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11
Days East India Travel (I-09)

Kolkata - Darjeeling - Pemayangtse - Gangtok - Kolkata(Calcutta)

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Day 01:- Arrive Kolkata.

Today on arrival in Kolkata, also known as Calcutta you will be transferred to your hotel. Kolkata is an important commercial and cultural point in East India. In the 17th century, the Nawab of Bengal granted the East India Company a trading license. Kolkata was the Capital of India till 1911, under the British rule after which the Capital was shifted to Delhi. Kolkata is also called as the City of Joy and also the Cultural Capital of India. The Bengalis of Kolkata are known to be educated, cultured and soft spoken.

In the afternoon the Calcutta sight-seeing will take you the most important Jain Temple dedicated to Parasvanath, the 23rd Jain Tirthankara. Devotee Jains from all parts of India flock to the Temple precincts all round the year. The complex consists of four temples inside of it. The deity of Lord Sitalnathji is seated in the sanctum sanctorum, and his diamond-studded forehead is a major attraction. You will continue with your tour visiting the Victoria Memorial which is one of India's most beautiful monuments built between 1906 and 1921 in white marble. The memorial was the inspiration of Lord Curzon, who in 1901, felt that his lately departed Queen Empress, required a suitable monument to her memory. It houses paintings, manuscripts, and other objects of historic value in its Museum and Art Gallery (Closed on Mondays & National Holidays)

You will drive past Howrah Bridge, Dalhousie Square, Fort Williams, Secretariat Building and Old Court House Street. Dalhousie Square named in the memory of Lord Dalhousie who was the Governor General of India from 1847 to 1856. But it was renamed as BBD Bagh (Binoy, Badal, and Dinesh) three patriotic sons of Bengal who attained martyrdom during India's struggle for independence. The Dalhousie Square is surrounded by some of Kolkata's most enduring Raj-era monuments like the magnificent GPO (General Post Office), the regal Raj Bhawan, the Town Hall, the St. John's Church and the Gothic style Writer's Building. In terms of heritage, no other city square is as rich as Dalhousie Square. Overnight in Kolkata.

You have a morning free. Optionally, you could visit Kumartuli, Marble Palace and St. Paul’s Cathedral Church. Kumartuli is a unique artisan village dates back 400 years, making it perhaps the oldest of its kind in the world. It is the lifeblood of Bengal’s biggest festival and keeps the Puja fervor alive among Bengali communities in other countries. Around 250 artists with more than a 1000 assistants work here to produce 40,000 idols a year, including 3500 images of Durga. The Marble Palace houses an age-old art gallery and was built in 1855 with Italian marble (Closed on Mondays, Thursdays & National Holidays).

St. Paul’s Cathedral Church measures 71m in length 24m in width the spire rising 60m high. The interior has exquisite scriptural scenes. Above these are the two Florentine frescos. In the centre of the eastern sector is the magnificent alter piece. The massive gold-gilt plate presented by Queen Victoria to Bishop Wilson, and the western windows are of special interest. Check-out time is 1200 hrs. Evening, you will be transferred to the rail-station in time for an overnight train for New Jalpaiguri. Overnight on board.

On arrival in the morning, you will be transferred to Darjeeling, where you will check-in at your hotel. Darjeeling is known to be a wonderful hill station worldwide for its everlasting wonderfulness and rich green tea gardens. This enchanting land offers the visitors with picturesque beauty and excellence with flawless components of nature. The nearby monasteries represent the culture of the Lepcha community.

The society, its custom, mountain crests, fauna, lavish green valleys, slopes, the sanctuaries, waterways all are important part of the beauty of the nature. It is a quite perfect and most delightful holiday place for nature lovers. The excellent and the salubrious atmosphere fill the travelers with freshness. There are numerous engaging places to visit and the nature in this part of the country has an enchanting effect. It is truly a paradise for people who need to break from the regular life. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Darjeeling.

Early in the morning you will be visiting Tiger Hill and Ghoom Monastery. From the Tiger Hill, on a clear day, you will witness a beautiful sunrise, Kanchandzonga and Mount Everest. If there are no clouds, you can see the horizon changing colors before the sunrise and then the entire mountains turn golden. The beautiful sight will be embedded in your mind for life. On your return, you will be visiting Ghoom Monastery which is the oldest Monastery - built in 1875.

After breakfast, you will be visiting Tukvar Tea Estate. The lavish green tea gardens are the primary attractions of this charming hilly region. The sweet-smelling tea leaves of the surrounding tea garden add a mesmerizing effect to nature. There is no processing on all Mondays and also during winter which is from middle of November till March as there is no plucking or processing of tea. Tea grown in this area of Darjeeling, known as the ‘Champagne of Tea’ is famous world over for its taste. The best Darjeeling teas are mild and have a distinctive fruity flavor. You will be witnessing the different steps in the manufacturing of tea at the Tukvar Tea Estate.

In the afternoon tour of Darjeeling, you will visit Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (Closed on Thursdays). The Mountaineering Institute was started to give training for mountaineering and other adventure sports and one can see equipment used by Tenzing Norgay. You can visit the Himalayan Zoological Park to see the Snow Leopard, Tibetan Wolf, Tibetan Yak, Himalayan Black Bear and several varieties of birds. Also visit the Refugee Centre (Closed on Sundays) run by Tibetan Refugees to preserve their handicrafts. Here you can observe the making of Tibetan Carpets, Leather work, Paintings and Wooden work etc. Overnight in Darjeeling.

