“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
They say travel teaches you more than anything else can. I have known this to be true and personally enjoy travelling. The experiences that it offers and the learnings it imparts are unmatched and cannot be compensated for by reading.
This belief was reiterated and reinforced on my short trip to Sikkim, a small state on the north-eastern corner of the country. For someone who loves travelling so much, I rue the fact that I am not able to travel frequently enough due to budget constraints. So despite my recent travels to Pune, Mumbai and Alibaug , I was looking forward to another trip already. This one was a family vacation and so our dates and duration were decided in accordance with the availability of leaves my parents could avail from work.
Unfortunately not many, as we discovered later and hence, the trip wasn’t as long as I would have liked. Neither did we cover many destinations. This leaves me longing for more but for now, I am happy and content at visiting another destination of Incredible India.
Coming up ahead in this week are a series of travel posts about this very beautiful state.
And much as I would like to do a detailed travel review on all the attractions of Sikkim, I don’t think it would be fair to write such an article. Because one, we had an incredibly short stay of two days, which was further hampered by incessant rain. Two, I wouldn’t be doing justice to either the place or you, my readers by writing about a place I haven’t fully experienced.
I would, of course, however love to share my experiences and talk about the places we visited.
The travel to Sikkim was long as there are no direct flights. The only way to reach Sikkim is via Bagdogra, which is West Bengal. The road journey is long but scenic. You could either opt for the bus or a cab. The other short way to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra is via a helicopter flight which is quite expensive.
I would suggest the road trip, for two reasons.
One is so that you can enjoy the scenic views that the upward winding journey offers. The impressive view of the majestic Himalayas and the meandering stream below will make you want to stop multiple times for photography sessions.
Second, the long journey makes one connect with nature and self on a very deep level. The time spent in the vehicle would be uninterrupted quality time spent with family and friends. Lack of mobile network and being stuck in the confines of the vehicle would force you to chat with either strangers (if you’re in a shared cab), or with your elderly parents and kids, who often end up feeling ignored. It would more than makeup for the time you’re not able to spend with them on a daily basis, no thanks to busy schedules and long working hours. This is the best time to disconnect with the rushed city life and connect with your loved ones.
Also, the road journey is a better option simply because the winding road, flanked by mountains on one side and deep ravines on the other, with its blind curves at every few metres has its own charm. Besides, you’re on a vacation, so why the hurry?!
Most places in Sikkim require prior permission (foreigners need an additonal ‘Inner Line Permit’), due to proximity to the international border and extreme, unpredictable weather conditions. The area is also prone to landslides and rock falls.
Also, because of the hilly terrain, travel across the state is not very feasible. You may have to plan two days in the same direction to cover various attractions in that part of the state.
We had started from home early morning and therefore, were exhausted by the time we reached our hotel, in the evening. Since we were only travelling to Gangtok, our journey was long and tiring. A better route and itinerary would be one of a longer duration, covering Darjeeling – Gangtok – Kalimpong, and maybe even Bhutan.
Once at the hotel, we opted for an early dinner and dived into bed to recharge ourselves for the next day.
Look out for my next post for more stories of Sikkim.