Siliguri first gave an impression of a sleepy town, the day we traveled to Impees Hotel from New Jalpaiguri railway station by autorickshaw. Even though we had to pay through our noses, the ride was really an enjoyable one because the inhabitants of this city slowly got out of their beds. The weather is cool and invigorating as the amazing Kanchenjunga shines with an avery of silver in the distance. Our mentality of a sleepy town became a mistake over the days. The bustle, by and large is the contribution of autorickshaws, cycle rickshaws, bicycles and shabby buses communicating on the road.
The rise of Siliguri as a major hub has started since a major part of the Jalpaiguri district was swept away by floods in 1968. Siliguri, sandwiched between Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts is a transit point in destinations such as Nepal, Bhutan, Gangtok and Darjeeling. Bogdarga airport located on the outskirts of the city offers tourists from other states and outside the country a great stop on trips to all the cities in the North-East connected by air. The Mahananda River, which flows into the city is a major attraction. Places of interest to tourists in the town are limited to the Kali temple and few viewing points on the shores of Mahananda.
Our hotel receptionist suggested taking an autorickshaw to Sevok, located on the outskirts of the city. It turned out to be a great idea as we rode from the city food to the breathtaking beautiful scenery and reserved forest trails on both sides of the road leading to Sevok. A few kilometers after leaving the town, traffic slowed sharply as we entered the Mahananda wildlife sanctuary. The flora and fauna here is unique. Conservation activities began correctly with conservation to preserve the remainder after the unchecked property and felling of the tree left an excessively depleted reserve. The forest department provides an opportunity for the tourist to enjoy elephant rides in the forests. Our first stop was a bride across the Nandi river which is in fact a branching from Mahananda as the river divides in and flows in two different directions around a hill. The bed in the river was not completely dry because it flowed along a bank. The scene is stunning with a train bride in the background which adds a romantic touch.
It’s time to move on while our schedule is tight. Three and a half kilometers up we reached the steps towards the Kali temple in Sevok on the side of the road. The temple sits on a rocky hilltop. We chose not to get down here as time was running out. Just ahead of it is the point from which the road closes. One will go to Sikkim -Gangtok and the other to Assam, The Coronation Bridge inaugurated just after the coronation of … is located at this point on the road leading to Assam. Visible, the towers rise nearly 400 feet above the river Teesta which flows beneath with a bluish green hue. Teesta joined Mahananda relatively early which is the Indo-Bangladesh border. It has been a place of contention between India and its neighbors for quite some time. The wide river beds where these two rivers meet resemble a large plain spread for miles. Viewed from the Coronation Bridge, the waters of the Teesta look clear and inviting. Without a moment, however, we descended the stairs to the river bank. Spending an hour and a half on the banks, occasionally dipping our feet in crystal clear water from nearby is not enough to satisfy our appetite for more. The spell binding backdrop of mountains and vegetation was intoxicating but sad that we were behind schedule and it was time to go back.
In the evening, a few hours before boarding the train to Trivandrum, we visited the Bidan and Hongkong markets. All imaginable items are available there but the prices are high. Because our hosts warned us about it, we weren’t robbed of a lot of money. The apples and oranges displayed seemed fresh and we brought a little. Walking back to the hotel, just on the side of the road is the famous Kanchenjunga stadium where a football match between India and the Philippines is being held.
9 pm when we arrived at New Jalpaiguri railway station. A steam locomotive was shown at the station and there were a few fans in the crowd, children. The Dibrugarh- Kanyakumari express is late by two hours and the night is getting colder. As the train finally chugs, I can’t help but glance in the direction of Kanchenjunga, which has been exciting in recent days, which is now engulfed in a shroud of darkness. The experiences here, renewing our minds, bodies and souls will stand the test of time, I told myself, arranging inside tight rolls of blankets to sleep well.