Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 7-Yumthang! Here we come!

One of the best days of our trip! We had a light breakfast in Yarlam and left for Yumthang which is 24 km away at 7.30 in the morning. It was important to leave early as we had to return back to Gangtok in the afternoon! so reaching Yumthang takes exactly 1 hr from Lachung and the road for getting there is filled with lots of fun! you can see some varities of rhododendron which is the state flower! Few Yaks and loads of army men! there are Army camps over there and the sight is really nice! plus you can see the snow capped mountain ranges from a very close view! Yumthang is know for its valley of flowers but unfortunately april is not the right season for the flowers to bloom and hence we were not able to see the flowers! But still it was so amazing!! you could just imagine how beautiful the sight must be in May when the flowers are in full bloom! so the sight was something like this! Green plains! and after walking that you see the river Tista flowing! and you are surrounded on all sides by the snow capped mountains!! We took a lot of pictures! and spent some nice time just sitting quietly and enjoying the sound of the river! We also played with the snow and made a snow man!! over all it was super fun! the temperature too was ok! cold was bearable! somewhere around 7-8 degrees. there is also a zero point beyond Yumthang but due to extreme snowfall it is closed in april. I think it opens in the month of May. That is the end of India and you can see China from there. We left yumthang at 10.30 and reached yarlam at 11.30. We took some rest, had lunch and left for Gangtok at 1 pm. We thought all would be fine and we would reach Gangtok in 6 hrs but little did we know that our path was frittered with dangers.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 6- Going to Lachung!

We left the hidden forest resort,Gangtok on the 8th of April at 10 am. We were heading towards Lachung which was 116 km away. But we couldnt leave early as the permit which is required for going to Lachung is sanctioned only around 9 am. We reached the Tashi point at 10.30. From that point you can see the view of Mt Kachenjunga but that is rarely the case as the view is always blocked by clouds.So we left that point at 11. next stop was the seven sisters waterfall! usually these sights are just made so that your long journey is broken up into pieces. and the main reason we stop is just so that we can answer the natures call rather than to see the sight! Seven sisters water fall wasnt very great. it is named so, because it turns 7 times. we left then and reached the small village of Mangan at 2 pm.Mangan is a town which is exactly between Gangtok and Lachung. We had our lunch there and left around 3 pm. Lachung was another 60 km off and it took us another 3 hrs to reach there! At Lachung we had booked the best hotel. The Yarlam hotel! Infact the entire trip right from hidden forest to Yarlam and from Yarlam to Yumthang and back to Gangtok was entirely arranged by Yarlam hotel and it cost us 20,000rs for 4 people. The bad thing about Lachung is that there is absolutely no mobile network over there except for BSNL. So it would make sense to inform your loved ones before hand or else they might get worried as they wont be able to contact you for an entire day. The temperature in Lachung was really low. It was nearly 6 degree celsius. The remaining day we couldnt do much as it was dark outside and we were really tired. We watched the IPL opening ceremony and then had a sumptuous dinner. It was really tasty food! the rooms were excellent . All in all Yarlam is a hotel which i would recommend wholeheartedly.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

day 5-sight seeing in Gangtok!

