A Memorable trip to Sikkim in March - April 2013

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#1 Apr 10th, 2013, 16:47
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Teesta on the way to Gangtok and Welcome gate at Sikkim
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#2 Apr 10th, 2013, 16:52
Try to be a Traveler....not a Tourist
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Nice Snaps. Waiting for more............

Debashish
#3 Apr 10th, 2013, 16:57
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No Kanchandzonga, Gurudongmar and Nathula, Yet a Memorable Sikkim Trip in March-April’2013

Prologue

A visit to Sikkim is always in my travel list but due to time constraint I am unable to make it in past years. One of my friends visited N Sikkim in 2011 and provide good feedback. That is the ignition point for me to plan the trip of Sikkim.

Now comes the travelogue of Ashish da regarding Bhutan trip and which inspire me to first do the Bhutan trip and initially I planned my trip for Bhutan and book tickets accordingly. However my family insists to visit Sikkim first and keep Bhutan for some other time so we plan for Sikkim. As usual our Indiamike forum has lot of information, which provides lots of contact information.

I initially planned to reach Sillery gaon first and then via Dzuluk to Gangtok. Contacted Dilip Tamang for the same and found his homestay is full but he agree to make arrangement in some other place which was not preferred by me. He also informed that stay at Dzuluk is not possible as it is full so we can have stay at Mangkhim / Aritar. However during discussion with him I found him reliable and reasonable. Then I plan to shift my stay at Mangkhim and approach Satish Gurung and Robin Rai, both have availability, but I come to know that due to snow fall roads beyond Old Baba Mandir is block and no possibility of it opening and reaching Gangtok via that route. Both tells me this thing, so they propose stay at Mangkhim and do day trip, but with parents and kids I found it too hectic so avoid it and decided to do Old silk route during my next Sikkim trip.

Our trip starts from 26th March’13 from Delhi and end on 7th April at Delhi.


26th March 2013

We started from Delhi and NE express start at right time and our Parents join us at Kanpur. The journey till NJP is uneventful.

27th March 2013

Train was almost 3 hours late and we reach NJP around 11.30 a.m. It was day of Holi and at NJP we are unable to find Sikkim number taxi of our own and due to Holi the charges asked by Taxi driver are exorbitant. For shared jeep they are quoting 400/- and it is full of touts. Where ever you go they will follow you, some of them pretend like they have their own taxi but finally you come to know that they are touts only. The touts at NJP are insisting for taking packahe from NJP only, which I recommend we should avoid. So in peak season or if you are reaching on such day it is always advisable to have pre book taxi as it saves cost and time after such a long and tiring journey. Finally we book Spark only through Touts at much higher price , it was a Sikkimese number vehicle and Driver Rajan was in too hurry to keep our luggage inside and want to leave station immediately ( Interestingly car was park behind some buses and not easily find out , if you look for it). Our driver was saying that someone may create problem, which I understand is not the real situation; this may be their regular practice to reach Gangtok early.

Now the journey started towards Gangtok. Intially road was in good shape and then we found the bad patches, which continue till Rangpo. The beautiful Teesta flows along with us. Enroute see the Cornation bridge. However Rajan was in so hurry that he is not ready to stop car anywhere and always told that road condition is bad and we will be late in reaching Gangtok. All my family member wants to reach Gangtok early so we do not have any stop over.

At Sikkim Rangpo check post the security personal check with driver from where we are coming and allow us to move further. On the way we call few hotels, however there was a signal problem and we get good signal only after Ranipool. Anyway our driver proposes one hotel and give his contact number to us and when we make call we found rate reasonable. However we prefer to see some more hotel and then plan to book. We ask our driver to drop us at MG Marg ( new market).He park the car just crossing the New market area and me and my wife go for searching the hotels. As our parents are with us, so we do not prefer stay at upside or downside. We found rooms in Hotel Dongkheela good and in reasonable price and we book it for one night, as it was only available for that night.

