Cycling through land mine areas and sniper ranges of Nathula.Gnathang – Nathula Pass – Gnathang (13,500 ft- 14,140 ft - 13,500 ft).Distance: 29 kmComing this far, we all wanted to cycle on the fourth day and reach Nathula. We got multiple pep talks from our guides, Bikash and Shanti di, and this was enough motivation to keep us going.The winds at Nathula made cycling challenging for all riders. I was riding alongside the 13-year-old, who would ride past me humming, "I like to move it, move it..." If anything, it was the goofing around on this route that kept our spirits high.We crossed the majestic Elephant Lake, the famous Baba Harbhajan Mandir, Hangu Lake and Tsomgo Lake on our way to one of the highest passes and every pitstop was beyond an overwhelming experience. At Nathula, we entered the army settlements and across the border gate we could see the fluttering Chinese flags reminding us how far we had come.We returned to our homestay in Gnathang and spent the night playing memory games, atlas, bluff and even invented a few new games that night. The bukhari and warm chang made us all the more comfortable and by the end of the games, the doctor in the squad was declared the "Bluffmaster" that night.
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Tsomgo Lake (Changu Lake)
Tsomgo Lake is situated 38 km from Gangtok and at an elevation of 12,400 ft, the ethereally excellent Tsomgo lake is an absolute necessity on each visitors agenda. A twisting street through rough mountain landscape and sharp cliffs takes you to Tsomgo, which implies source of the water in Bhutia dialect. It is heared that in past times, Buddhist ministers would study over the water's shade of the lake to figure the future. The lake is likewise of extraordinary importance for the Jhakris of Sikkim who assemble here every year on Guru Purnima. For the visitor, a visit to the lake offers a glorious excursion. Rides on colourfully designed yaks and donkeys are offered at the lake site, which additionally has a variety of food stalls serving snacks and drinks. Snowboots and gumboots can be rented here. Tsomgo lake is open for both Indian and outside nationals, however international guests must be in a gathering of two or more and need to apply for a guests license through an authorised travel organization.
The Nathula merges the Indian state of Sikkim with China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The pass is situated, at 4,310 m above sea level, forms as a piece of a branch of the old Silk Road. Nathu signifies "listening ears" and La signifies "go" in Tibetan. On the Indian side, the pass is 54 km (34 mi) east of Gangtok, the capital of Indian state of Sikkim. Just natives of India can visit the pass, but only after successfull permit from the administration of Gangtok. Nathu La is one of the two open trading border posts in the middle of China and India.The others being Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh in Nepal. Sealed by India after the 1962 Sino-Indian War, Nathu La was re-opened in 2006 after various trade understandings. The Chinese government is wanting to extend its rail administration to Yadong, barely a couple of kilometers from Nathu La.
I headed to Tsogo lake. Earlier in the day the lake was clear and there was no crowd. Now the atmosphere changed totally. . It was crowded and the whole lake was covered with fog. People were enjoying the Yak ride and clicking photos with the fancy dressed yaks. The climate was pleasant and I enjoyed a lot. By 1700 hrs I reached Gangtok and as usual I started roaming on M.G Road. Suddenly a unexpected surprise struck me. While I was walking on the street I met one of my school days friend, Souvik. What a way to meet him after a gap of 10 years. It was one of my evergreen unforgettable movement in the trip
Banjhakri Water Falls
Banjhakri falls is a remarkable touristy spot in Sikkim. There is very popular story behind this spot and its name. The word "Banjhakri" means woodland shaman, now if we separate it further "Boycott" implies primitive and "Jhakri" implies shaman. Shaman is a priest among specific people of northern Asia, viewed as one with recuperating and supernatural forces who can impact the spirits and achieve good and evil. Furthermore, it is these Shamanistic practices that are delineated by means of the dolls in this amusement park. Some of these portray customs, some recuperating ceremonies and others the start process in the life of a shaman. All these are entirely fascinating as is the waterfall that thunders down from a height of say 70 feet. Few facilities have been built for the visitors to go closer to the waterfall and take a shower.This a ideal place for kids to enjoy and is also best for family hangouts.
