We have always wanted to visit atleast one North Eastern state in India. But it was only once we were on the flight to Bagdogra did I truly believe we were finally going.
The first few days are still bit of a chaotic blur( I AM married to Mr.LAST MINUTE, after all!!)
We took the road from Bagdogara to Gangtok(124 km) though one can also get there by train from the nearest(148 kms) New Jalpaiguri railway station. But which ever route you take, the view will of the mountains and the gushing, foaming white-water Teesta will continuously entice and accompany you.
Traveling with kids is never easy and driving around with kids who are car sick even less so. Inspite of the regular puke-stops we had to make ,the beauty of the place seemed to keep everyone is high spirits.
And once we got to Gangtok the effort of getting there seemed worth it.
The capital of Sikkim, a small state (7096 sq.km.)in India, Gangtok, aptly meaning ‘hilltop’ left me impressed not only because of its pristine beauty but also largely because it was sooo clean; probably the cleanest city in India. Plastic bags are forbidden and this rule is actually enforced unlike in other cities. We took a taxi and did our sightseeing over a span of 2 days. The taxis here are the main mode of transport.
You can choose the number of touristy places you want to visit and you are charged accordingly. For our 7 point agenda we were charged Rs 1000 in total. However I do feel that the one can easily cover the main tourist spots in a few hours and then explore the place and travel the less trodden path for the rest of the stay.
First we visited the Do-Drul Chorten( Stupa) with its gold plated spire that was built by the revered Trulshi Rimpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism in 1945.It is one of the most important stupas in Sikkim and has 108 Mani-lhakor or prayer wheels.
It is believed that turning these prayer wheels will invoke Buddhisattva and is supposed to have the same benefits as chanting prayers.
We glimpsed lamas young and old working and studying.
The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology nearby, houses rare artifacts and a million Buddhist manuscripts, statues and books.
What I really did enjoy here was the collection of antique jewelry and precious stones as well as the typical Tibetan architecture and art work at the Institute. We bought a lot of lovely souvenirs from the wonderful store near it.
The Ropeway at Deorali market too is a major tourist attraction. However I was not very impressed and the cable car was way too crowded for us to feel comfortable.
Nevertheless it does afford a birds view of the city including the lovely Assembly. Other places we visited were the Flower Exhibition centre which had numerous local flowers
and plants on display and Hanuman Tok, from where we had our first clear view of the mighty ‘Mother of Pearl’ Khang-Chen-Dzod-Nga (Kanchenjunga)
While I really wanted to visit Nathu-la Pass, it was closed due to landslides and we missed a wonderful chance to visit. Remember that one need to make a pass a day earlier.
We did however visit a couple of other monasteries such as the Rumtek Monastry and Enchen Monastry. both of which were we enjoyed tremendously.
The sight of the fluttering multi-hued prayer flags that one finds all over is so comforting, don’t you think?
Prayer flags form an integral part of Sikkim’s landscape and have a unique beauty about them and are believed to bring peace and happiness to all.
Places to Eat- The only place worthy in my view of much talk was Allens Kitchen.
The small restaurant was widely recommended and while the food was good especially the momos, what really struck us as unique was the decor and style of the place very TGIF-ish but in a quaint and cozy sort of way.
Though the stone-paved MG Road is a GREAT place. It’s a walk only road, much like Shimla’s Mall Road. There are three main markets: Old Market, New Market and Lal Markets .
What we found and did buy were great footwear, and traditional items such a Thangakas (embroidered silk religious scrolls) and prayer wheels.
In short a lovely town that I would sure love to visit again….