Splendid Ladakh – May 2014

Tour Date: 17th May to 24h May

Travelers:

1. Suresh Mittal and Parmita Mittal
2. Suresh KT , Pushpa Suresh and Neha Suresh
3. Jayanth ,  Sridevi and Shivdeep
4. Prasad, Latha, Nikhil and Geetha
5. Naveen, Sandhya, Vishruth and Vishak
6. Suman, Vijay and Ankit
7. Kiran and Shilpa
8. Prakash CJ , Aaron, Andrea and Jolly
9. Vadiraj Madhwaraj, Shubha Madhwaraj, Adhokshaja and Aprameya
10. Poornima, Ashok and Anirudh
11. Mantha, Padmaja and Ujwal
12. Vilas  Kadival, Anjana and Madhusudhan

Brief Itinerary
Day 1: 17th May – Arrive at Leh and check-in to hotel. Later in day, visit Shanti Stupa and Leh Palace and Museum.
Day 2: 18th May – Visit Lamayuru monastery enroute visit Hall of Fame, Sangam of Zanskar and Indus, Magnetic Hill. In the evening, stay at Ule Ethnic Resort at Uletopo.
Day 3: 19th May – Reach Leh after visiting Alchi Monastery
Day 4: 20th May – Visit Hundar by travelling through world’s highest motorable road at Khardung La. Then visit Valley of Flowers and reach Hunduar. Checkin to hotel / resort and enjoy camel ride.
Day 5: 21st May – Return back to Leh and in the evening, enjoy the cultural activities
Day 6: 22nd May – Start to Pangong Lake and reach by afternoon
Day 7: 23rd May – Return back to Leh and visit Lotus school, Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery and Shey palace.
Day 8: 24th May – Start back to destination in the morning

Day 0 : 16th May 2014
Our flight to Leh was on 17th early morning at 5:15 AM and had to leave the previous day to Delhi. We had booked Indigo Air flight to Delhi and were very eager to catch the flight to Leh. Some of us took 8:35 pm flight to Delhi while some of us by Jet Airways at 10:35 to Delhi. We reached Delhi and relaxed a bit at the terminal. The problem was that T3 in Delhi has good facility to sleep but not available in T2 as our flight to Leh was through GoAir and starting at T2.

Ashok and Poornima along with their son Anirudh along with Vadiraj and Shubha with their children Adhokshaja and Apremeya had reached a day earlier itself as while they wanted to book in the last moment, the flight on Go Air for 17th were totally sold out.

Day 1: 17th May 2014
At last our wait was over when we started our journey from Delhi to Leh. Again here some of us managed to get on 5:15 flight and some of us the next flight at 6:45 AM. Those on 5:15 flight landed at Leh at 6:45 AM while some of us reached at 8:15 AM. This day was reserved for rest for the first half after breakfast and then sightseeing towards the evening. We met the other families Ashok and Vadiraj when we reached the hotel. In the evening, we visited Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace and market area and finally reached the hotel for a good night sleep.

leh day 1

Seeing Leh from flight was an awesome experience. Followed by that visit to Shanti Stupa and Leh Palace made us feel memorable. What a day to start.

Day 2: 18th May 2014
This day our itinerary showed that we need to visit Lamayuru monastery passing through fabulous route of Sangam – Zanskar and Indus (Sindhu), Magnetic Hill, Alchi, Moonscape and reaching the fabulous monastery. After the visit, return back to Uletopo for stay in a resort called Ule Ethnic Resort. We were informed that this is supposed to be the best resort in this area and were very excited to see it. The advantage of this resort is that you have Indus river flowing behind the resort thus making it possible to walk around.

Our first stop was at Hall of Fame where they have lot of artifacts of Kargil War. After spending considerable amount of time, we stopped then at Sangam of Zanskar and Indus. Further down, we stopped to enjoy the breathtaking views of mountains along the Magnetic Hill. It is said that the vehicle defies gravity. Then we reached hotel, enjoyed the lunch and followed our tour to Moonscape where we stopped to click lot of photographs. Finally we reached Lamayuru which is oldest monastery in this region. After that, we reached hotel for enjoying rest of our evening.
What had happened is that since we were 34 people in all, the hotel had difficulty of having all of us in one resort. So he split 24 in Ule Ethnic and 10 people in Ule Adventure Resort run by the brothers.

leh_lamayuru day 2

Our journey from Leh to Lamayuru and return to Ule Ethnic Resort for the night halt

Day 3: 19th May 2014
This day, we were to return back to Leh. First thing we did after getting up was to have a nice walk and fun down the Indus river. The previous evening, it seemed easy to walk down on the rocky and pebbled surface, but sooner we realized that it is slightly a challenge to get down the boulders with ladies and children. Nevertheless, it was an interesting experience to get down and take a walk along the banks of Indus. What a feeling indeed !!!. Children started playing games on water while we adults took a stroll and discussed lot of things as most of us had met after a good gap of around 5 plus years or more.

It was more of a reunion with this big group getting together. After spending an hour there, it was time to reach back to the Resort and then pack our belongings for the next day. We started after breakfast to reach Alchi Monastery. This is again a wonderful and old monastery dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava. It is also oldest and hence retains the charm. After that, we started back on the same route of Magnetic Hill and Sangam and by afternoon, we reached Leh. In the meanwhile, Mantha and family had arrived from Hyderabad and their tour were added with ours. After a brief introduction we all returned back to our bases. Vilas had some more work to do and he headed to Taglang La while his family stayed back in the hotel.

Alchi_Leh day 3

Playing in Indus to amazing views of Indus. Various shades of Alchi Monastery and the huts at Ule Ethnic Resorts where we stayed.

Day 4: 20th May 2014
This day was our most sought out day. We were to reach Khardung La situated at 18,380 feet which is highest motorable road in the world and taking a picture of all of us being there, would be a feast to the eyes. We started by 8:30 AM in 2 tempo travelers from Mahey palace and another temp traveler coming from Hotel Pangong where many of our friends had stayed.

We all met up just at outskirts of Leh where we swapped guide who was hired for Naveen and team with Vilas due to the fact that one of the traveler who had joined us had angio done on his heart and might require oxygenation and did not wanted to add risk. Mr.Mittal, owner of QSIT is really a strong man in his 60’s of not only joining us, but also enjoying the whole journey without much problem. Infact, we were surprised and awestruck at his energy and enthusiasm at Magnetic Hill where he was walking / climbing the mountains even a normal person would not have dared. Mr. Mittal, you are really strong person and there is so much to learn from you. When we reached KhardungLa, many people in other vehicles required oxygen and we could see some girls collapsing and being carried by army people to give them oxygen.

Fortunately, none of our team member fell sick and all the 3 Tempo travelers consisting of 34 people faced any problems. By afternoon, we reached Nubra Valley and then checked in at Hundar. 24 of us stayed at Snow Leopard Hotel and 10 of our friends stayed at Nubra Camp. Later, we left to see the sand-dunes and enjoy a camel ride there.

These camels are double hump bacterian who were brought to this place via Persia when Silk-Route was the most popular route connecting West Asia with East. After that, we had sought of fancy show where some of our friends had good time changing to local costume and clicking photographs. Late in the evening, it was “Yeh Sham Mastani” – Nostalgia of singing and kept all the guests entertained.

