Enjoy the fresh Mountains of Sikkim

| August 28, 2012 | Reply

As the plane landed at the Bagdogra Airport on a windy saturday morning, I peeped through the windows at the lush green forest, excited at the prospect of spending a few days in Sikkim.

The state, tucked away in the Northeast, is small but beautiful and full of surprises. Sikkimpromises all kinds of tourism from ‘eco’ to adventure to spiritual, but what can be a bigger draw than the chance to relax in the lap of the great Himalayas? For city-dwellers like myself and my cousin Vasumathi, a wellknown geographer, it was fantastic to just breathe in the fresh mountain air!

Many friends warned us about the tricky weather and the biting cold and so we were fully prepared with warm clothing. However, the weather was fine throughout our stay and we needed the sweaters and woolen coats only while going up the mountains to the Nathu-La.

Climbing up the winding roads to Gangtok took more than five hours. The scenic route was grand, but alas, pretty bumpy! We had our lunch at a guesthouse on the banks of the beautiful Teesta River but by the time we reached Gangtok our bones were aching. Since there was nothing planned for the rest of the evening, we decided to relax and recuperate — and book our return flights by helicopter as neither of us were willing to go through that bone-rattling experience again. Of course, in the light of recent incidents, I would probably prefer rattled bones than a helicopter next time round…

Although Gangtok is not very big, there is so much to see —monasteries, the zoo, temples, flower shows and exhibitions—as we were informed by Tarachand, our excellent guide. After a hearty breakfast washed down with Temi tea, we stopped at the Hanumantok, located at about 9km from Gangtok. The beautiful temple, located at an altitude of 7200 feet, was completely free from pollution.

The steps to the quiet hilltop temple were steep but there were many tourists like us — including from the far off Tamil Nadu, who were looking through their binoculars at the spectacular view of the mountains. From the top, I could see the Khanghendzonga (Kanchenjunga) and had a bird’s eye view of Gangtok— a kaleidoscope of tiny houses painted in different colours! The pundit informed us that AB Pant, the then Political Officer, established the temple in 1952 and since then the Indian Army and donations from devotees maintain it. Sharma, our driver and a devout Hindu, added that the temple was known for its mystical powers to fulfill wishes. The close by Lukshyama, the cremation ground of the royal family was an added draw. Coming down on the way back, we stopped at another temple called the Ganeshtok, at 6500 ft, also built by AB Pant, a year after Hanumantok in 1953! From there too, I could see snow-clad peaks including the Kanchenjunga. Clearly it was a popular spot as lots of buses and taxis were parked outside. After a sumptuous lunch, we decided to walk around in the afternoon to get a feel of the city. Soon we found ourselves gasping for breath as the roads were so steeply inclined! We city-slickers were not equipped for such exertions! We came back exhausted and after a light dinner of Chinese dumpling, fried rice and noodles we called it a day.

How to reach Sikkim

Almost All the modes of transportations are available to visit Sikkim. This Paradise on Earth is well connected by airways, railways and roadways. In spite of being a hilly state, transportation of Sikkim is comfortable and more frequent to enjoy the ride on the world’s most beautiful valley.

Airways

The airport located nearest to Sikkim is Bagdogra Airport of West Bengal which is only 124 Kms away from Gangtok. India’s national carrier, Indian Airlines including almost all other domestic airlines such as Jet Airlines, Air Deccan run regular flights from the important cities of India such as Kolkata, Delhi etc. Bagdogra is also connected with Gangtok by daily helicopter service operated by Sikkim Tourism development Corporation and it will take only 20 minutes to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra. This helicopter service is subjected to the weather conditions. In Gangtok, major air ticketing agencies are Josse and Josse Travels and Cox & King.

Railways

The lifeline of Sikkim, which is National Highway 31A connects gangtok with Siliguri and this picturesque highway runs through the lush green forests along the bank of river Teesta on one side and sky touching mountain ranges of Eastern Himalaya on other side. This unique ride of almost two hours will gives you the opportunity to enjoy the valley carpeted with numerous wild flowers. Regular bus service operated by S.N.T. and adequate number of private buses, jeeps and taxies are available from morning to evening at reasonable rate and you can have a very comfortable journey. From Siliguri you can catch jeeps and taxies to reach almost all the important tourist destinations located in both South and West Sikkim. You can also hire taxies and jeeps to travel to your destination of choice at reasonable rate. Most of the reputed destinations of siikim are interlinked by motor able all seasons roads.

Roadways

The lifeline of Sikkim, which is National Highway 31A connects gangtok with Siliguri and this picturesque highway runs through the lush green forests along the bank of river Teesta on one side and sky touching mountain ranges of Eastern Himalaya on other side. This unique ride of almost two hours will gives you the opportunity to enjoy the valley carpeted with numerous wild flowers. Regular bus service operated by S.N.T. and adequate number of private buses, jeeps and taxies are available from morning to evening at reasonable rate and you can have a very comfortable journey. From Siliguri you can catch jeeps and taxies to reach almost all the important tourist destinations located in both South and West Sikkim. You can also hire taxies and jeeps to travel to your destination of choice at reasonable rate. Most of the reputed destinations of siikim are interlinked by motor able all seasons roads.

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Category: Sikkim, Travel

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