This morning, you will be driven from Darjeeling to Pemayangste. Pemayangtse the second oldest city of Sikkim is located in the Pelling region towards west of Sikkim and was established at the period of the third generation of the Chogyal Chador Namgyal in the year 1705. The term “Pemayangtse” literally means “an ideal sublime lotus” that symbolizes one of the four retes in human body. You will be mesmerized by the ambience of the place. At the backdrop one can see snow-capped and lush green valleys and mountains covered with dense forest.

In the afternoon you will be taken to visit the Pemayangtse Monastery built in the 17th century which is at a great height. This monastery is one of the most important monasteries and is the only one where the monks of this monastery enjoy the title of ‘Tasang’ or pure monks. The view from this place of the Kanchandzonga range is quite beautiful. The monastery belongs to the order of the Nyigma and first level of monastery has outstanding sculptures, ancient scrolls and paintings with various statues of the eight incarnations of Padmasammbhava from a seven layered structure made up of wood depicting heavenly abode of the Guru Rinpoche. Overnight in Pemayangtse.

This morning you will be transferred from Pemayangste to Gangtok by road. Gangtok is the capital and the largest city of Sikkim and has been populated by Nepalese, Lepcha and Bhutia’s and means "Hill Top". The Sikkim’s ruler Tutor Namgyal shifted the capital to Gangtok from Tumlong in 1894. Gangtok is a centre of Buddhist learning and culture and boasts of several monasteries. In the 19th century, Gangtok was an important centre for trading between the Tibetans and the British. The borders to Tibet were closed for trading in 1962 due to the war between India and China. Rest of your day is at leisure. Overnight in Gangtok.

Today morning you will be visiting Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (Closed on Sunday) and Do Drul Chorten Rumtek Monastery. The Tibetology built in a traditional style in 1958 lies amidst a serene surrounding of oak, birch and ash and promotes research in Mahayana Buddhism and the traditions of Tibet. It has large collections of rare books and manuscripts on Mahayana Buddhism. The two exquisite stupas Do Drul Chorten were built to celebrate the victory of good over the evil. Near by are housed two giant statues of Lord Buddha and Guru Padmasammbhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim.

Rumtek Monastery is the world's Dharma chakra Centre and the seat of His Holiness, the Gyalwa Karmapa - head of the Kagyupa order of Buddhism. Behind the monastery is the well decorated Karmae Nalanda Institute of Buddhist Studies. Opposite the entrance is a small hall featuring a beautiful jewel studded Chorten the Golden Stupa containing the ashes and remains of His Holiness the xvi Gyalwa Karmapa. It is said that the first Karmapa was visited by fairies who came to congratulate him and each offered a strand of her hair as a gift. The hair was woven into a black hat and is still at the Rumtek Monastery today. It is said that unless held on to by the wearer (who cannot be anyone else but the Karmapa) or kept in a box, the hat would fly away. Afternoon is at leisure. Overnight at hotel.

This morning, you will be taken to Tashiview point where you get a beautiful view of the Kanchandzonga also known as Kanchenjunga . Kanchenjunga at 8,598 m is the third highest mountain in the world is worshipped by the locals and is called the Five Treasures of Snow after its five high peaks. Kanchenjunga was assumed to be the highest mountain in the world, but in 1849 it was realized that Mount Everest was the highest. Two Bruisers Joe Brown and George Band were the first to climb Kanchenjunga in 1955.

In the afternoon, you will be taken to the Enchey Monastery. Perched on a ridge above Gangtok, the Enchey Monastery is nestled within lush woods with a spectacular view of Gangtok town. Built in 1910 on the site of the hermitage of the great tantric saint, Lama Droop Karoo, who was renowned for his powers of levitation, this monastery houses the monks of the Nyigma Order of Tibetan Buddhism. Your visit continues and you will be taken to the Directorate of handloom and handicrafts which was set up to promote traditional Sikkimese art and handicrafts. Exquisitely carved wooden friezes, intricate bamboo work, along with beautiful hand woven carpets and handlooms are on exhibit here. Watching the artisans at work is quite interesting. Overnight at hotel.

Today, you will be driven from Gangtok to New Jalpaiguri rail-station in time for your Kolkata night train. Your visit of Sikkim comes to an end. Kanchenjunga, the world's third-highest peak, is located on Sikkim's border. The original inhabitants were the Lepcha and it is said that Guru Rinpoche introduced Buddhism in 8th century. In 1642, Sikkim's Namgyal dynasty was established and for the next 150 years, Sikkim was attacked by the Nepalese rulers quite frequently. It allied itself with British in the 19th century and in 1975 it merged with India. Presently, Sikkim also has the only open land border between India and China. Night on board.

On your arrival in Kolkata you will be transferred to your hotel where you have a free day for discovering more of Kolkata. Optionally, you could visit Mother Teresa's Mission. Mother Teresa who won the Nobel Prize in 1979 was a Macedonian and founded the Missionaries of Charity which is active world over. Members have to promise to chastity, poverty and obedience and give "Wholehearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor". Kolkata has many museums, temples and other places of interest worth visiting. Do not forget to try the different sweets made of milk and cheese which Kolkata is famous for. Overnight in Kolkata.

In the morning, you will be transferred to the Kolkata airport for your return/onwards flight. END OF YOUR EAST INDIA HOLIDAY TOUR PACKAGE