My visit to this land of snow-capped mountains and serene beauty was way back in 2008. It’s special in many ways- this being my first trip with my dearest husband soon after marriage and not to forget my first experience in a flight.
Most of the information we gathered in the internet mentioned about visiting Gangtok along with Darjeeling. But we wanted to avoid the crowded tourist destination so we mapped out a plan to go visit Gangtok and dropped Darjeeling and decided to explore Pelling (to get a closer look at Mt. Khangchendzonga/ Mt. Kanchenjunga).
Our route map was simple: Hyderabad- Kolkata, Kolkata- Bagdogara (by flight); Bagdogara- Gangtok (by taxi). And, there we were lucky enough to get company of two kind people (visitors from Assam) who readily agreed to share the taxi with us that cut down our travelling rates almost by Rs. 600.
The photographs were shot (either by me or my husband) with a simple Sony point and shoot camera (which is still my favourite) and at a time when I least knew anything about a ‘digital camera’.
This post attempts to provide a glimpse of a vast land that holds on to nature so closely. These photographs are a just a drop in the big ocean of Sikkim’s beauty and serenity.
Our first stop was, of course, Gangtok (meaning Hill-Top) - located at an altitude of 5,410 ft. in the Eastern Himalayan Range.
Monks chanting their prayers in Rumtek Monastery.
Morning rays piercing through the clouds outside Rumtek Monastery.
Our second day was exclusively for witnessing the snowy peaks- visit to Changu/ Tsomgo lake and the Indo- China border, Nathula pass. But unfortunately, due to heavy snow fall we could not reach up to Nathula Pass and had to be content with only frozen Tsomgo lake.
Tsomgo or Changu (as called by the locals) lake is a glacial lake located at an elevation of 12,000 ft. Having visited the lake in the month of March, the lake was still frozen and we were told it would start melting somewhere in April and that's the time when that place got most tourists.
The frozen Tsomgo lake.
Our journey to Pelling started on the third day and rather with a gloomy sight on the way as we witnessed a jeep toppled down in the hilly terrain. This made us think how safe 'we were' in this whole journey.
Travelling through the narrow hilly areas is quite a challenge in itself as most of the places get blocked due to landslides and other natural calamities or an accident!
Nevertheless, we came across these famous flowers of the region- Rhododendron flowers on our way.
It is from Pelling that one can witness the Mt. Khangchendzonga (more easily Kanchenjunga) very closely. Our day would start with a chilly morning, a roof top breakfast overlooking the mountain ranges. Heaven!
Mt. Kanchenjunga range
The most quiet place that we visited during our journey is the Khecheopalri lake, situated at a distance of 30 kms from Pelling. This lake is also known as the 'Wish Lake'. This tranquil lake is located midst forest and it is considered to be one of the sacred lakes of Sikkim. Though surrounded by thick forest, we cannot see a single leaf floating on the lake. It is believed birds of that place do not permit even a single leaf to float on the surface. As soon as a leaf falls they pick it up immediately and the one who sees the bird is a very lucky person.
There are many more places about which I have not mentioned here but have visited. There are numerous waterfalls that we watched with childish fervor while driving along hilly regions of Pelling.
Our stay at Hotel Silk Route and Chiminda (both the hotels owned by the same person) at Gangtok and Pelling respectively was like icing on the cake. Chiminda also has a resto- bar that plays live music in the night for its' visitors. What a lovely note to end the journey!