This post is in continuation to my previous post http://www.momad.in/5-days-in-gangtok-north-sikkim/
After coming back from North Sikkim and being mesmerised by the exotic visuals the nature had for us, I asked to myself what else can east(Gnathang,Dzuluk) show us, will there be anything better than what I experienced in the past days.
We started our journey to East Sikkim and were told that due to bad weather Nathula is still closed, I asked the driver what is wrong with the weather is it raining heavily? “You’ll see on the way” he answered and we were moving towards our first destination change lake. We collected the pass for the lake and I noticed on the pass that the lake was situated at a height of 12,400ft and we had already experienced a lake at 17,800ft so I wasn’t much excited and I decided to take a nap. 15 mins later I hear noise of something hitting the windshield and I opened my eyes and it was a hailstorm and then the excitement started to build. It was a strong storm and the roads were covered with hail as we started to go up, the cars coming down were skidding and I was enjoying again. The driver said these was the bad weather (for him but I was enjoying it) and we may not be able to go further. Due to the hail storm there was traffic near the lake, the cars were skidding, some were stuck and we were stuck in traffic for an hour. This time the lake was beautiful surrounded by mountains covered with snow but we cannot stop there due to traffic. The lake is considered sacred and you cannot step on it, its frozen during the winters but there is one part that never freezes
Finally we were out and were moving towards next destination The Baba Mandir, baba was an indian soldier and there are many stories about baba.
- He is seen patrolling at the border by many Indian as well as Chinese soldiers.
- There are stories of baba slapping soldiers who sleep on duty.
- He gets his yearly leave and a train ticket is reserved for him.
We went to baba mandir and there was a soldier serving Prasad(holy offering) and he was from my home town so he packed some Prasad for us(it was delicious). The driver then told us that this is the New Baba Mandir and we will visit the old one also. This mandir is the last stop for most of the cars so as we moved further we were only two vehicles and the Exquisite scenes were turning into dreams. Two cars, empty roads, snow covered surroundings and everything including the cars was white. There are times in your life when you can’t explain you feelings and all you have is a big smile on your face which explains everything.
Next stop was the Old Baba Mandir or Baba ka Bunker as it was called, you have to remove your shoes to go in and wear the slippers, and it was to cold for the shoes to be removed. It had all the personal belongings of baba his clothes, shoes, bed his desk everything. We took baba’s blessings and then moved forward towards our final destination of our day Gnathang Valley. The exquisite natural surroundings were accompanying us and as we moved forward the visibility was dropping due to fog.
We finally reached Gnathang and it was a hamlet with merely 100 houses and 250 people living in one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in this world away from all the hassle of the city life. There was no mobile network and everyone in the village goes to a particular spot where you will find some network. Our home stay was a climb upstairs from the village and you can see the entire village from there. The rooms were beyond my expectation and even the food served was the best I had in Sikkim till that time. The weather in that place was changing every minute, you see clouds covering the entire village and leaving in a couple of minutes. I sat outside my room and enjoyed the weather with the tasty pakoras and chai served by the homestay owner. The day was tiring so I had my dinner and slept early.
I woke up early and entire village looked white we had snowfall(maybe hail) last night and I again sat outside my room and decided to read for some time. The time was 5, none was awake and the only thing you can hear was the breeze, birds and the bells ringing in the yaks’ neck. After a long time I woke up so early without any reason and I enjoyed that moment being lost in the nature, which was the first time in my life that I felt like I am a part of this beautiful nature. Then to my surprise I saw that the owner was already awake and she was preparing for breakfast. I went inside and she offered me tea and she told me that she lives alone and most of the people live alone as there is no school in the village, so all the kinds went out for studying. She told me to go on a village tour and see the monastery and the Krishna temple and I followed the same. I was familiar with monasteries but this was the first time I saw a Krishna temple that looked more like a monastery. There were hardly 7-8 tourist vehicles because this place is still a hidden secret in Sikkim, before mentioning it here I thought whether it is good to reveal it or not but as my blog is not read by many a few lucky people
will come to know about it.
I went back had breakfast and left for the old silk route and dzuluk, we were going to aritar after this on driver’s suggestion. The silk route was trade route used by the Chinese and the Europeans to do business with India and is named after the Eurasian silk which was traded the most through this route. This part of silk route had 32 sharp turns and is followed by dzuluk which served as a transit point for the historic traders.
