On the way to Baba Mandir from Nathula Pass.
This was one of many machines which had been parked along side the road on the way to Zero point. BRO put their efforts in all the harshest condition to make it possible that our people ( Military & civilians can travel across the lengths and breadths of these mountains)
You read so far how we reached Lachen and had amazing time at river side. You can read earlier post here
Planning & Research Courtesy: Insignia
We were told by Mr. Dawa about next day itinerary and we were informed to be ready by breakfast time of 8am. We started little later than 8 am and headed directly to Zero point via Yumthang Valley. This area is famous for Rhododendrons flowers. Some of the articles hint about there are 24 colors of these flower and this is the only place world wide where one can find all the colors. We too spotted few of them and here they are
We did not stop many places while going up as expert advice from Mr. Dawa suggested we could do that while coming back and by this time he had earned our trust in these issue, however Mr. Dawa deserves a separate post altogether.
So while going up we stopped at Yumthang valley for couple of minutes to stretch out legs and one more beautiful spot which I am going to share with you people, here
This is place felt to be pristine and heavenly that we requested Mr. Dawa to stop the cab and stroll around a bit and take pictures. Personally it felt to be like I have ventured in some unearthly place where humans are not allowed to go. More time you spend there and more you feel better from with in.
After spending some 20 – 25 minutes here, we resumed our journey to zero point. This place is called zero point because civilians are not allowed to go beyond. One can see how harsh climate become there for humans and how difficult it is to maintain roads. When we reached to zero point one snow removing machine was at work at farthest end of the zero point. You find snow all around you, like this
China border in east said to be around 15 kms from here. We spent around whole two hours till it started snow fall and forced us to leave and take shelter in our cab and resume journey to Yumthang and then Lachen.
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Friends, If you want to earlier post of this series please click here. Planning & Research Courtesy : Insignia
In morning we reached Taxi Stand around 10am and looked for the taxi number mentioned by the operator to us which we found in few minutes.
We handed our bangs to the driver who eventually shown them their place on the roof carrier of the cab. After talking to the operator for few minutes we took our seats and thankfully I got the seat in middle row. I hope by now you know how important your seat preference can be in mountains.
We had two more couples and one family of three ( parents along with daughter) to accompany us. Our two nights and three days of adventures ( due to roads), beautiful ( mountains, water falls and whatnot ), chilly, breathtaking journey of North Sikkim started with Mr. Dawa the driver, who later turned out one of most wonderful person we came across during whole journey.
I had no idea I was going to have one the most interesting, unexpected journey in these three day which despite of being tiring will turn out a life time experience which will change me personally, socially, spiritually and give my perspective a new angles to look upon. It will make me look my self and my loved one in a light I probably did not expect it to be.
With in some time of leaving from the taxi Stand and heading toward North Sikkim we came across few waterfalls though smaller ones and Dawa told us they are part of Gangtok and we could see them when come back, more over we will se lot more waterfalls on the way that we will be bored by the time we come back and, indeed, man was true to his words.
There many scenic waterfalls on the way to Lachen, which was our first night halt in North Sikkim and got its name from the tributary of Teesta river which is tributary of Brahmaputra river but interesting thing was Amitabh Bachchan water fall.
Yes, my friends, on the way to North Sikkim from Gangtok, there is this waterfall which is named after the iconic actor Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. This is one the many falls those come in your way however people has made it a point to stop at this point and enjoy some self made jokes or feel the awe of the actor himself to get a waterfall named after him.
The whole way is not so smooth and people who has mountain sickness problems should carry their medical kit with themselves as mandatory thing, more over remember to keep it with you and not in the bag which has been packed on the roof top of the cab to begin with,
The temperature hovered around 5 – 12 in day time but we did not feel any problem as we were already prepared for these things. `
After spending whole day on road with all the twists and turns, we reached Lachung for night halt. Evening was cool and we thought of having a stroll down the lane toward the bridge on the Lachung river. I spent almost an hour or so there with mother nature and made calm. We had dinner at the guest house after returning from the bridge and after discussing further itinerary head to sleep for next day.
To know more and see more picture of North Sikkim, Keep Reading.
We decided to go further on our journey without being intimidated by earthquake and reached the Taxi Stand for Gangtok on next morning. The stands looked like
There is this ticket booth where you can go and reserve your seat, get a receipt stating the time of departure, cab registration number, seat number, amount paid, date of journey etc. One can also book these cabs in advance. Time of departure is a tricky thing as cab does not leave as far as it does not get it share of passengers which is 10 passenger excluding driver. You are made to sit in 2 (front)+4 (middle) +4 ( back) fashion in TATA Sumo or Mahindra Bolero SUVs. ( Similar like Siliguri to Darjeeling)
You can expect to struggle for your space as these vehicle are normally designed for 1+3+3 pattern but these taxi operators has their own rules so either you can buy a extra seat or you have to go with what they say. We were supposed to leave Darjeeling by 10:30am as per our ticket but it only started around 11.20am
You are suggested to make good conversations with your fellow passengers as it help to be little less uncomfortable during almost 5 hour journey. If you have foreigners in the same cab you can expected to spend more time at Border of West Bengal and Sikkim where foreigners have to show their papers which can take any where between 15 minutes to half an hour.
During our time in this region it was raining almost every day and this day was not any exception. The journey happens to be pleasant ( I am not counting the seating arrangement part anymore) and if you are an observer you can spot many changes coming in your vicinity ranging from Registration Plates of the vehicles to the way drivers behave, the food, atmospheric temperature, chill in air etc.
We had some Israeli people along with an Indian Army personal who was going back his post and a cute local lady who offered us ( all 10 people) locally made delicious cup cakes. We talked to people there during that time and it help to gain some information and some perspective about the region and how to go further in addition to our own home work, of course.
