A Tour To Sikkim
Sikkim is one of the hill states of the northern region of India. It is located at the foothills of the Himalayas. The beauty of Sikkim is absolutely breathtaking. Snowcapped mountains, picturesque vistas, ice frozen lakes, waterfalls, and colorful valleys together form the beauty that is Sikkim. The Kanchenjunga range is one of the most picturesque regions of Sikkim.
As I am a mountain lover, I made a tour to Sikkim two years ago in 2012 with my friends. It was the month of January. We made a contract with a private Tour & Travel Agency for a seven days and six nights tour to Gangtok, Chhangu lake, Nathu la, Baba Mandir, etc.
We started at the Howrah station by train on 22nd January. It was an NGP express. We were very excited to get into the train. The train left Howrah at midnight and reached to NGP station on the next afternoon, at 2.15 PM. Taking a little rest and finishing our lunch we again started by a Tata Sumo.
We knew That the Himalayas are the great walls in the north of India. It is very tough, tall, and almost inaccessible. We did not have any experience with it. We just heard it. But it was the first time we had a real experience of it.
NGP to Sikkim is only 146 km. The journey took almost six hours by car. We were very happy to get a comfortable journey. The path was through the landscape and very crooked. We found many green tea-gardens, water-streams, beautiful rows of birch, maple trees, and some unknown beautiful flowers on our way. Some small waterfalls also were noticed. And, of course, the white hills all around as the mountain peaks are covered with snow and fogs. The rivers in the valley were looking like white snakes from the top of the hill. Those were really eye-catching and marvelous scenarios.
Suddenly, one of my friends told the driver to stop the car. The driver asked, " What happen?" We were also surprised. He said " nothing. I want to capture some photos".
Our driver was a young lad and he immediately agreed to his proposal. He stopped the car beside the road and we all came out. It was a nice sunny afternoon. The Sun was trying its best to go behind the hills. A cold breeze was blowing strongly at an altitude of 6000 ft. The sky is clear & perfectly blue in color. The water in the lakes is crystal clear and the rays of the red Sun were reflecting all around. The cold breeze made the moment more romantic. I enjoyed the moment greatly. We captured the memory in our camera and in our memory forever. After 30 to 40 minutes we again started to our destination.
At around 7 PM in the evening, we reached our destination, Gangtok. A beautiful and well-decorated hotel was waiting for us there. The name of the hotel was “Dreamz Group Royal Boutique Resort”.
The night was very cold and we all were tired enough to find a bed. After getting refreshed, we were offered tea and at 9.30 PM we finished our last food for the day. The menu was Rooti & chicken curry with salad. It was very delicious.
Finishing dinner, I went to the balcony of the hotel for a little. The houses in the villages far away from our hotel, on the lap of the hill, were looking like small matchboxes with dim yellow lights in the dark. Oh! What a nice moment.
The night was very cold. At around 10.30 PM, I went to sleep.
Usually, I do not consider myself an early-riser. But don’t know why I arose very early in the morning. The total area was covered by fogs. The Sun was yet to arise. The cold air was making its strong existence.
The Sun was coming up slowly behind the hills. The Kanchenjunga hills were appearing like white smoke far away from our hotel. The peaks were golden-red in color. I stirred at those peaks for a while to satisfy the appetite of my eyes.
After some time, everything became visible. I found the hotel was decorated, well with some natural flowers. Those were very colorful. There was a flower-garden in front of our hotel.
We know that Sikkim is the home of around 5,000 species of flowering plants, including 515 rare flowers and orchids. I captured some photos of those flowers.
Flower- plants are a traditional style of decorating homes here. Almost every house follows this tradition here. Even today, I don’t come to know the names of those flowers, but closing my eyes, I can still feel the beauty of those flowers.
Finishing breakfast, we went out for shopping.
MG Road in Gangtok is the prime shopping street for tourists in Sikkim. This long road is lined with various shops on both sides and one can find almost everything that one looks for! This market remains closed only on Tuesdays. All the products are made by local craftsmen. One can find here some excellent works of art, such as the Thangkas (embroidered or painted scrolls depicting religious figures), carved wooden items, and carpets. Many electrical goods are also to be obtained here.
As it was the birthday of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the great son of mother India, the streets were decorated with Indian flags and the picture of Netaji. Some cultural programs were also taking place there.
At noon we went to travel by ropeway.
We all know that ropeway is a transport system for materials or people, especially used in mountain areas in which carriers are suspended from moving cables powered by a motor. But I never saw this amazing transportation system before 23rd January 2012.
