Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gangtok, Ravangla, Namchi and Kalimpong

Gangtok, Ravangla, Namchi and Kalimpong
My Trip Map

Day 0  -  3 Oct 2011 - Monday - Kolkata

We started our journey from Sealdah @ 10:15 PM via Darjeeling mail, as usual Indian standard time(10 minutes late) with a hope that Gangtok will not allow us to miss Durga puja in Kolkata, as it was the puja time the trains were jam pack, after booking tickets 3 months earlier still didn't get confirmed tickets but luck was on our side that day so at the last moment tickets got REC.

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The nearest train station to Gangtok is New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri which has direct connections to Kolkata, and other major cities in India. It is a 10-12 hour journey from Kolkata.



Day 1   -   4 Oct 2011 –  Tuesday  -  Gangtok

After waiting for long time finally we reached New Jalpaiguri around 9 in the morning. Hopes were high for the road ahead, as soon as we step out of the train it felt that by mistake the train has returned back to Kolkata, people shouting, moving all around you. Finally i understood it was the cab drivers, everyone of them wanted to take me to my final destination... Gangtok.

This is tricky guys from New Jalpaiguri to Gangtok you can either hire a taxi from the station itself or take an auto-rickshaw to the Siliguri bus stand. From there, you have the option of travelling to Gangtok by state bus, roughly a 5-6 hour journey.


Dozens of jeeps travel to Gangtok daily from Siliguri, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and other mountain locales. Fare of the shared cabs is generally fixed, it is around Rs. 200-300(Front seat) to Gangtok from NJP station. Drivers might try to charge high so check for the fare with other cabs before taking one.
Fare for the Private cabs is around Rs. 2000 (Depends on how well you can bargain).

We took a shared cab to reach Gangtok ( 125 Kms - 3 to 4 Hours) ...  if you have never been to Gangtok earlier it is better to take a front seat from where you can view the valley much better.Also enroute you can view the Teesta river flowing along, Sikkim border and view of the valleys


Reached Gangtok around 12 from there took another cab to reach hotel. I stayed @ Hotel Pandim( Phone: (03592) 207540 Cell: +91 98320 80172, E-mail: hotelpandim@gmail.com.), A family run guest house with the best location, just above the Mall Road and below the Royal Palace offering the best mountain view. Really outstanding...........








We got freshened up, had lunch after taking a quick nap we went to city main street(MG Marg). The city is a fascinating place to spend a few nights, the winding side alleys hide some unexpected gems, and the main street (MG Marg) is pedestrianized and a pleasant place to take a stroll.

There is a nice Roll House, tucked on the side of a stairway between MG Marg and the main market, serves up Veg Momos; hot chapatis (Roll) with various fillings (paneer, egg, veggies). This place is always packed with both tourists and locals and deservedly so.




Day 2 - 5 Oct – 2011 - Wednesday - Gangtok - Sightseeing

Early Morning starts the full day sightseeing in and around this capital city of Sikkim covering:

There are beautiful views of the surrounding hills from the town itself, but the best views - dominated by Kanchenjunga, the world's third-highest mountain - are from Enchey Monastery and Ganesh Tok, both high above the town.

Rumtek Monastery, located 22 km from the town, [8]. One of the most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, and head seat of the Karma Kagyu school in Sikkim. Originally built in 1740, it fell into disrepair. The current structure dates from 1959.

Flower show (1818 mtr), Ridge Park (Ridge Park Complex). 10 am -5pm. Near the White-Hall, flower show is at its best during the flowering season which is mid March to end of May in spring and October to mid December in autumn. But by far the annual Cymbidium Orchid Show wnich commences invariably from mid March to mid April is the best and the finest in the entire south Asian region. Rs. 10

Bhakthang Falls-Bakthang Falls is one of the beautiful falls in sikkim.It is one of the favourite falls for the domestic tourist,they love to take pictures in front of falls and i heard many tourist saying it as best falls in sikkim.There is beautiful tourism cafeteria in the opposite of falls ,which add beauty to this place.And the interesting thing is that,this falls is the nearest falls from M.G Marg.It is only 3km from Gangtok.

Tsuklakhang Palace
Tsuk La Khang Monastery
Directorate of Handicrafts & Handlooms
Tashi Viewpoint
Phensong Monasery
White Hall
Rope way (Nam Nang View Point)
Do-drul Chorten - a large and impressive stupa complex constructed in 1945.

we missed few of the points due to time constrains.... may be next time....
Enchey Monastery - a two hundred year old monastery in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism - located above the town.

Ban Jhakri Falls: About 10 - 12 KM from M.G Marg of Gangtok, Ban Jhakri Falls is a new sightseeing destination for tourist, fully operated by solar energy. Park features waterfalls, dragon statue, Lepcha statue, Jhakri statue etc.