Hundur_Day 4

Snow at Khardungla and people playing with it. Fun and frolic at Hundur

at hundur day 4

Shades of our enjoyment at Hundur, Ladakh. We were put up in Snow Leopard hotel, and in the evening, play at sand dunes followed by mehfil – “Yeh Sham Mastani”. What a nostalgia

Day 5: 21st May 2014
This day, we were to return back to Leh after visiting Diskit Monastery. The weather had deteriorated over the night and it was slightly drizzling in the desert area. We were informed that this drizzle is due to the fact that there has been lot of snow over Khardungla and were cautioned that we might get stuck for hours and hoped for the best. We started after breakfast and spent a good half an hour there. After that, we started our journey back to Leh.
Eventhough we had started by 7:30 AM, when we reached North Pullu, there was a huge traffic jam due to snowfall and the army had cordoned off the area to clear the snow. That gave us ample time to just walk around and most of us spent time in eating Maggie, bread omlet and tea. It was around 12:00 pm the clearance was given to move up to Khardungla and beyond. While we were traversing in the tempo traverller, snowfall started and the entire traffic came to an halt again. This was an opportunity for all of us to play in snow and experience the blizzard. After 1/2 hour, we started moving and then again got stuck in traffic at Khardungla top.

Since many of us were not used to such high altitude stays, there were nausiating and restlessness condition leading to breathlessness. Thanks to the effort put in by Wangchuk who provided everyone with bottled oxygen. We were praying for the traffic to get cleared, but it did not seem the case. Fortunately for us, there was a vehicle with boxes of biscuits and we bought lot of them and started eating. After an hour of spending time at highest motorable road in the world, the snow was cleared and traffic started moving but at a snail pace. By 3:00 pm, we reached South Pullu and from then on, it was a sweet drive back to our hotels.

Vilas and Tundup had organized a cultural show for us. Unfortunately, the other team which were put up in Pangong Hotel could not come over to our hotel as they wanted to take rest. The program started at 5:00 pm and we had never seen such an extravaganza of dance and local music. It made all of us to take turns and dance to the tunes. This program was for an hour and unfortunately, we could not have Vilas and family with us since they had some prior commitments to attend to along with their associate partner. Now that they were the organizers and we could not say NO to it. By 6:10 pm, the artists left the place and we were served with nice eateries and tea. We enjoyed this song and dance like never before and was most memorable.

khardungla_leh day 5

From Deskit monastery to traffic jam in Khardung La to Cultural show organized by Himalayan Fantasy and Overland Escape. We saw everything and were thrilled by the turnout of events. What more to expect in this tour?

Day 6: 22nd May 2014
This day, we were to reach Pangong Lake as scheduled. Most of us heard of Pangong Lake only after watching 3 idiots and had liked the surroundings. And it was also very interesting that we are going to sleep in the tents at 14,500 feet which was first time for all of us and we were not sure on how our bodies would perform with such high altitude travel all the days. Infact, the previous day was terrible with more than 3 hours of travel above 16,000 feet and today again reaching 17,500 feet at Chang La and then staying at 14,500 feet.
We started again by 8:30 AM and we were to reach Pangong Tso by afternoon to have lunch and stay at Pangong Retreat. The other team consisting of 10 people staying at Pangong Hotel were also to reach Pangong Tso but stay at Tser-Bum Tso which was somewhere near the lake. Also, since Ashok, Poornima, Vadiraj and Shubha with their children were to catch flight next day morning, they did not join us but left at 7:00 AM. Due to that reason, we could not at all meet up with them when we reached Pangong Tso.
The route was filled up with fun with lot of jokes and discussions happening around. Our stop at Chang La was very exotic experience not only from snow point of view, but also met some Army folks and had tea over there. Then, it was turn of clicking photos with the Army folks.
We kept on driving and not able to see Pangong for long period of time was driving us crazy. We were scheduled to reach by 12:30 pm, but then reached only by 2:30 pm where each one of us were hungry. As soon as we saw the lake following its path for around 12 kms, all our anxiety of being late and hunger vanished. The next thing we thought was to jump into the water, but were cautioned that the water is -5 C and we cannot get into the water. Anyways, we reached Pangong Tso and had a hearty lunch. After checking the tents and relaxing a bit, it was time to visit the lake which was the main idea of coming so far.

pangong day 5

Leh to Pangong Tso; Heavenly experience. High altitude, tented accommodation, yaks and various wildlife sightings and above all visit to 3rd highest motorable road at Chang La. Blessed !!!

In the meanwhile, Vadiraj and family along with Ashok and family had already left back to Leh while we enjoyed our stay at Pangong Tso. Sad that we could not see them, but what they did was best since we got stuck in blizzard the next day.

Day 7: 23rd May 2014
A very unexpected thing happened when we slept in the night. It was around 9:00 pm or so, we started hearing lot of winds. Infact, when we had been to Pangong Lake the previous day, there were lot of storms and in one of the storm, we had to take cover since all the sand was coming towards us. This was the first signal that the weather is going to be bad sometime later.
After dinner, we slept in our tents and by midnight, the air was very thin and some people experienced breathlessness. We never knew that the weather had become real bad and had been snowing all night long. We had planned a walk at around 5:00 AM and when we unzipped the tent, it was a horrifying look !!!. The entire lake has turned into almost frozen and snow everywhere. The vehicles were fully submerged into snow. Then, the next question was how do we get to leave the place and then what about toilets and other early morning chores? The resort people were very courteous. They not only offered to give us warm water, but also filled up the buckets as entire pipes were frozen and not a single drop to drink or to do anything rather.  As you could see in the photographs, the entire lake is frozen as well as the path. By 7:30 AM, we started back to Leh with prayers that nothing should happen to us enroute and reach safely.

As expected, we encountered traffic jam at Chang La. The snowfall had put entire stretch into layers of snow and without Army clearing it, there was no way to reach the place. We reached at 10:00 AM to Chang La and then had to wait for 3 hours before the snow was cleared. After that, by 4:30 pm, we were nearing Leh. Due to this delay, we had to skip Hemis Monastery, Shey Palace and Thikse Monastery and above all, we were pretty tired of waiting in car endlessly for the traffic jam. But it was fun too. Then, we visited Lotus School which is the same school where 3 idiots was filmed. Since there were plenty of procedures indicated by the school staff, we thought that it is wise to leave the place as it was getting late also.
We had also planned to visit Pashmina shawl manufacturing factory, but again since it closes by 5:00 pm, we skipped that too and reached straight to the hotel. In the evening, we spent time with the hotel folks and got ready for our onward journey back to Bangalore.

pangong return

Various shades of Pangong on the day we started back. It was one of the memorable experience of our lifetime and we had done good thing by booking our tour in May where we got everything from sunshine to blue skies to snow and wildlife.

Day 8: 24th May 2014
After saying goodbye to the hotel staff, it was time to board the vehicles back to airport. We remembered lot of time we spent with each other and infact the entire team had become like a family. It never seemed to us that they were not known to us. Hopefully, next time we all meet up with such large gathering and have informed Vilas of Himalayan Fantasy to keep us updated on the tours so that we can join back again. Thanks everyone for accommodating us as part of your team and making us feel really memorable.