MG Marg Market
"M. G. Marg otherwise called Mahatma Gandhi Road or MG Road is a street which is viewed as the town focal point of Gangtok. The street and the territory around it has changed throughout the years. It is currently more like a long extend of open shopping center or lane square where local people and visitors take recreation walk or simply sit and unwind on one of the numerous seats laid along the center and both sides of the street to absorb the vibe. The whole range is free of trash, smoke ,vehicle and any other mode of transportation. It's a ""Person on foot"" zone and vehicles are not permitted on this 1 kilometer stretch of the street. In line with government's green activity, all structures on both sides of this street are painted with green colour. The Statue of Unity overlooks MG Marg. The statue includes the figures of Bhutia Chieftain Khye Bumsa, the Lepcha pioneer Thetong Tek and his wife Ngo-Kong-ngol. Shops in MG Marg are open from 8am to 7pm. "
In close vicinity of Gangtok, stands the Enchey Monastery (3 km far from the town focus) on top of a hill. The site on which the monastery stands is accepted to be honored by the renowned tantric master Druptob Karpo. It is said that this loved master, who had flying ability, traveled to this site from Maenam Hill in south Sikkim and manufactured a little hermitage. Later, amid the rule of Sikyong Tulku in the mid nineteenth century, the monastery was built and given the shape of a Chinese Pagoda. The Monastery building is a little and basic two storied structure encircled by tall pine trees. The special highlights of monastery are the wall paintings portraying the protective god and wheel of law on the porch. The three Gods worshipped in this monastery are Buddha, Loki Sharia and Guru Padmasambhava. The yearly celebration of Enchey is praised on the eighteenth to nineteenth day of the twelfth month of the Tibetan timetable which is January.
Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial Temple
Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir otherwise called Baba Mandir, located in the middle of Nathula and Jelepla at an elevation of 13,123 ft and around 52kms from Gangtok, it is a recognized touring spot of Sikkim. This mandir is devoted to Harbhajan Singh, who was a trooper of the Indian Army. Two sanctuaries have been manufactured to show adoration to Baba Harbhajan Singh. The old one has been assembled at the dugout's site, where Baba Harbhajan was posted amid his residency in the Indian Army. For the travelers' convenience, the samadhi of Baba Harbhajan Singh has been reconstructed at the intersection of Kupup Gnathang street and the trail leading to Menmecho Lake, on November 11, 1982. This place of worship is famously perceived by touristers all over the country as New Baba Mandir. A round excursion from Gangtok including Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir takes about Rs 3,500 by a large reserved vehicle like Sumo or Qualis.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
A lot of Tibetans have made Sikkim their home. I think I encountered more Tibetan refugees than locals here. And, therefore you can find traces of the Tibetan culture here. If say all of it is accumulated in one place, it is here the Institute of Tibetology. The main attraction is of course the museum, that explains the history and the practice of Tibetan Buddhism perfectly to someone who knows nothing about it.
Elegantly situated at MG Marg, the heart of Gangtok, this restro is an incredible spot to appreciate, loosen up and mollify your craving throbs with lip smacking recipes and reviving drinks. The menu has crisply prepared baked goods, smooth cakes, filling sandwiches and sweet-smelling espresso on its menu. Run by local people and expats, Bakers Cafe is absolutely a spot to investigate in the town.This spot is a sample of reasonable valuing with amazing nourishment quality. The staff is exceptionally respectful and are continually ready to present with a smile, also the soothing music played here will make you feel refreshed. Cozy warm air, awesome spot for a recess from all the strolling and visiting around. Cakes served here are heavenly and the coffee is outstanding. If you cherish breads or have a sweeth tooth, you will love this spot. One must pay a visit to this cafe and must try the coffee they serve.
