I anxiously waited for the Punjab holidays. My father, and already got the rail and hotel reservations. He wanted o take us on a joy trip to Darjeeling, the Himalayan Jewel and the Queen of the Hill Stations. I was really excited and so was my younger sister nailing. At last our schools closed for Dessert and Puja Holidays. It gave us much relief and no less joy.
Mother had made all the preparations, we helped her in it. I had obtained some literature, maps and illustrations about Darjeeling and had gone through them. They fired my imagination and expectations. I shared these with my mother and sister and they appreciated it a lot. At last we set out on our journey to Darjeeling on a fine morning.
It was a long but pleasant journey from Delhi to Jalpaiguri. From there Darjeeling is about 82 kames. From there to Darjeeling was really an exciting arid unforgettable experience for all of us in the famous toy train. I had heard and read much about it. I also saw it in a couple of films, but now I had its first hand experience. The train passed through lush green and thick terrain forest. There were fascinating scenes of hills, waterfalls and woolly clouds almost touching the ground. The tall trees like oak, pine and fir added to the majesty and beauty do the sight. The huge terraced tea plantations all along the railway track also presented a beautiful picture to the eyes. It all looked like a journey into a fairy-land. It took us about six hours but time flew fast and it looked like a short dream in the morning, lasting a few seconds.
The train passed by tiny villages and through hamlets chugging its way up the mountains. It went up slowly but majestically. Many young men and children were seen boarding and getting down from the running train with perfect ease and safety. The simple mountain folks waved us good bye all along the railway journey. They looked happy, contented and innocent. Their faces were lighted up with smile and simplicity. They wove simple but colorful garments. It was a real fun, joy and happiness to pass through the wooded mountains in the mini train. This journey itself sufficiently rewarded our expectations and hopes.
We stayed in a comfortable hotel with all the modern amenities. We enjoyed our stay there to the full, visiting places and vantage points of the famous hill and health resort. The township ran both vertically and horizontally. There were many giant landing places joined with one another with many flights of steps. The town offered fascinating view of majestic snow-capped mountain peaks. But the most fascinating was that of the Kanchenjunga peak. The chow Rasta at the top of the ridge forms the centre of the town. It is also the shopping centre. The bazaars and streets of the lower town were also busy places. They were full of hustle and bustle.
Next day, very early in the morning, we visited the famous Tiger Mill. It is eleven kilometers from the town. A big crowd of tourists had collected there to have the enchanting view of the Kanchenjunga and other Himalayan peaks. We were lucky as it was a clear and cloudless dawn. It offered us a clear view of the towering, snow-capped and majestic peaks. The Kanchenjunga emerged out of the obscurity of the early dawn so wonderfully. Then it displayed many colours and hues as the sun-rays touched this icy peak. First it looked orange, then fiery red and then finally dazzling silver with the coming up of the sun. Many people from the crowd shouted with joy. Others clapped in admiration. But some others drank its beauty in silence.
On the way back to our hotel we visited the Gloom Monastery, a famous Buddhist temple. There, the 15 feet giant image of Buddha looked awesome and yet inspired pure religious sentiments. We also enjoyed our visits to Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and to Lloyd Botanical Gardens. Zoological Park is another popular attraction of Darjeeling. We also visited the Happy Valley Tea Estate. The men and women-folk were busy in vast tea plantations. We also learnt there how tea leaves are processed for our final consumption.
Our joy-ride in the long passenger ropeway was no less exciting and enjoyable. In the beginning, I was afraid lest something dangerous should happen. But gradually I overcame my fears and enjoyed it the most. It presented a panoramic view of the hills, rivers and plantations from so high above the ground.
We planned to visit Kali pong. A beautiful town about 51 kames away from Darjeeling. It is a market town with majestic Himalayas in the background and gently rolling hills around. But suddenly, there was an emergency phone-call from my father’s office in Delhi. He was urged to return immediately because of some urgent business. Father took the next available flight to Delhi and we could not visit the big and colorful town of Kali pong. We returned to Delhi by train, full of colorful and unforgettable memories and experience. We had exposed a number of films to capture the wonderful scenes, sights and breathtaking views of nature. Mow they form a valuable part of our family albums. I wonder if I would ever again have such wonderful Puja Holidays. It was really a fantastic experience to see the formidable Himalayas clothed in its full majesty and grandeur at Darjeeling. It is a place comparable with paradise. I feel very proud to think how vast, beautiful, rich and wonderful my country is.