Sunday, June 16, 2013

Rendezvous with Rhododendrons #6 – Shopping spree in Siliguree!

Not so long ago, but actually a little while ago, I penned the penultimate post in the Rhodendron Sikkim series. My blogging frequency has now become erratic owing to the entrepreneurial bug that has been bugging me in the recent days. However, writing is cathartic for me and as you have waited for quite long, here is the final post in the series.

That morning, when I scaled Barsey Top and viewed sunrise from there, I literally felt on top of the world, although it was just 10000+ feet.   That made my day, but it was time to step down from cloud nine and get back to ground reality (literally).  Yes, it was time to descend to the plains. This was the journey – Barsey to Hiley by trek, Hiley to Siliguri by cab. En route, we covered Daramdin Saibaba temple. A beautiful temple with beautiful paintings. A must-see if you are in the vicinity.

Mr. Bandhu, Owner of Guras Kunj, Barsey

The trek back to Hiley

A painting in Daramdin Sai Temple
Not sure what these lavender coloured blossoms are. Anyone?
Our next stop-over was at Siliguri – Mainak Tourist lodge. The place is run by West Bengal tourism and is actually a very safe, comfortable, centrally located and decent boarding option in Siliguri, while the name ‘lodge’ suggests otherwise.  With the Hongkong market at a stone’s throw distance,  my urge to shop became irresistible. So, off we went that evening, on a shopping spree.

The Hongkong market in Siliguri is a world in itself. It is a flea market for goods imported mainly from China and a few other countries. You  name it, you see it here. The usually alert me was also conned into buying a Nepal made Colossal Kajal, only to find that it is a duplicate. So unbelievably good was the finish! I also bought the cheap Asian version of the Swiss army knives, Chinese army knives to be precise. So when you are in Siliguri, a visit to the Hongkong Market is highly recommended. We also bought tea in one of the government authorized shops in Siliguri.

Now to the thing that I enjoyed the most here – Street food! Momos, chats, agra pethas – we had it all! For me, this is the most important and worthwhile factor  - visiting the local hangouts, chatting up with locals and having local food. The experience is simply mind-blowing.

Mishti Dahi
Thukpa at Jorethang
Momo and soup at Jorethang
Chat time
Chat wallah
Momos in Siliguri
So, what happened after that? The next day we packed our bags and headed back home. With heavier bags and happy memories, of course!


Best time to visit Barsey:
March-April is when most Rhododendrons bloom. A few species bloom in May, so that months isn’t bad either.

How to reach:
Till New Jalpaiguri station by train or Bagdogra airport by flight. Rent a shared jeep or a cab from there.

Shared jeep: Upto Jorethang and from there to Okhrey. You will spend less than 800 rupees but be ready to get sandwiched amongst 9 to 10 locals.

Cab: Our full cab trip with NJP – Pelling – Okhrey – Hiley – Daramdin- NJP cost us Rs. 12000. It was the least of 3 quotes and was a good deal, considering the fact that it was peak season.

Pelling  - Sikkim Aurora. At the highest point in Pelling, right opposite helipad. Highly recommended for budget travellers. The owner Mr. Raja is always ready to help. TripAdvisor recommended.

Okhrey – Sherpa lodge. Sherpa hospitality is unbeatable.
A Triple room in Sherpa lodge, Okhrey
Barsey – Only Guras Kunj and forest barracks available. Try to get that elusive double bed room there. Book early. Mr. Bandhu, the owner, is very friendly and hospitable.

Siliguri – Mainak Tourist Lodge.

The total trip is doable in approximately 7K per person (excluding airfare) if you are in a small group.

With that,  I end my six-part travelogue. Hope this is inspiring enough for you to plan this trip next year. Go ahead, have a great Rendezvous with Rhododendrons and let me know! 


  1. Wow! Nice little trip. I remember having lunch at Mainak Hotel in Siliguri... it must be the same one of 1994 unless a new one has come up with the same name. Great eats from the place.

    1. Thanks Indrani. YEah, this the only Mainak in Siliguri. It's quite big and modern now.

  2. Malini thanks. Beautiful photos and description.

    1. Thanks Madhu! I realy appreciate your regular visits and inputs!

  3. Looks like a nice trip. The scenery is wonderful.

  4. Must have a nice trip giving you unique experience. Nice text with lovely pictures.

  5. Seems you had a great trip, Malini. Let me know the next time you pack your bags, would be glad to join you:)

  6. Please let me know the contact no of Mr. Bandhu & contact no & person of Sherpa lodge

  7. Awesome blog. Did you book your car in advance or on arrival. Your travel was in a private vehicle after the initial shared ride from NJP? thanks.