Sikkim - Requiem for the wanderers

22nd Dec 2019
Photo of Sikkim - Requiem for the wanderers by mole_on_the_sole
Day 1

After days of ogling various travel vlogs, reading dozen of blogs and scrolling through tons of Instagram pictures, the day finally arrived where the journey to one of the most spectacular north east state begun. Today was mostly about reaching the first destination, the most common point to enter the state of dramatic landscapes, Gangtok.

We were a group of 6 enthusiastic friends traveling from Delhi to Bagdogra Airport after 4 long years of cancelled plans, 4 longer days of debate due to the recent protests post CAA and 4 hours of travel.

It took us almost 6 hours to reach Gangtok from the airport with a meal break in between. We could not enjoy the views in the dark but the sound of Teesta river flowing alongside kept us company.

Around 10 pm we reached our hostel, the energy and vibe of the place instantly drove all of us towards it and even after being tired after a long day, we spent 2 hours chilling at the cafeteria, playing all sorts of games and dancing to the tunes of the best music ever.

Tag Along Hostel - The wall full of vibes (The blue moon picture was drawn by me)

Photo of Tag Along Backpackers, near Nepali Sahitya Parisad Bhawan, Sungava, Gangtok, Sikkim, India by mole_on_the_sole
Day 2

After an early breakfast at the hostel, we left to further explore the east Sikkim. The plan was to cover Tsongmo lake, Baba mandir and Nathula pass, but how can a trip be memorable if everything goes as per the plan. (Key point to note here is that you need special permits to visit each of these places which can be easily arranged through any travel operator. Pro Tip: Always carry your original ID and few passport size photographs when traveling.)

The unnamed frozen lake on the way to Baba Mandir

Photo of Sikkim - Requiem for the wanderers by mole_on_the_sole

The drive to Tsongmo lake was majestic, with amazing views of the snow peppered mountains and soothing cold breeze sweeping along. The lake was frozen and we could see the hints of fallen snow on the lake post the recent snowfall. We headed to the Baba Mandir situated at a height of 13,000 ft, built in the memory of Indian army Baba Harbhajan Singh. With the increase in altitude, the temperature dropped and our excitement rose. We were all geared up to play in the snow and click thousands of pictures at the Nathula pass but our cab driver had different plans, he could not get the required permits and kept the fact from us all this while. We decided not to spoil our moods and drank in all the disappointment with a little bit of alcohol to celebrate christmas back in the hostel with a bunch of newly made friends.

Tsongmo Lake

Photo of Tsongmo Lake, Sikkim by mole_on_the_sole
Day 3

After 2 hectic days full of travel, we decided to keep this day a little laid back and had a lazy start. We checked out of the hostel around 12 pm and did a half day tour of the Gangtok city covering most of the tourist attractions. The places I would recommend you to definitely cover are the Plant Conservatory, Banjhakri Falls, Tashi View Point and Rumtek Monastery. While in Gangtok, savour the best momos and rolls at "The Roll House" @ MG Marg. Later in the day, a stroll at MG Marg and Lal Bazar can contribute insanely to the weights of your luggage, this is the best place to shop for souvenirs to be taken back home.

Day 4

Another day on the roads begun as we started our journey from Gangtok to Pelling going via Namchi and Rumtek, covering most of the South Sikkim and reaching the West.

Namchi, Sky (Nam) High (Chi), is the capital city of South Sikkim and is home to few amazing tourist attractions. We visited the lush green Temi Tea Gradens and the Chardham. Chardham is a sacred pilgrimage spot consisting of replicas of four famous Hindu pilgrimages – Rameshwaram Dham, Jagannath Dham, Dwaraka Dham, Badrinath Dham. There is also a grand temple which narrates anecdotes of Lord Shiva through various beautiful paintings and scluptures. We wished we had more time to spend in the premises of Chardham but we had to continue our journey to reach Pelling.

Huge statue of Lord Shiva in Chardham

Photo of Namchi, Sikkim, India by mole_on_the_sole
Day 5

The first day in Pelling started with a mesmerising view of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga mountain from the balony of the hotel. We decided to make the most of it by having an early start and covering most of the places this quaint town had to offer. The River Orange garden was the first place in the itinerary, as the name suggests, we entered a huge orange garden climbing down a few steps and a river flowing alongside. We had a relaxing time relishing those oranges alongside a flowing river on a pleasantly sunny day. We then headed to the Kanchenjunga falls, it is a perennial waterfall that is believed to originate high up in the glaciers of Mount Kanchenjunga.

River Orange Garden

Photo of Pelling, Sikkim, India by mole_on_the_sole

Kanchenjunga falls - See the hint of rainbow?

Photo of Pelling, Sikkim, India by mole_on_the_sole

After spendig a good amount of time there, we moved to the most talked about Skywalk. Pelling Skywalk is the first glass skywalk in India. Reaching the top gives you a mesmerising view of the kanchenjunga range. The bridge floor is made of transparent glass which made the walk really exciting and no wonder it was flooded with tourists. Around the area there was a small & peaceful monsatery reachable after climbing down few stair steps, believed to be the oldest one around. It was so raw, ancient and untouched, had no signs of human thus was worth the visit.

Birdseye view of the Skywalk Premises

Photo of Sikkim - Requiem for the wanderers by mole_on_the_sole

The skywalk

Photo of Sikkim - Requiem for the wanderers by mole_on_the_sole

The mighty kanchenjunga range view from the skywalk

Photo of Sikkim - Requiem for the wanderers by mole_on_the_sole

Next stop on the list was the Pemayangtse Monastery, again one of the oldest and peaceful place, worth a visit. The sanctum is constructed in the traditional Buddhist architecture, this place has a great collection of Buddhist art and sculpture including the model of Guru Rinpoche. We had a great experience chatting with the monks, understanding their viewpoints and strolling around the museum upstairs.

The highlight of the day was the visit to Rabdentse Ruins, more because of the time we visited. We experienced the best sunset view here after being in Sikkim for all these days. The palace, now in ruins, is spread across the hilltop. A short climb to the top brought us to the iconic Namphogang, the ancient stones where the king sat in the olden days. A visit to these ruins will also give you panoramic views of the valley and the mighty Kanchenjunga range.

Sunset view from the Rabdentse Ruins

Photo of Sikkim - Requiem for the wanderers by mole_on_the_sole

We ended the day with a visit to a local tourist mela and got a chance to try the locally made millet-based drink, Tongba.

Day 6

Headed back to the Bagdogra airport from Pelling enjoying the Teesta river flowing alongside the route. You can enjoy rafting in the river, if time permits, we decided to give it a skip.

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