Thursday, April 3, 2014

Incredible, Magnificent, India: Sikkim

 Sikkim: a must visit place, where people are very simple and very helpful too.
We went there for our 25th wedding anniversary, that was almost 9 years ago. We were there from October end to the 1st week of November. It was very cold, but very good, it was not yet snow season,  but was just a month away.  We were at the right time, although we could see and experience snow, walk on snow covered mountain paths, but only when we reached a little higher, not from where we had started our journey of Sikkim. For Pelling to be covered with snow one would have to wait for one more month.

 Sikkim is huge  we cannot cover everything within ten days. There are many beautiful places to visit in Sikkim, you have to choose what you actually want to see and then plan accordingly.
 We started our journey from Pelling.
We booked ourselves in the famous Tashi Gang Resort.
It is a lovely hotel, in the sense one can have the best view of the beautiful  Kanchenjunga, said to be the third highest mountain in the world. Imagine it is right across your room, almost as if you can touch it. Everyday you can just keep looking at the most mesmerising mountain  right from your balcony.  
The room was comfortable but other than that we did not feel like trying their food, as I think during off season, people there tend to look as if it is asking for too much. The reception and the staff looked like they could surely do with make over. It is a shame, to have a hotel in such beautiful calm location, with beautiful views, and not have an enthusiastic staff. I suppose all hill stations are like that only in India, now of course things have improved with the setting up of such classy resorts like the Mahinderas, etc.
Anyway we, found a nice homely place to eat nearby, which was quite good. Also we could walk a few miles maybe for 20 to 30 minutes, and reach the local market place where you can find some good Marwari restaurants serving you good meals, good samosas, and momos, excellent tea. It was good walking down the hill watching nature, exploring, taking in the fresh mountain air, and then climbing back,  which used to be a little tough, but we soon got used to that.
This was the hotel we stayed in Pelling: it belongs to the famous  Indian actor Danny Denjongapa's (Danny who acted in the movie Seven Years In Tibet) brother
The view from the entrance of the hotel 

        
                                                     
Khechopalri
Literally, the Noble Heaven- Reaching Mountain. A lake so calm it is said to be protected from all disturbances. Locals insist that not even a leaf falls on it to disturb its placidity; and if one does, a bird immediately swoops down to carry it off.
It was indeed a beautiful sight. There is monastery too there. It is very peaceful and serene.
There are a few other places too like Rimbi Falls and Kanchenjunga Falls and Pemayangtse Monastery,
Singshore Bridge which is second highest suspension bridge in Asia. A chill down your spine is ensured when you look down from center of the bridge. All this can easily be seen by hiring a Sumo jeep whose drivers themselves are guides too, in a single day
You would be surprised to see young boys in the age group of 15 to 18  handle these jeeps and rough terrain beautifully Unfortunately I have lost the pictures of the falls and the bridge, but you can look them up in the net.



We were lucky we could always see the majestic mountain from everywhere in Pelling.

We then left Pelling and travelled all the way up to Lachung,( which is much higher) where we stayed in a beautiful looking hotel. The room was just okay, but the food they cooked specially for us was really great, and since it was off season, they would make whatever we asked them to make.

It is called the Snowlion Hotel. It has dragons in the entrance , and is also the tallest building, and very grand too from outside.

                                                           This is a borrowed picture from the net

 For this hotel , we had to book only through their official agents known as the Marcopolo travels
Once again I have lost the picture of this hotel, which has a typical Chinese architecture, and very colorful too.

Here it was much, much colder than Pelling.

More about Lachung:
Lachung is a town located in the state of Sikkim. It falls under the north Sikkim district and is not very far from the China border. At an altitude of about 3,000 m above sea level, Lachung is located at the confluence of River Lachen and River Lachung, which are tributaries of the Teesta River. A forward base has been set up in this town by the Indian Army to guard and protect the borders.
From here it is a must to see Yumthang, which is about 2 hours from Lachung. 




