Siliguri, The Gateway to North-Eastern India

January 17, 2020

Siliguri first gave the impression of a sleepy town, that day we took a rickshaw from New Jalpaiguri train station to the Impeses Hotel. Although we had to pay for it, the ride was indeed enjoyable, as the residents of the city were slowly getting out of bed. The majestic Kanchenjunga exudes a silver halo, and the weather is cool and exciting. Over time, our thoughts on a sleepy town turned out to be wrong. Busy and hectic are mainly autonomous rickshaws, rickshaws, bicycles and shabby buses vying for space on the road.

Since the flood of 1968 flooded most of the Jalpaiguri area, Siliguri has emerged as a major hub. Siliguri is sandwiched between the Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling areas and is a transit point to destinations such as Nepal, Bhutan, Gangtok and Darjeeling. Bogdarga Airport, located on the outskirts of the city, provides an excellent stopover for visitors from other states and countries, with flights to all cities in the Northeast. The Mahanaanda River flowing through the city is a major attraction. Although the town’s tourist attractions are limited to the Cali Temple, there are few sights along the Mahananda River.

Our hotel receptionist advises you to take a rickshaw to Sevok on the outskirts of the city. It was a brilliant idea when we drove from the hustle and bustle of the city to breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and preserved the forest on both sides of the road to Sevok. A few kilometers out of the city, when we entered the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, the traffic dropped sharply. The flora and fauna here are unique. Conservation activities have begun in earnest to protect the unchecked remaining resources of poaching and felling of trees. The forest department offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy elephant riding in the forest. Our first stop was the bride crossing the Nadi River. In fact, Nadi branched out from Mahanaanda because the river diverged and flowed on the mountain in two different directions. The riverbed was not completely dry because it flowed along the shore. Amazingly, the railway bride adds a romantic touch in the background.

It’s time to move on because our schedule is tight. Three and a half kilometers uphill, we reached the steps leading to the Kali Temple in Sevok by the road. This temple sits on top of a rocky mountain. We have no choice but time is running out. Just before that, this was the beginning of the road branch. One went to Sikkim-Gantok, and the other went to Assam. The coronation bridge, which had just been completed at the coronation, was on the road to Assam. The bridge towers about 400 feet above the River Tieste, with a faint blue flowing into it. Teesta joined Mahananda a little bit ahead, followed by the India-Bangladesh border. For quite some time, this has been where India has disputes with its neighbors. The expansive riverbed where the two rivers meet is like a huge plain, stretching for miles. Looking down from the Coronation Bridge, the waters of Teesta are clear and seductive. But for a moment, we came down the steps leading to the river bank. Staying on these river banks for an hour and a half, and occasionally immersing our feet in the water that seems crystal clear from the vicinity is simply not enough to satisfy our appetite. The charm of the mountains and greenery is intoxicating, but sadly we are behind schedule and it is time to return.

In the evening, a few hours before boarding the train to Trivandrum, we visited the markets of Baidan and Hong Kong. All imaginable items can be bought there, but the price is high. Since our host had warned us, we were not robbed of much money. The apples and oranges on display looked fresh and we brought some. Back at the hotel, the famous Kanchenjunga Stadium is on the side of the road, and there is a football match between India and the Philippines.

We arrived at New Jalpaiguri Railway Station at 9pm. There is a steam locomotive next to the station, and the children are mostly admirers. The Dibrugarh- Kanyakumari Express is two hours late and the night is getting colder. When the train finally entered, I couldn’t help but glance in the direction of Kanchenjunga. Kanchenjunga was fascinated a few days ago, but now it was swallowed by the darkness. I told myself that the experience here, rejuvenating our mind, body and soul, will stand the test of time and settle in a sleeping blanket to make you sleep well.