Unravelling Gangtok, one place at a time: Everything you need to do in the city.

Exactly 10 years ago I had visited this place on a school trip. However, this time the hilly city unravelled itself like a blossoming flower. Having nested there for almost a week, every second spent in the city of Gangtok made me fall in love with it.

While we settled in our family friend’s house, I found comfort in my favourite spot on the terrace- just me, some Coldplay music and the whole goddam city of Gangtok.

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My Spot
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View from my spot

With its misty weather, polished roads, humble people and dramatic skies, the city cast a magical aura on me. You should definitely spare some time to walk around the and discover its nooks and corners.

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Sun shining on the city of Gangtok

So here is my guide to spots you cannot miss in the city of Gangtok

Touristy Spots

  1. Nathula Pass and Tsongo Lake

I missed seeing the China border in my previous trip to Arunachal, hence this time I was keen on making sure I tick it off my list. The trip to Nathula Pass was via Tsongo Lake, also known as Changu Lake, it is encircled by snow-clad mountains on all side. The lake is a translucent grey glass that perfectly showcases the reflection of the white mountains.

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Alluring Tsomgo lake aka Changu lake

A popular touristy thing to do here is to relish the serendipity while you are riding on the back of a yak.

Yak ride on Tsomgo lake
Fluffy Yak on Tsomgo Lake

The border has a high presence of military because of which you require prior permission to visit. Owing to its vulnerable state, only 75 cars are granted permission, that too can be withdrawn in case of bad weather.

A considerable part of our journey lingered around snow and we finally made it to the base of the Nathula Pass. At 1 degree, we took snowy stairs to see the border. The breeze carried with it the white snow particles, sending in chills. In spite of the stairs being a 5-minute climb, you have to be cautious while you trudge through the path or you may return with an injury. How naive of me, but I touched China!

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The greys at Nathula Pass

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The last picture I took before my phone froze

2. Jhakri Falls

The north east region of India is occupied by hidden waterfalls, some public while some untouched. Ban Jhakri Falls is one such falls located in a park that reflect the essence of Sikkimese culture.

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Park that showcases Sikkimese Culture

It was widespread dropping with freedom from a great height to reunite with the water at its foot. While you dip your legs at the bottom of the falls, you will be embraced with fresh breeze mixed with sprinkles of water.

Places to visit in Gangtok & Sikkim
Layes of Ban Jhakri falls

IMG_9122Jhakri Falls is a typical touristy spot, with offers numerous adventurous activities like zip lining, etc. If you are up for some real adventure, you will also come across paragliding activities on this same route (I would definitely recommend this).

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3. Paragliding amidst the mountains

The persistent weather fluctuations in Gangtok made us miss the paragliding opportunity twice, but we were stubborn enough and got lucky the third time.

It was a breathe-taking experience, it amazed me how five steps of running can turn into flying in the sky accompanied by a rider. With the wind against my face, I felt like I was stuck in reverse in a time-frozen era.

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Panoramic view

 

For those prolonged five minutes, you feel like a free bird glancing at the clouds on top and lush green mountains filled with small houses. 

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My kind of escapade

You can feel the exact same frenzy in a helicopter ride, but why remain enclosed when you have an option of being free.

Since this was my first time, it was my best escapades ever. 

4. The Exotic Mayfair

Nestled in the thick of Himalayan forests of Sikkim, Mayfair is one of the premium hotels in Gangtok. Every corner of the property depicts Tibetan architecture. The resort has a soothing atmosphere that would tempt you to spend an eternity here. 

Even if you do not stay here, you can grab a meal or even better I suggest high tea by the pool.

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One corner of Mayfair

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SEEK FOR GOD & PEACE

The monasteries in Gangtok are so well-planned that its structure enlightens every aspect of the Buddhist architecture

Ranka Monastery– Not covered under the local sight seeing, this monastery is a pristine treasure located at a great height and surrounded by serene mountains. It may be out of the way but the glorification will entice you to pause and enjoy the peace. It is a privilege to be on the supreme most spot on earth.