On the way Rajan told us interesting thing that in this region Holi start after 2.00 P.M. which in our case in North India actually finish by 2.00 P.M.Normally they kept their shop open till 2 and then shut down after 2/3 P.M. and play Holi. The things I liked they only play with Gulal ( Dry Holi), which we saw at Gangtok and play among themselves and no one will throw colour on you when you are walking on MG marg. For tourist the bad aspect is that all eating joints are closed due to Holi, so you have to manage with the food available with you. We only find two shop opened Narayandas Sweet Bhandar ( On LM Road) and one fast food joint and they are also providing pack item. Fast food joint provide the chowmein also and the lady there was unable to manage the rush. Fortunately my wife manages to get Chowmein prepared and its give me a lot of relief as now food problem for kids is solved. We find lots of tourist searching for evening snacks / dinner. We have lot of snacks with us so we take the same with tea

In the evening we inquire about Nathula but got negative response from 3/4 tour operators so I kept it for after my return from North Sikkim. Now it is the time to book the N Sikkim trip. Regarding Gurudongmar I got mixed response but it clarifies me that it may not be possible to reach Gurudongmar. Initially I contacted Mr. Deepak Rai on phone, as he was somewhere else so he inform us that he can meet us in our hotel after 8.30 P.M. He also quoted the least price for 3N/4D trip, but as of now Gurudongmar seems not feasible, so as per plan B, I decided to spend those days in Dzongu.. Mr. Deepak Rai regret for Dzongu and Unfortunately Mr. Dupden Lepcha of Tingvong homestay was earlier regretted for Lachung or Lachen trip and only agree for Dzongu stay and trip, so I call Ms. Ringjong ( Which number I also get from fellow Imers), she call me at her office and we were there at 6.00 P.M. Initially she checked with the drivers who were suppose to reach Gurudongmar and their feedback was negative and then I discuss for 2 N in Lachung and 2 N in Dzongu. She has her homestay at Lingdong. I will discuss about it later.

We finalized the trip. My Parents are pure vegetarian so she provided us stay at Season House in Sheringthang (Very good hotel for Vegetarian and location wise I found it at one of the best location and it is above Lachung). Regarding vehicle she inform us that she will provide the Sumo / Max / Bolera but definitely with good driver. We ask her to collect 50% advance payment from our hotel and rest we have to pay after completion of trip.

After that we roam on MG Marg but nothing was open except Rainbow fast food so we came back to our hotel order tea to take snacks in dinner and go for sleep. It was drizzling outside and rain only stop in wee hours
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#4 Apr 10th, 2013, 17:01
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28th March 2013

Next Morning, I woke up quite early in expectation to have view of Kanchandzonga but found the weather hazy. Anyway after breakfast we look for hotel for 1st and 2nd April to avoid searching. We found hotels on MG Marg costlier, even some hotel little far from MG marg are costlier. Finally we book a Bengali hotel BabuMashai ( Room No, 101 and 107, as they have only windows ) on MG Marg only at much cheaper price ( Opposite Tashi Delek). We finalized the room based upon feedback from another family, which was staying there as we do not have chance to see the room.

Then we got the call from Ringjong that the permit is also issued for Gurudongmar so if we want to change our plan let her know and she also told the cost implication. I meet her, discuss the cost and actual situation and finally decided to stick to original plan, as I can see the weather condition at Gangtok itself. Finally at 10.30 a.m. we start for North Sikkim trip in a Sumo with Suraj, a jolly Nepali guy from South Sikkim.

On our way we saw Palzor stadium, Helipad, Tashi view point. At Tashi view point we found lots of rush and weather is hazy still people keep on using staircase to reach the top.We just have cup of tea there and move further. Soon you realize the road condition you are going to face. We cross the bridge which connects East Sikkim with North Sikkim. Enroute we saw numerous waterfalls ( Bakthang, Seven sisters, Bhimnala to name a few but we like one unknown waterfall very much.

Let me tell you the road between Pengong and Mangan is still in some good shape and after wards from Mangan to Chungtang it is full bumpy ride and Chungtang to Lachung is a landslide prone zone.

We took our lunch enroute at Green Valley as it was part of our package.At Mangan check post where permits are checked first time and entries are made we see for Gurudongmar neither it is mentioned open nor close. At Chungtang due to Hydel project the Teesta is diverted a lot and now there is no Confluence of river from Lachen and Lachung due to same.

