The Ghostly Dow Hill Park & Grand Paradi Tower
Travel and ghost stories are topics that perk my interest about a place that I visit. In America my fiancé and I always yearn for such adventures. Some skeptics would say such stories are just urban legends or myths. We are not out there to disprove such beliefs but rather to enjoy the thrill of seeing the place and make our own conclusion if such scary things are true. On our recent trip to India we visited two of its famous ghost haunted attractions. We got amused at what we learned about the Dow Hill Park in Darjeeling along West Bengal and the Grand Paradi Tower in Mumbai, India. Aside from enjoying the side travel to the city’s other attractions we learned a lot more about the people of India.
We were up for the adventure of our life when our plane landed in the airport of Calcutta. From the airport we took a bus to reach the West Bengal area. Along the way our attention is captured by the pedal rickshaws, loaded streetcars and busy pedestrian traffic in Calcutta, the capital city. When we reach the highway the sights to behold are rolling hills and green rice paddies. When we arrived in Darjeeling, we then met up with a local travel agency representative who will provide the vehicle, and the organized itinerary for our two day mountaineering trip. The package includes meals, sleepover huts and porter guides to accompany us during the hike. We had the great chance to conquer the trek and path trails of the Kanchenjunga Mountain and see its neighboring villages. It rightfully earned its accolade as one of the highest peaks in the world. It has a long trail to begin with bothered by intermittent rains but once we reached the top the sky cleared and gave way to a wonderful show. It is one of the most beautiful sunsets of my life with a stunning view of the 251 kilometers of the Himalayan Mountain range. It is an experience that if you are in India can not really lose or dare miss.
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After two days in the mountain we ascended and stayed at a local lodge in Darjeeling. In the afternoon we took a stroll and tour of the town. The walk was all worth it when we reached the Peace Pagoda. The Japanese inspired temple exudes so much charm, serenity and tranquil presence. The large reliefs on the outer wall depict scenes from the life of Buddha. The view of the mountain from the top was astounding. We took pictures beside the four Buddha statues that stand on the top level of the pagoda. We spend much time just enjoying the calm and peace we found on this sacred temple. Marvelously located on top of a hill we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sunset and seeing a huge volume of faithful believers and tourists who flock the sacred temple and view the sketches posted on its walls and surroundings. There were chant rituals with drums during the time of our visit and we gamely participated on this wonderful activity. We truly enjoyed our visit here after a tedious and exhilarating mountain climb a day before. It is a relaxing day capped by a divine reflection and appreciation to understand the interesting culture of India. This place is a must see for those who seeks inner calm and peace.
On our fourth day we find time to see wildlife animals at the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park. It was better than I expected it to be. Normally I avoid visiting zoos for I have an impression of sadness seeing the animals in captivity totally enclosed in a locked cage. But I gladly went along with my eagerly excited girlfriend who made me enjoy that interesting visit. Inside the zoo I saw a tiger that keeps running along the same path inside his forest like enclosure for dozens and dozens of times and it made a good impression on me. I see that all the animals on this zoo are well treated and properly provided with their natural habitat settings. I loved the wolves, birds and especially the red panda. The zoo shows the animals of the Himalayas in a partially natural environment and they strive not only for their welfare but also the breeding of the rare animals. For this reason it is particularly suitable for families with children to learn the valuable works of conservation of animals. From the zoo we hailed a cab and we took a relaxed stroll along the town to drop by and have tea at the Chowrasta. It is the tourist central of the town where one can find almost everything. It is lined with shops, hotels, internet, travel agencies, flight offices etc. We were surprised to find a small street where we saw stable ponies (ponies stand) and in front of this stands were food stalls where we enjoyed the best momos (traditional ravioli Sikkim) cooked by two brilliant Indian women.
The next day we lined up early for tickets to the Darjeeling Toy Train Rides and Services. It was a great time to experience a good old steam train amusement as it makes its way to the villages with tea plantations and a good view of the countryside. The locals we met along the ride were very friendly and non intrusive at all. The interesting train journey starts at the Ghoom and reverts back to its first station. The trip was long but it was a unique experience and I would do it again even if it takes longer than the jeep because it was all worth it! Towards the end of the day we visited the ancient Ghoom Monastery. It is located ten kilometers from the town and completes the largest and most complex of three monasteries. The building is beautifully decorated inside while inside what is striking is the massive statue of Buddha that stands more than four meters high. Within its vicinity we found the Tibetan School of Buddhism. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious Buddhist school in India.
The highlight of our tour was the visit to the mysterious attraction called the Dow Hill Park in Darjeeling. Locals have reported strange occurrences and apparitions on this famous place. The hilly woods and trail hikes are said to be haunted and this intriguing information is what draws tourists and the curious crowd to discover what lies beneath the thick forest of this small community. We even visited the nearby Victoria Boys High School and took pictures of its huge premises. Locals believed the school is where most of the restless souls and spirits stay. Forest rangers have claimed of seeing an apparition of a headless boy who aimlessly walks down the road and the image slowly disappearing into the forest. We stayed a while to observe anything unusual that will scare our wits but no such thing happened until we left. The following day we took a domestic flight to reach Mumbai. From the airport we took a cab and asked to be brought to the Grand Paradi Tower. The once luxurious hotel is said to be the actual spot of many suicide jump from its towers. The thirty seven year old hotel that is located in a prestigious location in the city has been a site for fatal and freak accidents happening mostly at the eight floor of the tower.
My impression is a place need not scare its potential visitors but rather promote the rich culture, nature and beauty of its attractions. I am so happy to visit the famous land of tea where the mix of the spirituality and urban legend stories abound. A visit to India is fun and a wonderful travel experience.
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