Hope that you would like what I’ve written about this tour.
Thank you very much for reading this travelogue.

New Year in Bhutan – December 2013

Tour Date: 28th Dec 2013 to 3rdJan 2014

Travelers

1.   Mr& Mrs. Udayasimha Hindupur and their 2 kids aged 13 & 8 years
2.   Mr& Mrs. Suresh KT and their 17 year old daughter
3.   Mr.& Mrs. Vittal Vijay Kumar, and their 2 kids aged 11 & 8 years and.
4.   VishwanathHonnungar.
5.   VilasKadival

Travel Itinerary

28thDec – Reach Bagdogra and start to Phuentsholing, Bhutan
29thDec – After completing immigration formalities, start to Thimphu, capital ofBhutan
30thDec – Sightseeing in Thimphu
31stDec – Start to Dochula pass and then enjoy the new year in Punakha
1stJan – Start from Punakha to Paro. Evening sightseeing and shopping in Paro
2ndJan – Hike to Tiger Nest while the ladies can enjoy sightseeing and shopping.Reach Phuentsholing by night.
3rdJan – Early morning start back to Bagdogra for onward destination

Hotels:

1.   BhutanResidency, Phuentsholing
2.   TheRiver View, Thimphu
3.   DamchenResort, Punakha
4.   UgyenPhendeyling Resort Paro

Day 1: 28th December

We all met up at Bangalore airport and proceeded by Indigo Air. Vijay and family had reached two days earlier as they had planned to visit Calcutta and Siliguri. Thus, upon reaching Bagdogra, we were to meet Vijay and Tanu along with their children. At 3:45 pm, we reached Bagdogra airport and were out of the airport at 4:30 pm Vijay had already arrived in the bus and was waiting for us to come out of the airport. We stopped at the tea stall and then everyone were excited of the journey. Reached Phuentsholing by 9:00 pm and 9:30 IST, the gates close. Thus we were just in time before the authorities close the gate.

Bagdogra and Phuentsholing

After reaching Bagdogra at 4:30 pm, we started our journey to Phuentsholing. Also an opportunity to meet all the others in the team. Our fun just started and we stayed in Bhutan Residence

Day 2: 29th December

We started relatively early today and thanks to Vishwa that he was on his toes to wake everyone up. We had a nice climb to a nearby gradient before the ladies and children could get ready and explored Phuentsholing. After breakfast, we started towards immigration office and except for Suresh family, none of us had photographs. So, we took our photographs in a nearby studio and proceeded to the office. Ramesh who was our guide took care of all the formalities. Since we had more than an hour, we went to a nearby moastery Zanto Pelri Lakhang. Later we started to Thimphu at 10:00 AM Bhutan time (Bhutan is half hour ahead of India) Our first stop was to another monastery around 10 kms away from Phuentsholing called Karbandi Goemba which is dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava the saint from India who spread Buddhism in this sacred land. We were fascinated by the awesome beauty of the region and next stop obviously was for lunch at Dam View resturant at Chukka. By late afternoon, we reached Thimphu and checked in to River View Hotel, a marvelous one.

Exploring Phuentsholing

Started from Phuentsholing after our clearances. By evening, we reached Thimphu, capital of Bhutan and visited Memorial Chorten. What an experience !!! It was also cold brrrr!!!

Day 3: 30thDecember
Today,after breakfast our plan was to explore Thimphu. Ramesh was waiting for us toboard the bus and then Vilas had some work to attend to and hence he could notjoin us. We started exploring Thimphu by first visiting Buddha Point and then onemore visit to Memorial Chorten and then to Takin Reserve to see a strangeanimal Takin which has face of the goat and body of the cow. Later we visitedThimphu Dzong and came back in the evening.

Exploring Thimphu

Today, we had lot of fun in Thimphi. As you could see, there are many places to visit and December seemed to us like the right season.

Day 4: 31st December


This New Year Eve day had lot of action filled events lined up. We were to visit Dochu La and then enjoy snow there followed with visit to Lampelri Botanical Park and then drive down to Punakha. Later enjoy the New Year Eve with dance and music. The whole day was fun-filled and it never seemed as though none of us were not known to each other for long. Eventhough we just met 3 days ago, it seemed to us as though we were friends for more than a decade. What a transformation indeed on the New Year Eve. Very surprising to find liked minded people in the bus who share common ideas and thus energized entire tour.

new year eve at punakha

Enjoying Dochu La Pass and Lampelri Botanical Garden. Later we reached Punakha. After reaching and refreshing, it was time to sing and dance along with good amount of drinks until the next day morning. What a way to enjoy new year eve.

Day 5: 1st Jan 2014
We were hit the bed by 2:00 AM and then woke up at 8:00 AM to pack our belongings and getting ready to Paro. The New Year Eve with fun and frolic had taken all of us in its grasp that we were unwilling to move on. Journey to Paro was wonderful experience. After breakfast, we passed through Pho Chu and Mo Chu (Father and Mother) merging at Punakha, at the bridge and from then on, it was an upward climb back to Doclu La and then to Thimphu. We had lunch at an Indian hotel and started our journey to Paro. By the time we reached Paro, it was late in night and weather very chill. The momemt we landed at the Hotel, the next thing we knew is to eat and sleep as we had planned to hike to Tiger Nest early in morning while the ladies would have a nice time around Paro town.

on way to Paro

Our journey from Punakha to Paro was no less than fun. On the way, we enjoyed scary bridge of Tachagong Gompa and reached Paro in evening and checked into hotel late in night. The food was ready for us.


Day 6: 2nd Jan

Well, as planned we woke up at 5:00 AM and were ready to start by 6:00 AM. But then the driver had gone out and hence had to wait another ½ hour or more before we could start. From our resort, it took us 20 minutes to reach the base of Tiger Nest. Tiger Nest is also called as Taksang Monastery. The ladies team stayed back and had other plans for themselves. Ramesh our guide was there with them to take them around whereever they wanted and this gave us little bit of freedom to explore Tiger Nest to greater extent. The hike to this wonderful place was most amazing experience which cannot be expressed in words. As we reached near the monastery, there were ice sheets and snow. Seeing the snow, Vishwa and Suresh jumped over and stood on top while the other 3 of us were scared of a fall if at all happens. But then Vishwa and Suresh returned back safely and we started our upward climb on the steps. There are are 740 steps in all and half of them are down and half upwards giving a fantastic exercise to the ankle and knee. Monastery was fantastic while we went from one temple to another meditating in each of them. Was certainly a rejuvinating experience like never before. By 2:00 pm, we returned back to see that the ladies team have not yet returned back. We searched them and Uday could find these ladies in a hotel. Since it would take 7 hours or more to reach Phuentsholing, it was decided to forget lunch but to proceed to Phuentsholing. In the bus, we sang and spoke for length and ate whatever we had stored. We reached Phuentsholing by 9:00 PM and proceeded to dinner and then a good sleep.