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The Serene Ranka Monastery

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Rumtek– Once we reached Rumtek, we had to leave our vehicle at the gate and take a small walk to reach the monastery. You will stumble upon monks of various ages in their red uniforms engaging themselves in various tasks. Since Rumtek was also a school for the monks, I spotted many of them engrossed in their religious book, this showcased how incredible their devotion was.

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Young monks on their way

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Rumtek Monastery
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One of the quotes in the Monastery

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Ganesh Tok- One of the few famous Hindu temples, Ganesh Tok is at the highest point of the city. The temple had an adjacent balcony from where you can see the panoramic view of Gangtok.

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Entrance of the Temple
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View from Ganesh Tok

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Whether it is my own city or any other place in the city, I have to try the local cafes in the vicinity. Gangtok has an endearing cafe culture where you can sit on a table, sipping your cappuccino and glance at people passing by. Tucked away in the prime locations of the city, these cafes are a must visit.

The Coffee Shop– Situated on the bustling M.G. Road, this elite cafe has a quaint ambience. The menu offers everything from coffee to alcohol, from starters to pizzas. (Should definitely try they veg burger!) I enjoyed a hearty dinner here.

Cafe to visit in Gangtok- The Coffee shop
A must visit cafe for people watching

 

Baker’s CafeThis is another popular cafe on M.G. Road, since I was running short on time I did not get to visit this place. The exteriors of the cafe were quite alluring for a perfect evening of people-watching.

Baking Magic– This cafe offers some delicious cakes. The founder is an amazing girl who studied architecture in Mumbai but followed her passion for baking and started this endeavour. All her baking goodies are so full of taste and moisture.

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The Square– Situated in the same building as the coffee shop, this place was our last minute dinner idea. Decorated with a vintage vibe and dim lightings, the restaurant was designed with a pop-star theme. The walls were adorned with photographs of pop-stars like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Micheal Jackson, Audrey Hepburn and much more, I’d be surprised if you don’t end up gazing at the walls.

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The square- Music themed restaurant

Sinful dessert to try at The Square

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Vibe of The Square

Being a vegetarian we had limited options, but if you are non-vegetarian there are ample of dishes to choose from. Their baked ice-cream is a must try dessert! (Mouth-water simple vanilla ice-cream, baked with chocolate sauce and nuts, just Whoa!)

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Shopping & Entertainment

Geographically Gangtok is close to Bangkok and China which is why you will find the locals extremely well-dressed. The youth is pepped up with the latest fashions and looking like they’re just off the ramp. You can stroll here for hours and find the coolest spots in the most unexpected locations.

MG Road- Even if you do not go anywhere, you have to stroll through M.G Road. At first glance, it has a vibe of foreign streets so charming that you won’t realise how time passes here. In the evenings, the street is lit up with vintage lamps and bright store lights enhancing the atmosphere. You can spot popular brands, restaurants, cafe, souvenir shops, etc.

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The fabulous MG Marg of Gangtok
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When the fogs hugged MG road

Casinos– In spite of being a small city, Gangtok has 3-4 casinos for entertainment. Surprisingly, the locals are restricted from gambling but yet all these casinos are occupied by tourists.

 

Casino Deltin Danzong

 

Lal Bazaar– If you breathe fashion, Lal Bazaar has to be your musing. The variety of styles will leave you amazed, it even beats the fancy options that are available in the cities. From clothes to shoes to bags, all the stores are dressed with the latest trends and at reasonable prices.

 

This was my version of sightseeing in Gangtok, if the city has charmed you with it’s magic I’d be happy to hear about it. Hope you have a pleasant stay.

A Nature Lover’s Muse- North Sikkim

North Sikkim in the month of May is like a bride on her wedding day. It is a view to the eye. In this region, it is a 365-day ritual for nature to look appealing and enchanting.

As I embarked the 100 km journey from Gangtok to Lachen the weather gods showered us with their blessings by giving us trickling raindrops for company.

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Making most of the monsoons

 

There were layers of green mountains, each complementing the other, almost like they were asked to stand in a descending choir group. The hills were dressed in cotton like fog that was placed sporadically to enhance the beauty of the view. From the top, every gliding stream looked like they were racing with glee.

