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In Photos: Hiking from Darjeeling to Sikkim!

Two weeks ago, I impulsively decided to venture into the remote north-eastern Himalayas of India.  Staying on an organic tea farm an hour’s ride from Darjeeling, I sipped the finest hand-rolled tea, drank the local thomba brewed from fermented millets on chilly nights, got a first hand perspective on the separatist Gorkhaland movement, and reminisced with the hill folk about the times gone by. Then I hiked in the mountains, through dense forests, past charming hill villages, along tea estates that dotted the landscape, and barefoot across the Rangeet River, to Sikkim.

I’ll let the pictures tell you that story.

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1. STARTING THE WALK ALONG THE TEA ESTATES OF DARJEELING
organized by my hosts at Tathgata Farm. Carpets of green stretched into the horizon, as far as the eyes could see.

Darjeeling tea estates, Darjeeling photos

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2. FOLLOWING TEA PLUCKERS AS THEY START THEIR DAY 
plucking the finest tea in India with their nimble fingers.

Darjeeling tea estates, Darjeeling photos

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3. PASSING BY CHARMING HILL VILLAGES
precariously perched, and often isolated on hill slopes far from the nearest road. The adults and kids both walk long hours to work and school, on hill terrain that can tire any experienced walker.

Eastern Himalayas, Darjeeling villages

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4. BEING LED THROUGH NARROW, SIGNLESS PATHS
in the mountains by our local guide Dhuraj, who grew up in these mountains and knows them like the back of his hand.

Indian Himalayas, Darjeeling to Sikkim

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5. SPOTTING A MAN SMUGGLING LOCAL BEER FROM SIKKIM
which isn’t permitted to be sold elsewhere in India. I would soon find out that the Sikkimese Hit Beer, made in Danny Denzongpa’s brewery, is possibly India’s finest beer. It’s a pity that his lobbying with the government isn’t as powerful as Vijay Mallya’s, so the rest of the country is deprived of such high quality (and cheap, at 60 rupees a bottle) beer.

Darjeeling to Sikkim, Himalayas walks

***

6. PLEASURES OF THE WILD – A JUNGLE TATTOO 
on my arm, textured from the leaves of a wild plant.

India villages, India tatoo, Himalayas

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7. WALKING ALONG THE BAMBOO FOREST
our feet making music on fallen dried leaves and bamboo branches.

Darjeeling to Sikkim, Indian himalayas

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8. COOLING OFF IN THE RANGEET RIVER
four hours into the walk; the cool pure water a balm for my tired feet.

Rangeet river, Darjeeling to Sikkim

***

9. CROSSING THE SHALLOW RIVER BED BAREFEET
from the base of one mountain to another, feeling the rocks, soft sands and cool water on our feet, and watching boys trying to catch fish with their bare hands!

Darjeeling river, Darjeeling pictures

***

10. THE FIRST GLIMPSE OF SIKKIM
after 5 hours of walking – the southern industrial village of Majhitar, which has more immigrant workers from Bihar than Sikkimese people, and more alcohol shops than I could have imagined.

Majhitar Sikkim, Darjeeling to sikkim

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11. A RICKETY SUSPENSION BRIDGE THAT CONNECTS DARJEELING TO SIKKIM
over the Rangeet River, with wooden planks on the base, some of which have already fallen off! It feels more like crossing into another country.

Rangeet river, Darjeeling to Sikkim

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12. THE FIRST TASTE OF MOMOS AND THE LOCAL HIT BEER IN SIKKIM
which made the 5 hours of hiking totally worthwhile! The beer was downed before I could take a picture ;)

Sikkim momos

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This hike and other truly local experiences in Darjeeling and Sikkim can be booked on India Untravelled.

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Have you ever hiked from one state in India to another? 

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Join The Shooting Star on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for more offbeat travel stories.

Any contributions to my travel fund (in kind or otherwise) will be highly appreciated!

