#177 East Sikkim Trip – April 2008

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.


Waiting at Sealdah Railway Station, Kolkata: Me, Golu and Bollam


Catching the sunrise in motion


Two cute girls in the same coupe… Roshnai and a cute little co-passenger


At Njp, my old friend Vishwanath had come to pick us. We had breakfast together at Siliguri. Met him after almost 5 years I suppose.


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.


Bollam, trying to enact a free fall… but the motion blur is missing :(


Welcome to Sikkim. Rangpo, situated in Sikkim at the WB-Sikkim border is a small but very lovely little town.


Teesta is an ideal place for rafting and some other water sports. Its clean, wide fast and not too violent!


Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology is situated in Sikkim at the bank of River Teesta. What a lovely place to study engineering at!

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.


This is the building right in front of Titanic Park where I had stayed with my family for a week in May 1999 and fallen in love with Sikkim.


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.


Roshnai, Golu and Bollam go all-smiles after their first walk on MG Road.


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…


Pom Pom


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. :)


Opposite directions… Roshnai and Abhinav


MG Marg: Litter and Spit Free Zone, was inaugurated only on March 15th this year. So we were there at the right time!


Beautiful Promenade


Most buildings on MG Marg have been painted green to keep in sync with Sikkim Tourism’s Green Tourism Promotion. Lovely :)


Picture perfect.


Back to hotel, tired and fresh at the same time.

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.


Through these clouds, we would go from 6,000ft to 12,400 ft


It was time to put on our jackets, caps, mufflers and gloves as the temperature fell close to the Kyangnosla check post at 10,400 ft.



The road from Kyangnosla to Tsomgo was all covered with snow on both sides. It was the first time all of us were travelling amidst snow.


We stopped on our way due to traffic jam in the snow… All of us took to our first snow ball fight!


It was lovely to see roof tops with snow all over them. I had only seen such things on TV.


Roshnai’s expressions are a mixture of excitement and snow chill…


There we were…


Tsomgo Lake for you…


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 four of us.


Had great fun playing in the snow…




The lake was almost frozen, we could see ice floating on it. It wasn’t safe for walking at that moment.


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.



Yaks are major attractions at Tsomgo.


The valley below Tsomgo…




Time for fun… near the Alpine Cafeteria at 12,400 ft


Bollam trying out his snow adventures…


A happy group after long play in the snow…


After the games, its time to eat… Bollam making one of his million different camera-friendly faces…


Momo… always a treat…



Its time to leave, but Bollam wants more…

Back to Gangtok, and we slept the afternoon. In the evening we made a dash to MG Road once again…


Had Ice Creams…


Saw ghosts while clicking pics…


We all were mighty bugged by this little bug who kept singing while listening to his mp3 player…

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…



The ropeway took us one kilometer down along the town’s main road and then back. Cost Rs 60 per head. Time almost 15 minutes.



It stopped in the midway to offer a panoramic view of the valleys on both sides of Gangtok


A bit of hiking and we found ourselves at the doors of a private monastery and the Gangtok Palace.

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.



Along all roads of Gangtok, almost 50 km or so, side walks have been constructed. They make it safer and easier to walk along the roads. Especially for school kids and tourists.


One of the many schools in Gangtok

Next stop was the beautiful garden.. with fountain and a resting shed…

And then… The Flower Exhibition Hall…




Some local Sikkimese people are protesting against the construction of a dam in North Sikkim and are on a 200+ days Satyagraha to save the Khangchendzonga Wildlife Sanctuary.

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”


The roads made by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) are really awesome and we should thank them to enable us to visit such beautiful places at such mind boggling heights in the Himalayas.


Finally in Darjeeling Mail… back from Njp to Sealdah…


Lama Bollam at his photogenic best…


And Roshnai… tired but very happy… and refresh after a lovely trip to the Himalayas.

Maximum altitude climbed: 12,400 ft
Minimum temperature felt: 0 degree C
Photographs taken: 970+
Total expenditure: Rs 2100 per head
Memories: Priceless

For some more pics click here to check out Abhinav’s blog

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16 thoughts on “#177 East Sikkim Trip – April 2008

  1. great pix u got der…nicely put. My Thumbs Up to you! Glad u liked my state. Visit us again…N d name of d restaurant whr u had your first lunch in Gtk( d one dat has an ambassador bonnet-like design at d bar counter) is “Masala”…A place I visit often.:-). thank you for promoting Sikkim. Cheers!!!

  2. Beautiful pictures. I am planning to go to Assam from NJP. any ideas about train
    travel to Assam. anything else would help me. Will be coming from Canada.

  3. Could you please send in some more info on the travel and tour agent we need to contact and the hotel we should stay in to get a view of mt. kanchenjunga?

  4. Hey It was so refreshing i have traveled sikkim sitting in my Bangalore office, will definetly visit ASAP, thanks for those pictures.

  5. Hey aditya it ws such a relief for m to go thru ur web site as i ws missing m home town sikkim.I live in Kuwait wer u’ll die bt wil nt se or find nythng dat is natural.It ws realy an awesomw one n whn i saw those pic of mg marg m eyes wer ful of tears…thnks for taking m bk to m plce …..it realy means a lot to m….tke cre!!!

  6. I must say the snaps were great,,,, absolutely refreshing.Thanks….. had a chance of experiencing the beauty of nature through these photographs.

    Hope to see more such snaps in future.bye and tc

  7. Hi Geeta,
    Thanks for commenting on the blog.
    For any details pls mail me at aditya@aditto.info.
    Yes I did stay at Travel Lodge on Tibet Road but only that one room offered that view of Kanchenjunga. It is a private room which is not given to any tourist normally.

    I can give you some more hotel names and numbers if you want. Send me your email id.
    Thanks.

    ….

    @Song,
    Annyeong Haseyeo Hyong…
    Mannaseo Bangap Samnida :)

  8. Hi Aditya

    Very informative and really fresh!

    We just got ourselves booked yesterday for Sikkim and around trip – could get tickets for 3 weeks from today.

    I wish if not all, then some of the snow as in your pictures, at least remain.

    Is ‘Travel Lodge at Tibet Road’ the name of hotel, from where you have taken that snap of snow capped mountain range? Could you also help to know the tarif or telephone numbers.

    All your posted photographs are fantastic!

    Regards
    Geeta

  9. Hellow,, mann ^^
    I’m living in south korea which is located beside japan and china,and 20years old.
    I happen upon googled “flower”,then come here site.
    South korea is out of circulation english.
    so my english skill is very clumsy ^-^;;
    However you don’t forget that i’m very interesting your site today ^^

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