Taksang Monastery or Tiger Nest

Today, we hiked to Tiger Nest. What a feeling. It is called as “Lifetime Experience” and we just saw why it is said so. You need to visit once to experience the bliss. The team : Suresh, Uday, Vijay and Vilas

Day 7: 3rd Jan
All the fun came to an end when we started our journey from Phuentsholing at 7:00 AM. With dense fog engulfing the route, we were slightly scared on whether we could make to the flight. Enroute had breakfast which almost seemed like lunch. To our surprise, we reached airport at 10:20 AM with more than 2 hours to spare. Vilas had decided to stay back in Siliguri to meet his friend while we all started back to Bangalore. Our tour ended with landing back in Bangalore safely at 4:45 pm and back in our home by 7:00 pm remembering the time we spent in Bhutan. One of the must destinations which is so closer to India. Please don’t miss it.
back to Siliguri
It was indeed a memorable journey for sure and thank you very much for reading our travelogue.
In case you would like to get in touch to know more about Bhutan or the experience or when to visit or about our feedback on Himalayan Fantasy, please feel free to contact us by writing to us:

1. Suresh KT  – kt_suresh@hotmail.com
2. Udaysimha Hindupur – udayasimha@gmail.com
3. Vittal Vijaykumar – vittalvijayakumar@gmail.com

tashidelek

North Sikkim – December 2013

Travelers:

1. Chandan Bhosle
2. Logesh Kumar

Travel Itinerary : Dates:7th Dec to 13th Dec 2013

7th Dec  : Gangtok , Reach from New Jalpaiguri.
8th Dec  : Gangtok – Lachen,Halt. ( Lunch and Dinner)
9th Dec  : Lachen – Thangu – Chopta Valley andhighlight of this day being Gurudongmar Lake at 17,110 feet and Gurudwara.Night stay at Lachung
10th Dec: Lachung- YumthangValley..Return to Lachung and onward to Gangtok
11th Dec: Gangtok – Day return visitto Changu Lake,Baba Mandir & Nathula Pass
12th Dec: Travel to Darjeeling
13th Dec: Gangtok – Bagdogra.

Hotels:

Gangtok  : The Blue Star Hotel on Room only basis. (7th/ 10th & 11th Nights only)
Lachen    : The Cholamu Lodge on Full Board (8th)
Lachung  : The Travellers Inn on Full Board.(9thnight)

Day 1: 7th December

We reached New Jalpaiguri railway station from Guwahati where we had been to visit one of our colleague marriage. Day began well and after getting off we called Vilas to help us out on finding the transport. Later we found a cab who was willing to drop us to Gangtok at Rs.1750 and he shared his number as well in case we wanted to visit Darjeeling.

Day 2: 8th December

Today is the day we were eagerly looking for. We started our journey towards Lachen passing via Mangan. Our photography session started immediately after we boarded the Xylo cab. Some of the photographs displayed here speak for itself. We reached by late evening and checked into The Cholamu Lodge. The staff were very courteous and were garlanded when we reached the hotel. Was a fantastic feeling for us. Our driver Pradeep was gem of a guide and car driver. Not only he had tremendous patience but also equally interested in showing all the places even when the night was turning on while we reached Lachen.

gangtok_day1

We are starting from Gangtok to Lachen on 7th December, 2013. Surendra came to meet up with us as representative from Himalayan Fantasy

Day 3: 9th December
This day marked with our visit to Gurudongmar Lake. We were consistently briefed by Vilas and when we reached there, we were speechless looking at the beauty of this place. Some of the areas of this fascinating lake was already frozen and sun falling on it gave a nostalgic experience apart from happiness to the camera for shooting. Pradeep was very fun loving and showing us all the places and fascinating thing of the journey was the Tibetan plateau at Gurudongmar. Infact this lake is so good that it is hard to leave the place. Get in touch with Vilas of Himalayan Fantasy if you want to know mysteries of this lake.

lachung_gurudongmar_day2

This day, we drove to Gurudongmar Lake from Lachen and reaching Lachung in the evening. Nothing like this we had seen before.

Day 4: 10th December

lachung and zero point

We started early passing through Yumthang Valley and Yumesongdong. Really breathtaking views of the mountains and feels good to reach Zero Point.

After such a nice natural splendor, it was time to proceed towards Zero Point in Lachung and visit the amazing valley of Yumthang and complete the tour with visit to Yumesongdong. It was a memorable experience especially playing in snow and singing and dancing with music along with some other tourist who had arrived there. The feeling was thrilling watching Zero Point which is starting point of India. We spent good time with another group dancing to the beats of music.

Day 5: 11th December
Today, we were to visit Nathula pass, sogmo Lake and Harbajan singh temple. As suggested by Vilas, we also went to see Elephant lake which was an awesome sight.

nathula and tsogmo lake

Today we were excited to see Indian border at Nathula and also some exotic places like Elephant Lake and World’s highest Golf Course. Pradeep took us there and was an awesome sight

Day 6: 12th December
Today, we started to Darjeeling and on the way, had nice ride seeing this tea town blooming. Later in the day, we checked in to the hotel and started exploring Darjeeling. Vilas had suggested some places where we could do shopping and romaing around and was a very nice experience indeed.

Darjeeling visit

On the final day, it was Darjeeling visit and then heading back to Bagdogra to catch flight to Bangalore.

Day 7: 13th November
This day was very hectic one. Early morning visit to Tiger Hill to see the sunrise and then to Ghum Monastery, followed by Batasia loop visit, HMI and Peace Pagoda. There were many other places to visit, but then since our flight was in the afternoon, had to return back to Bagdogra to bade goodbye to Sikkim and Darjeeling. Thanks to Vilas from Himalayan Fantasy and Surendra for having organized such a nice tour.which is always memorable in our hearts. And we would like to say special thanks to Pradeep without whose help, we could not have been able to see this wonderful land of Sikkim in his fantastic car.

Our dream tour came to an end and are eager to have another one this year with Himalayan Fantasy.

Thank you very much for reading.
You can contact us to know more on this tour or on our experience with Himalayan Fantasy at:
1. Chandan Bhosle – chandanbhosle@gmail.com
2. Logesh Kumar – logesh.hello@gmail.com

tashidelek

Ladakh – A paradise on Earth

It was hot afternoon of March when I decided to visit Leh and Ladakh to experience the chillness, visit Gonpa and spectacular locations in 7 nights and 8 days. Without any planning, I called up my friend and associate in Ladakh, Tundup Dorjey and he immediately agreed to make the reservations for me and help me in my quest of understanding Ladakh better.

My main focus of this visit apart from seeing wonderful landscapes were to understand facilities provided by various hotels and transport.

Ladakh is sometimes referred to “Last-Shangrila” due to its influence with Tibetan Buddhism and culture. The magnificent landscape and centuries old Gonpa’s and virgin customs of Ladhaki’s would make this place unique and also interesting for a traveler like me.

You should never miss to visit this paradise once and the season starts from May to September end where all passes and lakes will be open and gives a panoramic effect of spellbound landscapes and moonscapes.

My 7 night itinerary was planned as under:

Day 1 : Arrive @ Leh and relax for the day for ensuring proper acclamitization
Day 2: Leave to Lamayuru and visit the Gonpa and Moonscapes.
Day 3: Leave to Khardungla situated at 18,380 feet and visit Nubra Valley
Day 4: Leave back to Leh from Nubra and visit Gonpa’s on the way.
Day 5: Leave to Tsomoriri Lake
Day 6: Local sightseeing of Leh
Day 7: Leave to Pangong Tso via Changla at 17,586 feet
Day 8: Start back after taking memories of Leh & Ladakh

History of Ladakh : The earliest known inhabitants of Ladakh were Khampa nomads who are from Tibet and domesticated Yaks. You can find these Khampa nomads in Tsomoriri lake area during months of May to August when they keep on moving.
The Tibeto-Burman and Indo-Aryan descent inhabited Ladakh and the culture has major influence on Tibetan Buddhism which is predominant across Ladakh.

