tourist rush is minimum; it is not only pocket friendly but also gives one a chance to socialise with the actual locals.

We followed the crowd and round the loop we went. I escalated my speed. Fear of missing the sunset grabbed me.

Whenever there was a streetside vendor in sight, “Mujhe ek mimi dena” was what the local youth crowding the vendor chanted. Now, I had to know what this mimi stands for.

Hot steaming noodles in a bowl of soup were served to all who asked for mimi! So I learned Mimi is an instant noodles brand loved by the younger generation in Darjeeling!

darjeeling- mimi

Mimi And Tea

My legs finally took me to the point from where the Kanchenjunga was visible. The sky wasn’t lit up in the fiery yellow hue. It wasn’t time for sunset yet. We seated ourselves and watched the whitewashed peak for minutes until I couldn’t take the cold anymore and craved for tea.

kanchenjunga darjeeling 2

Kanchenjunga And The Clouds

kanchenjunga darjeeling 4

The chilly wind cut through our skin as we finished walking through the loop and ended up again in the Darjeeling Mall. In the Open Air Theatre , some local children were sharpening their hip hop dance style while others were just having a good time with friends and family.

darjeeling mall 2

The Dancing Troop At Darjeeling Mall

Darjeeling mall

Meanwhile, we, the ‘newly wed couple’ were busy tossing coins to decide who gets to shoot the sunset.

Darjeeling mall sunset

Sunset In Darjeeling

The husband as usual had to give in.

kanchenjunga darjeeling 7

kanchenjunga darjeeling 8

Dinner At Glenary’s

Glenary’s is one of the most popular bakeries in Darjeeling. The ground floor of Glenary’s is for all the baked goodies whereas the first floor is for fine dining. I have a craving for all things sweet. So straight we walked in. We were hungry. Consuming just cakes weren’t good enough to satisfy our gurgling stomach.

In our frugal lifestyle we don’t fine dine a lot but we were happy to splurge on the occasion of our honeymoon dinner. Surprisingly the rate card turned out to be quite pocket-friendly!

Glenary's Darjeeling - fireplace

Yaay A Fireplace!

Glenary's Darjeeling fireplace

The Husfriend

This is the first time we were in a restaurant with a fancy fire place. We loved the ambiance of the place and had a sumptuous dinner of beef steak potatoes (INR 295) and baked cheese macaroni (INR 285).

Glenary's Darjeeling 2 Beef steak potato

Beef Steak Potatoes

Glenary's Darjeeling- Baked cheese macaroni

Baked Macaroni

After watching me photograph each brick of the restaurant I wonder what the fine dining regulars were saying behind my back.

Good Night Darjeeling

The handful shops that were open in the hilly town were now pulling down the shutters. The cold was penetrating through all three layers of winter garments that we had worn.

We crossed the mall road, the stable, the roadside food counters and started ascending up Dr.Zakir Hussain Road. It was almost pitch dark and pin drop silent.

Compared to the rest of India women are generally safe in the Himalayan settlements. I have faced more number of eve teasers and gropers just one block away from my home than I have in my several travels in the Himalayas. At ‘worst’ those interactions could be described as innocent flirting as opposed to security threats.

Though I have walked numerous times in the dark and silent streets of several Himalayan towns and valleys, saying I wasn’t afraid of this one would be a lie. In my mind I was calculating the possibilities of being attacked, robbed, and raped by goons. From Mr.Banerjee’s silence I understood he was probably worrying about the same.

We breathed a sigh of relief when our host greeted us with a broad smile.

“Good Night Ma’am; good night Sir.”

Sure. It was our honeymoon, how can we not have a good night? 😉

kanchenjunga darjeeling 3 - jump shot

The Jump In Front Of Kanchenjunga. P.C- Mr. Banerjee

*****

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64 thoughts on “Darjeeling Day 1: The Flashpacking Honeymoon

  1. Doreen Pendgracs says:

    Congrats on surviving a 4-day wedding celebration! I can’t imagine having the energy for that. Sounds like you had an adventure packed honeymoon in Darjeeling. Glad you found some good food and hot tea to keep you warm. Looks like it was chilly there!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Daisy says:

    First of all, congratulations! And I can’t think of a better place than to spend your honeymoon amid the Himalayas- such a beautiful, mesmerizing spot to spend the first few days with your loved one!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. CJ Haughey says:

    I knew Indian wedding were quite a long and extravagant affair before. If I was your husband, I would have been glad to take a back seat and just admire those beautiful views at Kanchenjunga!
    I’m glad you both had a great time and the potential troubles on trains or busy streets didn’t sour your experience!
    Congratulations on getting hitched!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tania Mukherjee says:

      Thank you! Haha I was so happy to have someone who can take pictures of me. Generally on my travels I had to plead with people to take my photos, but now I have a permanent photographer with me! Haha!