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The view enroute North Sikkim

Every nerve of nature was brought to life with the supply of these transparent droplets. Even though the sky was filled with grey clouds, almost dulling the weather, the mountainous greens and browns still stole the show.

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Lachen, North Sikkim, India

Lachen is a tiny village consisting of 1300 people. It is under-developed and has limited access to basic facilities. The hotels here are two-star hotels operated by hosts who play the dual role of room service and chefs. For a short stay, it is manageable to book these small hotels.

After this unexpected scenic drive, we finally reached our destination at 6:00 pm.

Amidst the void invisible evening, my curiosity kept wondering what Lachen had for me the next day. At 6:00 a.m. it was time for my curiosity to unravel as I was about to witness the much awaited ‘Gurumdongar Lake’

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View from the hotel at 6:00 am

I can never tell how much worth of travelling is required to see a spectacular view of mother earth’s creation. It could be 30 minutes or it could be 4 hours. It could be smooth or it could be filled with back breaking bumps. Gurumdongar Lake was a 4-hour bumpy ride.

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The unreal brown mountains at Gurudongmar lake

I have no words to describe what it felt like being 17,800 feet above the ground in God’s land.

And I stood there, staring at the stagnant lake shadowed with massive clouds, snow-clad mountains, brown pointed peaks facing my back, the stones under my feet and the open blue sky filled with clouds- What a perfect blend.

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The much awaited Gurumdongar Lake

 

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Paradise of clouds

 

The only drawback was that the air is too thin and one cannot stay here for more than 30 minutes. While you are up here, make sure to carry kapoor and smell it, drink ginger water or plain water just to keep your oxygen level at balance.

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But all the discomfort was worth it for this spectacular view.

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The streams on this route were so rich and pristine like they were the purest form of water humans could ever get. It was a transparent blue that was brushing against the rocks.

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Not having much time in our hand, we had a quick lunch and then moved from Lachen to Lachung. If you are a vegetarian you’re often going to encounter tasteless food in this area. For my lunch, the only significant ingredient in the dal was turmeric. Apart from that be prepared to be overwhelmed with rice and potatoes.

In Lachung we had plans to visit Yumthang Valley (aka flower valley) and Zero Point where you can have some snow-time. Being a popular tourist spot, Lachung does have 3-4 star hotels of which Yarlam is the most premium one. But if you are on a low budget staying in an average hotel in a much viable option.

I stayed at Lachung dynasty and in spite of the hotel being mediocre we were blessed with an amazing host- Mr. Sandeep. He arranged a campfire for us (chargeable) and even cooked saag ki sabji from his kitchen garden. He was a host who was dedicated to his goal of providing the best service.

The entire journey back and forth to Yumthang Valley had dozens of blossoming flowers and gazillion pine trees (wanted to get one home for Christmas).

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We halted at a spot that was unreal- flowers on the two sides, a narrow way that goes deeper into the valley and snowy mountains in the background. Almost like we were in an Indian version of Switzerland.

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It was fascinating to see that these flowers have no caretakers; they grow and remain at their own stake because they trust that nature will nurture them. Of all the lovely flowers, my favourite was the purple primula flower that was clustered with such perfection that it reflected an ombre of blue and purple.

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En route we spotted lovely countryside houses with yaks, horses and cows and they were all busy grazing.

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After an hours’ drive from Yumthang Valley, we reached ‘Zero Point’ (What a well-thought name) where I geared up with gumboots. It felt juvenile to make snow balls and throw them around but where are we going to experience this in Mumbai’s 35 degrees. I wallowed in the snow until my feet and hands went numb. While I sat in the car to warm myself, the fog was headed in a direction that was out of our reach but it chaperoned with it the snowfall.

Zero Degree point, Yumthang Valley, Lachung, North Sikkim, India
Zero Degree point Yumthang Valley

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Both these places have no residents but instead, have a military presence. The reason for this according to me is that you simply breathe in the scenic view and never breathe it out, you capture it, and you freeze it! And you allow it to change you.