Gangtok the capital of sikkim is considered to be a place where there are lot of sights to see! but i guess the things which we saw were more than enough to get the feel of the land! We left our hotel at 9 am after having a nice breakfast in the hidden forest hotel! We had taken a Wagon R as a big car was not necessary for this local sight seeing. it cost us rs 1500/- the following are the places that we saw. 1.Ban Jhankri water falls by far the best place in gangtok!! superbly situated and beautifully planned! i think that is a place which is not worth missing! superb water falls situated in nice ambience! 2.Stupa the stupa is reached after you have climbed a steep road for 2-3 mins! and its a nice place. there you can see the monks practising their slokas or performing poojas or studying! its worth a try. 3.Institute of Tibetology it is just 2 mins from the Stupa and has a very nice museum. the museum is worth visiting as you get a nice idea about the buddhist culture. also the entry fee of 10 rs entitles you to get a post card which u can send to ur dear ones as the post office is just 5 mins away from there!(we did that) 4.Rope way the rope way though a little expensive 70rs, is also worth a try because you can get a nice view of the entire city of gangtok. 5.Eigin Monastery. beautiful monastery but i always feel like i have wasted some time visiting it because i simply cant understand anything written on painted on the walls! 6.flower exhibition beautiful flowers grown! a nice place for photography! and in a entry fee of just 10 rs you can just ask for anything more!! the sweet scent of flowers sets up your mood for the day! 7. the handicraft institution! the best place for me! though i am not sure whether everyone would like it! the best thing i liked was that you could enter any classroom in this college of handicraft and then look around! there were many classes. 1 was wood carving, other was weaving, one was multi craft! you could see children working woth full dedication on the thing they loved! it was sheer art and there were no rules! anyone could sit everywhere!! i simply loved the atmosphere there! also there was an exhibition downstairs where you could buy what was being made by the students in the class! Thus ended the sight seeing of Gangtok! there are many other places we could have visited like ganesh tok,zoology center etc but we didnt visit them as they were not so good!(we came to know about it!) after the sight seeing which lasted for 7 hrs i.e till 4 pm, we went to to the M.G.Road again and sat in one of the best cafes i have ever visited. it was called the Baker's cafe! i am sure that that cafe would even give the best cafe's in mumbai, a run for their money! it was simply awesome! the ambience, the music and the food! all combined to make it one of the best restaurants on the Mall road. A place which i would surely recommend! the rest of the day was spent in loitering here and there on the Mall road and then having dinner in the subway sandwich shop! and finally making our way back to the hotel at 9 pm and then going off to sleep! tomorrows going to be a great day as we leave gangtok for 2 days to go to Lachung!

Day 4- From Pelling to Gangtok!

the 4th day started early as we had to accomplish two tasks! 1. to see the places in Pelling as now the strike had been called off. 2. to reach Gangtok before night. We started at 8 am for the pelling site seeing. First they took us to the rock garden. it was a nicely made garden which had steps leading down to the rocks and from there you could see the river flowing! it was a nice place but not a place that i would recommend you to see at all costs!! on the way we say the Rimbi falls which can be best described in the words of my dad,"arey itna paani to mumbai mein naala futne par aata hai!!!" Next stop was the kanchenjunga waterfalls! it was really nice! the water was pouring down with force and water would sprinkle on you! also the people over there said that you could see the ram dhanushya being formed in the water when the falls splash on them. i didnt see it but if you can then surely do take a pic of it!! the final destination in the pelling site seeing was the wishing lake. it was way is said that whatever you wish in that lake becomes true! I wished that hopefully i can keep my future wife very happy!!! heheh!! a very tall task even for that pristine lake! the lake is very clean because the sparrows come and pick up any leaves or anything floating on the lake! the lake was good but none too impressive! then we left for gangtok at 1 pm. the hotel staff had packed lunch for us! we had it in between because its not advisable to have a heavy lunch before a long trip! we reached gangtok in 4.30 hrs. by 5.30 we were in the room in the hotel called hidden forest retreat!it is a good hotel and costs around 2000 rs per day inclusive of breakfast. it is 1.5 km away from the main point of the gangtok city called the M.G. road or the mall road. we were very tired and at the same time it was raining heavily! but we decided to make full use of the time. we took 2 umbrellas from the hotel and left! the Mall road was some kind of a European concept. there were shops on both sides of the road and fountains and trees planted in the middle. only pedestrians were allowed to walk and no cars were allowed! Music would be played and u could see a lot of tourists! all and all Mall road is a great place to visit! very happening place! we finally came back to our hotel at 8 in the evening. a taxi would cost us rs 80. we had our dinner then and then due to the very tiring day we called it a day off around 9 pm! The Pelling site seeing according to me can be avoided! its not only some kind of waste of money but also of time! at the same time the mall road is a must visit place in gangtok!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 3- Lazing Around!

The third day was characterised with by rest, rest and more rest! and who would blame you when you could just lay in your bed, open the curtains to your room and just look at the beautiful mountains!! but still just as some exercise we went to the city center of pelling. we also wanted to see the 2nd best hotel of penning known as the norbu ghang resort. to tell you the truth it would come as a distant second. Mount Pandim is way too good!! the best thing about norbu ghang was that it cost around 3000/- per day but wasnt inclusive of breakfast lunch or dinner! but then if you want to have food outside economically speaking this hotel can be a good choice! but if you are looking for quality then mount pandim has to be your choice!