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ALSO SEE:

In Photos: Majuli Island, Assam
In Photos: Jaisalmer in The Monsoons
In Photos: Bhap Village, Rajasthan

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41 Comments Post a comment
  1. Loved it! Beautiful pictures. Would be going to Darj for a mountaineering course in few days time… I’m all jittery and excited but this post reminded me how much I’m really looking forward to it!.. In love with the place already! :D

    April 23, 2014
    • Wow, that sounds so exciting, Tanmayi! I’m sure you’ll love the majesty and serenity of these mountains. Tell me how it goes :)

      April 27, 2014
  2. Wow!!!

    April 24, 2014
  3. bladenomics #

    Wow! refreshing pictures!! I’ve been meaning to go to North east India for a long time!

    April 24, 2014
    • It has been on my list for long too, glad I finally made the trip. Hope you do soon too!

      April 27, 2014
  4. Amazing, what an interesting journey. I’d love to make it. I love the nature tattoo as well. :)

    April 24, 2014
    • Haha, thanks Mani! The nature tattoo faded away too soon though ;) Hope you get to make this journey soon.

      April 27, 2014
  5. Did you walk walk across the tea garden to reach Jorethang?

    April 24, 2014
    • I didn’t go to Jorethang, near enough though. This walk ended at the border town of Majhitar in South Sikkim. Took shared taxis further into the state.

      April 27, 2014
  6. Love it :)

    April 24, 2014
    • Thanks Ro Han! Going soon then?

      April 27, 2014
  7. Reminded me of my recent visit to Sikkim. Once you visit a place then you get a better perspective of problem there like Gorakhaland in Darleeling.

    April 24, 2014
    • I agree Makrand. Same with Sikkim. Before I went, I read about how the incumbent party was doing such great work in sustainable tourism. Turns out that’s not the case at all. Only some individuals trying to do things differently.

      April 27, 2014
  8. Yash Chaturvedi #

    How to get a guide who could assist in taking the hike?

    April 24, 2014
    • You can get in touch with Pravin/Navin from Tathagata Farm. Better still, stay with them :) Shall be writing all about that experience soon too.

      April 27, 2014
  9. Shar D #

    Wonderful. I would like to go solo.

    April 25, 2014
    • Do it soon! It’s very safe, and the people really go out of their way to help you :)

      April 27, 2014
  10. Beautiful pictures Shivya. :)

    April 25, 2014
  11. Exhilarating it must have been! So did you cross that suspension bridge??

    April 25, 2014
    • Yes! Tip-toed across it, such fun. It was exhilarating to “walk” into Sikkim indeed.

      April 27, 2014
  12. I would love to experience this part of India.

    April 25, 2014
    • I’m sure you’ll love it, Scott! Plan a trip soon.

      April 27, 2014
  13. Simply Wow girl!! Mesmerizing our East is…I have yet to go! This was a fantastic photo journey. Thanks! :)

    April 25, 2014
    • Thanks Aditi! Plan a trip soon. They say October / November are the best times to see the snow-capped peaks :)

      April 27, 2014
  14. Another great post Shivya… looks like a beautiful hike.

    April 25, 2014
    • Thanks Pete! It is a great hike, and not a very strenuous one at that.

      April 27, 2014
  15. krit92 #

    Lovely post.. Put a smile on my face .. and sure need to try out this beer very soon :D

    April 26, 2014
    • I’m glad to hear that Krit! And yeah, you have to try the beer. It’s SO good.

      April 27, 2014
  16. Life is about travel #

    Lovely write-up and pictures. Especially love the imprint of the leaves of the wild plant on your hand!

    April 27, 2014
  17. Roberto Amaral #

    Beautiful!!!

    April 29, 2014
  18. Wonderful photo essay! Sounds like a great trip.

    April 29, 2014
  19. Added to my bucket list.. Amazing pictures :)

    May 2, 2014
  20. krit92 #

    Hey i need to ask.. Ist darjeeling and sikkim like quite far.. So what sections did u exactly treck from?!

    Regards!

    May 11, 2014

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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