Shaandaar Sikkim!!

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#31 May 16th, 2018, 18:37
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  • arupratan ghosh is offline
#31
Excellent information

But..

Quote:
Originally Posted by naveenamohanrao View Post
Nathu La Permit details needs to be written in detail - Please note, only Indians are allowed here. Nathu La entry for tourists is closed on Monday and Tuesday, I was told! Also, the permits are mostly issued in Gangtok but I was told that the check post in Padamchen (Old Silk Route, also issues permits to Nathu La). (Tikaram misguided us even in this regard. When I had enquired where all the permits were issued, he had mentioned it to be only Gangtok. Where as on silk route, Padamchen check post we crossed paths twice and yet he did not breathe a word about it).
Have doubts here. As far as I know Nathula permit is issued by Tourism & Civil Aviation Deptt at Gangtok ( through registered travel agencies ) only.
#32 May 16th, 2018, 18:39
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#32
I think I wrote a trip report (back in 2008) but I did not dwell too much on details of my poor planning.

We had first visited Darjeeling and the driver who brought us to Gangtok dropped us off at the hotel we had chosen long before and then we went shopping for a North Sikkim trip. I don't exactly remember how we happened upon Red Panda (his own chosen moniker), but he and his cronies were rather irritating from start to (premature) finish. We took 3 day trip from Gangtok to Lachung and Lachen. Periodically there were requests for more money for petrol, and so forth, on top of the already agreed price. In the beautiful snowy north we were never left in peace to enjoy the silence ... This guy kept tagging after us like a secret policeman and the most annoying was he kept asking us to sign up for a trek (which was not on our plan) and not five minutes passed without hearing "old is gold", due to our (already, then, 10 years ago) advanced years.

On our return to Gangtok, I had requested a stop at Singhik to take some photos of Kandchenzonga. Imagine, he then had the audacity to tell us it was not worth stopping as there would be no mountain views there. An argument ensued. Finally we got our way and great pics. Lots of sulking thereafter. We then committed a serious crime in the eyes of The Red Panda ... We picked up two hitchhikers, two Sikkimese girls who were stranded after their vehicle broke down and who had been waiting in vain for twelve hours to get a lift to Gangtok. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife. We chatted amiably to our new friends for the rest of the journey. Back in our very comfortable hotel, I retreated to our room. R P shortly called to enquire how we wanted to proceed with our West Sikkim journey the next day. We paid him a hefty sum of rupees and said our farewell. Then organized the Rinchenpong part of our trip afresh with the help of the homestay who were awaiting us. The driver they sent was brilliant and had a license for all of Sikkim, which we then realized was quite rare.

I put the initial squabbles down to my inexperience. But listening to others' stories, we did comparatively pretty well !
#33 May 16th, 2018, 18:49
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  • naveenamohanrao is offline
#33
Quote:
Originally Posted by arupratan ghosh View Post Excellent information

But..

Have doubts here. As far as I know Nathula permit is issued by Tourism & Civil Aviation Deptt at Gangtok ( through registered travel agencies ) only.
That's right, arupratan ghosh!
I meant, we submitted the id proof and the photos to the travel desk help. The person got it processed.

But if I am not wrong, it could be the Tourism & Civil Aviation Deptt issuing but I believe the Gangtok police dept actually issues the hard copy! I had taken a pic of the permit on my mobile. Posting it here. But unfortunately my finger is blocking the details about whom the letter is addressed. Actually it is addressed to the Inspector of Police, if you can infer, from what little is seen.

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Also, I was definitely told that the permits were issued in Padamchen Check post too!! But the number of permits issued that side would be very less.
#34 May 16th, 2018, 19:09
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#34
Quote:
Originally Posted by theyyamdancer View Post I think I wrote a trip report (back in 2008) but I did not dwell too much on details of my poor planning.

