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Odyssey of HappinessAuthor: Surya
Date of Trip: December 2014
Places are like people. That’s what I believe in. You connect with some and you can’t seem to connect with some. I visited Sikkim in the chilly December of 2014. This was a huge chance that I was taking since snowing starts by this time and roads may get blocked and I may not have been lucky enough to get to all the places that were on top of my mind. But I so badly wanted to witness the beauty of Sikkim when it is snow covered.
An early morning flight to Bagdogra [that’s the nearest airport]and then about 5 hours’ drive from Bagdogra took me to Gangtok. What a beautiful journey that was with Teesta river giving me company all the way. Though I was quite tired the day I reached, I wanted to go and explore the place. I had already made a reservation at Hotel Yavachi. Just kept my bags there and I headed to the famed M.G.Marg there and it is an awesome place to shop for winter wear and boots. Affordable prices coupled with good quality. There are many good restaurants in MG Marg.
It was already day 2 and I wanted to visit Nathula Pass for a really long time. Nathula Pass is an Indo-China border located at 14000 odd feet and 56 kms away from Gangtok. I had decided not to read much about it as I wanted the place to surprise me. Yes it did and how! It is border area that is one of a kind. Indian Army and Chinese Army quarters were like 2 neighbor’s houses – side by side with just one thin line of fencing marking the boundary. A couple of talks with the Indian Army men, hot cup of tea and few plates of momos later, I started towards the ethereal Changu Lake. It is also known as Tsomgo Lake.
The place is so beautiful and serene. It also gives you the option to see yaks and even go on a yak ride by the side of the lake. A couple of photos later, it was time to head back to Gangtok.
The next day it was journey towards North Sikkim-Lachen and Lachung.
I started about 9 am in the morning towards Lachen. A really long drive but the view that you get to see is absolutely breathtaking. Every single place that I saw here was so picturesque and it was more of raw beauty. All along the journey, I witnessed many gorgeous waterfalls [just by the roadside!], awe-inspiring bridges, people still at work on the roads to make Sikkim even more enchanting. Just like Teesta who gives you company all the way in Sikkim, Kanchenjunga [Khangchendzonga] is not far behind. Its beauty is absolutely surreal. I stopped at Tashi view point to get some pics of Kanchenjunga.
Sikkim Tea is so tasty I tell you! I have lost count on the number of cups that I may have gulped. I reached Lachen at 5 pm in the evening. I had a room reservation at Holiday Inn. The temperature was -4 degree Celsius. Lachen offers only home stays with bare minimum facilities. I can assure you of cleanliness everywhere but you may not get heaters, geysers as there is high electricity fluctuation here.
So, it was freezing cold with no heater. I had to brave the cold with 9 layers of clothing and there is no market as such outside and only BSNL cellular network works. Apparently, Vodafone and Airtel networks will come up in the next few months. This place is absolutely good if you want to do some soul searching! Next day morning I headed towards Thangu. This is one place that just swept me off my feet. This is one of those places that has had a huge impact on me personally. There was something so enigmatic about the place and I felt I belonged there.
After getting totally absorbed by the place, it was time to head back to Lachen in order to get to Lachung by evening. I had a room reservation at Lachung in a place called Season House. A very beautiful property which offers you the view of magnificent Kanchenjunga. You will have to stay at Lachung as a minimum of half a day would be needed to explore places around it. A few kilometers away from Lachung, you get Yumthang Valley which is famous for hot springs. Yumthang Valley is popularly known as “Valley of flowers”. Yumthang Valley is a rhododendron sanctuary. It is at an elevation of 11,800 feet. Little ahead of it is Yumesamdong where Zero Point is present. The place is called as Zero Point because the road ends there.
My trip just did not end here. I went back to Gangtok from Lachung just to get to Pelling and Namchi the next day. Namchi has the very famous Char Dham, a religious center for Hindus. Few kilometers away is Samdruptse, a Buddhist monastery. It has a really big statue of Guru Padmasanbhava, Buddhist Guru. Pelling has a very famous archaeological site, Rabdentse ruins and Pemayangtse monastery. All of these places are worth visiting.
This has to be one of my best trips till date. So thankful to all the people who I could get to interact with for not only making me feel one among them but also for the amazing hospitality given to us. I already miss Sikkim! I’m not sure when I can get there one more time, but I know I will, for sure!
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