The tropical lushness of the ever flowing Teesta River



The river Teesta behind me: since it is winter, you see very little water flowing through it. In some places the flow is heavy, and as we travel through Sikkim it is always by your side , one can never get tired of watching this lovely river flowing by. In the summer months people do river rafting. The icy cold waters of the rugged Teesta have a series of rapids with varying intensity and character. It offers one of the finest rafting stretches in the world. Rangit, a tributary of the Teesta, has more turbulent waters and offers many challenges to more experienced rafters.


Gurgling mountain streams are almost constant companions on the journey through North Sikkim.






A view to die for

Next we travelled to Yumthang in the Bollero provided by our Hotel in Lachung.

A brief stop to see the natural Hot Springs.

Near the natural hot springs:which is believed to have high therapeutic values. Saline in taste, the water of the spring emits sulphurated hydrogen gas and its temperature is 106 degree. The water of the spring with such composition is believed to be beneficial for skin diseases. 

Yumthang also has the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary with antique species of orchids and rhododendrons, which we could not see because they bloom only in summer.



Amazingly beautiful Yumthang: at other times river Teesta would be rushing in full force behind me

A brief stop to see the hot springs here. So close to these mountain ranges.





Chocolate lovers would immediately be reminded of Toblerone when they see these mountains.

A lone forest rest house in the middle of no where


The two drivers : so young, and such expert drivers and very friendly too.



Near the Hot Springs : although it was a bright day with sun shining, yet it was very cold with the cold breeze literally freezing me




The icy source of Teesta, Sikkim's mightiest river...
from November to March, Yumthang is all white and a perfect site for trekking and skiing.


Pure Heaven




Yumesamdong: set on the brink of the Chinese border, this place is actually a land of perennial snow. It is well known for its hot springs, there are about 14 of them around Yumesamdong.

This is the Zero point, where the road ends, as this point is the end of India and beyond is Indo- China border.... it is really awesome. Nobody to bother you, it is just you and the snow covered mountains.



I felt like staying there for ever.

After this we came down to Gangtok



From its perch on a hilltop facing the city of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, the monastery complex at Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre embodies the vision and aspiration of the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, to establish his seat-in-exile to help spread the teachings of the Buddha throughout the world.

I did not like Gangtok very much, although the hotel where we stayed was very good, it was a 5 star hotel, their rooms too had very good view of the far away Kanchenjunga mountain. I felt we could have planned better and could have seen some other beautiful places in Sikkim, instead of Gangtok.

Our trip to Sikkim ended here. It was the most unforgettable trip and I would always cherish it.

I have started a new blog on cooking, please visit it if you can : tocookoutofthebox.blogspot.in

33 comments:

  1. Thanks for the nice travelogue and sharing these beautiful photos..

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  2. What a great vacation! Thanks for sharing it with us, simply beautiful.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by. The snow and the mountains are not new to you, but we in India have to travel quite a distance to experience and enjoy these natural wonders

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  3. Loved the photos Rama, your Toblerone title seems so apt for the snow capped mountains :) The tranquility that nature offers is priceless, isn't it? There are so many hidden treasures in India, thank you for showcasing one such gem :)

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    1. Reshma that is the image which kept coming in my mind as I watched the snow melt slowly, ever so slowly from those gorgeous mountains every day from the balcony of our hotel : the chocolate brown under the melting white icing, it was indeed incredible.
      There many beautiful places in India, I wish I could visit all of them. Thanks Reshma.

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  4. beautiful pictures..we went there in 75, and saw only Gangtok but that time it was very beautiful..now you post is encouraging me to again..

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    1. Renu you must start visiting these places before, it becomes too commercial and touristy.
      75, was a long time back, it must have been lovely at that time, but when we went Gangtok looked like any other 3rd rate hill station.
      Thanks Renu.

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  5. Beautiful photographs! I showed to my husband. It is in our travel list now, thank you, Rama!