We had first visited Darjeeling and the driver who brought us to Gangtok dropped us off at the hotel we had chosen long before and then we went shopping for a North Sikkim trip. I don't exactly remember how we happened upon Red Panda (his own chosen moniker), but he and his cronies were rather irritating from start to (premature) finish. We took 3 day trip from Gangtok to Lachung and Lachen. Periodically there were requests for more money for petrol, and so forth, on top of the already agreed price. In the beautiful snowy north we were never left in peace to enjoy the silence ... This guy kept tagging after us like a secret policeman and the most annoying was he kept asking us to sign up for a trek (which was not on our plan) and not five minutes passed without hearing "old is gold", due to our (already, then, 10 years ago) advanced years.

On our return to Gangtok, I had requested a stop at Singhik to take some photos of Kandchenzonga. Imagine, he then had the audacity to tell us it was not worth stopping as there would be no mountain views there. An argument ensued. Finally we got our way and great pics. Lots of sulking thereafter. We then committed a serious crime in the eyes of The Red Panda ... We picked up two hitchhikers, two Sikkimese girls who were stranded after their vehicle broke down and who had been waiting in vain for twelve hours to get a lift to Gangtok. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife. We chatted amiably to our new friends for the rest of the journey. Back in our very comfortable hotel, I retreated to our room. R P shortly called to enquire how we wanted to proceed with our West Sikkim journey the next day. We paid him a hefty sum of rupees and said our farewell. Then organized the Rinchenpong part of our trip afresh with the help of the homestay who were awaiting us. The driver they sent was brilliant and had a license for all of Sikkim, which we then realized was quite rare.

I put the initial squabbles down to my inexperience. But listening to others' stories, we did comparatively pretty well !
Oh, that's a really thing to go through. It precisely for the same reason that I hate to travel in hired vehicles or with guides. Their constant banter and nudging us to their favourite haunts or shops, their suggested sightseeing points and constantly asking for money for fuel.

We do know a bit of vehicle's mileage and the need to refuel at regular intervals, but we can easily make out when they start fleecing us. But in a unfamiliar place, it becomes difficult to tackle the situation. I was expecting the same sort of demands about moolah, from Tika as he had got an indication that Gangtok is where I would camp for the rest of the tour and he would not be able to drive locally. He even indicated that he would have to sit idle and there would losses.

The minute he opened his mouth to talk about Gangtok and the itinerary further, I promptly would start the topic of Nathu La permit and the manner in which he lied about the procedure taking 7/8 days. I almost in every sentence dropped the word 'officer in Gangtok' helping me!!

This put him on the back foot immediately. I had purposely avoided writing about his behaviour as we shifted to smaller vehicle on the outskirts of Gangtok, to drive to our hotel. But I must say, he was almost holding our feet and apologising. He came to each of us and apologised for concealing much info. My daughter was very embarrassed. Hubby generally doesn't talk much when I make travel plans and I mostly execute all the things on the trip. Anyway, I did not have anything against him. Only I did not want to pay him for terminating his services earlier than agreed to. But then he knew he was at the wrong and he himself requested me to release him.

The pic of Tika with my hubby which I have posted was taken just before he left. He had asked for 5k per day and had taken 10k, on the second day of our travel. He asked for 4k more in complete settlement on the 4th day. I was surprised as i had to pay 10k more as per his initial talks. I told him that I owed him 10k more for 4 days. But well, anyway I gave him a bit more than the actuals. And absolutely no complaints about it.
#35 May 16th, 2018, 20:29
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  • vaibhav_arora is offline
#35
Quote:
Originally Posted by naveenamohanrao View Post .[*]Carrying ID proof is a must. Important to note here that Passport or Aadhar card or Voter Card or Driving License is accepted - AND in the order mentioned they are more accepted.
!
There's no need for an Indian citizen to carry passport to visit any part of India, including restricted area. If a civil or military authority asks for the passport for domestic area entry, they're unilaterally and erroneously enforcing their own rule, one should push back.

I've been to three borders so far - BP609 (west) near Jaisalmer, Turtuk (north) in Ladakh - probably northernmost and Bumla pass (North East) in tawang. I carried my driving license everywhere.