About Tibetan Buddhism: It’s another big topic all-together but keeping in view of the reader information, listing out key information.
Tibetan Buddhism is part of Mahayana Buddhism (greater vehicle) also called as Thekchen in Tibetan language and followed across Himalayas, China, Japan and Korea. Tibetan Buddhism is form of Tantric Buddhism which was first propounded by Guru Padmasambhava, who is also known in entire Himalayan region as “Guru Rinponche”. There are various schools of Tibetan Buddhism and also identified by the “hats” they wear and following are various sects found in Ladakh.

1. Gelug-pa : Yellow Hat
2. Drukpa Kargyu : Red Hat
3. Kagyu-pa: Oral lineage
4. Ningma-pa: From Red Hat sect based upon teaching of Guru Padmasambhava
5. Saskya-pa: Cause of Effect school
6. Karma-pa : Based upon Vajrayana branch.

With this much introductory note on Ladakh and Buddhism, let us start the journey into Ladakh.

Day1 : Took a late night flight to Delhi from Bangalore and better to either take Indigo Airlines which has flight @ 8:35 pm and reaching at 11:30 PM or Jet Airways starting at 10:35 PM and landing Delhi at 1:20 AM. After landing, tried by best to sleep in the new T3 terminal which is an awesome sight. But due to mosquitoes, could not sleep well and was too excited also to catch flight from Delhi to Leh at 5:50 AM.

Delhi to Leh flight was interesting due to the fact that the entire flight was full and the people from Tibet. Interacting with them and understanding the culture was indeed an fascinating experience.

Day 1 experience of Leh

Day 1 experience of Leh

Day 2: Visit to Lamayuru and other Gompa’s with visit to various hotels.
This day was fascinating day where sun was up with clear skies and making Stok

Kangri peak visible in the background of the hotel where I was staying.  After breakfast, our first visit was to Indus river sangam and it is a fabulous sight. On the way, saw various streams and time to stop at Magnetic Hill on way to Nimmo. Beautiful dotted landscapes marked my day and I was busy clicking the photographs and it was like dream come true.

By 11:30 AM, we were climbing towards Lamayuru and enroute you enter “Moonscapes”. It gives you such a fascinating sight that it seems like you want to be here for a long time and enjoy those craters which have come out of earth and shines as in moon. After spending good amount of time, we planned our next stop at Fotula which is highest pass on Leh-Srinagar route after Lamayuru.

Leh-day 2

Various shades of Ladakh landscapes

Reaching Fotula Pass was a fabulous experience. After spending sometime there, time to visit Lamayuru Gonpa and Rizong Gonpa followed by visit to Tsekarmo Gonpa (Royal Palace) and various resorts and hotel. Visit my blog on Accommodation in Ladakh and Leh for more information.

Amazing Gonpas near Lamayuru

Amazing Gonpas near Lamayuru

After visiting Lamayuru, it was time to visit Alchi Gonpa on way to Leh and also visualize fantastic scenic view back to Leh. Had very good discussions with my friend and associate Tundup Dorjey and was right time to hit the bed with sweet memories of Lamayuru and Moonscape.

Gonpa's and landscape on way to Leh

Gonpa’s and landscape on way to Leh

Day 3: Leh to Nubra Valley and Panmik Hot springs

This day was the most thrilling day where we would cross Khardungla Pass at 18,380 feet into Valley of Flowers called as Nubra Valley. Beyond that visit Panamik for having a hot water bath in chilling cold with Sulphur Springs, return to Hunder for viewing captivating sand dunes and camels, finally visit Deskit Gonpa at Deskit and relax for the day in fantastic hotel at Sten Del in Deskit.

Splendid Valley of Flowers (Nubra Valley), Hunder, Panamik and Deskit

Splendid Valley of Flowers (Nubra Valley), Hunder, Panamik and Deskit

Day 4: Return to Leh from Nubra Valley

We started back to Leh at 7:00 AM just to ensure that at Khardungla Pass, we don’t get stuck. However, the weather deteriorated and it became too cloudy and misty. By the time we reached North Pullu, it started snowing and the car’s started getting caught in the snow. We had to push many cars and also our car was pushed by some people who helped us to reach Khardungla Top. 14 kms of distance took us around an hour and half to reach the top point and then final descent. Planning to publish the video of our pushing activity of cars and how it all worked out. One thing for a traveler who have asthma or cold attacks, better to come prepared with medication and oxygen cylinders as the air would be thin and makes it difficult for people to breathe in rarefied air.

Various shades of Kardungla Pass during snow storm

Various shades of Kardungla Pass during snow storm

Day 5:  Visit to Tsomoriri Lake situated at 15,075 feet and over nite stay at Yak Camp
This day, we planned to visit Tsomoriri lake. Knowing very well that the lake would be frozen due to cold, but was worth a try and have an adventurous journey. On the way to Tsomoriri, another fascinating spot to visit is Chumathang which has hot springs coming out of Indus River (Sindhu). It was such a fantastic experience to see hot water oozing out of nowhere whereas the Indus river was so cold to touch. Next to the river are these small sprouts of hot springs coming out of ground with such a noise as though snake is hissing at the river bed.

Hot springs at Chumathang on way to Tsomoriri

Hot springs at Chumathang on way to Tsomoriri

On our way to Tsomoriri, we spotted Snow Leopard which was crossing the sheet of ice. Tried to take a good photo shot of that, but since the distance was huge, it came as a very small fame in my photograph. Proceeding further 15 kms, we reached the police checkpost where the permits are to be checked to proceed towards Tsomoriri. The bridge connecting to village cannot be photographed but after entering the village, various scenic curves takes you the high point of Tsomoriri and the small stream turns out to a very huge lake.

Legend has it that a woman shepherd once while taking care of yaks saw one of the yak going towards the lake (in Tibetan language, Tso represents lake) and started yelling at the yak “riri” and her name was Mo. Thus the name was coined as “Tsomoriri”.

Various shades of Tsomoriri Lake

Various shades of Tsomoriri Lake

Since the entire lake was frozen and no people living in the village, we decided to turn back to Leh and at 4:00 pm started our return journey. Return journey was equally thrilling one as with darkness, we saw many Himalayan birds and spotted the fox near our car. Our staff wanted to pick up a dog since it is believed that Tsomoriri dogs are very faithful beings and very mild in their behavior. Maybe due to teachings of Buddha they are not aggressive !!!. Aungchuck picked up a good looking dog and with the help of Indian Army, he was able to secure it well in a bag to be carried back to Leh. Our driver and guide were both happy with the pickup and since the weather was very chilling, the dog stayed with us in warmth of the inside of the vehicle to cover 210 kms from the lake.