 

A Warm Welcome in the City of Gangtok, Sikkim.

The city of Gangtok is spread within a radius of 7-8 km of pure hills. It may portray itself to be a small city, but it has too much to take back compared to other cities.

After a 3-hour flight from Bombay- Kolkata, a two-hour halt in Kolkata, another 1-hour flight to Bagdogra, an hours drive to Siliguri, with another 1-hour halt for snacks, last 4-hour drive on the hills and there we were, finally at Ankit’s house!

Me sitting on MG Road just to show I was present there
MG Road, prime location of Gangtok, Sikkim

Luckily for me, we had family friends in Gangtok, who gave us an opportunity to live a local life. We put up with Ankit & his family, in his four storey house. Our 2BHK apartment in Mumbai was nothing compared to this beast. That’s one advantage of staying in smaller cities, people don’t have flats, they have ‘houses’.

Thanks to Ankit and his entire family who were excellent hosts, they left us with such wonderful memories.

With all the trips going up the hill, descending down the stairs and only using walking as a mode of transport to get to our destination- I literally became accustomed to the city in just five days of being there.

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Say hello to the cloud outside my window

 

It was so exhilarating that even now I clearly remember the lush landscape covered with fog. ‘ I could live here forever’, I think to myself.

There was a bunch of blossoming flowers on the balcony of the terrace which had a seating arrangement. But the spiral stairs intrigued me and took me to a spot right on top of the building.

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Hiking up the Spiral Stairs

That was my spot- “the bird’s eye view” of the entire city, the scenario which greeted my eyes left me mesmerised.

Welcome to the capital city of Gangtok, Sikkim
Welcome to the capital city of Gangtok, Sikkim

In front of me lay the city of hills, Gangtok, charming me with its steepness, with its multi-coloured roof houses but most importantly introducing me to solitude.

There is something about the hills that takes away all my worries, all my thoughts, all the stress. I just become stagnant, freeze with the view in front of me. It makes me feel like there are just two things that exist in the world- ‘me & nature’.

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Ankit’s Nursery in his terrace. PS-  Do not miss the snowy peak of Kanchenjunga

 

Post our jet-lagged journey from west to east, we decided not to do anything great on Day 2. All we did was go to Ankit’s jewellery store (Ramchandra Jewellers) which is located in the heart of the city.

Being the women tribe that we are, me and my mother shopped ornaments at his store, came across some prolific local and traditional jewellery that was embedded with colourful stones (especially blue and red stones).

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Traditional Khao from Ankit’s Jewellery store

 

Since it was raining and the roads were hardly visible due to the fog, we just relaxed at the store. It was a cosy afternoon, where all you can think of is a pillow and a blanket. Note- we were not here to sleep. Damn! the weather. Obviously, a hot cup of masala tea played its tricks and refreshed us to retrieve back to our mission. How soul-filling!

Ankit’s wife Madhu insisted on taking us for some local fashionable shopping, she said, ‘You’ll forget all your fashion brands in Bombay, if you see the kind of clothes the women wear here’ This was a little instigating so I went anyway. And I must say, she was right. Since Sikkim is closer to Bangkok, they are pre-timely aware of all the latest trends.

Forget the beauty, even the fashion sense of Gangtok did not fail to impress me!

This was a gist of the city and its characteristics, next up would be all the touristy places I visited. (Ps- I will also tell you where to get the best Momos!)

If you fell in love with this hilly city as well, would love to hear all about it.

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Same Route. Different Facades. Journey to Tawang and back.

The atmosphere of the route we took while going from Dirang to Tawang and returning from Tawang to Bomdila was contradictory.

Tawang is at 9000 feet but to get there, you have to cross Sela Pass, which is 13000 feet above the ground. (No option for another route here)

The journey of getting to Tawang via Sela pass was as scenic as the sets of Narnia. There were snow covered mountains on both sides of the road blended with layers of fog, which obviously reduced the visibility around.

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Foggy Mountains enroute Tawang

But yet whatever was set forth in front of us, with minimal visibility was completely MAGICAL.