The food in Mount Pandim is pretty good! though you must agree its pretty one tracked! but still you cant complain when you have the choice of 3 vegetables( baingan bharta and karela were a few that i didnt like!) rice dal roti and 2 desserts!

thus our 2.5 days ended in mount pelling! even though there was a strike we enjoyed a lot in the mount pandim hotel sometimes just sleeping, sometimes playing cards and sometimes just looking at the view!!

Tomorrows plan includes site seeing in Pelling as now the strike is over and we can see the places which are far off. that would last 4 hrs and then we would leave for gangtok at around 1-1.30 pm. its a 4 hr trip. i just hope gangtok will not just be as beautiful but also more happening and interesting than Pelling!

Day 2- Outing at Pelling!!

We slept off on the first day thinking why hotel Mount Pandim was considered to be the best hotel in Pelling! And we had just awake from our dreams and open the curtain of our window and lo!!!!... we were in paradise!!! Oh my God i have never seen a better view before! with Mount Pandim right in front of you and the third highest peak in India Mt Kanchungzonga which is 8560 mt high in background it was view which i had not even seen in Switzerland!! Snow clad mountains were like the icing on the cake. You only needed to go out on the lawn which had nicely arranged chairs and tables where you could simply sip a coffee and enjoy the marvellous view!! the climate too was perfect!! around 12-14 degree celsius!! We realised why Mount Pandim was so superb!! It was just the view which made the hotel which costed around 5500/- per day(inclusive of breakfast,lunch and dinner) worth every penny!! Now we had to decide what to do next. as there was a strike it wasnt so easy to go to the various site seeing places. But we went to a monastery which was just 5 mins off our hotel! it was pretty good but from the monastery we saw the Rabdentse ruins! it looked so beautiful from there that we immediately decided that we just had to go there!! it looked really far! but it didnt matter, it was just too beautiful to resist! We walked 30 mins and reached the base of the Ruins which is famously known as the palace over here. from the base there was another 15-20 mins of trek upwards! but finally after all that hardwork we were treated with such a beautiful view!! Rabdentse was once the capital of sikkim but due to its proximity to the nepal boundary it was changed! Rabdentse had the palace of the king in 1700s and this was now known as the rabdentse ruins! the archaeological society of india had given this site the title of archaeologically inportant site! that is why it was so well maintained! i meditated over there for some time and then just enjoyed the view! finally we started our journey backwards at around 1.30 and reached our hotel at around 2.30. the rest of the day was spent just admiring the beauty and taking rest! The Rabdentse Ruins is a place in Pelling which you just cant miss!

Day1-The trip to Sikkim begins.

We started our trip to sikkim from the domestic airport of mumbai on 3rd april 2011 at 6.30 am. we reached the airport at 7 am. the flight was jet airlines at 8 am. it wasnt a direct flight. we had to change over at delhi. We reached delhi by 10 am and then immediately taken to our next flight which left delhi at 11 pm. We reached Bagdogra airport at 1 pm. Bagdogra is a very strategically situated airport in West Bengal. That is the closest airport because there is still no airport in Sikkim. We took a Prepaid taxi (innova) from the airport that cost us 3000/- and would take us to pelling. it is a kind of hill station in sikkim. usually people first go to gangtok when they come to sikkim but we had this utter bad luck that there was a two day strike on 4th and 5th of april. that would mean that there would be no transport facility available. as a result we decided to go to Pelling where we could spend some quiet time and would not have to travel much. We had our lunch at a restaurant called City Dhaba. was a pretty decent restaurant. A small advice: eat very light. the road has too many turns and if you have eaten a lot like me then you would have to stop the car midway to vomit (like me!!). The drivers here are pretty skilled so the route which is around 170 km is covered within 4-4.30 hrs. We then stopped at a small village called Jorethang to have a cup of tea. well of course the road up going up there was very difficult but if you arent feeling vomitty then it is a superb scenery that you can enjoy. throughtout the road you have trees on one side of the road and you can see the river tista flowing down the other side! We reached our hotel Eigin's Mount Pandim at 7pm. We had done some research and we knew that it was an excellent hotel but we couldnt see much reason why it was so great. It didnt have any extra facilities like gym nor any sports facilities. hence we were not sure why the hotel was so great! the man at reception said:" sir have your dinner and just wait for tomorrow morning and you will understand why this hotel is so great!!"