Dzuluk was also a peaceful place and I knew about it earlier but it was nowhere close to Gnathang. We had our tea in dzuluk and moved forward towards aritar. We reached aritar and the driver took us to a lake for boating and seeing the lake and its muddy water I wasn’t interested and neither was anyone else. Then he took us to our stay and it was someone’s farmhouse where we were staying and it wasn’t looking nice. We regretted our decision of leaving gnathang and could have stayed there for one more night, so we decided to skip this place and move forward. The other two people were having their return flight so they went to Darjeeling and I went back to gangtok because I wanted to go to pelling.
I decided to stay in gangtok today because I was already travelling too much, I met a guy of indian origin who was from London and this was his first time in india and went decided to go to rumtek today. It was raining heavily since morning and it continued to rain till we reached rumtek, we entered the monastery and the prayer was going on, it was my first time witnessing a Buddhist prayer. All the monks were singing so beautifully and in sync, I had Goosebumps listening to them. The environment had its own peace despite the prayer, this is what they learn in these monasteries living a peaceful life. We sat there and waited for the prayer to complete and then left back for our hotel. Now the guy wanted to do something but as a foreigner you have many restrictions in Sikkim and most importantly you have to travel in a group of two, the last time I was in gangtok I saw many foreign travellers in a small shop near the tourist centre so we decided to go there. The shop was called Altitude travels and they organise tours and treks for foreign travellers so if you are a solo traveller you can definitely find someone there. He opted to go to dzongri trek with three other European girls(lucky guy).
I left him there to do the paper work and decided to explore the local markets for some Buddha statues but they were very expensive and then I saw a poster of a shop called Tribe India a govt initiative. I went there and was surprised the same statute that was for 4k on mg marg was of 2100 here and that too I got 40% discount on that. I was very happy with deal I got and went back to hotel and started planning for pelling. The other guy came and he was excited about his trek for which he was leaving early tomorrow morning, we went out for dinner together.
I boarded the shared taxi for pelling at 1pm for which I bought the ticket yesterday but there was only 1 left so try book them in advance but to my luck the two guys sharing my seat did not appear and I went comfortably. The journey to panic was tough because the roads were bad and there was not much to see around as well. We finally reached pelling 7 in the evening and straight away went to the hotel. I decided to have dinner in kabur hotel, it was recommended by many travellers and the time I reached there I knew why. It was a nice rooftop restaurant setup in traditional sikkimese and Nepali fashion with local music serving local authentic food and Chinese. The food was good and the two kids working there were even good. They told me that they have rooms which I was unable to find online, they don’t book online you can call and book.
I went out in search of a taxi to Darjeeling and I was told that I can take a shared taxi to Gorethang and then another one to Darjeeling so I booked front two seats for me till darjelling and it was 400 per seat, but you can get that for less if you take it directly in morning. So I switched hotels and then decided to take a local tour but believe me it wasn’t good. You see waterfalls, lake, a bridge and a village from far that’s it, instead there is village nearby called Uttarey which is declared as an eco-tourism spot by Sikkim govt , it will definitely be more interesting than the day tour. You can pay your visit to Pemayangste monastery, it is one of the oldest monastry in sikkim and can be reached walking from upper Pelling.
I spent the rest of the day sitting at the restaurant and reading a book, you can even talk to other travellers at the restaurant most of them were having a group chat but I wanted my space to read my book. Do try the Sikkim food in the restaurant its good especially there thukpa.
I was waiting for my taxi which was supposed to come outside my hotel at 7 but due to some repair it came by 9, by the time it came it started raining heavily and it kept pouring for hours. Till this point my stay in west Sikkim was kind of relaxing and there were not much experiences I was taking back with me and the experience was waiting for me on the way to gorethang. As I told you it was raining for quite some time so the road was blocked due to landslide and the machine was clearing it and we were waiting for it to be cleared and suddenly a big piece of rock came tumbling down and it went down the road infront of us and everyone was scared as hell. As I was sitting on the front seat I was having a clear view of small stones coming down signalling something big, everyone in the car were ready to jump out and run as soon as the see anything coming. The machine cleared the road and we went forward but the land slides did not stop I was all the time looking up and telling the driver to slow down or speed up whenever I see something, it felt like I was playing a video game. Everyone can see the big rocks on the road and knew that anything can happen but luckily nothing happened and we reached gorethang. The driver showed me the taxi to Darjeeling and I went there but my bad luck, due to the car breakdown this morning I was late and I wasn’t able to catch the last Toy train ride which leaves at 4:20. So I stayed there and enjoyed the weather, food and bought some tea.
The next morning I left for the airport.
To have a look at all these places watch the video.