North to East by train

An excited India tour by train

                                   It was around 2 Am when I received an unexpected call from one of my old school mate who is presently in India for his vacation. ‘Dude,we are reaching Goa tomorrow, join us if you are free’ that’s all what I heard. I had my hands sprinting over the keyboard to search for the next train to Goa. I had my bag packed in 10 mins and ready to leave. Yes, I was there at Panjim by 3 pm next day. Things went my way there, Hardcore partying for two days and I couldn’t ask for more. That was the best New Year celebration for me.All thanks to my crazy friends there. “What next?” was the question then. Let’s go for a trip, said someone. One of my friend ran out of the room and came back with a huge map of India and a question along with it, “where to ?”. Fahad, the craziest of all had something else in his mind. He just drove his fingers over the states until Sikkim, on the north east side of the map. “Done! We are leaving” before he could finish his lines i saw people hiding behind the curtains. I was the only one excited to join him.Let’s go!
                                    We then drove to a cafe nearby, where we made an outline for our trip, nothing much but the train timings and distance. We took a train from Panjim railway station at 6 45 pm to Mumbai Cst. The train was all crowded and we found ourselves comfortable on the floor as we had another 11 hours to cover. There we met Mr. H.H Rupani , a lawyer who shared his unique and more practical thoughts on various religious aspects. We had our next train to Kolkata waiting for us at CST station that is quite long journey that awaits us, 31 hours!! Geetanjali Express! It gifted us a lot of memories, even more than we actually expected it to. We could get into 2AC paying some free coupons to TTE. We had an army guy next to us sharing his experiences about tough training sessions and the advantages that he gets out of it and then I met a special friend who made my journey more interesting and left some beautiful memories behind and then two cool event management freelancers who joined us little late and played a bigger role in our journey ahead.

                                     Historic Howrah Bridge was right next to the station, it is beautiful. Some cops came running from nowhere to stop us from clicking pictures of it. We then traveled in a boat to reach the other side where we could see ‘Eden Gardens’ the home of cricket in India. I was always a huge fan of Indian cricket and King of Kolkata- Dada( Sourav Ganguly) It was a great joy to be in that beautiful cricket stadium as i have always dreamt of sitting in the stance of that stadium watching some live cricket actions.

                                     Then we headed towards new market in Calcutta in a Trum, That is surely one of the best markets i have ever seen. Apart from all these that struck me hard was the men pulled-rickshaws. Its nothing but a human powered rickshaw where up to two people can travel at a time. Moving on the rickshaw we could see some old and strange practices on the roads and streets. People taking bath on the roads, haircut and shaving on a chair beside the road, all seemed strange to us.

                                      We boarded our train from Seildah railway station in Calcutta to New Jalpaiguri as our plan was to Sikkim. It was another 11 hours journey and it was the most tiring of all , just because we had to sit in general compartment of a jam-packed train holding our luggage. We stayed awake all night. We reached NJP around 7 and met a tour agent there ,who helped us to get the taxi and rooms in Gangtok.

                                       It took us around 6 hours to reach Gangtok from NJP in a Bolero Jeep. Until we reached Gangtok we had a wrong concept about the place and people. We were actually shocked to see the place and people. It looked like a mini Tokyo. The people were very standard and helping minded. It was around -1 degree when we arrived there.  Apart from all these, the expenses in Sikkim are too low.

                                        Second day in Sikkim, the tour agent introduced us to a driver whose name was Pima, he drove us towards Lachung the early morning. It was an adventurous trekking through narrow and slippery roads with very less visibility. There were traffic blocks in some places due to heavy land sliding. Another thing we noticed in this 6 hours journey was that all PWD and electric work in those areas where done by Military. We reached Lachung around 4 PM . Lachung was nearly 9000 ft above sea level and the temperature was around -4 at that time. I had 2 T-shirts, hoodies and a leather jacket on and also hand gloves,2 socks and warm caps on , and still made no difference. That day sunset around at 4 15 pm and  we where left with no option other than to sit in the room or beside a waterfall. We then got some candles lighted in the room and spent our night discussing our further plans.