The whole route is scenic. If rides become smooth then it will be pleasure to drive on same. You will find whole area lush green and lots of water falls (known / unknown). It was my desire to take lots of stop over for photography but my wife did not allow Suraj to stop the car and I have to take photos from running car only except at few locations. The water fall I like most was after Seven sister fall and before Mangan,

On the way you can very well understand that this road can be blocked anytime as you can see at many places boulders are ready to fall on the road. We find Dozers and excavators after a certain distance, which I believe essential to keep these roads live.

Enroute we saw army tank and we come to know that they are coming from Gurudongmar region.
We stop for tea break at Chungtang its already above 5.00 P.M. One cute lady ask for lift till Lachung and we accommodate her along with us. She was teacher at Chungtang and due to Ester vacation going back to Lachung at her home. We discuss about education system in Sikkim with her.

It starts drizzling and we reach our hotel Season House by 6.30 P.M. At first sight we love that location. We met Tashi , the owner of Season House. With us two more families arrive almost at same time one from Banglore and another from Mumbai and we all accommodate in the 8 rooms available in Season House.
Here I appreciate Ms. Ringjong we ask for 2 D/B room however she arrange one triple bed and 1 D/B room for us. This means our stay there is going to be comfortable.
Prem, the young chap approaches us and ask for tea or coffee. For kids we ask if we can get milk also and he arrange everything promptly. The Rain was stopped so we sit outside, however it was chilly outside and after some time we have to come inside our room.

Now its dinner time, I was really worried what we get and whether my family like the same or not. To my surprise dinner was delicious and way beyond my expectation. It was great serving by Prem and he always take care if anything short in our plate, provide it quickly. The atmosphere there was homily, you feel at home away from home.
After delicious dinner we go back to sleep.

Images of Helipad Tashi view point, Bridge connecting East with North Sikkim, Seven sister water falls
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#5 Apr 10th, 2013, 17:05
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Contd...,
next part will be coming soon, busy in office work load, after all it is month of appraisal
#6 Apr 10th, 2013, 17:20
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Some more snaps

View of Teesta from N Sikkim Highway
Army tanks coming from Gurudongmar region
The water fall I like the most
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#7 Apr 10th, 2013, 17:30
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#7
Great start Gupta Ji!!

Do not forget the cost details please
I am only responsible for what I say, and not what you understand
#8 Apr 10th, 2013, 17:45
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I will definitely share cost and contact information
#9 Apr 10th, 2013, 18:38
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Some more snaps of 28th March 2013

My Favourite waterfall

Another water fall enroute

The view of Teesta from the check post where permit entries are made

The board informing about opening of road condition. For Gurudongmar, it is half close , half open.

Road condition, not to scare but to inform why N Sikkim highway is prone to landslide.

A small temple at Chungtang
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#10 Apr 10th, 2013, 18:44
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Bhimnala water fall
Sitting in open courtyard at our hotel
Rhendosaurus at our hotel
View of Lachung from Season House on 29th Morning
The hotel where we stay, Season House
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#11 Apr 10th, 2013, 19:03
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Thanks Debashish and Style_Guru for your appreciation.
#12 Apr 10th, 2013, 20:14
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Woh! Shasank, from north to east, from Kashmir to Sikkim..great journey. Your story telling ability is marvelous, as if I am listening your narration face to face with a cup of tea in my hand...great going indeed!
#13 Apr 10th, 2013, 20:34
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#13
Thanks Ashish Da, Its your only travelogue of Bhutan which plan my journey to this area

I still remember my trip at Darjeeling in 1985 during Puja vacation , as 10 year old kid when we miss the trip to Gangtok as other member in our group were not ready to go to Gangtok. Finally after a long span in 2013 we make a trip along with parents.

