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.
Tsongmo 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 Rumtek Monastery also noted as the Dharmachakra Center, is a gompa situated in the Indian state of Sikkim close to the capital Gangtok. It is a point of convergence for the sectarian pressures inside of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism that portray the Karmapa controversy. Initially constructed under the course of Changchub Dorje, twelfth Karmapa Lama in the mid-1700s, Rumtek served as the fundamental seat of the Karma Kagyu heredity in Sikkim for quite a while. The religious community is at present the biggest in Sikkim. It is home to the group of monks and where they perform the customs and practices of the Karma Kagyu ancestry. A stupa made of gold contains the relics of the sixteenth Karmapa. Inverse to that building is a school, Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies. The Rumtek Monastery is highlighted in the 2014 Indian mystery thriller novel, The emperor's riddles by Satyarth Nayak.
After Nathula Pass, I approached to Baba Mandir. Where everyone was busy going to cafeteria and buying some stuff and of course visiting the temple, I spent my time by just gazing our national flag. And I was just gazing.....just gazing. My purpose of visiting Sikkim was fulfilled when I saw this beautiful and silent lake which was surrounded by mountains. It was Tsomgo lake.
Changu Lake also noted as the " source of the lake' in Bhutia dialect. Situated around 35 kms far from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, this quiet lake is situated at an elevation of 12,310 ft on the Gangtok Nathu La expressway. The lake has enchanting Alpine forests, which is home to some uncommon creatures like the Red Panda, Brahminy ducks and many more variety of birds. Between the month of May and August one can see a large variety of flowers sprouting like the Rhododendrous, different types of Primulas, Blue and Yellow Poppies, Iries etc. The lake is about 1 km. Long, oval shaped, 15 meters deep and is viewed as a holy place by the nearby local people. It's cool, serene water easily converges with the beautiful excellence around. The Changu Lake is adjacent to Gangtok, one can easily reach it after landing in Gangtok. Accomodation is very easily available in Gangtok.
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. "
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.
Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir
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
After Rumtek I proceeded to NAMGYAL INSTITUTE OF TIBETOLOGY. An interesting place about which I have read a lot. I was eager to explore this place. After entering the museum I was stunned seeing the interior wall hanged paintings. They were masterpiece I would say. The museum consists of variety of arts along with historic manuscripts and some precious items. Completing my visit there I headed to Do-Drul Chorten. Do-Drul Chorten is a large and impressive stupa constructed in 1945. Thereafter I went to flower park and ridge park. After having my lunch I headed to Hanuman Tok. In trip adviser a guy has written about Hanuman Tok that 'If you have not visited Hanuman Tok , your trip to Gangtok is mere incomplete.' His statement made me to keep this place a must see in my list. It was well out of city on a mountain top. The road was typical zig-zag way and not many visitors make it there. On reaching there I realized, this is the place I was in search of. Absolute silence, chill breeze and lush greenery. The temple is maintained by Indian Army. My view of Kanchenjunga was blocked due to heavy clouding. I spent almost an hour there alone. On my way back I visited Ganesh Tok which was on my way to last point Enchey Monastery. Enchey Monastery is a two hundred year old monastery in the Nyingma tradition of Tibet Buddhism located just above the town. The either side of the compound wall to the monastery has prayer bells. DAY 3: NATHU LA AND TSOMGO LAKE
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.
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.
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.
Just ahead of the village, a trail veered off along the sparkling blue waters of the dazzling Elephant Lake into the distant hills. “Younghusband’s Trail”, was etched on a rusty signpost. The locals enlightened me that the path went all the way to Tibet through the now off limits Jelep La pass.
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.
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.
Hotel Norbu Gang
We left for Gangtok after returning from Zero Point and having a sumptuous lunch at the Hotel at Lachung. It was almost 10 pm in the night when we reached our hotel at Gangtok. The next day i.e, 24th May, we had an elaborate American breakfast and set off local sightseeing in Gangtok. The first destination in the town was the Govt. of Sikkim's Handicraft & Handloom Museum, followed by the Flower Show at Congeal Palden Thondup Namgyal Memorial Park, the Ganeshtok -a view point just outskirts of Gangtok from where one can have a bird's eye view of the entire town and especially in case of couples, it is worthy of trying out photoshoot in traditional Sikkimese costume. We had our lunch at Ganeshtok and left for the next destination nearby Gangtok..
The Lachen River which flows from the mountains meets the Teesta River at a point called Chungthang. From here we travel north again on the other side of huge mountains along the Lachung River to the village of Lachung. We made it to the village by late afternoon the same day. Situated en route to Yumthang Valley, this area is known for its varieties of Rhododendron flowers. We stayed here for another high altitude cold night and decided to head to the valley in the morning.
Must Do in Aritar: Watch the sun rise over the Kangchendzonga.Do a trek short or long in and around.Try some momo and traditional local dishes. Aritar Lake Travel Tip: If you love hiking ,then a trek to Phushery Lake,Pangolakha and Rachela, the historic tri junction border of Sikkim, West Bengal and Bhutan,is quite thrilling experience.You may have chance to see red panda,peasant,rare species of butterflies,wild orchids and other exotic flora and fauna. How To Reach Aritar: Bagdogra is the nearest airport and New Jalpaiguri is the nearest railway station. From Siliguri it is almost 5-6 hours drive by hired cab or can be reached by four hours drive from Gangtok via Rangpo. Where to Stay In Aritar: If you need star category hotel,then this place is not for you.Couple of budget hotel is there .But I have seen some good home stay \farm house near the view point. Season to Visit: Avoid rainy season June to August,as these area is prone to landslide.Autumn and winter is best for Kangchendzonga View.