I find local folklore the most interesting in any place. So, here is a local legend. Baba Harbajan Singh is a hero not only for the locals here, but also the army. He was a soldier who dies during the Indo-China war. There are various stories leading his sainthood and subsequent worship by the people and the building of this temple. One states that he appeared in a fellow soldier's dream and instructed him to build a shrine. Other states on how his spirit would give the soldiers warning prior to the attack during the war. In general, he is believed to be protecting the soldiers stationed there and is revered as a saint.
Nobody tells you much about this place, except that it is a Buddhist Stupa. And, there is an eerie message outside that says that the land it was built on was once haunted by evil spirits that would kill the people who came here. The stupa had to be built to free the land from these spirits. For something that claims to do such a dangerous task, the stupa looks quite a bright and pleasing place. It's open to the public only on specific days and is a great place to stop by.
Hanuman Tok is located more or less 5 km rising from the White Hall on a bifurcating street of the GangtokNathula highway. It is 11 km far from Gangtok town. The height of this tall structure is about 7,200 ft. The Hanuman Tok in Sikkim itself gives brilliant photographic perspectives of the Khangcendzonga. The snow-topped mountain tops look heavenly from this sanctuary. From the Hanuman Tok, one can likewise see the waterworks of Selep located far away, the most important and only source of water for the whole city of Gangtok. The Hanuman Tok rests at a height of a few hundreds feet over for the whole city. The adventure to Hanuman Tok is an exciting one, which offers excellent perspectives of the capital city of Gangtok and the surrounding uneven hilly regions. There are several chortens and stupas at this spot, which imply the accurate areas where the last customs of the royal corpses were carried to.
After a tiresome day at Nathula pass, my parents retired to bed as we had to leave early in the morning for Rumtek monastery! But instead of staying in the hotel room my sister and I decided to take a stroll in the streets to get an essence of Gangtok's night life! We headed towards the Mahatma Gandhi Marg which was pretty close to our hotel.
Yumthang Valley - Tamu Tour and Treks
Yumthang valley is another beauty in itself. Mist cladded mountains and valleys, wild horses strolling briskly all around. It gives you a feeling of mini Switzerland(not a comparison but just a reference). It is place where you can spend a good amount of time and then head for other adjoining places like Zero Point, Katau and an hot water spring. This valley is also known as valley of flowers but we did not find much of an evidence to verify that. Nevertheless, the trip to Yumthang valley is a uber pleasant experience that you would love to capture in your camera.
Located on MG Road, Baker’s café is one of the many cafes to duck into for a warm coffee and deliciously baked stuff. The ambiance is warm and cosy, and there’s no other place as inviting for coffee when a sudden drizzle catches you by surprise on MG Road. Or you are simply tired after shopping for numerous trinkets on the most fashionable stretch in Gangtok.
Himalayan Zoological Park
Set up in 1991, Himalayan Zoological Park is the first zoological park of its kind in the North-Eastern area of India. The Park fulfills the impression of cutting edge zoo, where the creatures are kept in imitated regular conditions. The Park has been set up, to safeguard the untamed life, without irritating the animals and keeping them in their normal habitat. Situated in Bulbuley, Himalayan Zoological Park is at a separation of 3 kms from Gangtok. At a height of 5,840ft (1,780 mtrs), the Zoological Park additionally tenders a mind blowing perspective of Mt. Khangchendzonga. This Park sprawls in a territory of 205 hectares in the bumpy terrain. The Government of Sikkim under the Department of Forest, Environment & Wildlife is controlling the power of Himalayan Zoological Park. The powers are additionally wanting to keep, the Himalayan species of creatures and flying creatures that are found in high terrains.
Mahatma Gandhi Marg
The city is live! MG Marg is the main market and a beautiful place to go to. You can take a carpool for Rs. 20/- per head (yes, they have it, running the city even before the low-landers started making money out of it). The sophisticated Vishal gaon has a cheaper, more rugged local brother - the Chotey Gaon. The people are extremely friendly, you can hit a cheerful conversation very easily and get going on and on about yourself, parallely taking suggestions and P.S. notes from them.
