Small although beautiful, Sikkim in the eastern Himalayas offers perfect views of the snow-capped mountain peaks, verdant valleys, rich culture, delightful cuisines and luxuriant flora & fauna. Sikkim state is landlocked borders with Nepal in west, Bhutan in the east and Tibet in the north.
We read about it in our geography books and looked at its photographs very many times; but it’s a different story altogether when you get to visit it in real. That’s Mount Kanchenjunga; the crowning glory of Sikkim. The third highest mountain in the world is a spectacle and promises to offer its splendor in grace and style.
Varsha Pillai and her better half Ranjit NT had a good fortune of vacationing at Sikkim. Varsha is a journalist, who loves to travel and when her restless mind takes a breather she also writes. Ranjit, when he is not working, loves to travel and take pictures which make him the perfect travel partner for his wife! All pictures carried in this blog post have been shot by Ranjit / Varsha. Varsha shares with us her exploits in Sikkim.
Back in 2005, a much younger me dutifully followed my folks on their vacation to the north-east, more particularly to the state of Sikkim. Our visit during the winter meant that we went back to our hotel rooms rather early. But now after more than 5 years, the better half and I decided that Sikkim deserved a proper visit…a second time round. Our flight to Bagdogra was quite uneventful, except the part where the pilot asked us to keep a lookout for the Kanchenjunga Mountains, which if we were lucky could be seen from the aircraft. Bagdogra has helicopter shuttles to Gangtok, but these have to be booked in advance and plus there are only a few between the day. So we decided to stick to a cab ride which takes some five hours to get to Gangtok. The ride albeit dusty gave us the opportunity to stare and take in the beautiful sights of the River Teesta.
We alighted at MG Road, the center of the hustle and bustle of Gangtok city. Quite like a movie set, the road boasts of green park benches, street lamps and flowers. Also it’s a walker’s paradise since vehicles are not allowed on this cobbled street. Since the sun sets early here, the party too starts early. So after checking in at our hotel, we left to explore the delights of Gangtok. There are quite a few decent eateries and restaurants on MG Road so foodies can explore quite a bit and also try out some of the local beers for example Dansberg and Hit.
Day two was scheduled for a drive up to Nathula Pass, the old Indo-Sino silk route. Comfortably perched up at a height of 14,140 ft, it means traversing the distance via road. Give a little thought to the Border Roads Organization, who has been entrusted with the cumbersome job of repairing and restoring the roads that are often left to the mercy of nature (landslides, rain and snow!) On the way we caught sight of the Tsomgo Lake (popularly known as Changu Lake), during my last visit I couldn’t see the Lake, it was completely snowed in and all I saw was a place covered by ice. On reaching Nathula Pass, we had to walk slowly and take measured breaths since our bodies were still getting adjusted to the height and the reduction of oxygen around us. (Here’s a word of advice –once at Nathula Pass ensure that you slow down else you will end up feeling lightheaded. ) Our patience paid off, and there we were at one of the borders of India, watching the tri-colour flying proudly.
more on Sikkim to follow….