Sikkim & Bhutan – Epilogue & Acknowledgement

It had been great time during these two weeks when we kept exploring one place after another and Himalayan beauty kept us mesmerised and shocked me at some points when I could not even my eyes open for some time due to abundance of sun light and all over reflection by snow.

Sikkim is one of least explored region in India is seems and as and when one approach Northern parts of Sikkim, it goes on to become more and more tranquil and peaceful. I envisioned to do cycling in this region someday.

Simplistic life style but great awareness of nature in Bhutanese people is admirable, I saw couple of cleanliness drives where people were picking plastics from road side to keep area clean. It is mandatory for government officials to wear national dress of Bhutan and that make it more beautiful.

I heard Bhutanese music sometimes during our taxi drives and like quite few of the track though I dont understand them.

Sikkim & Bhutan was not our plan initially but thats what was fated to us. Yes, you have read it right, it was not a solo journey. It would be stupid of me to finish this series with out writing about my dear friend, great writer, amazing photographer, not so regular blogger,  and travel partner on this journey.

Insignia or Bindu is the person who made this journey possible in first place. When we came to about fall out of Philippines plan, it was not a good feeling to say the least but then shit happens.

We discussed many destinations in few days and after going through I-dont-know-how-many-places Bhutan is what we could book tickets for. At this point I did not know a things about Bhutan as it was a last moment decision.

She took it in her hands probably to make most out it and I have already had my faith placed in her when it comes to travel, after who would not do that with a person who has already travelled 15+ countries and 160+ cities.

During whole journey she had been always ahead of the time and knew where are we going next day and covering what all destinations along with at least preliminary information about the places.

I know I can not thank her enough for all that she has done however I hope for more journey with her as my thank you gesture. 🙂

Insignia!

Insignia!

             You can read more about her travelogue and other stuffs here

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Visual Delight – 8

On the way back to Nathula!

On the way back from Nathula!

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Visual Delight – 6

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On the way to Gurudongmar Lake.

To see other related posts:

Visual Delight -5, Visual Delight -4, Visual Delight -3, Visual Delight -2, Visual Delight – 1

Sikkim & Bhutan – 9

 After having a treat of all possible sorts ( gourmet, visual, travel ) reached Lachen in our last post here

Planning & Research Courtesy: Insignia

Next day we were supposed to leave the base early like 3 am as instructed by Mr. Dawa if we wanted to spend some time at Gurudongmar Lake. We were already on road ( whatever was there or was not there) when I gained my senses and I thought I was dreaming.

Snow fall started on the way to Gurudongmar and our trip started to become doubtful but

Viola! I was in for fun and I had to have it all. Like this…

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We had to take a halt due to snow fall and there was this small shoppe where we took shelter and warmed ourselves at fire place made in centre of the shoppe. Above picture showing you road or way right outside the shoppe.

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I was surprised to see these creature living life amidst this snow.

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The Lake, one would just want to look at it for infinite time. The whole landscape is covered with snow but still its beauty is incomparable & unmatchable. There is a spot in lake where water never freezes and it said to be the sacred place.

We spent considerable time given it was chilling cold over there, paid a visit to the Gurudwara and the Monastery which has been made in same compound. Roamed around, there was so much reflection of light here due to white color that not having a pair of shades can be real nightmare for someone.

I went down to lake’s liquid part and spent few minutes there, felt like meditation.

We resume to be on roll but could not help to keep marvelling the beauty of the region

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You see this right after Gurudongmar and its stark difference with all the snow we saw.

Keep watching this space for more

Visual Delights-5

This beauty is what I captured while returning from Zero point and going toward Lachen!

This beauty is what I captured while returning from Zero point and going toward Lachen!

If you would like to feel more delighted, please click these links:

Visual Delights – 4

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Visual Delights -2

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Visual Delights -3

Visual Delight -1

Visual Delight – 2

Work in progress!!

Work in progress!!

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)

Hail BRO!!

Sikkim & Bhutan – 7

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

Red Rhododendrones!

Red Rhododendrons!

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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

Heaven!

Heaven!

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

Monks in Snow!

Monks in Snow!

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She cooked food for us at zero point! We had our breakfast there!! - God Bless Her. Mr. Dawa is the one is who is having food.

Her name is Pema ( which is one of the most common name probably for ladies across this region ) She cooked food for us at zero point! We had our breakfast there!! – God Bless Her. Mr. Dawa is the one is who is having food.

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.

If you like what you read and saw, share it. Keep reading, Stay Happy!

Sikkim & Bhutan – 6

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.

On the way to North Sikkim from Gangtok

On the way to North Sikkim from Gangtok

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.

Water Fall on the way to North Sikkim from Gangtok

Water Fall on the way to North Sikkim from Gangtok

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. `

Sikkim Sky

Sikkim Sky

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.

A Welcome Gesture at the Hotel where we had our lunch on the way to Lachen

A Welcome Gesture at the Hotel where we had our lunch on the way to Lachen

To know more and see more picture of North Sikkim, Keep Reading.

Sikkim & Bhutan – 5

You read, We have finished our day at Darjeeling on the same day earthquake rocked Nepal and rest of Indian subcontinent

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

Taxi Stand for Gangtok in Darjeeling!

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