After so much of planning, and so many disruptions, the much awaited trip to East Sikkim did materialize. Frankly speaking, I have no words to describe the experience. It was just awesome. I had been to Sikkim in 1999 and trust me, it no longer looks the same. Gangtok has been completely renovated and made into a truly world class Hill Station. It was the first time ever that I was amidst fresh snow and played a lot in snow. I also had the opportunity to experience the first ever Snow Fall. It was absolutely beautiful. Roshnai’s presence made the trip the most lovely trip I’ve ever had. Not to forget Golu and Bollu. :)
Wanna read more and see about 80 photographs from my trip? Click the link below…
April 2, 2008:
Started from Kharagpur (Kgp) by the 1.35pm Midnapur-Howrah local and reached Kolkata by 4pm. Moved on to Sealdah Station to catch Uttar Banga (Kanchan Kanya) Express for New Jalpaiguri (Njp) at 7.35pm.
In the taxi from Siliguri to Gangtok. It was a 4 hr drive of about 120 km and cost us Rs 100 per head. Me and Roshnai sat in the front and Bollam and Golu in the back seat. People who sit in the front are not supposed to sleep. The driver feels sleepy too~
That is river Teesta, a tributary of Brahmaputra. Mostly it is very calm and slopes gently down across Sikkim. It originates at Cho Lhamu Lake in North Sikkim and hits the plains near Sevoke in Bengal, where the Coronation Bridge has been constructed by the British. It is one of the most scenic rivers of that part of India.
Reached Gangtok at about 1.30pm and headed straight to the hotel. Pappa booked a lovely hotel for us: Travel Lodge, Tibet Road, Gangtok. We got two rooms. One a single small room on first floor and another a huge suite for 3-4 people on the third floor.
Bollam and Golu… Tired but ready to go…
Gangtok City as seen from footbridge over MG Road. This city has changed dramatically since I had been there in 1999. It has been beautified and promoted as a Green Tourist Destination. The triangular embankment in the pic is called Titanic Park… for obvious reasons.
Mahatma Gandhi Road, used to be the main road that passed through the city centre till some years back. It had been renovated and closed for vehicles. New tiles, green painted buildings, footpaths on the sides, divider decorated with flower pots and tall halogen lamp posts make this place look better than or as good as any mall roads on any other hill stations in India.
Our first lunch in Gangtok. It started raining outside and we entered the first restaurant that came in sight. This is a new restaurant with really cool interiors and an Ambassador Bonnet-like design for the bar counter. Had spicy Schezwan (watever the spelling be :D) Rice, Pan Fried Noodles, etc etc…
Back to MG Road. I am really impressed by the school kids of Gangtok. The whole day you can see school kids going up and down the streets and lanes. The uniforms are really impressive and colourful. It was a treat to the eyes. :)
April 3, 2008.
That night, there were loud thunders and lightning struck somewhere very close to our hotel. It rained heavily and there was hailstorm in Gangtok. IT got very cold in the night and in the morning, Golu was all gol…. :D
Our destination: Tsomgo Lake (12,400 ft above seal level). This road is a part of the Silk Route that comes into India. Indo-Tibet (China) border is at Nathula, 51 km from Gangtok. To visit Nathula, we needed to take permit 2 days in advance, where as to reach Tsomgo Lake, permit could be obtained just a day in advance. Moreover to visit Nathula we needed to pay Rs 2500 more. We decided to visit only Tsomgo Lake and Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple. However due to bad weather we could not visit Baba Mandir.
Those are about 50 shops selling hot tasty food. They also rent jackets, snow shoes, gloves, and eye glasses for the snow. After some time it got really difficult to look around due to the bright glare of the sunshine over the white snow. We had to go down and get sun glasses.
The Lake market would be shifted one kilometer down the hill to make the lake area clean and to beautify it. The Sikkim Govt is planning to construct a ropeway very soon. In the month of October, just before winter, this place has no snow at all, but is filled with very beautiful flowers like Rhododendrons all over.
April 5, 2008.
We all woke up to a surprise on a clear morning only to find the mighty Mt Kanchenjunga (8568m), the highest peak in India, right from our room balcony. Seen to its left is Mt Siniolchu
After such a beautiful start, we set out on our own to explore Gangtok Town. The tourist cab would ask for anything between Rs 400 – 700 to show us around the main attractions. We believed in walking and checking out the nearest places. First we reached the Ropeway…
Being audience to a traditional Buddhist prayer excited us and we were just in time for the daily prayer. It was an experience I would never forget. I have been to many monasteries in India and a few in Korea but I never saw monks praying.
Then it was time to have lunch and leave Gangtok… with fresh memories and a lovely experience…
On the way down from Gangtok, at a stopover, Bollam’s antics remind me of the comic strip… “to drive away the crickets with a baffled look on the face”
Maximum altitude climbed: 12,400 ft
Minimum temperature felt: 0 degree C
Photographs taken: 970+
Total expenditure: Rs 2100 per head