KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We stayed in Darjeeling until Sunday morning - following our visit to Kurseong. As you have no doubt read, we were finally able to see the mighty Himalayan range on our last morning there. We hired a car to drive us along a different route down the hills to a small gem of a hill station called Mirik. This road passed through forests for much of the way, and just before we reached Mirik, we encountered tea gardens covering the hills in every possible direction. I missed a golden opportunity to capture the tea plantations with my camera - and I will probably always regret it. As we passed this particularly special spot, I exclaimed to Anil "This could have been Hobbiton!". It was only after a short distance that I thought of taking a picture but I was reluctant to ask the driver to turn around. I was sure that another wonderful vista would appear on the road ahead, but there was nothing like it anywhere.
Mirik is a small market town nestled in a valley around the shores of an artificial lake. Tourists come for the fresh air, the quiet and the opportunity to walk or ride horses in the forest around the lake. There are very few hotels, but there are at least three good ones, and we found a room in one run by a Sikh family that has lived in Mirik for over 29 years. They were very friendly and the food at their restaurant next door was superb.
We spent two nights in Mirik, which gave us the opportunity to have a full day to walk the 3.5 km circumference around the lake and to climb the steep village road to the newly constructed monastery. The weather was overcast and there was a little rain during our walk around the lake, but we didn't mind terribly because we knew that the temperatures in Patna and Delhi were at, or near 40 degrees. This would be our last bit of pleasant weather before our return to Canada in late June. The only troublesome aspect of the cloudy weather was the dampness in our room, the sheets felt like they hadn't dried properly. The hotel very kindly provided us with an electric space heater and soon we were cosy in our Mirik home.
I took a picture of an interesting old-style stove. These are still in use all over India even though many people can now afford gas stoves. These little wood stoves are made from a discarded metal tin. The tin is lined with a thick layer of clay, turned upside-down and with an opening cut for adding the firewood, an inexpensive stove result. The morning and evening air are scented with the smell of woodsmoke. Adds to the quaintness of this little town.
I also included some photos of the flowers in front on a small home. I felt I had to give you some idea of the beauty of the flowers that seem to be everywhere people live. Many of the pots are no more than plastic bags filled with dirt, but even the simplest hovel will have several kinds of blooms decorating the front of the house. It is spring in the Himalayas and the colorful array of blossoms everywhere takes one's focus off the mountains in the skies and brings our eyes back to earth. I doesn't hurt that most of the flowers are purple, deep pink and white. My very favorite colours.
On April 17th, we hired a car to drive us to the train station in New Jalpaiguri. I snapped a few photos of the tea estates along the way and then a shot of the plains and the dry riverbed in the distance. All in all, it was a wonderful stay in the Sikkim and Darjeeling region and we are already making plans to return next year.