Snow is what i had been yearning for a long time. I love cold weather, ask L. He knows how i pucker and shiver in the modest cold weather. When i declared i wanted to visit somewhere very cold with snow, ice and blizzards, L must have been mortified. May be he was reminded of his previous trips where he had to fight for extra blanket, heater and anything under the sun to keep me warm. When i selected Sikkim for the summer vacation, L was sure baffled. Yet, i went on- booking tickets, hotel rooms and what not. When the eventful day arrived, we boarded the train, loaded with home made food for three days!
The look on poor fellow passengers as we wheeled in our luggage said it all. Chapatis, chapatis and more chapatis- by the end of travel, i fell sick of just looking at them. Thankfully, the tour went well, as we had a great time in Darjeeling- the local market caught fire and burned down- the moment we set foot in the town...Gone were my dreams of buying Kashmiri Pashmina shawls and woolen wear. The planned Kanchendzonga sighting in the early morning at six bombed, the mist refused to let us see the beautiful sunrise. And imagine waking up at 4 am in a chilly morning for a glimpse of the famed tiger hill sunrise, jostling with an army of newlyweds huddling together...The drive from scenic Darjeeling to Gangtok is mystical, magical. I enjoyed the drive every ounce, jumping and hitting the roof as the mahindra max we had rented, thundered down the road- like pathways. West Bengal government ought to learn a few lessons from Sikkim in maintaining roads.
|A view from room's window- Gangtok|
Settling down in the hotel room, sipping a chai and few pakoras, inhaling the fresh mountain air- crisp and clean, Gangtok looked heavenly. We had planned to visit Nathula pass and Tsomgo lake the next morning. As the trip needed military permits, we ran all round the town trying to locate an gent who could see us through. Finally we got an excellent offer from Sunshine travels, who got the permits ready by ten the next morning. I had managed to sneak around alone the early morning, for a fantastic view of mist rolling cliffs, Kanchendonga's magical look bathed in orange rays of early morning sun, blooming flowers in the hotel's terrace.
|Snow-clad Kanchendonga backdrop, rolling mist |
The drive from Gangtok to Nathula is one of the most memorble one in my life. With mist floating, every climb so steep that you feel your breakfast is on its way up your throat, waterfalls gushing in every rod turn, the drive was precariously heavenly! Thank God we booked an innova this time, pertrified with max. Not for us the weak hearts, you see. We stopped by at a quaint village for snacks- piping hot momos. I stood mesmerised by the scenic view of ice capped mountains above and a gurgling stream below. This window is perhaps one of the most beautiful in the world.
|You can see the road that we took parted by mist!|
Sighting peacefully grazing yaks, we ascended more than thirteen thousand feet above sea level, where the scenery changed dramatically to frost, ice nd snow piled atop everything- house tops, roads, frozen waterfalls...A huge blanket of white spread over everything in sight. The entire area beyond Tsomgo lake has heavy military presence, travel beyond the check post becomes more arduous, as oxygen levels drop sharply. A traffic jam right at the top of Nathula at 14140 feet and we had to wade in ankle high snow with a blizzard blowing away mercilessly. Junior L, who is barely six and her grandfather who is sixty, climbed the stairs- about 50 of them, gleefully, while poor me was huffing, puffing and almost gave up twice, to be pulled up by L. Happy i am, that i went all the way up to the border post, where both China and India's borders lie few metres away. The moment i stood braving the wind, all i could think was - God how do these soldiers spend years working in these conditions? Salute to them.
|China's military post, Nathula|
|He got scared of me!|
The ride back was more fun, with the kids ( that includes 80 kg cute kid me too) playing in the snow, making snowballs, hitting each other and a ride atop a poor yak along the Tsomgo lake. Tsomgo is a holy lake which remains crystal clear. Mooning at the tranquil waters, we return exhausted and almost flop on the bed. As usual, my temperature increases drastically, an after effect of all the play in snow. Gulping down a few tablets, i feign sleep, unable to face a frowning L.
The next morning started with a stroll in MG Marg- the shopping area of Gangtok. A lovely place to while away the time, a lazy morning whiling away gazing at nothing- MG Marg is just peaceful.
|MG Marg- refreshing!|
A visit to Flowershow was next on the cards. We had a long drive ahead to Pelling that evening and was heavily persuaded by L to cut short the trip. I am glad, i did not succumb to it. Orchids, lilies and what not- Gangtok flower show is a visual treat for ardent plant lovers like me. L and the kids had a tough time posing for the camera. Hues of red, white, pink, purple- orchids that i have never come across, adorned the green house. By the time we visited the Banjakri waterfalls, i was too tired to even pose for the lens. The kids spent some time admiring the energy museum at the Banjakri falls and we started our long journey to Pelling- the earlier capital city of Sikkim during the Rabdentse dynasty rule.
|Orchids in various hues and colors- Flowershow, Gangtok|
|Picturesue Banjakri Falls|
p.s.: Summer is over guys, get the hell back to schools and work. Don't keep travelling and pestering us for tickets:(
p.p.s.: I hate CBSE syllabus that makes me work more:'(
p.p.p.s.: Don't lick the rupee notes for counting...YUCK, IT SUCKS!