Various shades of Tsomoriri while getting back to Leh

Various shades of Tsomoriri while getting back to Leh

Day 6: Leh local sightseeing
This day, we thought of taking rest by visiting various sightseeing spots in Leh which gives us a break from hectic travel. After finishing the sightseeing, was back in office and started my work. The sightseeing consisted of visit of Spituk Gonpa which is just behind the runway and you can get a fabulous look of flight taking off and landing from the top of Spituk gompa. This was followed with visit to Shanti Stupa which was constructed in 1985 by Japanese which really makes one peaceful. Visited the Leh Palace which is now in ruins and was back in the office by afternoon.

Leh local sightseeing

Leh local sightseeing

Day 7: Drive to Pangong Tso and visit Hemis, Thikse and Shey Palace
This day, we planned to drive to Pangong Tso which was fully frozen. People who visited this lake a day before our planned visit explained to me that the road is very slippery due to snow and water and very hard to climb up or down to Changla. Chang La is situated at 17,486 feet and Pangong Tso becomes visible after passing this pass. The weather was pretty good and so we started the climb after passing though the checkpost at Kari. Beyond that, passing thorough monasteries and vistas reached near Changla. But then the weather became very bad and the vehicle was not able to pull up. To complicate the matter, gusty wind took away my permit and was not traceable either. Thus, was in no way to make it to Pangong without the permits. So my dream of making to Pangong Tso to see the frozen river ended in a dissapointment. But on the best side, we were safe and while we got down, visited fabulous Hemis monastery and Thikse to have a good meditation in these monasteries. Later, visited Shey palace and returned back to office.

On way to Pangong Tso

On way to Pangong Tso

Hemis, Thikse and Shey Place

Hemis, Thikse and Shey Palace

Day 8: Was time to depart from Leh and with a promise to visit very soon to the lovely country of Ladakh and Leh – The Last Shangria.

As they say in Ladakh : JULLEY (meaning GOODBYE !!!)

 

Let us Breathe….not plan to Breathe

21st Century has made our lives to run faster than ever before. Faster than the next person in order to reach the goal what we see in terms of his/her own ideology and thinking.

Comparing with other person, organization, events etc., has triggered stress to be better and be qualified to overtake than others. In one way, positive competition and stress is good, but then when it turns into obsession, creates anxiety.

Anxiety Business-Stress-Man-With-Text-Anxiety

Let us understand on what happens within our body.

Our thinking pattern affects our breathing. Breathing is an automatic function of the body that is controlled by the respiratory centre of the brain. When we feel stressed, our breathing rate and pattern changes as part of the ‘fight-or-flight response’.

Fortunately, we also have the power to deliberately change our own breathing. Scientific studies have shown that controlling your breath can help to manage stress and stress-related conditions. Breath control is also used in practices such as yoga, tai chi and  meditation.

In the quest of advancement in our career, finances and Gross Domestic Income, we have failed to realize the effect it has over our body. When we don’t achieve what we thought could have been achieved, triggers following responses.

1. Anxiety – Of things not happening to our liking and what we can do.

2. Fear – Fear of failure and doing something to make that change.

3. Anger – When fear increases with anxiety, converts into anger since we don’t know how to manage this failure which we think it is.

4. Depression – With anger, the body spends the energy and when we know that somehow, we could not achieve what we thought we could, turns into depression.

5. Isolation – Can be of two kinds, [a] – Self isolation where the person does not want to mingle anymore or show his/her face to the outside world.
[b] – Dejection where the person is not accepted by the society or friends at large as they see him/her as a failure material.

6. Hatredness – Since the/she does not see himself/herself acceptable by self or by others, results in hatredness and cold shoulder attitude with others.

With all these symptoms of disaster, our body knows how to show it. It shows up through shallow breathing where the person is gasping for breath. Can be seen when a person gets angry and does not get words and fumbles since the breathing has become to brisk and shallow.

In recent years, we have been tuned to the thought process that “Future would be bright” and hence we need to “burn” ourselves “today”. With that in mind, all that we want to do is to achieve material comforts more and more than the other person/persons so that we can lead a “perfectly” good life later….

This thinking has even got into our breathing. If someone were to say that his/her breathing is shallow and is under stress/anxiety, that other person would comment “right now I don’t have time for all these. After retirement, would concentrate on my breathing”

The question comes on why is that possibly we are doing this knowing very well that everything in world is impermanence and ever changing, but still we consciously accept that we can be happy after 60 yrs, 70 or later rather than today.

Especially so in India due to huge population and expectations from peers, parents, organization or by self that we tend to forget that “Past cannot be corrected, Future cannot be predicted and Present is the only reality”. What we do at that moment is the only thing which can be said as “Done” and every other event is either a past or yet to happen. We might or might not witness that future.

Now, what has breathing has got to do with Past, Present and Future?

By correcting the past, we create stress and forget the present moment, and by dreaming the future, we miss what we were to do now and create anxiety of things not happening to our wishes.

To break this vicious circle, we need to take vacation to a solitude place where these unwanted thoughts could be unwound, body recharged and indulge in deep breathing. If you see any region of Himalayas, there is calmness in nature, blissful due to various people centuries ago and now meditating in caves and causing positive vibes or vibrations which helps people like us to unwind and be stress free.

Bhutan

Visit Bhutan to see Gross National Happiness in action

 

 

Nepal1

Visit Nepal to have a blissful effect of the Himalayan Ranges

 

 

Himachal-Kashmir-web

Visit Himachal to have bliss of lakes, monasteries and landscape over you.

 

 

Darjeeling-Sikkim-web

Enjoy a beautiful ride in 1892 make train and experience bliss at 17,000 feet

 

 

kashmir

Get mesmerized with natural beauty at Kashmir – Paradise on Earth

 

 

Especially in India with so much of population and then Himalayas is in India, Nepal and Bhutan which is accessible easily, making much use of it brings about connecting to the source or to nature. Taking a forced vacation every 6 months helps in regulating oneself from modern day stressful living to blissful living.

At Himalayan Fantasy, we practice and mentor on following key ideals:

  • 1. Breath completely and realize abdominal breathing.
  • 2. Removing stress and anxiety
  • 3, Visiting places which would change our attitudes towards others, work and bringing calm mindset.
  • 4. Learn to enjoy every moment and living life rather than planning to live.
  • 5. Stop planning for breathing but enjoy breathing.

These approaches would help not only increase the life span of a person, but makes him stronger from inside to meet up challenges everyday with courage and required mental and physical fitness level. In turn at the physiological level, the person is able to analyze and act on situations and apply his intellect rather than reaction and creating negative tendencies.

Come and explore Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Himachal, Kashmir and Nepal Himalayas with us to lead a “Stress Free Life”

 

What is in Bhutan to be called as a paradise?

Every time I reach Bhutan, one thought comes to my mind is on what makes it such a different paradise. How the country has kept itself for last 40 odd years without getting into mechanical life like most of us do.

Writing a small sketch about Bhutan as this is one paradise which should not be missed by anyone.

Bhutan is landlocked country with India and China, but has maintained its own pristine beauty and 80% of forest cover.

Here are 10 facts about Bhutan:

Bhutan organic1. Only organic food producing country in the world.

2. Air Pollution below 2% than 14% across the globe.

3. Country measuring the prosperity of people not by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but by Gross National Happiness (GNH)

4. Hardly any hospitals and medical stores which baffles imagination on whether that part of the world never falls “sick” or they just don’t want to end up in hospitals.

