Thursday, October 4, 2012

Banged the buck in Gangtok-Day3

3rd October'12

Nijhum'da banged on our door at 6 o'clock in the morning shouting from the outside that the sky has cleared.It took another 30 minutes for us to be ready to negotiate in next  one minute the rate to Tashi viewpoint & Hanuman Tok for a grand view of the Kangchendzonga. While on our way to Tashi view point, we stopped for just a while to take a snap at the Bakhtang falls.

We reached Tashi in a matter of minutes and climbed up 114 stairs to reach the view point, which has the best view of the Mount Kangchendzonga or Mount K . One doesn't get to see the entire mountain ranges within striking heights of Mount K but Mount K is magnificent in itself here. A diagonal sheet of thick cloud hung over Gangtok but was not big enough to obscure Mount K.

 We were heading quickly to Hanuman Tok for the real view but once we reached that place, the view on the east side was completely blocked by clouds. We climbed up to the observatory tower and was fortunate   enough to get a partially-clear view of the west side  with the snow-capped Mount K and other peaks. I had an OM moment there and then .
While on our way downhill to Gangtok, we noticed schoolkids trekking up long kilometers from their villages to reach schools situated on the hillside. Characterized by their leisurely gait and cheerful appearance , the school kids were aptly photogenic.

The balance part of the day was spent in taking the view from the rope-way and walking down to the Tibetology museum. The latter has specimens from rituals of Tantric Buddhism. Human skulls that would have held nectar of blood. Besides the museum had ancient manuscripts depicting ancient wisdom from Pragna paramita.  

 The disappointment of not being able to make to the Nathula pass was obviated soon enough with the morning success of viewing Mount K & subsequent visits to other  notable places of Gangtok. The bang for the tourism buck was made in the morning itself but it really seemed as if nature was plotting in our favour to present us those small windows of opportunities to ensure that our bucks really banged.

The day ended with another bout of rain and a misty night thereafter. We are planning to leave tomorrow and hoping that the road to Siliguri is free from blockades.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Zeal for Zaluk from Gangtok -Day 2

2nd October'12

Nathula pass went off as quickly as it had arrived. The torrential rains that had poured  last night also brought along with it  a landslide on the road from Gangtok to Tsangmo lake. So, no chances of visiting Nathula pass as the alternate route via Zaluk  is also a time consuming affair.
The day remained  as misty as it appeared at the morning. The taxi took us to Rumtek Monastery, whose monks  kind of bent over their backs to register their protest at Indian Govt's refusal to allow the 17th  head of the Karmapa sect to take charge of the Golden Stupa at the monastery. Rumtek otherwise stood apart in its grandeur.

 The nagging drizzle kept us from venturing further outdoors what with slushy roads and overflowing roads. We managed to get off near an unknown girder bridge that stood over an unknown stream flowing gorgeously down the boulders, first  only to relieve ourselves and then as an afterthought some snaps and a video (inserted below) of the stream and the bridge were taken .

Late at night, when we reached the hotel, we despaired to find out some logistics link to Zaluk, which is at 12100 ft and part of the alternative route to Nathula. But as fate would have it, Zaluk too seemed out of bounds.
Our only hope is now for the skies to clear up tomorrow morning so that we can at least watch the Mt. Khanchendzonga at sunrise.

Gang talk in Gangtok-Day1

1st October,12

Who knew that one could reach Gangtok from Kolkata by spending just 500 rupees? The sleeper class train fare to New Jalpaiguri station is 240 & the onward journey by share-jeep is 250. A routine to and fro taxi fare in Kolkata from Salt Lake to IIM joka would cost more.
Gangtok at 5600 feet is cooler at 15 deg c. We had a downpour the moment after we checked in at the hotel and the temperature fell further by 2-3 deg C.
The important news here is that Nathula pass to China-Tibet (of the medieval silk-route fame) has been opened up from tourists from today . Talk about timing.
But with nothing much to do in the evening, we spent a quiet evening rumming & bumming along with some real tasty chinese food.
Lets see what tomorrow holds out for us.