Lingdum Monastery, Gangtok: Ranka Monastery (also known as Lingdum Monastery) which is located about 20kms from Gangtok town is one of the most wonderful monasteries in east Sikkim. The monastery is spread out in a vast area with great scenic views. Since it's relatively a new monastery and does not have much historical or strategic significance like Rumtek Monastery, it is not much talked about. Nevertheless, it is surrounded by lush hills in a divine atmosphere and is one of the most intricately decorated monasteries of all.
Flower Exhibition Centre
A delightful tropical nursery, the Flower Exhibition Center in Gangtok is a heaven for plant lovers. The area is a lovely extend of greenery and is a genuine treat to the eyes. This is likewise the venue of the acclaimed Sikkim Flower Show, normally held around March, when the orchids around the district are in full sprout. Individuals from around the country particularly go to Sikkim around this opportunity to go to this beautiful event. Inside the range is not vast but rather it has astonishing gathering of flowers of a wide range. If you have a thing for flowers, then this is the spot for you. Be that as it may, the best time is between March to June when the Orchids are in full bloom and put on display. Every single Flowering plant are marked with the goal that you know which is what. There is a little footbridge over a small artificial pool that you can stroll over. The spot is perfect for incredible photography amongst bright flowers and bushes.
On the way, you can also halt for some time to get some snaps with Changey Falls. You will get many falls like this in Pelling. Changey falls from a height of about 300m and is a treat to watch when there is bright sunshine.Then we headed towards Uttarey village. The height of Uttarey is about 6600 ft. The main attraction here is the beautiful view of the valley with stunning backdrop and a park created in the memory of Tenzing-Hillery.
The frozen road through the lower Himalayan region from the queen of hills Darjeeling to capital city of Sikkim. Darjeeling and Gangtok are situated at 97 km of distance or 2 hours road driver through,beautiful tea garden,great valleys and majestic mountains of Himalaya. A journey through the Darjeeling -Gangtok -Pelling -Tashiding is the life time experience for the adventures traveler.
Infinity Futsal Arena
Infinity Futsal Arena is indeed making some noise in this town of football lovers. With a stunning view of the lofty hills on one side of the futsal arena, the place is a treat for sports lovers. Along with good food, occasional match screenings and futsal tournaments at the stunning futsal arena make it a unique spot for visitors who want to discover the combined local passion for food and sports.Try: Tiramisu MartiniWhere: Roof Top, Mount Simvo Complex, Opposite Krishi Bhawan
The Coffee Shop
Looking for the best pizza in town? Head to the Coffee Shop where the relaxed ambience and the courteous staff will receive you with unforgettable warmth. Apart from the great coffee and Darjeeling tea, it is a favourite spot for continental food in Gangtok. Try: Hazelnut latte and the pizzasWhere: MG Marg | Anola Building
One of the oldest bookstores in Sikkim is a special place for locals and if you're looking for good cafes in the city, the people of Gangtok will take you by the hand to Rachna Books. Below the bookstore, there's Cafe Fiction, where you can spend time sipping the piping hot coffee skimming through the fresh copy of a book you just discovered. The earthy decor, the smell of Sikkim's local Temi tea and freshly baked bread wakes you up to the beauty of this city.Try: Lemon CheesecakeWhere: Below Rachna Books, Jeewan Theeng Marg, Development Area
Well, this is not a cinema hall at present, but used to be back in the nineties. This building now houses a modest art gallery started by the youth of Gangtok. I must say they are doing a splendid job in showcasing the talent the budding artists of Sikkim have. Their's is an "Art with a Cause", these art pieces have been sold for large amounts of money which was later donated for Nepal Earthquake victims.
Paragliding at Reshithang. Accompanied by my pilot, they called him Pilot Prateek, I went up the hill. Excited and reluctant, when I saw the high, steep hill, I lost my mind. The trainer told me to get equipped, run down the hill, and Jump! How could I jump? On the verge of giving up any moment, I thought, "..but I have to cross this thing off of my to-do list, hence, make the jump!" ** The moment I made the jump, the winds held me in their arms, higher, and higher. What came next, is beyond words! I was awestruck. It was Qualia. I started talking to my pilot. He is 24! and is paragliding since the past 8 years, this - not being his profession. Fear is momentary. What comes next (pause) is Euphoria.
