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Next weekend you can be at ... Deolo

As the scorching summer arrives, a cool weekend getaway couldnít sound more inviting. A breathtaking sunrise on the Kanchenjungha can only be the perfect cherry on the cake.

Pack your bags and head for Deolo, 68km from Siliguri. Deolo is one of the two hills between which Kalimpong town is sandwiched. Kalimpong is actually situated on a ridge connecting the hills of Durpin and Deolo.

Located to the northeast of Kalimpong at 5,590 feet above sea level, Deolo is the highest point of Kalimpong town. Itís the ideal place to enjoy a panoramic view of Kalimpong, the surrounding villages of Relli valley and the Teesta river. The snowcapped mountains of west Sikkim are also visible from here on a clear day.

Three water reservoirs, two of which serve as the primary source of drinking water for the town, have been built on this hill. At the summit of the hill is a huge park with undulating green lawn, primly tiled little garden paths and exotic flowers. The park is a popular picnic spot among locals as well as tourists.

The Deolo Tourist Lodge stands in the middle of this park. With its quaint castle-like architecture, lavish suites and beautiful balconies overlooking the Kanchenjungha , the lodge is a perfect choice for accommodation. There are also a dozen affordable twin-bedded rooms at the resort. But if you plan to stay here, remember to book rooms well in advance.

Other than catching the sunrise, we also enjoyed the sunset from the tourist lodge.

One can visit Kalimpong any time of the year except in the treacherous rainy season. Summer here is mild and winter pleasant but heavy rains can lead to landslides. The best time to visit is between March and May and also between September and November. One of the attractions of this place is that it is quieter and less crowded than Darjeeling.

There are a number of religious sites, including a Catholic church and Zong Dog Palri Fo Brang monastery, to see as well. A pleasant two-kilometre walk from the town, the monastery offers wonderful views of Kalimpong and the mountains.

Near Deolo park also lies a quiet Hindu temple, a cactus nursery with a wide range of colourful and interesting cacti, a golf course, animal museum and the Tashi Takgye (Colour House).

Going

Take a train to New Jalpaiguri or a flight to Bagdogra. From there, private cars can be hired to Deolo, which is 79km from Kalimpong.

Staying

For accommodation at the Deolo Tourist Lodge, contact the DGHC Tourism Desk at Gorkha Bhavan, Salt Lake, or the deputy director, tourism, at the DGHC office, Bhanu Sarani, Darjeeling (contact number: 91-3542254879).