Travel

Lower Himalayan Ensconced Treasure – Sikkim

The core of mans' spirit comes from new experiences

Be it the greenriched jungle, frozen landscape, ancient monasteries or beautiful people; Sikkim offers the heavenly abode for a restful respite. The richness in culture flourishes here throughout the region under the foothills of lofty snow peak Mt. Kanchenjunga. Sikkim’s gigantic mountain walls and steep wooded hillsides, drained by torrential rivers such as the Teesta and the Rangit, are a wanderlust’s dream.

North-East has been my long aspiring saga for few years. With Sandakphu trekking plan was decided, my friend harish came up with an idea of visiting Sikkim. Bingo!! I was overjoyed to agree upon to this idea and joined in searching for a travel agent there. Finally we found an agent: Mr. Thinlay and sealed the deal.

Lost in thoughts, and lost in time
while the seeds of awesomeness were planted in my brains
I pondered on this irresistible entrada..

Day 1: Darjeeling to Pelling

Bidding goodbye to the wonderful trek mates at Darjeeling base camp; post finishing Sandakphu trek, wasn’t easy as done yet reminded me off the song phrase

The grass was greener. The light was brighter, The taste was sweeter,The nights of wonder, With friends surrounded, The dawn mist glowing, The water flowing, The endless river, Forever and ever…

Our car had already arrived on the spot for our next sojourn – The Sikkim. We were welcomed by the smiling driver Mr. Pintso. He briefed us about our next journey in short and we were off towards Sikkim border. Before the border, we were welcomed by the vast landscape of Tea estates and later on by triveni confluence of Teesta – Rangeet rivers. The breathtaking view offered here is beyond magical.

Around 3PM we reached the grand entry gate of Sikkim. The security personnel takes a check for a valid Indian identify proof before letting in.

The stupendous journey all through the windy – damaged yet beautiful roads were totally enjoyable. I really wished i did a bike ride in this country side.

By evening, we reached our hotel at Pelling. The town is not touched by the disturbances of tourism, yet offers a very calm soothing experience particularly the view of Himalayas. Due to the cold weather, most of the businesses shutdown by 7PM. Since the town is small, so is the number of places for food. However, one can find variety of hotels here. We settle down in our hotel and later on found a good restaurant which provided a tasty food.

Day 2: Pelling and around…

The early morning offered us a good view of the Mt. Kanchenjunga from our hotel. Around pelling, we visited a couple of water falls and an orange orchid. Orange tasted very good here.

The orchid offers a great place for couples to have a romantic moment watching the ripe orange plantation along the river gushing beside it. It’s a blissful moments to be here.

Later part of the day, we visited a sacred lake, where people worship for their wishes to be fulfilled. We all did the same and yet i am awaiting for the wishes to fulfill 😉

The lake environment offers a very scenic yet, peaceful place for one to pass on hours just staring at it.

This lake is considered to be very sacred by the Sikkimese, and citizens all over arrive here to worship. One such candid awestruck moments was captured.

The daylight in this region disappears very fast. By the time we reached the infamous Asia’s second highest bridge: Singshore Bridge, we were in for bad luck to see its beauty and around in dark. However, our car driver helped us a bit in getting a good view of it.

Day 3: Pelling – Ravangla – Gangtok

Ravangla has a very beautiful yet bold hill-top buddha monastery. This place offers a great view around of the splendid nature. The buddha statue is a very prominent icon for the eyes to capture.

The weather was very cold and windy around. I preferred to keep myself warm enough by having coffee at a nearby restaurant while the guys did photoshoots. While having coffee, i happen to meet a cute little one; oh for the love of Sikkim 😉

Post lunch, we reached the Namchi place where in, all the India’s famous Shiva temple are constructed at one arena. Looks very beautiful!

Day 4: Gangtok and around

Gangtok is a mid-sized city, yet very well organized and kept clean. The people are very sweet, calm with smiling hearts. The traffic is very well organized and maintained. Our stay at hotel was fantastic yet again offered us a great much closer view of Mt. Kanchenjunga.