5. Relaxed life but committed to work and more productive in terms of overall development.

6. Out of South Asian countries, Bhutanese people are highly dignified, extremely friendly, hospitable beyond imagination and highly disciplined.

7. Bhutan for the last 40 years or more has retained the charm of the least crime country in the world. Crime rate is at 002% which means “No Crime”.

8. For a traveler like me who always would like to pack bags (both rucksack or briefcase) and visit Himalayan locations. Bhutan is the most safest country in the world and most friendly for travelers.

9. Highest amount of flora and fauna, medicinal plants are found in this country than anywhere else in the world.

10. Bhutan is the most orderly country. The citizen abides by all rules without being imposed or “told”. compared to the most unruly South Asian neighbors. Something that need to be learned by the citizens of those countries. Very sorry to say, but then that is the reality.

This is one country which kept on calling me all the time and every time I went here, met good people who became close friends and changed my outlook about life for ever.

Before being in Bhutan, all my thinking was on how to sustain daily life, how to earn money and always we were informed that “we need to earn to be happy”. But after my visits to Bhutan, realized that happiness cannot be bought or sold, but need to be acquired by the person himself or herself. Seeing Bhutanese people, made me think that how they are happy and what makes them happy.

For all of us, there are two kind of happiness. One which comes out of material comfort and another which comes from within. But then, due to our daily chores, we forget to be happy from within, and always start thinking that happiness need to be “acquired” through “material comforts” and more we get, the better.

This country has so much of heritage to it, and not wrong to be called as “Last-Shangrila” or “Paradise on Earth” due to the above factors which proves on Gross National Happiness.

Each one of us need to visit this place once to see what makes them different and how we can change our lives for better since the problems we encounter daily, most of it are self created.

Look at the traffic chaos in India. Most of us feel that it is “others” who create the problems on the roads. Road rage, anger, feeling agitated is some of the daily happenings in our lives. But then, if each of us were disciplined as Bhutanese are, then the “rage” in us turns to kindness and the traffic chaos would not be there. There are very simple things we can learn out of Bhutan and worth a place to be visited.

My love for travel to Himalayas fueled me to start a Travel and Trekking company and that is giving me plenty of opportunity to be in Bhutan and go deeper in understanding the unique architecture of Dzongs across Bhutan, culture and tradition –  especially the dance forms, locations of interest and unexplored areas along with my friend.

It is such a nice feeling that I’m again going to Bhutan to celebrate New Year eve in such a pristine and happiness country which is truly a paradise on earth and an opportunity never to be missed.

Bhutan also presents a picturesque sight. This is one place which can be reached very easily from India, Tibet (China) and Nepal. The winding yet beautifully surfaced roads, awesome Paro valley would leave you mesmerized with beauty.

Thimphu-Valley

The beautiful Dzongs which were earlier palaces now offices present a splendid look to understand Bhutanese architecture marvel. You would be amazed to know that not a nail has been put in these mammoth buildings.

Punaka Dzong. Visual wonder at Bhutan

Punaka Dzong. Visual wonder at Bhutan

Stairs at Punaka Dzong

Stairs at Punaka Dzong

Entering Punaka Dzong

Entering Punaka Dzong

Another fascinating place to visit is Tiger Nest or Taksang Monastery which is built on the cliff. There are various legends, but once you enter inside, will get to know what meditative powers hold this mammoth structure and its surroundings.

At Taksang monastery

At Taksang monastery

Taksang Monastery

Taksang Monastery

Don’t miss to visit this paradise not only for natural splendor but also to see how the people of that country stay happy and how the Government over there measures happiness.

Know more on Gross National Happiness of Bhutan here

You could also take a quick tour of Bhutan

Look forward to meet you in Bhutan while I travel from 28th Dec to 3rd Jan 2014 and celebrating New Year in this fascinating country called as Last Shangrila or Paradise on earth.

Appreciate your time for reading….

Kullu, Manali, Rhothang Pass in Pictures

At Rohtang Pass

This gallery contains 40 photos.

Duration                    : 4 days Best time to visit    : April  to Nov Welcome to Himachal Pradesh side of Himalayan tour. Day 1: We started from Delhi via HPTDC Volvo bus and the journey was indeed a nice one. Roads were in good … Continue reading

Bhutan in Pictures : Enter the land of Druk Yul

Punaka Dzong

This gallery contains 85 photos.

Bhutan is landlocked country where to the East, West and South lie Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam respectively while to the North, Tibet’s Chumbi Valley sandwiched between North Bhutan and Sikkim. The most common interpretation of the name Bhutan comes from Bhot-stan which is land of the Bhotias. In Sanskrit, … Continue reading

North Sikkim in Pictures

Welcome to Sikkim side of Himalayan tour.

We shall be visiting following places in 3 days time. Best time to visit would be Aug-Oct

1.Mangan
2.Namok
3.Lachen
4.Lachung Valley and Lachung
5.Gurudongmar Lake
6.Chopta Valley
7.Yumthang Valley and Zero Point.
For Itinerary, click here

Day 1: It is around 7:30 AM when I start from Gangtok to an arduous yet exciting and landscape journey to Lachen via Mangan. Lachen is at a height of around 9000 feet and 124 kms from Gangtok and provides a picturesque view of Mt. Kanchendzonga. As I start from there, encounter a small landslide which has  caved part of the road on the way to Mangan. Mangan is 58 kms from Gangtok and it took us around 2 hours due to the landslide jam, but we made in time. Had momo for breakfast and then started the journey further up north.Mangan is called as ‘Cardamom capital of the World’.

A few kms from  Mangan reached Singhik view point and offered me panoramic view of Teestha Valley. Wanted to have this spectacular viewpoint with a cup of tea and landed into a terrace hotel(cafe) which offered us the best view of the valley. The combination of tea and the breathtaking landscape was indeed a priceless experience. On the way, enjoyed Bhimnalla Waterfalls.

North Sikkim

North Sikkim Welcomes you

Seven Sister Falls

Seven Sister Falls on way to Mangan

Bhimnalla Water Falls

Bhimnalla Water Falls

Near Singhik view point

Near Singhik view point

Distance board on way to Lachen

Distance board on way to Lachen

  By evening, reached Lachen and reached home-stay which was already organized.

Day 2: This is my dream come true day. Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world, located at an altitude of 17,100 ft and reached via Thangu. We reached by 11:00 AM and it was the most awesome experience I could have. Gurudongmar Lake provides panoramic and magnificent view of Mount Siniolchu & Kanchandzonga. We were back at Lachen towards late afternoon and then took rest.

Chopta Valley

Chopta Valley

Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake

Day 3 : This day, we are to visit Yumthang Valley, Yumesongdong and Zero Point. The weather was superb and we started pretty early to see Yumthang Valley and my eyes were towards visiting Zero Point. Yumthang Valley is known for Rhododendrons, Orchids & varieties of flora & fauna during spring in the month of April & May. Yumthang is the summer grazing ground of the yaks. On the way back had a visit to Sulphur Hot Spring, having medicinal values.