I certainly don't like to carry my PP while traveling in my own country.
#36 May 16th, 2018, 20:45
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#36
In such cases PP works as a photo ID proof, Vaibhav...
#37 May 16th, 2018, 20:54
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#37
Thats what i'm questioning - there are alternatives available and as such it shouldnt be one has better acceptance than other. Also, one shouldnt have to carry it as a citizen of india, traveling within India. Not to mention something with an active visa can be targeted for theft.
#38 May 16th, 2018, 22:38
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#38
Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post There's no need for an Indian citizen to carry passport to visit any part of India, including restricted area. If a civil or military authority asks for the passport for domestic area entry, they're unilaterally and erroneously enforcing their own rule, one should push back.
Very true! VA, I did not mean to say that one must carry passport or that civil or Military authority ask for the same. I meant that they are widely accepted easily over other ID proofs like aadhar card or voter ID card.

Passport verification happens more stringently, I suppose. Hence manipulations aren't easily done hence Passport as ID proof is generally accepted without much qualms.

Quote:
I've been to three borders so far - BP609 (west) near Jaisalmer, Turtuk (north) in Ladakh - probably northernmost and Bumla pass (North East) in tawang. I carried my driving license everywhere.
Well, I have also never carried my Passport anywhere till date but have locally in Mumbai used it as ID proof and once I mention while preparing the documents before submitting for any work that I am using passport as ID proof, I have seen that my work becomes easy.

During this trip, we all were carrying only our Driving license and furnished the same for Nathu La permit as well as for all the permits for our Old silk route travel. But in Gangtok, while we were giving the xerox copies of DL for Nathu La visit, the travel desk personnel most certainly knew we were not carrying our PPs and they would have preferred Aadhar card, they said. I informed them that weren't carrying anything else other than DL for ID proof. Of course, my hubby being a government servant he had his office ID. But we had our aadhar card copies online and we did download the copies and gave them that and informed them that we couldn't furnish the original, in case they asked for!

But we did get our Nathu La permit without any problem.

Quote:
I certainly don't like to carry my PP while traveling in my own country.
We too!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post Thats what i'm questioning - there are alternatives available and as such it shouldnt be one has better acceptance than other. Also, one shouldnt have to carry it as a citizen of india, traveling within India. Not to mention something with an active visa can be targeted for theft.
It's easy acceptance and probably their work gets reduced to go through the details! I am not sure about that but then yes, definitely I have seen that in most of the places DL serves the purpose. But then we definitely need to carry some ID proof wherever we travel as it is required to enter any airport or for hotel bookings etc!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prakaant View Post In such cases PP works as a photo ID proof, Vaibhav...
Correct. I meant that!!
#39 May 17th, 2018, 21:55
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#39
Well, where is the next episode? Or do we satisfy ourselves with fantasies of the Red Panda...
#40 May 18th, 2018, 09:07
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#40
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Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post Well, where is the next episode?
Will try to post by evening, VA!!

Quote:
Or do we satisfy ourselves with fantasies of the Red Panda...
Poor TD! You are rubbing it in!
#41 May 18th, 2018, 20:01
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#41

Icchegaon - Lungthung!

Day 2

First day was mostly travel and driving to Icchegaon! By the time we reached our homestay, we couldn't make out much of our surroundings. The torrential rains only helped us sit cosily inside the homestay. But we woke up to a beautiful day!

Woke up to this view!!
It was bright by 5 am, A few birds were really active even at such wee hours of morning and the view of valley below, clouds floating everywhere and the biting cold - It almost seemed like a fairyland.



Icchey Gaon, is located at an altitude of 5800 feet and 15 kms in the hills of Kalimpong - mind you, we are still in West Bengal and yet to travel into Sikkim. It is a pretty little hamlet of about some 30 families. The people are friendly and warm and treat you well!



I can very well recount that there were quite a few homestays in the same hamlet. I am not complaining about the homestay we chose, but after I walked around a bit in that hamlet that morning, I realised that there were a bit more cleaner places to opt for. Of course, I couldn't enquire much there. But the homesaty which I had chosen, I felt the kitchen from where our food arrived was a bit unhygienic and also a tad dirty. So, for future travellers, a note - try to surf on the net about other homestays there.

