I was finally marrying the girl of my dreams and I wanted to make it real special for a very special holiday and the first choice that came to my mind was Sikkim. This was way back in 2007 and Internet at that time was not what we see today. The availability of information for any tourist destination was much less and most of the time the content available in guide books were old and outdated. With a lot of research and information from friends who had travelled recently, I managed to plan out the entire trip.
We were travelling mid-November thus the winter had already started arriving and the overnight train journey was very comfortable. After booking our prepaid taxi from outside New Jalpaiguri Station we started our journey towards the mountains in the north.
Since this was our first vacation together thus we were very much excited and looked forward to a wonderful time together. Around half the way our car had a flat tyre and it took a long time for the replacement, further time was also wasted at the next tyre repair stop as the punctured tyre needed to be repaired back for safety.
By the time we reached Gangtok it was evening and all the journey made us extremely tired. Any tourist taxis coming to Gangtok will drop all the passengers at the taxi stand and will not take you directly up to your hotel. Either you take a local taxi or walk all the way up. We were young and decided to walk along with our luggage, this was a big mistake as the uphill walk was really tiring. After a quick supper, we decided to rest for the day and start all the touring the next day.
For the next day we had booked a taxi which would take us to the various tourist places around Gangtok, this was arranged by the hotel reception. The driver cum guide would take us to some of the key interesting places around Gangtok.
The first on our stop was Do Drul Chorten Stupa, built in the year 1945 by Trulshik Rinpoche and the main motive was to drive away the evil spirits that once was supposed to be present here causing much harm to the local population. One of the highlights of this place is the 108 prayer wheels which are inscribed with prayers and one must turn all of them symbolising the recitation of the mantras.
Just a short walk from here is our next stop Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. This is basically a museum dedicated to research and development of the Tibetan language. This place has a collection of rare Tibetan artefacts like paintings, manuscripts, paintings and coins. Take some time out to study these in details which I am sure you will appreciate a lot.
I have never been on a Ropeway and on the opportunity of taking one made me really excited. Gangtok has a ropeway with an unparalleled view of the hill town. It’s a two-way ride and it passes by the Legislative Assembly building.
Next stop was at Tashi View Point, from here you get a wonderful panoramic view of Gangtok and on a clear day, you can get a wonderful dazzling view of Kanchenjunga. I could only see the snow peaks from here but needless to say, is worth visiting.
Our next destination Rumtek Monastery is a bit far from central Gangtok and takes some time to reach. This place has the best authentic Tibetan food according to me, even better than Gangtok. There are quite a few shacks right outside the monastery gate and they have a wonderful menu starting from Thukpa, Momo, Noodles, Soup etc. If you are lucky then you might even get guinea pigs also.
Belonging to the Kargyu sect this is one of the largest and grandest in Sikkim. If you visit at the right time then you would be able to see the monks praying inside which is worth every bit of your time. The humming of mantras by the monks along with gongs makes you feel that you have come to some place in Tibet.
This building is not the original building but was built in the mid-twentieth century and the old one still exists and can also be visited.
The last stop for the day was Ridge Park & Flower Exhibition Center, during the season you will be able to see wide varieties of orchids and other flowers, unfortunately, when we went the bloom was less but nevertheless we saw some beautiful flowers.
This was also a perfect way to end the day trip around Gangtok. There are however some more interesting sightseeing points that you can visit like Ranka Monastery, Hanuman Tok, Ganesh Tok, Saramsa Garden, Ban Jhakri Waterfall & Gangtok Zoo. Some of them I had visited during my other trips thus will tell about them in another blog.
The next day was a day trip to Tsomgo (Changu) Lake, Nathula Pass & Baba Mandir, this was a trip worth visiting but the details will be in my next blog, see you soon.