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.
Hotel Yangthang Heritage
The Eastern beauty of India lies in Sikkim. From the strict airport checking at the military base airport in Bagdogra to the cleanliness of Gangtok. Sikkim enchantes a person the way chocolates do to children! It is HEAVEN on Earth and also known as the Switzerland of India. The temperatures may be as cool as the people of Sikkim(metaphoric and literally)! But at the end we all learn something new everyday and your visit to Sikkim will strengthen your bond with mother nature. So Pack Your Bags... (PS- you will also get ample amount of time for contemplation.)
Ravangla is in the South Sikkim District of Sikkim and this Buddhist Stupa is originally known as the Ravangla Buddhist Park. The centerpiece of this park is a huge statue of Lord Buddha and this was inaugrated by the 14th Dalai Lama on the occasion of the 2550th birth anniversary of Gautama Buddha. This is surrounded by a number of famous monasteries and is also a part of the Himalayan Monastery Chain.
Mayal Lang Homestay
Settled amongst the trees is Mayal Lyang, a lovely house for a homestay. Mayal Lyang implies the 'Concealed Land' or 'Area favored by God' in the Lepcha dialect. A little stroll around the spot will disclose why we decided to call it so. Untouched by the traveler hustle clamor, this spot has shrouded fortunes behind each tree. Life here moves at its own particular pace. They will treat you like an augmented individual from the crew. The family you are living with would take you into their home and treat you like your relative. There is no less than one individual from the family who can communicate in English so if there is anything you have to request, you can do as such and make sure of an answer. They will go up against your visits around the wide open and acquaint you with their relatives and companions. They will reveal to all of you the excellence spots and clarify in detail every last plant and what its capacity is.
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.
The royal oaks hotel
I started my journey from Delhi and reached Bagdogra Airport via Kolkata, by air. One can travel on rails, via New Jalpaiguri. From Bagdogra, we have exciting options to reach Gangtok - one may choose to hit the roads the conventional way, or take in the cool gush of air by flying in a helicopter (Rs. 2500 - 3000/- per head). Royal Oaks Hotel, is an OYO Premium, in Pelling, Gangtok, and has ultra luxurious rooms. The delights lie in the elegant sculptures of Buddha, amazing paintings that are capable of pulling you in deep thoughts of your own. Perks: Awesome food; rooftop restaurant; is at just the right distance from the main market of the city; friendliest staff!
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.
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.
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.
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.
After a night of blissful sleep in the comfort of my own cozy bed, I headed out the next morning to take a walk down the memory lanes of Gangtok, the city that has been all these years. A lot seems changed but still feels familiar. There are some seriously talented budding graffiti artists here and they have done a splendid job in beautifying the city with their pieces of art. Towards the end of MG Marg many small eateries and restaurants have come up, and this specific Khan Chacha's catches my fancy and I see many people enjoying their meaty delights to the heart's content.The restaurant looks pretty attractive with Khan Chacha himself holding out a plate for you to try. However I walk past it, its the cakes that interest me the most in Gangtok.
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.
Summit Norling Resort & Spa
Darjeeling is a town and a region in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is situated in the Mahabharat Range or Lesser Himalayas at a height of 6,700 ft. It is noted for its tea industry and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Darjeeling is the central station of Darjeeling district which has a partially independent status inside of the state of West Bengal. Extensive tea ranches were set up in the district, and tea producers created hybrids of black tea and made new fermentation methods. The resultant unmistakable Darjeeling tea is globally perceived and positions among the most mainstream of the black teas. Darjeeling has a few British-style state funded schools which are another attraction in Darjeeling as students from all over the country come to enroll in these British style schools. Darjeeling has a calm atmosphere with wet summers brought on by monsoon downpours.
This week long stay and ride around the creeks and narrow winds in the hills would have got you familiar with the wafting smell of momos (baked dumplings), 'Chhang' and the twisting-turning topography of Sikkim. This journey to Hee Bermick winds around paddy fields and hamlets, with a small detour to the Singshore Bridge, which is the second highest bridge in Asia. And for a more Sikkimese aunthentic feel to your day, we stop over for the night at Dhungay Homestay. Distance cycled: 60 km
Dubdi Monastery, occasionally called Yuksom Monastery is a Buddhist monastery of the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism near Yuksom, in the Geyzing subdivision of West Sikkim district, in northeastern India. The Chogyar Namgyal established the first monastery known as the Dubdi Monastery in 1701, at Yuksom in Sikkim, which is part of Buddhist religious pilgrimage circuit. Established in 1701, it is professed to be the oldest monastery in Sikkim and is located on the top of a hill which is about an hour's walk (3 kilometres) from Yuksom. It was also known as the Hermit's Cell after its ascetic founder Lhatsun Namkha Jigme, who along with two other lamas from Tibet met at Norbugang near Yuksom and crowned Phuntsog Namgyal as the first King or Chogyal of Sikkim at Norbugang Yuksom in 1642. The literal meaning of 'Dubdi' in local language is "the retreat".