Yumthang Valley

Yumthang Valley mile marker

Yumthang Valley

Start of Yumthang Valley

 

Another view of Gurudongmar Lake

Another view of Gurudongmar Lake

Zero Point

Zero Point

Another view of Zero Point

Another view of Zero Point

 

After spending good amount of time, it was time to say good bye to North Sikkim. We started back to Gangtok and reached by 8 pm and back in the hotel.

Next day, it was time to start back via Teesta river to Sivok and then to Bagdogra.

Another memorable trip came to an end, but would be going again and again to this place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darjeeling-Gangtok-Nathula Pass in Pictures

Darjeeling:                     2 days,
Gangtok-Nathula:          3 days.
Best time to visit : April – June ; Sept – Nov

Darjeeling is queen of hills. One could enjoy a week in Darjeeling or spend 2-3 days as a quick preview into near-by places in Darjeeling and then proceed to Gangtok.

It’s my Seventh visit to queen of hills and I’m ever excited as before to see two prominent things. One, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and another Mt.Kanchedzonga from Tiger Hills. The breathtaking view is quite amazing and one must not miss it and fortunately, have been lucky to see the sun breaking from the darkness. Here is one of the photo of that.

Sunrise on Tiger Hill

Sunrise on Tiger Hill

Towards evening, we had a nice ride with Darjeeling toy train. One could book the train ticket in advance and enjoy the ride upto Kurseong.

at Batasia Loop

at Batasia Loop

Train at Batasia Loop

Train at Batasia Loop

While in the train, you enjoy Batasia Loop which loops itself into numeral 8. It is a spiral railway created to lower the gradient of ascent of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in Darjeeling. At this point, the track spirals around over itself through a tunnel and over a hilltop thus showing splendid Kanchendzonga while you have tea/coffee. It was commissioned in 1919. From here, the train reaches Ghum (Ghoom) station and stops for 1/2 hour time. You can enjoy to see Railway museum or wile away time in the Old English style railway station and also Ghum Monastery.

Railway Museum

Ghum Railway Museum

Railway Museum

Madhu and Anju at Ghum Railway Museum

Next day early in the morning, visited Peace Pagoda (Japanese Monastery). This is designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds to help unite them in their search for world peace and the specialty is that once you enter this monastery, you would be given an instrument to play like drums. If you wish not to beat the drum, then you can listen but It is a thrilling experience for sure.

Peace Pagoda

Japanese Peace Pagoda

We then proceeded to rock garden and enjoyed every bit of rock garden. Plenty of waterfalls and terraced garden. You could spend easily couple of hours before going to Tea Garden.

Rock Garden

Darjeeling Rock Garden

Flowers at Rock garden

Flowers at Rock garden

Had a nice Darjeeling tea and proceeded to Gomphu rock and Tenzing rock. One could pay around Rs.50 to climb up the Tenzing rock. It would again be a amazing experience.

On-top of Tenzing Rock

On-top of Tenzing Rock

Later in the day, visited HMI and Padmaja Nehru Zoological garden where we spent good amount of time and finally with ropeway.

At HMI

Family at HMI

HMI Logo

HMI Logo

Himalayan Zoological Park

Himalayan Zoological Park

Red Panda

Red Panda at Zoo

Next day was exciting. We started our journey to Gangtok. The weather being awesome, crossed the Coronation Bridge. Coronation Bridge takes you to Bhutan and that details would be in my next blog.

Coronation Bridge

Coronation Bridge connecting Darjeeling, Sikkim and Bhutan

You would enter NH-31 and welcomed by Tista River which flows throughout the stretch until Melli and the road is maintained by BRO (Border Road Organization) and they put nice slogans en-route. One could have a fantastic experience seeing the river flowing next to the road while we reach Rangpo. From here, West Bengal ends and Sikkim starts. Danny Denzonpa has started a brewery at Melli and is available all over Sikkim. You could also see Sikkim Manipal University while going to Gangtok and provides a spectacular view of stream on one side and college campus on other.

sikkim-manipal-univ

Sikkim Manipal University

We reached Gangtok and next day we started towards sight seeing in Gangtok. We covered Rumtek Monastery, Hanuman Tok, Ganesh Tok, Tashi View Point, Enchy Monastery, Tashiding Monastery and Orchid Garden.It was indeed a fascinating experience.

Teesta River

Teesta River

Gangtok in evening

Gangtok in evening

Rumtek Monastery

Rumtek Monastery, Gangtok

At Orchid Garden-Gangtok

At Orchid Garden-Gangtok

Hanuman Tok

Hanuman Tok

Orchild Flowers

Orchild Flowers at Gangtok

GaneshTok

Ganesh Tok, Gangtok

Tashi view point

Tashi view point

Tashi view point

Tashi View point at road turning and sign board

Next day, we started to Nathula Pass, the last frontier of India towards east which connects to China. The roads are bumpy and 57 kms would take around 4 hours to reach at neck and back breaking action. Just imagine the fate of our soldiers who have to reach those places during war. The Government has now taken action of repairing the roads, but due to terrain, it always goes out of shape.

Nathula Pass

Indo-China border at Nathula Pass

Enjoying Nathula

Enjoying Nathula with family

Then we proceeded to Baba Harbajan Singh Temple. There is a small history to it. According to legend, Major Harbhajan Singh drowned in a glacier following the 1962 Sino-Indian War in 1968 while escorting a column of mules to a remote outpost. He was the first casualty of the 23rd Punjab Regiment, and a manhunt was launched to find him. He was found after three days and cremated with full military honors. According to legend, it was Major Harbhajan Singh who led the search party to his body, and later, through a dream, instructed one of his colleagues to build and maintain a shrine after him.

Legend also has it that in the event of a war between India and China, Baba would warn the Indian soldiers three days in advance. During the flag meetings between the two nations at Nathula, the Chinese set a chair aside for the saint. Every year on September 14, a jeep departs with his personal belongings to the nearest railway station, New Jalpaiguri, where it is then sent by train to the village of Kuka, in Kapurthala district in Punjab. As per train rule the train reserved seat never left blank, but for Baba reservation is done to travel him at his home town every year with soldiers to drop Baba at his home town. A small sum is also sent to his mother each month. Isn’t it chilling !!

Harbajan-singh temple

Harbajan-singh temple, Nathula Pass

About Baba Harbajan Singh

About Baba Harbajan Singh

Then we proceeded towards highest Golf field and Elephant Lake. It is quite an experience to see a Golf course at such an altitude. No wonder that Guinness Book of World records have recognized that.and visitors are not allowed to take pictures of Elephant Lake since Army camp is nearby with Chinese troops very near to Indian Border. On the way back, we stopped at Tsogmo Lake which is also called as Changu Lake. By the time we reached, it was misty and had a fun ride of Yak.

Me and my son at Tsogmo lake

Me and my son at Tsogmo lake

World's highest golf course

World’s highest golf course

How far is Lhasa, Tibet from here?

How close is Lhasa, Tibet

Lhasa, 520 kms only

While returning, we saw Chinese vehicles coming to Indian side of Nathula to do the selling. From the year 2006, both Government have agreed to open the border to trade. Nice thing indeed.

In the evening, landed at the hotel and was time to hit the bed after a tiring yet enjoyable day.

Next day, we started back to Bagdogra from Gangtok and in time for flight back home.

Catch you with next blog on other Himalayan tours. Until then, goodbye.