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In spite of the temperature being teeth chattery, I got out to make sure to take a picture next to the board that said 13,000 feet above the ground. How frozen I was after that!

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Don’t miss the 13,700 signage!

The same route was filled with an interesting experience while returning back. Tawang- Seal Pass- Bomdila.

The place was now glowing with sunshine. Under bright daylight, the environment looked crystal clear.

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The morning sun kissing the clustered snow goodbye

After a cold night filled with snowfall and rainfall, the morning sun kissed the clustered snow goodbye.

But like they say, never judge a book by its cover, we were oblivious about what the view was going to cost us.

It was comforting to see the sun shining, but with that came a drawback. The white snow was melting down to partner with the mud on the road either to make the journey memorable or to leave us hanging in the snow. And there was no other way to get to Bomdila.

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This melted snow was now bullying our cars and making it skid. Being held captive, getting out of this situation was almost doubtful because each time our car was stuck, our driver had to ask people to help him push the car while he accelerated.

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Stuck in between

 

As this was a one-way road, vehicles had to Stop. Help. Push. Move. These vehicles included- cars, tempos, trucks, sumos and military trucks.

The locals of Arunachal were really co-operative, they would get out of the way and help with pushing the car. They would dirty their hands by collecting mud to put under the car tyre so that the car would by saved from skidding. In -3 degrees they were ready to face anything!

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In between all this chaos, we had with a red Maruti zen with two male drivers. Now, their car would act pricey and just refuse to move ahead. So every time they were stuck, they would both get out push the car, the car would get excited and starts moving ahead by itself while these two try running on the snow chasing the car, to get back in the driver’s seat.

What a sight this was!

To spice things up a little, nature decided to embrace us with a snow storm. Armed with all the winter wear we had, anxiety filled our stomachs, as we saw the opaque snow particles fly past us. We were all numb and our car was at a standstill, almost like there was an inspection going on.

There was no chance to get out of the car. STUCK!

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Just something I did while waiting for clear roads

 

30 minutes of silently watching the snow storm and being awestruck passed just fine. We even saw the lake that was partially frozen in the middle of sharp snowy mountains.

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Sela Lake- A view to the eye

 

I was amazed by the view that laid ahead of me! I was quiet and only thinking of how beautiful could the world get! GOSH!

We got moving and reached Sela Pass. It looked safe. (That’s what we thought)

After controlling our pee for four hours, we like smart ass people took a pit stop to pee exactly at Sela pass.

Without any anticipation of the weather outside, I opened the car door to get out, and the car door swung in the direction of the wind, so hard, I thought we were going to make the rest of the journey without the car door on my side.

The freezing blows were something I have never experienced in my life. Snow flying in every direction!

Even the bathroom had frozen water jammed from the tap to the bucket. HILARIOUS!

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All in all, we survived and reached safely to Bomdila. A lot of travellers who had taken tempos were stuck in snow for almost 8 hours without any water or food!

We took back with us some memories.

Kaziranga National Park- Waking up to the rhythmic chirps of the birds

The very first moment we set foot on the grey foresty roads of Kaziranga, I was impressed with the ‘Animal corridors’. Since I have not paid visits to many jungles yet, this concept was brand new to me.

 

 

Animal Corridors on the Highway
Animal Corridors on the Highway

As we drove through the green blocks on the adjacent side of the road, my excitement for Kaziranga grew.

 

Located in Assam, Kaziranga is a jungle that is exclusively famous for it’s ‘One-Horn Rhinoceros’. In 1904, Mary Curzon, the wife of the viceroy of India Lord Curzon,  only landed in this area to spot the rhinos but was disappointed because she was fooled and could not even spot one.

Adamant on treating her eyes with these ‘One-Horn Rhinoceros’, she put in serious efforts to create their conservation.

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And thus began the touristy adventures.

 

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Entrance to the Kaziranga National Park

 

We had a daily ritual during dinnertime on the tour, where our tour manager would recite to us the schedule for the next day.

At Kaziranga, most of us were in the siesta mode looking at our cosy cottages. I had already made plans for some pampering in the jacuzzi (Yes I found a jacuzzi in the middle of a jungle) followed with turning into a sleeping beauty.

