A hamlet. This mountainous village is just few kilometers from Kalimpong. If you are like most tourists of nowadays, trying to cover as many spots as you possibly can in your limited time and budget then avoid Echey Gaon. Just a one night stay here offers you nothing. You have to stay here for at least 3 days to experience the slow and rhythmic life of a mountainous village. Now comes the difficulties : You have to ask for hot water every time because geyser is not offered by any homestays here till date. Food is simple. Organic vegetables are no longer served in contrary to whatever you may have read on other websites. The reason being recent increase in HOMESTAY constructions, increase in tourist footfall and depletion of land for agriculture. Echey Gaon WAS a beautiful spot but at present its quite jam packed with homestays robbing its beauty. You won’t get much serenity in the evenings since rooms have paper thin walls and all conversations can be heard from adjacent room. Hindi and dance music played with campfire and booze served to entertain tourists, spoils the very purpose for which serious tourists go. Sticking to mineral water is advisable which is overpriced here. So buy and carry from NJP or Silliguri. Room heaters are given if asked @ 200 or 300 per night. Avoid Lakshman Bhujel’s Marigold Homestay since Mr Bhujel is too shifty and offers room tariffs or car pickup or drop rates after sizing up tourists. The entire village is in slopes, so if your HOMESTAY is far up from the road then luggage has to be carried up. Coolies are provided by homestays but charged, particularly if you arrive in a group. So travel light.And carry medicines since its quite remote. After all things said, Echey Gaon still has a lot to offer.
Watch this video I made to realize what Echey Gaon will offer you :
Echey Gaon Video
* No traffic order is visible ..
* Entire traffic situation is chaotic.
* Markets are very crowded.
* Some Auto drivers and rickshaw drivers are dishonest when it comes to showing all points to tourists.
* If your arrival or departure route is via U.P , BIHAR, then reserve AC coach Train tickets, because in reserved 2nd class sleepers, unreserved passengers board and make your journey very inconvenient !
* Enquire before journey, if all tourist spots are open for visitors during your stay there. In Lucknow , some tourists spots may be closed due to maintainance.
* Keep in mind Muslim calendar holidays and festivals. Roads may be diverted or closed during some days.
* There are some total Hindu areas in Lucknow where all restaurants serve only veg foods.
* Some lady tourists may find some locals staring at them, as if they are seeing women for the first time. Take it in your stride.
* Famous Bhoolbhoolaia is to be seen in bare feets which can be difficult for some since floor is uneven and made of stone.
* If you want to try delicacies of Lucknow like Gilauti kabaabs, Biryani, Gulabi Reuri and Sandila Laddu then don’t depend on local guides or car driver to take you there. They may take you to substandard restaurants for a commission. Use Google Search and Navigation to go to famous restaurants selling these for ages. Gulabi Reuri and other sweetmeats you can buy at a reasonable price within 2 km radius of Charbagh Rail Station.
* From Kolkata by train, you get off at Ramnagar. From their Tajpur is reached by Car. Make sure you call up your hotel and book a car. Otherwise all you have is local public transport not promising a very pleasant ride.
* There is an old forest through which you can walk straight ahead until you reach the sea beach. Make sure not to change directions or you may get lost in the forest. There are foxes in the forest and soft sand covered holes with water underneath.
* The entire area plan is quite simple. Four factors lie side by side. Hotels, road, forest, sea beach.
* Cooking in hotel can be too spicy for your health.
* The forest is a great spot for picnic but don’t be there after sunset.
* Present Puri proper is a box jam packed with shops, people, more shops and a sea beach.
* Strong lights of shops covering quite a large portion of beach area makes an awful lot of light pollution for you to appreciate the sea at night.
* The beach is dirty with waves bringing in at times, empty beer bottles, leftover food or chocolate wrappers etc.
* While sitting on beach, hawkers bother you every now and then with their wares.
* Camel riding, horse riding, shops on the beach have completely ruined the aesthetics of Puri beach.
* Food quality in Puri is poor. Rice is of cheap quality. In the many of most standard restaurants, there is an option called Fine Rice which costs more than normal rice. Well that Fine rice is also just passable. All snacks near beach area is over priced.
* Orissa / Odisha is not good for tourists, most being dishonest.
* The famous Jagannath Temple also has it’s own features which seemed unfair to commoners. Chart with rate for pujas are given, for Jagannath, Balaram and so on. You have to choose a package as per the chart. The minimum being 500 in the year 2009 ( if my memory serves me right ). For bhog you have to pay extra. Leather products are not allowed inside temple, so its better to carry things in fabric bags while visiting temple. And only HINDUS are allowed inside temple as per notification.
* Plan a trip during winter season, the colder the better.
* Stay should be preferably in West Bengal Tourism or West Bengal Fishery Department Guest House , because they offer the best view of the river.
* This Harbour spot is a place for tourists as well as young couples looking for a few hours of intimacy and fun. Hotels and Guest Houses offer room to them charging by the hour. So if you are visiting with your family, don’t be offended if you are stupidly mistaken to have come for some cheap fun.
* Go on a trip to nearby Portuguese Castle or whatever remains of it.
* Couples booking a hotel room for few hours for fun and frolic is far more lucrative business than tourists booking it for days. Do the math. In former case entries are not made in register. So even in West Bengal Tourism Lodge Sagarika, manager and waiters are eager to know When You Are Leaving ( if you have booked via the official route ) .This can be very irritating.
* Food served in both Government Lodges mentioned above are good.
* 3 days stay in Diamond Harbour is more than enough. Government Lodge bookings can be done from Kolkata.
* Private hotels are located a bit far from the river, so you may get good service but not the river view.