Initially, I was afraid to get into the ropeway's cabinet. Though it was a cold morning of a winter I was sweating in fear. But when it was starting to move gradually, I felt the joy and thrill of this transportation system. As time was passing by the fear in my heart gradually moving away, leaving the pure fun in my mind. It seemed I was flying above the trees through the hills, talking with clouds. I will never forget such a beautiful but thrilling experience.
How the day was passed by we didn’t track it. In the evening, sitting in the garden of the hotel we enjoyed the tea. It was not a branded one, yet it was far better than a branded tea.
At night we celebrated the birthday of one of my friends and had great food in honor of him.
On the next day, 24th January, in the morning, we started for the “Baba Mandir”.
The actual name of the Mandir is “Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple”. It is between Nathula and Jelepla pass at an altitude of 13,123 ft and about 52 km from Gangtok. Harbhajan Singh was a great soldier of the Punjab Regiment. He was posted here as part of the border patrol force. The border with China is not far away. In October 1968 he suddenly disappeared. It is said that while escorting mules carrying provisions, he fell into a stream and drowned away. After a few days, he came with the dreams of one of his colleagues and told him to make a memorial here on his name. His co-solders then set up this temple here.
Although Harbhajan Sing is no more, the sentries and guards here living with the belief that his spirit is still alive. They all have faith that Harbhajan Sing will always guard and protects them from the enemy.
In fact, it is reported that Chinese soldiers across the border have seen a turbaned solder gives round the camp at night. Many sentries strongly believe that Harbhajan Sing comes here every night because his polished shoes turn muddy in the night and his camp bed-sheet gets crumpled every morning.
Listening to all these myths we were very excited to visit the place. We found a Tata sumo to carry us. The sky was very cloudy and there was a forecast for rain.
I did not know that It was going to be the most dangerous journey in my life. The road was very stiff, zig zag, narrow, and became almost inaccessible due to rainfall. On one side, there were tall hills, and on the other side very deep trench. We all just kept our heads down. Closing the eyes, we were calling on God. Truly speaking, I didn’t know how many times I called in God on that day to make that 52 km of our journey safe and sound. The only thing we had to do was keep faith in our driver. He became the most valuable person in our lives. It seemed the time was not passing by. One of my friends started vomiting and I was also feeling out of sorts.
When our car stopped, opening our eyes, we found that we arrived safely at our destination.
We thanked God and also was thinking that Harbhajan Sing was really alive.
It was really a nice and peaceful place. Very silent all around. One could hear the echoes of his voice. We offered our worship to God and also to the great soldier, Harbhajan Singh Ji.
It was raining, no more. We could see the deep blue sky very close to our heads. For a moment it seemed that we could touch the sky. We were just plying into the white clouds.
Spending 3-4 hours, we took our lunch there. We took some beautiful photos of nature at the hilltop. In the early afternoon we started for our hotel.
Now, I admit that one of the most beautiful creations of God is the mountain, especially The Himalayas as I had a closer look of it during this trip to Baba Mandir.
Our next day’s program was to visit Changu Lake. The actual name of Changu Lake is Tsomgo Lake or Tsongmo Lake. It is situated 40 km away from Capital Gangtok and at an altitude of 12310 feet in the core of the Himalayas. It is one of the highest lakes in the world. During the winter season, the temperature of this lake goes down below the freezing point of water. Hence it is often called a glacial lake. In different seasons one could find different colors on the surface of the lake Therefore, it is considered sacred to Sikkimese people. The Lake also serves as the venue for the Guru Poornima festival in Sikkim. People also believe that the water of this lake has some medicinal properties.
On the morning of 25th January, after taking our breakfast we started for the Changu Lake. When we reached there, we found the snowfall everywhere. The mountain peaks were all covered with thick layers of snow. The water in the lake was almost frozen. For a moment I thought I had reached Antarctica. There is only one color all around and it was white and the color of the lake was deep blue. Some icebergs were floating on the water of the lake. It was the last day of our tour and we had a great enjoyment on the snow there. Though the road from Gantok to Changu was not very smooth and we didn’t have an easy journey, we forgot everything about the hurdles of our journey. It was an amazing place to visit. Oh! What a beauty it was. You may call Sikkim as the " Land of Snow". I captured some photos at Changu Lake to make the tour immortal.
The next day, on the Republic day of India, we started for our home. In the morning we took our breakfast in the hotel and thanking everyone present there we left the hotel.
Though eight long years past and many changes take place in my life, the memories of this tour are as fresh as yesterday. It was an unforgettable tour to the mountains in my life.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 PIJUSH KANTI ROY