Gangtok, a place of undulating slopes, rivers, waterfalls and lakes, a veritable paradise for nature enthusiasts, bang on the mighty lower Himalayan range. Mountains, huge and foreboding that inspire adventurers, challenge climbers and have shaped the destinies of countless civilizations and many times, the course of history. But I can only speak for a spoilsport who groaned when the next family trip was to a hill station, again, after Leh, Srinagar and Dehradun. It was a trip, nevertheless, so I packed my bags without complaint with the same vigor like I had for all my previous trips. 🙂
The Himalayan range lies on the juncture of two tectonic plates, o landslides are like an everyday story. I guess if people have to reach a place in time, in this part of the country, they probably take a head start of two hours in case they meet a scene like the one below, wherein you have to sit and wait patiently till the road gets cleared. It might easily take two to three hours, so people please carry your phones, laptops or walk-mans fully charged, for the sole purpose of playing games only, because you won’t get any network reception either.
Gangtok has an incredible variety of flora, I was unlucky to be visiting at the wrong time when most flower varieties aren’t abloom, but in winters Gangtok organizes an International Flower Festival in which almost a thousand varieties of flowers are showcased. And flowers, who doesn’t love flowers?
A rainy season and mountains, can only add up to one thing- WATERFALLS! Small, narrow streams trickling down the side of the mountains, making that bubbling, crashing sound that blots out the other noises and creates a steady rhythm of the continuous splashes that is so serene and peaceful.
The Tsongmo lake or the Changu lake is a big tourist attraction in the winters when it completely freezes over, and every snow-crazy Indian who goes totally bonkers on catching sight of a snowflake, even if it’s there in a snow globe, has to walk on it! No offence, India is a tropical country, so SNOW is a very very big deal. 😛
The city is as beautiful a city can be, very different from the usual Indian cities, because of the following reasons-
- NO garbage heaps. NONE. Not even near the drains, which in fact are all covered and clean.
- NO crude, uncivilized men peeing at the roadsides, despite the fact that there are long of stretches of open roads without much of civilization around.
- NO red paan spits on the walls. Here in my city you recognize a municipal building by the tell-tale red stains outside. I never have trouble in locating a government office.
- Pretty women in uniform guiding the traffic efficiently. In the rest of the country, there would be a traffic jam in the exact spot.
- No plastic bags.
Beyond boundaries. Nathula, the cultural exchange point between India and china where the boundary runs as low as my ankle, I was almost about to step over to China :). And scare ALERT: a Chinese soldier may walk over casually with a video camera and shake hands with you. Other than that it is pretty much mundane.