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But wait a bomb dropped when our tour manager said ‘Congratulations guys! We have been booked for an Elephant ride in the first slot- that is 5:00 a.m. So we meet tomorrow at 4:45 a.m.’ There burst my bubble of fantasies.

After being exhausted, I dropped dead on my bed. I knew it was time to giddy up when the rhythmic chirps of the birds replaced my alarm clock. Thanks to my deep sleep, I almost forgot I was in the middle of a forest.

 

Our punctuality benefitted us with a field of vision- we saw silhouettes of the king of the jungle with his master on the top against the morning dawn.

Oh and the ambience! There were green scanty trees, rough brown roads and birds being the DJ’s.

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We endeavoured our journey to rhino spotting in Kaziranga National Park sitting aback Phaguni, our 20-year-old elephant. It was a rock-n-roll ride as the elephant took-off and landed.

 

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The rock-n-roll elephant safari

 

But she made sure we completed our mission of locating the one-horn rhinos.

It was a 30-minute ride, where we spotted white rhinos. With a horn on their nose and a thick grey bulletproof skin, they were preparing for some breakfast.

 

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Bed in Breakfast, please?

 

I was taken by surprise when I found out that rhinos in spite of being herbivorous are aggressive in nature. They are powerful to the extent that they can overturn elephants. (Better not mess with them!)

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There came a point when Phanguni and three other elephants, who are the paparazzi of the forest, surrounded the rhinos from all sides just so that we could admire the rhinos more closely.

I almost imagined me telling them in my head, ‘Drop your weapons and surrender now!’

 

Just when our elephant safari was about to end, we saw nervous eyes with skinny legs playing peek-a-boo with us. Dear, it was a deer!

 

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Hide and Seek

 

Owing to the fact that it is a prey species, they have a nibble mind and watchful eyes that are always on a lookout for danger. They were like little children staring at us and then drifting away with their hasty hops.

After all the animal spotting, we bid farewell to Phaguni.

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Farewell to Phaguni

Again in the afternoon, we were booked for a jeep safari because you are too uncool not to drive through a forest. All of us pestered the driver by asking him, ‘Are we going to see tigers?’ All he would say, ‘If you are lucky you will see one’. But we were not so lucky afterall.

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A thought struck me. This high demand of viewing a tiger made me realise what a big showstopper he was. What was the fault of the other animals? Shouldn’t they enjoy some attention too?

The whole motto of a safari in the jungle is to enjoy the mesmerising woodland, feel the open wide sky, absorb the calmness and take some back home with you. And that is what I did.

 

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The mesmerising woodland

 

Finally, after my day began at 4:00 a.m., I slept like a pig since we then had to leave for Shillong the next day.

 

Don’t forget to share your version of the story at Kaziranga if you’ve been.

Arunachal Pradesh Literally Swept me Off my Feet

Finding a low and terrain is almost out of imagination in this enchanting state of Arunachal Pradesh. If there’s one state in India where I’d like to settle it would be in one of these deep valleys.

House of Clouds

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On the Hills of Arunachal Pradesh- House of Clouds

Where else can you locate an area that has clouds for company, it is simply heaven. Even though your hands and feet are numb, teeth are chattering and your body has become a formidable shop of winter wear clothes, it is all worth it.

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The soil here is so fertile that I spotted gardening in almost all households. These are not just restricted to flowers but also oranges and kiwis.

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Stream on the way from Dirang to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh

Every time we took a turn on the wavy roads of the mountain, my ears were filled with the soothing sound of streams that would collide with the stones only to flow in a pristine manner.

Bumpy Mountain Ride

Roads here could use some improvement, it is all work in progress but until then it’s a bumpy ride. Since there are only mountains, I was overwhelmed with a rollercoaster ride.

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Like my uncle once said, ‘It is the not the destination but the journey that has to be beautiful’

Transported into another World

As we advanced to greater heights, the mountains turned into a magical grey. Unreal. The grass and the pine trees were quoted with a husky white layer of snow. But the snow was partial and covered only the areas that impressed it. The scenic view from Sela Pass (13,700 Feet)to Tawang was a combination of brown and white almost like cookies and cream.