Cottage Stay

Cottage Stay

                                       Early morning around 6 , we where to leave to Yumthang to see some snow fall. We were all excited to see that for the first time. We were all set and rent some jackets and snow boots to survive the  -12 degree temperature there and it was around 12000 ft above the sea level. As we reached the entrance at Yumthang we could see that the roads were closed ahead due to heavy snowfall.

Yumthang Valley,Sikkim

Yumthang Valley,Sikkim

                                       We pushed ourselves out the car and started throwing snow at each other. We ran , rolled ,shouted and played like kids in the snow. There are times where the age, or who you are or what you do doesn’t matter, this is one of that kind.We spent some two hours in that very very beautiful place clicking and posing for pictures. We never wanted to leave that heaven, but we had to say goodbye. But we promised ourselves to come back again one day to see the other beautiful places we missed as the roads where closed due to heavy snow fall,i.e Nathula Pass , Tsomogu lake that is known as Mini Switzerland and 17 miles the India-China border.

                                       In another 8 hours we reached NJP station and took a train to Guwahati (Assam) to reach Meghalaya next morning. It took 8 hours to reach Guwahati and then we managed to find a sharing taxi that took us to Shillong in just 3 hours, the driver works for Meghalaya tourism department and he gave us an outline for our Meghalaya trip. Meghalaya(Cherrapunji) is said to be the wettest place on earth as it rains almost through out the year  and it is famous for its waterfalls. First day we went for some site seeing that included Shillong view point , Air Force museum, Elephant falls and living root bridge – Roots of two trees conjugated naturally to form a bridge. It is a wonder. And then  to Mawlynnong the cleanest city in the Asia, where almost all of the things where made of wood and bamboos and were well maintained. The place is also titled as ‘Gods Own Garden’.

                                        We also had some weird experiences in Shillong that cant be shared in public. Ha-ha!  Next day  we went around Cherrapunji and then to Nongriat Village. We were really excited to go for a trek, but we never knew it was total 6 km up and down hill and climbing 6000 steps up and down the hill . Climbing down was much easier , we saw some kids carrying 50 kg Cement on their back and climbing 3000 steps in a stretch. Apart from all these narrow steps and trek there were 3 hanging bridges to cross to reach Nongriat. There we saw another double-Decker living Root Bridge that was really really Unbelievable.

Root Bridge

Root Bridge

                                        Another strange thing about that village was that the people there speak pure English, almost all of them.There were no network coverage and cottages were available for cheap rates. I wish I could spend at least a week there,how peaceful life do they live! Kids had stick and balls in their hands instead of mobile phones and tabs, technology has not ruined their life yet and they live happily and peacefully even without them. On our way back we swim in a pool that is said to be natural swimming pool. We could count the stones under the water standing 80 ft above. The water was as clean as that and blue in color.

                                       We climbed up 3000 steps in just 45 minutes and as we reached on top we could barely move. Driver then drove us to Shillong and we where ready to head back. On our way to Guwahati in a taxi, there was another land sliding that kept us still for 3 hours and we missed our train. We spent a night in Guwahati exploring that crowded town. Next day morning we took our train to Kolkata. It was around 20 hours journey. In kolkata we booked a room to watch Athletico Madrid vs Barcelona match, We both being Barcelona fans it was tough for us to miss that match. In the morning we met Rodney, the old ‘event freelancer guy’ we met in our train to kolkata took us around Kolkata trying delicious kolkata sweets and then to ‘sonagachi’ (largest red street area in India) to see the dark side of the town, it was really scary! People in kolkata were really kind and helpful, many of them even helped us leaving their work behind.

                                      Later in the evening we caught our train to Mumbai that was already booked. We spent over 40 hours in that train journey. As an end to our dream journey we visited Gate way of India and some small shopping in Bandra. Fahad left for home next day staying at my place in Karjat. All of this happen as in a dream and now back to the boring student life, back to reality !

Gateway of India

Gateway of India

One of the best thing about this journey was that we never listened to any music or spent a lot of time on mobile. I am happy to realize that I still can talk for hours. There is hardly any topic left that we have not talk about at the end of our journey. Now, Can any one stop me from saying that “IT WAS MY DREAM TRIP “?