This is the one we stayed. It was comfortable for sure.



The best part of the stay at Icchegaon was, our first view of Kanchenjunga! We were absolutely delighted when we came to know that in the past 6 days, this was the first time the peak was visible.



As the sun played hide and seek among the clouds, the peaks shone bright and happy at times and looked austere other times



I was the early bird and loved and enjoyed watching the snow clad peaks to my heart's content on the very first day. It was a pity that I had ventured out from the room with only my digicam and was looking for birds and then suddenly saw a couple of photographers keenly going click click!! I completely forgot to rush back to the room and pick up my SLR. I enjoyed clicking in my Nikon it self.

This was the moment!! The peak was clearly visible, but the clouds were fast approaching and I knew it was only a few seconds before the range would vanish from our sight!



The tough terrain, with some good zooming in!!



Spent an hour early in the morning exploring the place, enjoying the surroundings, clicking some lovely little birds and some cute kids and totally chilling out in the open and breathing some absolutely dust-free, smoke-free and clear air!!





Around 8 am, were through with our Bread/Jam/Butter and omelette breakfast. All set after a pretty fast bath (half bucket of hot water in probably some 15 degrees Celsius?), we started off for our next stop Lungthung!

On our way, now that it is bright and sunny, we see the Ramdhura view point, as we start our drive. This place also sees many a trekkers, I was told.



As we continue our drive, we pass through quite a few small villages but colorful route!



This was somewhere before Rongli, I believe.



Took our lunch break in Rongli. Also some permit work was to be done there. So it was a good one hour there. Ate our first round of Momos and thukpa!!





As we proceeded, it was at Lingtham, again a permit seeking process! All take care of by Tika.



The climb begins and the route becomes interesting!



A chai break and some fun photoshoots on our way and some time spent along the waterfalls, all part of the drive!





It was around Zuluk, that the climate started to change! We could see thisck clouds rising up from below the valley. Zuluk is situated around 10000ft on the rugged terrain of the lower Himalayas in East Sikkim. It is a small village quite popular among those traveling on the Old silk route. A few homestay options too available.



Reaching Zuluk and the views and further ahead, was the drive I was waiting for since the time I had planned the Sikkim trip! It's one of the most scenic routes - if luck favours with good weather conditions. We had everything perfect. It was bright for some distance, then we saw a bit of rains as the climb got steeper and then we landed into a beautiful paradise!



We walked, sang and danced in the clouds, literally!!



We had left Zuluk, just a few kilometers behind and the view of the place looked like this!



We were getting late for our next destination! It was very strictly decided, no more photo-stops. Let us reach Lungthung fast else it will become dark and start pouring, is what we said to each other. BUT - Did we follow it!!

One couldn't possibly miss this view, right??

Zuluk, completely engulfed in the mountain ranges at the far end and the drive towards Thambi view point!!



And then - the most interesting view point on the Old silk route!! A view of these hairpin bends as we drive higher up!! Absolutely breath taking, it is. One moment you can watch the entire scene clearly and the next second there is a cloud completely spreading out like a carpet!



Can you just believe that?



I sat there for almost 30 minutes even when daggers were being thrown at me...my hubby was almost shivering. It had started drizzing a bit heavily - but the changing views of the valley was riveting. Tried capturing all possible combinations and compositions of this point! But finally had to drive ahead. Lungthung was beckoning!



It was one of those evenings that really stole my heart! Such beautiful sky!

#42 May 18th, 2018, 20:11
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#42
That's why it is said, always carry your better quality camera whenever and wherever you are in mountain...
#43 May 18th, 2018, 21:57
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#43
I am enjoying the beautiful journey alongside you. Feeling the pull, the magnetic pull of the mountains :-)
#44 May 18th, 2018, 22:04
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#44
Mind blowing naveenaji

#45 May 18th, 2018, 22:31
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I toldya, the photos!! Truly amazing..
Sar Pass Trek , Rohtang, Munnar, Badrinath Kedarnath, Vaishnodevi, Goa, VOF, Kedarkantha, Kuari Pass, Brahmatal Trek
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