Lal Market Road
After relishing on the yummy pastries, I took a walk down the stairs that lead to Lal Market from M.G. Marg, on both sides of this flight of stairs are numerous little shops selling souvenirs and other everyday utility goods . There's a huge shopping complex called Kanchengha Shopping Complex at the end of the stairs. This building gives you a sneak peek into the everyday lives of the people living in Gangtok.The well organized complex houses numerous small stalls and shops selling everything from organically grown vegetables, to churpi or hardened cheese made from Yak's milk, bamboo shoots, to fiery small red peppers that could give the peri peri peppers a run for their flavour and a lot more. The ground floor essentially is the vegetable market, the second and third floors sell almost everything such as clothes, winter wear, bags, shoes, puja offerings and affordable kitchen appliances mostly Chinese. You will also find a store by the name of SIMFED (Sikkim State Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation Ltd.), these stores were put across Sikkim as a price control mechanism so as to safeguard the people of Sikkim from the inflation in consumables. SIMFED was established as an Apex Marketing society for the state of Sikkim with the main intention of undertaking wholesale supply of consumer goods to the Multi Purpose Cooperative Societies (MPCS) and Consumer Cooperative Societies (CCS) and to arrange for bulk marketing of the surplus Agricultural produce including the important cash crops of the state.
Do Drul Chorten Stupa
Do Drul Chorten is the most noteworthy and maybe the greatest stupa in Sikkim. Situated close to Gangtok, Do Drul Chorten makes a noteworthy piece in the visitors list who are visiting East Sikkim.This gigantic stupa or landmark is situated at a short strolling distance from the Research Institute of Tibetology. In 1945, this sacred stupa was built under the reign of Late Truslshi Rimpoche, who was the head of Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. One can see youthful and old lamas examining and working in the complex of Do Drul Chorten. Explorers from everywhere throughout the state come to pay their tribute at this blessed stupa close to Gangtok in Sikkim. The Chorten Stupa is stamped by a brilliant golden dome at the top. This brilliant top can be seen from different spots in Gangtok. This chorten is viewed as a standout amongst the most significant chortens of Sikkim.
Known for once being a transit point on the famous silk route to Lhasa, Zuluk is a small village located on a hilltop in East Sikkim, and also serves as a military base for the Indian Army. Slowly emerging as an offbeat destination, Zuluk is ideally located on the Silk Route such that Padamchen, Lungthung, Nathang, and Kupup lake can be covered in day trips. Known for offering breathtaking views of the sunrise over Kanchenjunga, Thambi Point is a must visit. Being a restricted area, one needs to apply for a special permit to enter Zuluk. The permit can be obtained from Gangtok or Rangli. Zuluk can be reached by road from Gangtok, Bagdogra, Kalimpong, Pelling, and Darjeeling. One can make arrangements to stay at one of the many homestays in the village.
There are many quintessential bakeries here in Gangtok which serve the best of the cakes,pastries,cupcakes, macaroons,cookies etc. The Baker's Cafe,The Glenary's, Tripti's etc. My personal favourite though, is Tripti's. I love cakes that are a perfect combination of moist, cold and correct blend of flavours and Tripti's is exactly where I get them. Do indulge in their coffee pastry and cream doughnut, which is a subtle doughnut layered in milk cream,not too sweet or overloaded in cream but just the perfect taste a doughnut should have. It Simply melts in your mouth.
M a i n Taxi Stand Road
Chapter 3:- "All ends that ends well" Now the time had come to adieu Gangtok and the trip too. The time had come where everything will be back to square one, the time had come where I had to just take back these memories with me. The time had come to leave. I took a shared taxi to Siliguri, from where I had to board a bus to Kolkata. The route was almost the same but the feeling wasn't. I am now more calm and silent rather than excited. The car which took me to these heavenly places now is taking me back to that place from where everything started.