In today’s world we can literally see any place without being there. The endless number of IP addresses listing the itineraries, photographs, video, forums and but of course social media has covered every corner of the planet where human reach is possible. Amidst this I thought to keep this holiday simple. Since I left the planning on Priyanka, I decided that I won’t browse through internet for any photograph or video of places that we were going to visit. I wanted my imaginary painting to turn into reality only through what my eyes were about to witness.
We were about to take this trip at the time of demonetisation. Oh yes, it was a game changing scenario in India. Big currency notes were marked as illegal in the first week of November 2016 and there was shortage of cash across the country. ATM were going dry minutes after they were being refilled and banks had massive queue in front of them. Government was insisting on the usage of plastic currency and digital transactions but both of us were not sure that how useful cards will be in one of the remote corners of the country. We decided that we’ll withdraw cash from banks and carry at least 30K in currency notes.
I told my parents about my plan just couple of days before I were to leave. First words from them were “Achha hain, ghoomo and enjoy karo“. “It’s good, travel and have fun“. Yes, my parents are super cool especially when it comes to travel. Also these words of encouragement were so much-needed as this was going to be a trip taken by only 2 girls. That’s a big thing in India. I’m also very lucky considering the fact that my roommate was also supportive. Days passed by and 1 night prior to leaving, I started packing. My heart was thumping with excitement and the child within me was grinning like anything 😀
To know what all I packed please visit here
I left from Pune on 16-Dec and reached Bagdogra on the same day by tea time. As travel time between Bagdogra and Gangtok is 4 hours, had heavy meal at the airport restaurant. We hired a private taxi to Gangtok from the airport, now I was eager to have the first look of the state. Bagdogra falls under the jurisdiction of West Bengal. In about half an hour, hill ranges began on both sides of the road. We had taken the aux cable from the cab driver and were playing Bollywood tracks. Here came an interesting turn, the driver seemed native of Sikkim and he had not utter a single word till now. All of sudden he picked up the lyrics of the song and started singing, we were taken by surprise. I asked him what all language do native people speak and he replied “Hindi, English, Bengali and Nepali“. It was a stunner as being at the far-flung corner I was expecting a local language.
I heard water gushing somewhere near and for the first time saw emerald blue colour water. I asked the driver and he told that it’s Teesta river. It’s source is Gurudongmar lake and the river flows through Sikkim and West Bengal before merging into Bay of Bengal. At around 4.45 PM IST, it was near dusk and by 5 PM it became dense dark. We were still around 3 hours away from Gangtok and the magic is strongest between dusk and midnight at these detached zones. I had heard about unusually short days in European countries but haven’t seen any till now. At that point I knew that next few days will definitely be treat to eyes and I was glad at not browsing through the web for visuals of this place.
Let Magic Happen
We entered Gangtok by 8.30 PM and it took us another 1 hour to locate and reach to our pre-booked hotel. Why? GPS is not very effective in Sikkim; even in the capital city due to proximity with international borders. On our way to the hotel, passed by the famous Sikkim-Manipal university. In the darkness of the night, surrounded by hills and on the banks of Teesta river, the entire university was gleaming with the lights. First look of the campus and I thought “How lucky the students are who get the chance to become part of here?“. In spite of narrow, curvy and arched roads, Gangtok has footpaths across the city and the locals judiciously use them. Oh yes another thing that I noticed was that local people no matter what may be the age were fit and trendy.