Gangtok: An Unruffled Abode.

2nd Oct 2010
Photo of Gangtok: An Unruffled Abode. 1/7 by Arifa Akbar
The settlement on the hills

The Commencement

It has been a little more than half a decade and I still remember the minute details of an excursion that was one of the most enthralling experiences of my life. So thought of sharing it with everyone!

It all started with two of our professors back in my graduation years coming up with an idea of a short excursion to Gangtok, Sikkim. With our first year results not yet announced, we wanted a break from the mental torture. So without much ado all of us took the consent from our parents and were eagerly excited about the trip! I, personally had been to many places but my memory isn't generous enough to let me recall how I enjoyed it, i.e. all of them had been a part of "infant traveling". Nevertheless I was looking forward to this going-to-be awesome tour.

And it follows....

Our batch comprised twenty students, ten seniors and four teachers. We left for Gangtok in the Kanchenjunga Express at 9 p.m on a Saturday and woke up to a lovely scenery-in-motion outside. Soothing greenery, cool breeze, a sensual awakening. On reaching the New Jalpaiguri Station, we walked a bit to find a luxurious bus waiting to have us aboard. It was 6-6.30 hour journey to Gangtok. It was a bit draining yet the natural bliss out of the window and the composed yet ethereal Teesta river flowing beneath those lofty mountains and steep slopes made up for that.

Photo of Gangtok: An Unruffled Abode. 2/7 by Arifa Akbar

The popping out of the window view: On the way to Gangtok

On reaching Gangtok, we hailed to our respective rooms in the Sterling Silver hotel and the view outside the window was breathtaking. We rested that day and satisfied ourselves with the popular and delicious momo and the soup. The sound of the Seven Sisters Waterfalls could be heard and the atmosphere was cold, not chilling yet an eerie sort of cold. A lot of gossip and fun with friends was carried out in the hotel rooms.

Photo of Gangtok: An Unruffled Abode. 3/7 by Arifa Akbar

The balcony view from the hotel

And the adventure begins..

With the fading sound of the waterfall, still groggy, we reached the terrace of the hotel to witness the Kanchenjunga peak visible from the west, just a little before sunrise. It was too faint to be captured on camera, but the cold yet enticing morning breeze, the chill, the weather, the dawn made it an unforgettable experience altogether.

Photo of Gangtok: An Unruffled Abode. 4/7 by Arifa Akbar

Morning view from the hotel terrace

The same day we visited the Rumtek monastery. It was so calm, so quiet, perfect for introspection. The monks there had a strikingly different, simple and peaceful life of their own. The scriptures, the art and architecture were laudable. The sunlight outside contrasted deeply with the dark interiors of the monastery. the lush green valleys fencing around it gave the place a magical appeal. Moving from there, can't stress more on the fulfilling drive to one of the distilleries of Gangtok. The road trip was bumpy, steep slopes, commuters riding on their personal transport, the grand Sikkim Manipal University the settlements on the mountains, the cables and roapway... Aahh! Relishing. Ravishing. Exuberant.

The alcohol manufacturing industry seemed like a wonder. We actually took the permission so that we can write about it in our projects. There were barrels, different machinery and instruments which were deftly explained to us by the mentors. On the back journey, we listened to some strange yet interesting Sikkimese song playing on the radio in the car..

Photo of Gangtok: An Unruffled Abode. 5/7 by Arifa Akbar

The Rumtek monastery surroundings

Photo of Gangtok: An Unruffled Abode. 6/7 by Arifa Akbar

The edge view atop the monastery

Photo of Gangtok: An Unruffled Abode. 7/7 by Arifa Akbar

The lush green valleys of Gangtok

Towards the end..

On the next and sadly, the last day of the trip, (we couldn't visit the waterfalls nearby for lack of time) we headed to the Flower Museum, one of the most famous museums in Gangtok. There was a variety of ornamental plants, beautiful and colourful flowers, leaves and other gardening showpieces. We spent a considerable amount of time there admiring the essence, the beauty of those. With not much time in hand we rushed to the MG Marg Market for some quick shopping! After all traveling without shopping is like tea without sugar! It was a peculiar mall, an open mall rather, with benches on both sides of a middle decorative tree lining squeaky clean road to walk on, shops on both sides. A pleasant evening with an ice-cream in hand. What else can one ask for? We saw exquisite showpieces, lovely knitted and woollen garments etc. and grabbed some of those. Walking back to the hotel (it was quite close) in the dim light, with friends and teachers to accompany, it was a memorable time. One of the most cherishing period of my life!

So friends it's never too late to pack your bags and get going to the serene yet adventurous Gangtok and of course the whole of Sikkim, the unruffled abode, the Paradise of the Bostanists. Get set go! I would love to read your experiences too.

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