Initially after Kashmir trip ,I was thinking of Kerala but after reading your travelogue decided to do Bhutan and later on based upon family demand decided to cover Sikkim first.
#14 Apr 10th, 2013, 21:55
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29th March 2013

Woke up early in the morning and go for a walk around the hotel. The view of Lachung was beautiful from Sherinthang, where we stay and one thing I like that, in the night Prem ask at what time we need tea and accordingly we got the tea / coffee at 6.00 a.m. Kids are enjoying running in courtyard and we are enjoying the fresh air and the snowcapped mountains. Our breakfast was ready by 8.00 a.m. and it is Puri Sabji and again quite delicious. In the morning The Xylo driver Nanu which are with the family from Mumbai inform us that if we required we can take bath at hot sulpher spring as room is made there and can be closed inside, so we take cloths and towels along with us.
Now Prem come to us and tell about lunch, he inform it will be Chinese and Soup will also be provided. We asked about chapatti ( Bread) for which he ensure us to provide fried rice.

At around 9.00 a.m. we all move towards Yumtang valley. Enroute we saw both Modern residency and Fortuna. Modern residency is also in upper part of Lachung and Fortuna is near Yumtang army check post. But building design wise Modern residency is better. Both these hotels have different location advantages, but given a second chance I still prefer Season House.

We now move towards Yuntang valley and reach the army check post, They check the permit and occupants and allowed us to move further. On the way we found the Rhendosaurus will blossom in next 15 days and we can imagine the view at that time.
Enroute we saw the Yak grazing in the field. Finally we reach Yungtang, which is called the head of Teesta. Enjoying our time in the valley and around Teesta river. My daughter feels cold there. We found lots of snow in the nearby hills and our kids enjoyed there.
As we find sufficient snow so we did not go to Zero point. The travellers which gone there inform us that weather there was bad and there was no fun which they can have at Yumtang.

After enjoying Yumtang valley and seeing Shiv temple, its now the time to take bath in Sulpher spring. The weather start changing but it does not discourage us for taking bath we reach the place and see the temperature as in Badrinath we have a experience of very high temperature, however here we found the temperature is warm only and very comfortable for bath. They also make exhaust at the top so that there will be no suffocation. First my father, my son and myself enjoyed the bath. Tourist who visited during that time got surprised that oh! that is also a possibility. But once you come out from the Sulpher spring you feel the real cold. Later on my mother, and wife enjoy the sulpher spring as room can be locked from inside. In the adjacent room we saw lots of burnt wood and ash and a chimney so that room may be used sometimes for night camping and even we find two benches there.

Now the drizzling start and weather starts detoriating. We decided to leave sulpher spring and reach our jeep and driving back towards our hotel, the rain keeps on increasing. We reach the hotel ask Prem to bring Umbrella as it started raining heavily. We reach our room and in next 10 minutes Prem come and inform us , Sir, Lunch is ready. So now it is fried rice, Chowmein and Manchurian. We ask Prem where is soup, he inform that Manchurian is soup. Normally we take it as a dish, there only I realize yes it can be served as soup. The lunch was delicious, however as my father did not prefer Chinese so he take very little quantity of food. I asked Prem what about dinner as without Chapatti, I know it will be difficult for my father and he inform that in any case in dinner, they always serve Papad, Chapatti, Rice, Dal along with Sabji.It gave me some relief. Outside it was raining and from dining hall to our room we have to use umbrella, which are provided by Prem.

The rain did not stop and I have to drop my plan to visit Lachung on foot. During evening tea we discuss with the family from Mumbai and we come to know that they hire the Xylo for 9 days from Bagdogra to Bagdogra @ 4000 per day and hotels are directly book by them @ 1500 per day for D/B room and meals @ 700 for 2 day per person. I checked with Tashi and he also inform the same and as per him he is not change his rate based upon season. If your stay is for one night then meal charges will be 500 Rs, per person.

At the time of dinner , it was raining, but again dinner was delicious, however one thing I observed and communicate to them that they are using little bit more salt, so those who are travelling in that region just caution the concerned cook to use less salt. This even we observe at our stay in Dzongu.

As it is continuous raining so we have no other option but to go to bed and sleep.
#15 Apr 11th, 2013, 11:16
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Morning view of Lachung and nearby mountains from our hotel .
The young chap Prem who take care all our need during our 2N stay at Season House
Clouds playing hide and seek
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