That night, upon reaching Gangtok, we spent half of the night at MG Road, which is a hub street of Gangtok. This street offers a great place to hang out and enjoy the city life till late nights.

Locals playing soccer

Gangtok and surrounding’s has very good monasteries as well as temples. One can hire a taxi and roam around Gangtok within a day.

A beautiful ceremonial event; we witnessed at one of the monasteries

Our routine habit during the evening time was to roam MG Road. This place has very good restaurants and offers great food. On one evening, we happened to bump into some of our Sandakhphu trek friends at MG Road and Mr. Tinley.

We also happened to stroll through the Organic market, which is very much given importance, by the people. Thanks to them.

Day 5-6: Lachen – Gurudongmar

My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon,
I will return again Sure as the dust that floats high in June, when movin’ through Sikkim.

Country side of the Sikkim, offers a great splendid nature to get lost into. Up into the distant remote mountains, upon venturing into feels like one is in the heaven. The untouched, clean and mesmerizing beauty of the snow clad mountains, rivers, thick forest, myriad of waterfalls and simple beautiful villages around offers a great time to just look back how life is serene, blissful living here, than else where.

7 sister waterfall
Foot of 7 sister waterfall

A short clip

The warmest part of day stays just for 2-3 hours during the day. By around 3PM, the sun starts to get dull and so is the weather turns more harsher. By evening, everything at this region gets very cold and it drops to negative as the night passes on. We being the wanderlust, pushed ourselves to wander around at this village in this cold weather while our hands went numb.

Electricity here is scarce, hence most of the evenings or nights, it passes on without lights and with help of just battery/solar lamps. The people here are very cordial and kind in nature. In the midst of all the odds of the beautiful mother nature and difficult life, their faces offers the beautiful smile with heart filled contentedness. The rugged terrain, the harshness of the weather and the most purest of the resources available here, gives the ladies the beauty they are blessed with. 😉

These cute little landlord daughters at lachen village, offered us great entertainment with their wittiness, charming sense of humor and of course adorable smiles. These girls help their parents with all the daily chores at their age, wherein the urban kids not even done half of what they do. We enjoyed alot with these cute little ones, though our stay was short here.

Next morning, we left early due to the shorter period of daylight and the weather turns bad as the day passes on. The morning sunshine over the snow filled landscape did offered us incredible sights.

A short clip.

After taking a break at the breakfast point and with few photoshoots done, we started to proceed ahead to Gurudongmar lake. But unfortunately, we saw many tourists vehicles returning back due to the frozen road. However, we tried passing the army camp nearby, but further ahead noticed even a army lorry stuck in the frozen ice over the road. The roads became very slippery here. Mr. Pintso, however tried his best to move ahead, but all luck was against us.

There was no point waiting for the frozen road to get clear, as it would get very late upon return back from the lake at later part of the day. Thus we spent sometime at the army camp looking around the beautiful nature, while i tried to have a conversation with the soldier at the camp. We returned back with a bit disappointment on all our faces, but the nature around did not left us completely disappointed though. The magical feeling one feels here and the aura this place offers is beyond mere words.

Day 7, 8: Lachung – Yumthang valley – Zero point

We left the same evening towards Lachung, from lachen. The windy roads, freezing weather does really makes one numb and tired. For most of the ride, i called shotgun seat and had a great sleep with amazing view of the nature. Though the guys were a bit angry, but thanks to their patience 😛

Lachung alike lachen, as well is very remote village but denser in the population. This place offers more good hotels and nature here as well is amazing. This village is quite close to the chinese border via Katao. We wished to visit this place, but time did not permit us to be there due to rapid weather changes.

