Day 03: Darjeeling
Guided tour of Darjeeling. Early morning visit Tiger Hill, for sunrise view of Khangchendzonga and Averest group, followed by Ghoom Buddhist Monastery. After breakfast, visit the Himalayan Zoological Park including the snow leopard enclosure, The Mount Everest Museum at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, and the Tibetan self Help Centre. Afternoon and evening free for exploring the exotic bazaar and shopping.
Day 04: Darjeeling- Kalimpong
After breakfast drive to Kalimpong. Check in at hotel or home stay of choice ( Hotel Silver Oaks / Hotel Himalayan / Gurudongma House). Afternoon free to take a walk, explore bazaar or relax.
Kalimpong, is an exotic town of beautiful people, mystical and enchanting? Ruled by Bhutan for 155 years, and annexed by the British in 1865, it was developed as a center of the wool trade with Tibet. The Lepchas, who were the original inhabitants, were subjected to Bhutanese, Tibetan, British, and Nepalese influences. History has left behind a fascinating ethnic blend of Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepalese people. Here Buddhism rubs shoulders with Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. Gompas, churches, temples, monasteries, monks and missionaries; all coexist in a jovial and tolerant society. Flower and orchid nurseries, colonial bungalows, churches of the "Raj", and Buddhist monasteries are there to explore. A quaint bustling bazaar, is a Pandora's box of surprises? Kalimpong is a wanderer's delight. Buddhist tankhas, hand beaten silver, Bhutanese weaves, Chinese lamps, hand crafted paper, Lepcha daggers, Nepali Khukaris and Buddhist masks, are some of the shopping attractions. The Wednesday and Saturday "Hat", or village market, brings together people from surrounding areas, selling an amazing variety of products.
Day 05: Kalimpong
Guided Tour of Kalimpong. Visit Buddhist Monastery, Orchid & Flower nursery, Churches and homes of the colonial era, Dr Grahams Homes campus and chapel, Durpin and Deolo Hill view points, and the exotic bazaar.
Day 06: Kalimpong - Lava - Lolegaon - Samthar
Drive cum trek/ drive to the remote village of Samthar – partly along a wilderness trail. Enroute visit Lava Buddhist Monastery, drive through miles of forested hills. A chance for two short treks through forests, biodiverse flora, isolated hamlets, terraced cultivation, mountain streams, and more.
Scenic and remote, the Samthar Valley, is located at an elevation of 1500 Meters. The inhabitants are a blend of various ethnic groups-Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepali. The original Lepcha tribals lived in the valleys. They were woodsman, and utilized the forest resources to live off the land. Knowing no religion, they worshiped nature spirits. When the Bhutanese ruled this land, many were converted to Buddhism. Latter the British rulers brought in Christian missionaries, who converted some of them to Christianity. Hinduism arrived with the Nepalese settlers, who taught the Lepchas to farm the land. Today the ethnic groups are fused together in harmony. They have adopted Nepali as a link language, yet maintained, their diverse cultural identity. It is an ideal place to peep into lifestyles of this fascinating hill community. It also has diverse flora, well-developed mountain agriculture, forests, and river valleys, and offers breathtaking views of the Panorama of snows.
Check in at the Samthar Farm House – a unique retreat which is listed in Alastair Sawday’s Special Places to stay in India.. An old Lepcha house built of stone and timber, converted by General "Jimmy" Singh for comfortable living, whilst maintaining its ambience. There is a nature garden and breathtaking sunrise views of the great peaks. It is known for its ambiance, variety and quality of home-cooked meals, and personalized service. Click here for details.
Day 07: Samthar : Nature & Culture Walk
Get up early for breathtaking sunrise views. See the entire panorama of snows - Khangchenganga group of peaks, Simvo, Siniolchu, Lama Anden, Chomoyomo, and Paunhari, and then in an easterly arc the passes of Chola, Natula, and Jalepla, leading into Tibet.. After breakfast, take a guided Village exploration walk. A fascinating experience of visiting Nepali and Lepcha homes peopled by Buddhist, Hindu and Christian folks living in a happy tension free community. Peep into local lifestyles, mountain agriculture, see the village blacksmith, basket makers, and other crafts persons at work, visit a school, meet the village Shaman, and people of various ethnic groups. Optional : Cooking
Day 08: Samthar - Lepcha Valley trek
Trek to the remote 100 years old Lepcha Buddhist Temple. Walk through forests, terraced fields, isolated hamlets and take in views of both mountains and plains.
Day 09: Samthar - Teesta Valley trek – Drive to Kalimpong
A four hours trek down to the Teesta valley to cross the river on a hand pulled ropeway. Drive to Kalimpong in 45 minutes. Overnight at your hotel/Gurudongma house . Overnight.
Day 10: Kalimpong- Bagdogra.
Drive to Bagdogra in 2.30 hrs.