kolkata marigold flower seller ghat

This is Kathleen’s Kolkata

Believe it or not, Indian films have somewhat influenced my choice of travel destinations in India. I enjoy watching Indian films (with English subtitles, of course) but would like to quickly add that I’m not inclined towards Bollywood masala films. Thanks to a Bengali friend living in Delhi who introduced to me an array of critically acclaimed Indian films that portray vibrant and riveting stories; films par excellence in terms of screenplay, directing and acting that may not necessarily perform well in the box-office. Over a period of time, I discovered more Indian films on my own, and these films

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The 7-Point Interests (Plus 2!) Of Gangtok

When in Gangtok, your guesthouse host or local driver might mention about 3-point, 7-point or 10-point interests. The only 3-point I know is the 3-point turns when I drive! Later I learnt that the x-point interests meant the number of places (points) of interests to visit 🙂 My host suggested that I hired a driver for a day to do the “10-point interest” tour. I declined that offer because I did not like rushing from 1 point to another, without learning anything about the place or, at least, to enjoy the moment of being there. Having said that, the benefit of

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sikkim-changu-lake

Snowing at Changu Lake

A visit to Gangtok would not be complete without seeing the mountains. Views of the mountains are easily seen in the city but to get closer to the mountain range requires a half day excursion out of Gangtok. The half day excursions are typically visits to Changu Lake and Nathu La Pass. What makes these visits interesting is the close distance to the border of India and China’s Tibet Autonomous Region where one can see both Indian and Chinese soldiers guarding the border at 14,140ft above sea level. On the Indian side, Nathu La Pass is only 54km east of Gangtok,

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In Pictures: Handloom Weaving and Thangka Painting in Gangtok

One of the standard sightseeing tours (3 point, 7 point & 10 point interests) offered by local taxi drivers in Gangtok is a visit to the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom (DHH). I know some of you probably cringe at these touristy visits but please try not to resist it because Sikkimese people take pride in their local heritage and culture. Many of their sightseeing tours are very touristy – curated by their state tourism – but with good intent. In fact, the locals recommend you to visit these places, not because of the commercialism that comes along with it but is an

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In Pictures: Rumtek Monastery of Gangtok

The first site that I visited in Gangtok was Rumtek Monastery. Rumtek Monastery is situated about 24km southwest of Gangtok, and is the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage, also known as the Black Hat sect. The Karma Kagyu order was founded in Lhasa, Tibet, in the 12th century by His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa who is the head of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism. The sixteenth Karmapa fled to Sikkim in 1959 during the Chinese invasion of Tibet, after which His Holiness established the Kagyu order in Sikkim and built a new monastery on a land donated

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I Made It To Sikkim!

The first time I heard about Sikkim was in 2006. I was having dinner with a former colleague from Delhi who came to Kuala Lumpur to accompany her husband who was attending a conference. She had mentioned about her December holidays in Sikkim and showed me her photos. That was ten years ago and photos taken on phone cameras in those days weren’t that great – low resolution and grainy. I wasn’t a seasoned traveller then but I had dreams building inside me to see more of this world, thus I had a hunch that Sikkim would be an interesting

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The Sikkim Entry Permit: A Guide For Foreign Nationals

When I was researching about Sikkim, I had thought the only things that I needed to read up on were places of interest, accommodation and transport logistics. Easy peasey, right? Typical travel planning stuff. However, right from the get go, every travel article on Sikkim mentioned about having a permit to enter Sikkim. In my mind, applying for permit or anything that is government-related in India equals Big Hassle. And that’s the last thing I needed to deal with when travelling in India. Applying for the travel visa from Malaysia isn’t too bad – visa processing takes only three business

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Things To Do in Darjeeling

It’s 8am. I could hear some noise from the kitchen which was next to my bedroom. Breakfast was being prepared and I could not wait to start my day. I had arrived in Darjeeling the day before, and my homestay host, Mr Pradhan had been sharing with me the various activities I could do throughout my stay at the hill station. However, the first thing I wanted to do that morning was to go to the District Magistrate’s Office to apply for the Inner Line Permit to enter Sikkim. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to process the permit,

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Curious About Darjeeling Queen of the Hills

I have always been curious about Darjeeling, Queen of the Hills. In fact, I have never been to a hill station (or hill resort) in India before. Many Indians have talked to me about the hill stations in various parts of their country which they often visit either during a long weekend, the holidays or sometimes for a trip back home. Once I had mentioned a long time ago that I wanted to visit a hill station, and the responses I received were mixed. Some talked excitedly with glee about the charm of these hill stations whereas others cringed. I

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48 Hours in Kolkata: Day Two – Walking Tour with Calcutta Walks

If you only have 48 hours in Kolkata, what would you do? On Day One, my friend, Amrita and I had visited a museum, two synagogues, a coffee house, the river ghat, and walked along the prime commercial district in the city. A bit much? Well, our original list was much longer but we skipped other places as they were shut for the festive season. For Day Two, I signed up for a half-day walking tour, and a walking tour is the best activity to know a city. The first time I went on a walking tour was in Mumbai

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