As usual, we braced ourselves to wander around this place in the bone chilling weather during the evening. Since this village is densely populated, one can find alot of shops opened till late evenings. Many of them sell alcohol too 😀

We were advised by Mr. Pintso about the early morning departure to the Zero point, as the distance is not only more, but the weather here turns bad as the day passes. So as planned, we left towards Zero point aka Yumthang valley around 3AM. The weather was still cold and freezing.

Once the sun was up, the landscape turned to heaven. It was amazing to look around. I was awestruck by the immense beauty this place offers. Every twist and turns offered a great view about the mountains.

The child within us awakened by the Mother nature..

I had to sit down on the road to just enjoy the nature, i wish i just could sleep over here in looking at the mother. Truly awesome!

While i was overjoyed by the nature, my friend Harish decided to leave a romantic message to his fiance!!

No phone, no messages!! Where r u, oh my love..Awaiting on the road of Togetherness.

It took us, around 30+ more minutes to reach Zero Point. This is the last point where motorable road is available for civilians. However, a non tarmac road goes ahead towards the army camp further from here, but only accessible for Army. From here, the chinese border is not far away. Hence, one can see a lot of army bunkers around. The day time temperature is freezing at this place, yet the view is breathtaking.

Us along with Mr. Sangay(Pintos brother) and Mr. Pinto

By the time we returned back, the traffic was chaos on the road. Lot of tourists had arrived and most of the traffic offenders or vehicles creating chaos are from WB state. It’s a shame that the neighboring state people have no sense of mannerism in following ethics and so are the tourists.

We came back to the lunch point, where in a series of shops are available for shopping as well as hotels, owned by the villagers.

We took some warmth at the shop 40, which is still remains very memorable for me personally, because of the 2 very beautiful ladies who own it. Their kindness, smile, simplicity, courtesy shown was exemplary. This is when it really felt like Sikkim is really beautiful, indeed!! ❤

Upon lunch, we started our journey back and en route we stopped by a hotspring. This place lies in the midst of a beautiful valley.

A short clip..

Around evening, we returned back to our hotel. Though the sun was still bright, but the weather outside was really freezing and making us all numb and tired.

That evening, we left back towards Gangtok.

Day 8 – Gangtok – Nathula pass

Beyond Borders, continues this magical land
beautiful people, amazing culture, rich diversity..
Borders are just a mere existence in minds of some people!!

This was the most special moment i have been waiting for during this travel. Borders have always excited me for many reasons. Being at such places excites me to seek whats beyond ones limits. The people guarding these borders, the terrain in which such confrontations exists, etc. keeps me on toes to learn and seek for. It’s also an honor to meet the brave souls who dedicate their everything in guarding the land in the midst of hostile weather.

Mr. Pintso collected our permit documents before our departure and we were off to the border area. By this time, alot of tourists had begun to ascend the mountains. The weather was already misty and splendid to look around.

We stopped for a coffee spot enroute.

Further we straight away reached baba mandir. This place was already crowded. The weather kept changing rapidly every minute.

Spent half hour or so at the border gate and while i was there just observing everything around, many public started inquiring me about the border, thinking i belonged to the Army. It was a happy feeling for me when that happened 😀

A short clip:

In no time, we sensed the weather getting worse. The bright sun immediately disappeared within seconds and whole region got covered by misty clouds. We started back towards Gangtok.

En route, we were blessed with Snow fall. The whole region looked immensely beautiful. It was indeed, how a paradise shall look like. The whole region turned into a huge velvet of snow. The misty mountains, the cold chilling weather, drizzling snow flakes, mushy ground; a euphoric moment for all of us.

A short clip..

Due to snow fall, the roads got very slippery and hence traffic jam. It took us around 3 hours to drive down to gangtok. Upon reaching our hotel, we bid goodbye, thanked and wished advance happy new year to Mr. Pintso and his brother Mr. Sangay; they been of very informative with lot of patience and supportive in taking us around and being cordial to us for the whole 8 days, thus making our Sikkim journey very memorable.

Paradise on earth; Indeed!!

Thanks 🙂

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