By Prabhith Prabakaran

INCREDIBLE INDIA 

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but it not what ships are built for.”

John A.

My family and I visited Gangtok in January 2018. A family friend and his family  accompanied us in the entire trip.

We visited the following places:

Nathula Pass till Tsomgo Lake:  An important pass on the crossroads of the Indo-China border, Nathula Pass forms a part of an offshoot of the Old Silk Road. We couldn’t reach till the Chinese border in Nathula Pass due to bad weather conditions. This was my first experience with Snow Fall, within India.. Quite a memorable one…Really enjoyed each and every moment of that day.

Temperatures at Nathula can be dramatically different from Gangtok thus plan accordingly, wear inner thermals and carry additional warm clothes(jackets) which you can use later.  Carry woollen gloves and caps. Buying these items at the Nathula pass might be costly. There are options to take these items(heavy jackets and shoes) for rent from the shops available en route (like the the ones below)

Carry some chewing gums and pop corns as these help in clearing blocked ear drums due to change in altitude.Avoid having heavy  break fast.

How to reach Nathula Pass from Gangtok: Nathula Pass is located 54 km east of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. The only way to  reach the pass is through road from Gangtok. Sturdy vehicles such as Innova, Bolero, and Scorpio are available for rent in Gangtok. You can also share a cab till Nathula Pass with other tourists. The road from Gangtok to Nathula Pass is steep and slippery. It is decently maintained, except in a few places.

How to get Nathula Pass permit:  A permit can be obtained by applying to the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department. You can  apply through a registered travel agency.I had booked ‘Dokham Tours'(Service and Dealings were good) The agency will take care of  your  permits. A photo ID proof and two passport size photographs are required for the same. Seems only specific number of vehicles are given permission every day. Dont forget to take your  ID card along with you on the travel date.

Tsomgo River, enroute Nathula Pass : Also known as the Changu Lake, this place offers an idyllic scenery and is a travellers’ delight.The lake reflects different colours with different seasons and get  frozen during the winter months. And dont miss the Tsomgo  Rope way, its worth the money.  It gives a wonderful panoramic view of the lake and the mountains all around.

You can also ride on a Yak here 

2.  Gangtok Ropeway: We boarded the Ropeway at Deorali  just to see a panoramic view of Gangtok. Two kms ride (to and fro) passes  through the main area of Gangtok and takes about 1o minutes to complete. Those interested in photography may find it interesting  and exciting to shoot the view from the height and from various angles. The front and back ends of the cable car has one sliding  glass  window to take pictures without any hindrances.

3.  Rumtek Monastery It is located 24 kilometres (15 mi) from Gangtok, at an altitude of about 1,500 metres (4,900 ft).

4.  M G Road:  MG Road has to be the most happening place in Gangtok. The place has everything a tourist requires – hotels, good  restaurants catering to all tastes, shopping’s, ATMs, Tourist Office.

5.   Banjhakri Water Falls: It is a natural water fall sourced from springs at higher elevation. There is also a park nearby where you  will find lot of man made monuments.There are restaurants available in this region.

6.  Do Drul Chorten Stupa: The chorten is a short climb away from Namgyal Institute of Technology. Don’t be discouraged by the steep slope from the parking to the stupa: it is not as taxing as it looks.

7. Himalayan Zoological Park: It  is certainly a place for wildlife lovers in Sikkim. The Park has been established, to preserve the  wildlife, without disturbing the creatures and keeping them in their natural habitat. Located in Bulbuley, Himalayan Zoological Park is  at a distance of 3 km from Gangtok (at an altitude of 1,780 metres) You will have to walk a lot to cover  the entire place. One of the main attractions here, is the Himalayan Thar.

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