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Cookie and Cream at Sela Pass, Arunachal Pradesh

In such an ambience, only a steaming hot cup of tea is the fuel to our body. I wanted to feel the rushing cold wind on my hand, sadly they were covered with glows.

Surprising Elements

Due to lack of facilities, an entire town or village here is run on a hydroelectric plant. They are only fortunate enough to receive electricity for 6 hours a day. Whoa!

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My local posers

Coming from a metropolitan city, judging by their attires of the local, I thought they lived in destitute. In fact, it is just the opposite. They’re all well dressed and modern, residing in houses that are built on mountains where only wooden logs are their foundation. The panoramic view of their houses looks like a well-planned prism. Bright coloured outer walls, balcony with flower pots and view that would be envied by all.

And it Swept me off my Feet!

If you’ve been to Arunachal Pradesh and had a similar experience don’t forget to share it!

And I Finally Ticked Off North East India From my Bucket List- Partially

I was without a clue about what was waiting for me but two months in advanced I googled every stop I was going to visit in the North East India, just to know how it looked like. (Oh! And it did not let me down).

 

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Picture captured near the Living Root Bridge (near Shillong, Meghalaya)

 

It is an untapped and underrated place in India with limited facilities but that is the charm of it all. If it had full-time Wifi and bustling roads, there would be no difference between the metro cities and these small towns. People would be engrossed more in their phones and less on the beauty outside.

Every mountain, every town, every snowdrop, every turning corner had something for me to take back. Never was there a day when North East India failed to leave me in awe. It allured me to such an extent I was ready to settle here with a one-way ticket.

My co-travellers were all 45 and above (without parents) and I knew this was going to be one hell of an experience. Even though they were my relatives, I learnt from adjusting to letting go, from laughing until you cry to lame jokes. The trip wouldn’t have been the same if it wasn’t for them.

The First Step

With all the last minute packing, I rushed to the airport with swollen eyes after 2 hours of sleeping for my early morning flight. With a gang of 23 people we began our expedition to the Adventures of the North East (That’s what I call it).

Mumbai Airport
Adios to Mumbai Airport

On the first day after landing in Ghuwati, we finally reached Bhalukpong after a 4 hour drive, which was already so hectic. It made me anxiously wonder how I would survive the next 12 days on such a tight schedule.

Highway from Ghuwati to Bhalukpong

It was 4:00pm and I had my first refreshing vapoured hot beverage for the day that had dawned at 4:00 am. We set foot for a scenic drive to our stay at Bhalukpong from the Ghuwati airport.

Houses on Ghuwati Bhalukpong Highway
Houses on Ghuwati Bhalukpong Highway

It was a mesmerising evening, small houses painted with bright colours had occupied the parallel sides of the highway along with coconut trees. You’d find at least one cow or goat along the doorsteps of these houses. Each house was connected to the highway with narrow kacha roads. I wondered how they lived their life because I spotted grocery shops only after every 3 km.

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We took a tea break at this small dhaba where I found cooks making chappatis.

Bhrahmputra

On one hand, the car passed over the silver Bhrahmputra, the only river with a male name and on the other hand the sky was filled with white bubble gum like clouds.

 

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Bhrahmputra- The only male river

 

The only river with a male name in India is also known as the son of Bramha. It is one of the largest rivers in India that even flows through China and Bangladesh. To me, it was a monster you do not mess with.

After crossing the Bhrahmputra and just before reaching Bhalukpong, we had to cross a forest road that was filled with dense vegetation. It lacked lights and apparently also has tribal dacoit’s attacking at any time. Luckily we did not get a chance to mess with them and instead reached our night stay safely.

 

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Houses before the highway

 

An outburst of luscious green vegetation, volatile pointed mountain silhouettes, roaring winds, and the empty midnight where I could only hear the sound of silence, local life is all I needed.

It was chilled already and I knew – Winter was Coming.

 

If you’ve had a similar travel experience, don’t forget to share your experience below.

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