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    1. Thanks Sandhya. Yes you must visit it and plan well and avoid Gangtok, for it is not worth seeing, instead choose some less known but beautiful places in Sikkim

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  6. Very beautiful photos, you captured them all so well. The toblerone colors looks amazing that make these ranges so inviting to paint, thanks for sharing such lovely shots Rama.

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    1. Yes padmaja, you must paint it. Thank you for liking this post.

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  7. Gave me goosebumps reading this, lovely tour Rama! :) Sikkim is a beauty isnt it! Except Gangtok I didnt visit any of the places you did, I went to Dzongu and Lingee Payong... Two villages. This fills me in with some places I missed.

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    1. Hi Ambika,
      Welcome to my blog. The places you have been are beautiful too, though we did not visit them. in fact, there are so many places to see in Sikkim it becomes very difficult to come to a decision, as to what to see and what to omit.
      Thanks for dropping by, hope to see you more often.
      Take care.

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  8. The Seven Sisters is on our wishlist!! And your detailed and informative travelogue with simply beautiful clicks is making me push Sikkim up on the list! :)

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    1. Thanks Shilpa.
      I want to see Assam too, where I lived for almost 5 years, but when I was very young. I would like to revisit some of these places and see how it feels now to be there.

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  9. Rama,

    Read 3 current posts. I am so inspired by your father. You are so lucky to have such inspiring elders. My respects to them. I was so thrilled to read your posts on our best friends. We have been having these companions for more than 30 years now. They do make life worth it. I could go on and on. Thanks for virtual visit to Sikkim which makes me wish we could also visit this place. This also brought back memories of our visits in J&K and Himachal areas.

    Take care

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    1. Even i want to visit Jammu and Kashmir, and also HPand Ladakh too. Don't know when it would happen.
      Thanks for going through my posts. Yes I do have an highly inspiring father, and near and dear ones in my family who are really good people.

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  10. Amazing views and pics :-). A trip to North East India has been on my wishlist for a long time. Just when I thought it was going to materialize we took a trip to Kashmir, coz we were not sure how long we would have the option of visiting Kashmir as a tourist. So I'm going to bookmark this because one day I'm definitely going there :-)

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    1. At least you have managed to visit the most beautiful place in India. North East is definitely worth exploring, and I also plan to do it sometime.
      Thanks for liking this post.

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  11. Ahhh...nice travelogue here Rama:) We too had a satisfying visit to Sikkim:) Such a tranquil and calm place, especially Pelling!

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    1. Yes I know, you have also visited Sikkim. I had read that blog of yours. Pelling is amazing.
      Thanks for dropping by CN.

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  12. Interesting to know about rivers Lachen and Lachung.
    The north east is one place I have yet to explore.

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  13. Such breathtaking pictures! This reminds me that India has so many places to visit, before we trot out dutifully to Europe etc.
    So much to do; so many sites to visit; so much to appreciate in India!

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  14. A visual feast indeed and a mind-blowing write-up which kept the mind under the captivity for a while.O! What all Mother Nature has arranged for us.

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  15. Sikkim is really beautiful. It is on my must-visit list for sure.

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  16. awesome.. you reminded me of college days , I had gone to SIKKIM trek and we walked for 18 days through various places and SIkkim is SO beautifullllllllllll...

    pity i did not have a camera then.

    Bikram

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  17. Thank you for the wonderful blog. It is indeed informative and useful We are into the same business. For know more about us, please visit hotels in nagpur city today.

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  18. Really magnificent views! I like that white dress you have. Does it have a special name?

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    1. It is a typical Kashmiri woollen Kurta, with embroidery. It can really keep one very warm in winter.

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  19. Dear,
    Sikkim is a wonderful tourist destination, you have captured beautiful photograph of North Sikkim the snow hills and natural beauty.

    From: Surojit
    http://www.applevalleyinn.in/

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