There are many adjectives and Hashtags applied for Gangtok such as Sleepy City, Mesmerising and pretty, dramatic mountains, as of kiddie, Oh that serenic beauty and these Hashtags were just escalating our curiosity.
So actually in June last year (2019), I made it to Gangtok (Sikkim), with my family. With the temperature in Delhi reaching its peak, we were happy to leave the city behind. We could see the beauty outside, that was so fascinating like of styled in a very picturesque manner, as we could feel it right after we stepped out of the “Bagdogra” airport, Kolkata (nearest airport to Gangtok, Sikkim). We reached Gangtok with the clock striking 10:00 pm.We were just amazed by the beauty,that was like no where I have been before. Gangtok is the capital city of the north eastern state of India “Sikkim”. It is in the eastern region and is the largest town of Sikkim.
As the little Himalayan city is bordered by the four sides – West Bengal in the south, China occupied Tibet in the north and north east ,Nepal on the west and kingdom of Bhutan in the east , Folks found here are of different ethnicities-Nepalese, Bhutia,Tibetan or Lepcha.The locals here generally speak Nepali,and some may even speak Hindi or English,Generally two religions are prevalent here-Buddhism and Hinduism.
Away from the crowded streets , pollution,Gangtok city is a place where one can have a leisure time,and explore the untouched paradise.It is such a fun place to visit for you can enjoy eye catching sightseeings there,from ‘Trekking’to’Rafting’,’caving’, ‘paragliding’ to visiting religious sites such as “Do Drue Chorten”, “Rumtek monastery”,”Hanuman tok”,etc , Gangtok provides you the best of joys of life.The people here are so welcoming,they receive the guests with open arms,that completely justifies the sanskrit phrase “Athithi devo bhav “. We checked in to the hotel and slept.
Next day, the morning was very pleasant. It was slightly raining outside, naughty winds were blowing. We had our breakfast. In breakfast we had mouthwatering Tibetan delicacies like “Momo”,” Thukpa” (a form of noodle) and sikkimese traditional cuisine “Sha phalay”.
Rain stopped after a while, we had our cabs booked and we got our permits. You need to get a permit through your registered travel agency for visiting “Baba Harbhajan temple” and “Tsomgo lake”, as it comes under the protected areas of Sikkkm,hence Protected area permit(PAP)is needed.
>Being in the lap of nature, there is beauty all around in Gangtok,those clean roads,greenery all around,hypnotizing scenic view,just holds our attention throughout the way to our destination.
>So we reached finally at an altitude of about 13120 ft and about 52 kms from Gangtok,’Baba Harbhajan temple’ is located between Nathula and Jelepla pass.That panaromic view just made me pause for a while.”Baba Harbhajan Singh”was an Indian army soldier.People of Sikkim worship Captain”Baba” Harbhajan Singh,he is cherished as the” Hero of Nathula”by the Indian army who built a shrine in his honour.We got to know that a belief is there that Baba’s soul protects the Army soldiers in the Himalayan terrains.There you can also get a name plate and a picture of yours signed by the Army men as a memory that you had visited the holy shrine. Some artifact shops are there where you can explore some ancient and handicrafts articles.
>On the way from the shrine to our next destination”Tsomgo lake”many beautiful tiny flags of 5 different colours-yellow,green,red, white and blue were just gathering intrusiveness of all of us.On asking about them from our cab driver ‘Sanam’ we got to know that they are prayer flags,the set of flags are considered holy and are believed to bring happiness and prosperity by the folks there.Those five colours of the flags mean Yellow-earth,Green- water,Red- fire,White-air and Blue- space.We reached at the Lake.
>Tsomgo lake-Tsomgo lake or the Changu lake is considered a sacred lake by the locals in Sikkim.We could feel as we are in mini Switzerland there,as the scene in front of us was magical.Changu lake is freezed most of the times.
We hadn’t carried much warm clothes with us.But there are some small shops here,there luckily we got some good warm stuffs there.We rode on Yaks there too.
>The life there is so hard.The shopkeepers there told us that there are no villages nearby this zone,and their home is far away from the lake,to avoid difficulties in up-down daily they stay in their shops at night during the peak tourist season,and to keep themselves warm they make a special home made kind of a wine for them.We had yummy cup noodles there.
>We reached our hotel in Gangtok.
We had some special sikkimese cuisines in dinner.Next day we headed to the famous MG Marg.
>MG Marg-Mahatma Gandhi Marg or the road is also the main market area of Gangtok.There are all kinds of glittering shops as gift stores, medical stores,food stalls , restaurants,and what not.The entire road is a pedestrian area only and the zone is litter and vehicle free.The locals there are so aware and sincere towards the cleanliness of their city that if they’ll see you smoking or littering anywhere they will object to it then and there.
>There are many other attractions in Gangtok too such as”Tashi view point”, Nathula pass(only Indians are allowed to visit this pass with a special permit only),there are several places in Gangtok from where you can get a wonderful view of the world’s third highest peak ” Kanchenjunga”.
Finally the Amazing tour to Gangtok ended. The best thing about Gangtok what I feel is the natives there. They are just so aware about the environment; they have kept this beautiful place as it is. To litter anywhere on the public places is a crime there and they don’t need anyone like the police or the authorities to remind them everytime about this,it’s in their behaviour to keep their city clean and they consider the same as their own responsibility. At the same time they have kept their culture alive till date.
Author: Sakshi, New Delhi