Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Splendid Sikkim - Glorious Gangtok

Our journey to Gangtok began with treading down the slopes of Darjeeling. The scenic beauty was even more splendid as the landscape totally changed. The road was really smooth and well maintained. Hence the journey seemed relaxing and fulfilling. On our way we had some of the most splendid views and it was hard to believe that people actually live in such heavenly abodes.

River Teesta begins to join you on your way to Sikkim. Its a full river with swelling waters and a strong current. As you make you way up the curves of various mountains, its a different sight every time. Not a great place for people who catch a nap at the drop of a hat! ; )

We reached a two way point, one leading to Kalimpong and the other to Sikkim. We decided to first visit Kalimpong. Its truly an adventurer's abode. Great trekking, river rafting are some of the adventures you can go for. The river Teesta provides opportunity for an amazing river rafting. There is a monastery here too and its nice too. The Cactus nursery is a visual treat, for all of us who have seen only thorns on a Cactus, can see a brighter, better and flowering side of these plants!

We later headed for Gangtok, again following the Teesta along the way. Sikkim is a very organized, disciplined and clean place. There are clearly defined parking spaces for Tourist and other vehicles. You just can't park at your own leisure and desire. This save a lot of chaos, which ultimately also affects the tourism there. Thank God you don't face any silly traffic jams (that too if on hills!) here in Sikkim, because of this well organized and implemented traffic / parking space. The credit obviously goes to the Police and ultimately to the Government.

This is not all. Am all praises for a state, that thrives on tourism and yet has maintained its sanity. The taxi drivers are regularly given a training (during off season) on behaviour with Tourists. There are surprise checks by Police to Tourists on how much they are being charged by the Taxi driver. In case he is charging more than defined by law, he is immediately fined.

Even a taxi on Army / Govt duty is checked for its genuineness. Am surprised and extremely proud of this state that has its law in complete order... rather than just having law and order.

This is not all, education is emphasised strongly and Govt has made provision for education of kids. The educated unemployed are helped by the Govt to either study further and get a job. Its mandatory for industries setting up shop in Sikkim to provide employment to only the locals.

At every 1.5 Km, there is a policeman. You just can't go wrong with this state! There are well defined points from which you can take a Taxi. You just can't show your hand and stop one in the middle of the road. The taxi drivers, being law abiding, will not stop either. You have to go to the taxi stop (which are at walkable distances).

I think this is one State we all should take example from. Simplicity / Innocence / Purity and Discipline is what defines Sikkim.

The day we reached Gangtok, it was already late evening. Hence it was time for some dinner and a good night's sleep. The next day we were to scale the Nathula Pass. It took 3-4 hours to reach a height of 14000 Ft above sea level! Peaks come with a price, no matter what peak it is! : )

Its getting almost cliche for me to say that the view was splendid throughout. But then I really have to admit that I had seen such a vast, majestic and beautiful landscape only on TV! Snow clad mountains far away seemed mysterious and marvellous. There were small streams and fountains at almost every curve of the mountains. We also saw Jho (I don't know if I spelled it right), which is like Yak. But Jho is a mixed breed of Bull and Yak, I guess so. They look so cute and out of this world kind of creatures. I really felt like taking one home!

There is a natural lake called Tsomgo lake. This is a true natural miracle, all that I can say. Its beauty beyond words and description. Mountains all around, a lake in between and clouds above, Tsomgo lake at an odd 12000Ft is simply a breathtaking view!

Nathula Pass is on a height of 14000Ft. This is one place that makes every Indian proud. The soldiers brave off all odds to vigil our borders - inclement weather, loneliness, long months of stay at such heights & a constant vigilance in their minds. This is our Indo China border. Standing there you can see beginning of China's land.

The temple of Baba, an Indian Soldier (while coming down from Nathula Pass) is very famous and has a very fascinating story of bravery behind it. Such are their stories of valour, that you'd feel utmost gratitude for the freedom you enjoy without the slightest fear. Hats off to my country's soldiers and their bravery.

While coming down from Nathula Pass, one can shop for some Chinese goods. The Indo-Sino trade which opened up recently, has allowed the two countries to trade small stuffs. Apart from this, do visit the Monastery. We shopped around for souvenirs at MG Road. And some trolley tour would be fun, though this view is nothing as compared to what I have already described above.

Though we could visit only the East Sikkim, North Sikkim is supposed to be even more splendid than this. I wonder if anyone can imbibe so much beauty, for its hard to believe. These places have surely descended from Heaven! : )

The locals are beautiful people and are very peaceful. The local people of Sikkim are of 3 communities: The Nepalis, The Bhutia & The Lepcha. Languages spoken here are Nepali, Hindi, English & other like Lepcha, Limbu, Tamang etc. The art work here is amazing. One ought to visit the Handicraft center for some beautiful souvenirs.

It was really difficult to leave Sikkim and go to our next destination, as one would like to stay in Heaven forever. But such is story of us mortals... we have to descend back. : )

At the end of this travelogue, I would only like to say that we Indians should be proud of such natural wealth that we possess. Its completely our endeavour to maintain the serenity, beauty, and purity of such places. Please don't throw / leave rubbish & waste stuff like plastics, bottles, paper cups etc at any such place. Disposing it into a dustbin takes no effort. Please maintain & save such pristine places from spoiling - specially one that can be totally avoided...


Thiru said...

Thanks for your comments. I had looked all your blogs, I liked the travel blog and food blog of all. My passion is traveling and meeting people. I envy you because you are doing what I wish to do. I wish to travel across India when I come back there. All the best.

Amit said...

I felt as if I was travelling through the places while I was reading your experiences. You are lucky to visit to such unique places of India