We reached Gangtok in evening amidst rains and deboarded the cab at Taxi Stand roughly ( 3kms by road, 1.5kms by pedestrian path) from the famous Mall Road of Gangtok. We took a taxi to reach Mall Road which took hardly 10-15minutes to drop us at the destination.
We checked in a hotel right away to put our belongings ( back packs etc.) so that we can walk a little to find out the next days itinerary. We had to do so many things…Only if we knew the future….
We walked down the Mall Road and talked to some of the travel agents for to go for Lachen, La chung ( which happens to be in North Sikkim) etc. After going around for almost 2hours we finalised one of the travel agency to go with.
Here the point to note is you can craft the itinarary as you want it to be which can cost you lot more then standard off the shelf available routes. The standard routes covers the main places but you might feel lack of time to enjoy all of it.
Finally, we had dinner which was followed by fabulous performance of a band in local restaurant. I felt its worth it…..
To know about Northern Sikkim read more
Planning & Research Courtesy: Insignia
You read that we have been reached back to Darjeeling after Toy Train “Joy Ride” You can read full post here
We deboarded the Joy Ride and walked back towards Mall Road, on the way we changed the course instead chose to walk to the St. Andrews Church. We captured many thing on the way like this and this and this Church is surrounded by green landscape not very large but gives it a good feeling being on a hill along with adds to its beauty in many way shown above.When we reached the church which is not very far from station it self. We came to know there had been a community feast going on though Church was not open and will be open next day. Embracing our luck with us we walked down back to Mall Road and came across a spot where a lot of people had gathered and looking at something in the sky. Inquisitive me got to know by by-stander that because of the earthquake a building had tilted and was now touching now adjacent one. It reminded me the how the train was shaking at the station when we got down at Ghoom station for some time, confirming about the earthquake, Later we got to know the magnanimity of the situation in Nepal. May the almighty give Nepal strength. We walked back to the hotel by this time as it had started to get dark. We went to same eatary we checked in last night for dinner and came back by 10 to rest and sleep.
Planning & Research Courtesy: Insignia
You read so far …. I had started from my base from an unknown journey which later became journey to Amritsar, India.
I felt at ease with that noise, wheels rolled on the road of New Delhi leading bus towards outskirts of the city and started to look out to get be busy in not looking unpleasant interiors of the bus. Alas! there was nothing but a lot more unpleasant looking automobile. I tried to find if fellow passenger was interested in killing that time by a conversation and found he indeed was.
This fellow was a sales person with one of leading tyre manufacturer in India and was rather sure about tough life and sales people and sarcastic about easy life of all others. He also proved about India is highly political country and women does not has any right to do anything as they would like to apart from choose which brand of the spice should be used in food they are cooking. Period.
Training my mind in isolation and I started thinking to my self about what would be the morning like. I did not do any so-called home work for Amritsar and just knew couple of name to visit. Apart from the Golden Temple itself. I decided to leave it to morning and doze off my self.
Voice of auto rickshaw drivers, news paper hawkers wake me up in morning to beauty of the City of Golden Temple. Vary of auto drivers, I checked with fellow passenger about distance between Bus Stop and the temple which turned out to be half of a kilo meter which is walkable for me. I rejoiced in mind for saving money on local transport. I picked up my duffel bag and de-boarded. Walking towards the temple I begin to feel what it is to be in Amritsar.
The atmosphere feel little different here, a lot of turban adorning men & women all around you announce the city culture and its majority population both. I had heard about the Punjabi City a lot along with Punjabi antics like size of the glass in which you get served beverages like lassi etc. and wanted to see by myself. Looking around my eyes were searching for famous food joints ( I am a foodie and can eat at any hour of the day & night) but being early morning every body was minding their own business and being ready for the day to come. Wandering like this I reached to the Golden Temple.
To know what happened next, keep reading!
I have not been able to update you people live this time. However you will be able to check updates during coming up posts
We reached to Darjeeling in last post had dinner and slept for first day. Next day we wanted to do famous train of Darjeeling and roam around the city. It was raining and mountains were covered in clouds but we were not the people who rain can stop. Armed with our rain gears we stepped out for rainy morning of Darjeeling. The moment we got out it was pleasant view to see local people to going by their business. We walked towards the Railway Station and saw this
I got curious to know what people were heading into and I got to know there had been a religious public meeting which a lot of people were going to attend. I decided to go in that direction for later for following two reasons: a) I was already on the way to Toy train b) This was a lot of people ( crowd) which I am not a fan So we kept walking towards the railway station of Darjeeling. While watching people and their colourful umbrellas and queues of them in a humours way, we reached the station and enquired about the Toy Train. We got the tickets for trip starting in 20 minutes. Excited, we started observing the station and these are few things we could capture. In mean time the train arrived. While we were trying to figure out the coach number for us the TTE told us to board any one and take any seat as there won’t be many passengers. I marvelled on the size of the coaches, these are too small for people who see Indian Railway normal coaches (A, B, C, S & Gen Class ). I liked seats in the coaches and windows. Below you can have a look at the passenger and the coach. The trip start from Darjeeling Station and takes you to through the city and move towards Ghoom Station which is seven kms away. On the way you find this Loop which is called Batasia Loop which is a beautiful garden place having a Martyr Memorial as well.
We deboarded the “Joy Ride” train for a while and roamed around Ghoom Station , You can go and see the museum there. We chose not to see the museum and rather savour the atmosphere and the scenario. After 10 minutes we started journey back to Darjeeling in same train. To reach the Darjeeling back by afternoon.