      Like

  4. Deni says:

    This truly seems like an amazing honeymoon spot! The last photos showing the Himalayas in the distance at sunset is absolutely stunning! I hope you two had a fantastic trip (and have a wonderful marriage)! Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bhushavali says:

    First of all, Wish you a very very Happy Married Life!!! Adventure honeymoon sounds awesome, we went on a road-trip! 😉
    I haven’t been to Darjeeling yet and to see Kanchenjunga with my own eyes would be such a treat! I’m glad that you managed to pack in all this, in the short time period you had.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tania Mukherjee says:

      Thank you! OMG a roadtrip for a honeymoon is nothing short of awesome! Where did you go for the roadtrip? If you are planning a trip to see the Kanchenjunga then put in lots of buffer days in the trip..Kanchenjunga is one moody lady and she may allure you for days before giving appearance!

      Like

    • Tania Mukherjee says:

      Oh if you are in the famous cities in India on 26th January or 15 August you will face a lot of restrictions. Worst if you are flying into India on those dates! The officials at airport would be at their unfriendliest!

      Like

  6. Jean says:

    Oh the cold weather just encourages more snuggle time. Though extra layers and layers are needed to protect yourself against the cold. Congratulations on getting married and choosing such a fun and unique place to celebrate in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tania Mukherjee says:

      Thank you and aww on the snuggle comment!! We did snuggle a lot to keep each other warm! Lol felt like Jon Snow and the Ygritte snuggling up north of the wall to keep each other warm! 😀 😀

      Like

    • Tania Mukherjee says:

      Thanks! I have almost come to hate the typical honeymoons. Nowadays honeymoon among Indians is nothing short of ‘status flaunting’. They spend a bomb and goes to some badass expensive island for a couple of days, brags about it in FB then sits at home for the coming 10 years! 😀 Bad financial planning!!

      Like

  7. Iza (@IzaAbao) says:

    Congratulations! It was such a long celebration.
    That was an awesome adventure and honeymoon getaway! I like that it was not crowded with a lot of tourists. You have captured a great photo of the sunset. The baked macaroni looks very delicious.
    Iza c/o Kathy James (Walk About Wanderer)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Only By Land says:

    This is an interesting trip for a honeymoon and those first few days as an official couple. I would love to taste some of that tea up in Darjeeling. I laughed when you were claiming who should take the first sunset photo.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Vicki Garside says:

    Congratulations on your wedding, and what an incredible destination for your honeymoon! It seems like you made the most of your time too, even though it was short – and you’re lucky to have a husband who wants to adventure with you – I’m sure you have many more years of trips like thing (although hopefully longer!) to come!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Linger Abroad says:

    First of all, congrats on your marriage! We just got married as well and celebrated in New Zealand, which was a bit chilly as well (though not as cold as the Himalayas!), but we went for the adventure and loved every minute of it. But we did finish our honeymoon in Fiji so we got the best of both worlds. Your trip looks incredible though and looks like it was a ton of fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. asoulwindow says:

    You are so lucky, you got the view of Kanchenjunga. When I was in Darjeeling, I couldn’t enjoy it fully due to the poor health of my parents who were traveling with me. I need to go back and experience the activities mentioned in this blog. That baked macaroni looks fab.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. TaujahontheMove says:

    omg lol you had me laughing about the train lol. The scenery is so beautiful and the mountains not to mention the food, now I love me some food lol and just to know that the ground floor had nothing but sweets man I would be in heaven right about now lol. This blog screams romance, fun, and adventure. I wish I was there. thank you for taking me virtually on your honeymoon lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Cat says:

    I could see why you wanted the Himalayas as your honeymoon destination! The scenery along the road to Darjeeling is gorgeous. And the sunset view is totally worth waiting for! I’m excited to read more about your honeymoon in the mountains!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sandy N Vyjay says:

    You are right, there can be nothing better than the backdrop of the Himalayas for a honeymoon. Darjeeling packs in the right elements of natural beauty and vintage charm. Traveling there in off-season is really a great experience as the place is less on tourists and you can walk around freely. We loved the place and would like to go back for more!

    Liked by 1 person

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