This is a guest photologue by Ar Soumyajit Mishra, one of my blog followers and a travel lover. This article is his recent personal experience of visiting Sikkim’s Gangtok this monsoon. All the pictures in this post are copyright of Ar Soumyajit Mishra. If you wish, you can also share your story here on ‘be on the road’.
Hill stations in the monsoons have their own magic. Lush green terrain, clean and clear roads, contrasting horizons are really awesome during the monsoons. This also gives an opportunity to the visitor or tourist to explore the places with little crowd and with lower travel costs.
I was looking for a small break from my regular schedule. Few places are highly exquisite during the monsoons with splendid flora and fauna. Goa, Kerala, Sikkim and the Western Ghats lead the list. This time Gangtok was on the top of the list for me.
As per schedule, we landed at Bagdogra airport on the afternoon of 17th July. Bagdogra airport is well connected to Kolkata, New Delhi and has a very good user friendly prepaid taxi system managed by the city police. One way taxi trip to Gangtok will cost around Rs 2200 in off season (mainly during the monsoon and winter months). It took us more than an hour to cross Siliguri city because of horrible traffic congestion.
Gradually, we touched the beautiful NH 31 road, which guided us through Sevoke and the Mahananda sanctuary area. It was awesome to be welcomed by a light drizzle and the drive through the dense forest area with slow instrumental music was surreal. We were informed about the probable landslide at few identified areas. Local people and BRO (Border road organization) advised us to be cautious and alert while climbing up the mountain.
The road was affected due to continuous landslides and few stretches were controlled by BRO to avoid any accident. BRO has a tremendous presence throughout the stretch. The hard work is really appreciated. Gradually, we crossed Teesta river, Ranpool and reached Gangtok at 10 pm. Normally, the duration to Gangtok from Bagdogra is 3.5 hrs, but it took us 6 hours due to heavy rain on the way. You should never be in a hurry while driving in hill area. I had pre-booked my accommodation at Tashi Thendup hotel which is in Nam nang area and just 5 minutes walk from the famous MG road.
Next day morning, I wanted to take a stroll on MG road . The lifestyle is very simple and lively here. The market opens early in the morning and plenty of breakfast options will welcome you. Gangtok is a nice and clean city. You hardly can find any used packet or waste items on the street. Spitting or smoking in public places is a punishable crime in Gangtok . I really liked the way people obey the rule.Cops are young, smart and stylish. You will enjoy talking to them. Few of them follow soccer very much and keep good knowledge about the football clubs.
18th was Rathyatra (Jagannath). There was a small gathering at thakurbadi area with a small chariot for Lord Jagannath, Balbhadra and his sister Suvadra. It was an awesome feeling to pull the chariots. We spent the whole day visiting the development area, Legislative assembly and strolling on MG road. Few buildings are designed well with hill architecture. We tried momo, rolls and Chinese items. Roll house serves mouth watering momos and a must try.
Next day, we carried out a case study about the health care system, hospitals, traffic management as a professional part of our trip. The city hospital is good and caters a good catchment area. Subsequently, we hired a taxi for a half day local sight seeing.
Hanuman tok, Ganesh tok, Rungtek monastery are beautiful places and must be included in your itinerary. Rumtek monatsry is one of the biggest in its class. The city view is awesome from the monastery and was one of the highlights of my day trip.
Our evening in Gangtok was enjoyable with live concert of few bands in pubs. Few local bands will entertain you with their magical touch. You would love it. Gangtok is little bit crowded and is a base station for visitors who would like to visit Nathula pass, Changu lake. But, I feel Gangtok itself has a lot of things to offer. Specially the cable car which gives panoramic view of the beautiful hills and town. One should not miss this.
We enjoyed the short trip and the monsoons in this hill station. Gangtok should be visited at least once in a life time during the monsoon season to feel the eternal beauty. You will enjoy it.
Few good hotels : Tashi Thendup, May fair resorts, Sai kripa hotel, Doma residency
Few food joints: Roll house, Pub 25, Downtown, Agarwal snacks , khan chacha
Few must visit places in town : MG road, Secretariat, Lal bazaar market, Dengzong cinema area, Deorali area, Sikkim legislative assembly, Sikkim manipal institute.
Do not try in public place : smoking, spitting, abusive language, road side urination
Sikkimese would love you because of your : politeness, friendly gesture, behavior
What will make you happy : Clean roads, nice people, beautiful dressing sense of police, fire officials, tax free wine, affordable taxi services.
What you may not like : Internet connectivity, Mobile network, connecting steps in bad condition and rapid construction disturbing the landscape.