Hanuman Tok
Tibetan Market
Himalayan Zoological Park(a.k.a Bulbuley) is situated opposite to Ganesh Tok, extended about 205 hectares. The park is home of Red Pandas, Snow Leopard, Barking Deer, Bears and other animals.
Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden: Situated at an altitude ranging between 1800m. To 2200m, established in 1987, it comprises of virgin temperate forest of oaks and as many as 50 different kinds of trees species. The Garden is situated at a place which is only a scenic beauty for the tourists but also adjoins Rumtek Monastery and Fambongla Wildlife Sanctuary. It is open for the Visitors from 1000hrs. to 1600hrs.

There is more for those who love biking,hire one bike in the morning from travel agent and join biking group.They mostly take round of Gangtok and they come to this place also.






















Day 3  -  6 Oct 2011 –  Thursday – Ravangla (South Sikkim)

Gangtok - Ravangla - 70 Kms

This is a relatively new tourist spot in south Sikkim. Situated at an elevation of 8000 ft the small picturesque semi town on the Gangtok-Gaysiling highway, Ravangla is becoming a hot destination for its breathtaking landscape and tranquility.




Ravangla is among one of the few places in Sikkim to offer an undisturbed view of the snow ranges of Greater Himalayas. Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Pandim, Mt. Sinialchu, Mt. Kabru are just a few of the major peaks that are clearly visible from here. Upper parts of Ravangla experiences snowfall during winter. Thousands of known and unknown flowers are in full bloom during April-May and Ravangla gets a romantic look with the colours and fragrance of the flowers.

Day 4 - 6 Oct 2011 – Friday – Ravangla - Namchi - sightseeing

Rayong Sunrise View Point: At a distance of 8 km from Ravangla on the road to Damthang is the viewpoint that offers spectacular view of the sunrise, as the first few rays sun lightens up the snowy peaks of Mt. Narsing, Jopuno, Kabur, Rathong and Pandim.










Temi Tea Garden : At a distance of only 16 km from Ravangla, it is one of the most beautifully located tea garden of Sikkim. The journey through the winding road via Dentham is even more attractive. A 9 km trek from Dentham through the Tendon sanctuary goes to a dormant volcano, an unforgettable place to view Kanchenjunga and Singalila range in the west and vast plane lands in the south. Even Pelling in West Sikkim and Siliguri town is visible from the view point of Tendong.

Ralang hot spring is situated at a distance of 26 kms from Ravangla. The monastery on the way holds the famous kagiang festival in December.

Ralang Monasteries : 13 km from Ravangla are the two monasteries at Ralang which follow the Kagyupa sect of Buddhism. The Old monastery was built in 1768 AD and legend has it that the 9th Karmapa, head of the Kagyupa sect, blessed the site of the monastery with grains of rice thrown from Tibet. 'Pang Lhabsol' the worship of Mt. Khangchendzonga & 'Kagyed' Chaam (masked dances) is held in the monastery every year.
Borong & Ralang Cha-chu : Cha-chu or hot sulphur springs at Ralang & Borong are traditional winter spas where visitors spend a week or more soaking in these springs that have medicinal properties.

Ralang Cha-chu can be reached after a 1 hr downhill walk to the Rangit valley from the Ralang monastery. Borong Cha-chu is a 7 km drive from Ralang and a further 45-minute downhill walk. Both these hot springs are located along the banks of the Rangit River and can be visited from December to February. For overnight stays temporary huts are available at nominal rates but all bedding and cooking utensils have to be carried along. During the hot spring season small shops selling basic vegetables & provisions are setup and the local villagers sell diary products.

Mangbrue Gompa & view point: Located 8 km above Kewzing, the Mangbrue Gompa is also an excellent view point of the mountains and hills.

Namchi


Namchi is situated at an altitude of 1,675 m (5500 feet) above sea level. It is situated at a distance of 92 km from the state capital Gangtok and 90 km from the town of Siliguri.

Namchi is fast becoming a major tourist spot and pilgrimage centre. The Namchi monastery, Ralong monastery and Tendong Hill are important Buddhist pilgrimage centres. The world's largest statue (at 118 feet) of the Buddhist Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim, is on the Samdruptse hill (The Wish Fulfilling well) opposite Namchi. It was completed in February 2004. It is also said that the Samdruptse hill is actually a Dormant Volcano. Myths say that the buddhist monks have been going on top of the hill and offering prayers to the volcano to keep it calm. There is also a Rock Garden just few kilometers up from the town on the way to Samdruptse. The Rock Garden displays a wide variety of Flora and is a local recreation and picnic spot. It offers a magnificent view of Mt. Kanchendzonga (aka Mt. Kanchenjanga, the world's third highest peak).





One of the highlights of the town is the football stadium – the Baichung Stadium built by the Sikkimese government in honour of its most famous citizen, footballer Baichung Bhutia. "The Gold Cup" football tournament is held in Bhaichung Stadium almost every year. Football teams from all over India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan vie for the honour which draws lot of crowds from all over Sikkim.

The latest tourist attraction is the completion of Char Dham - a Pilggimage center of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva. It contains the temples of the four most important shrines of India. A Ropeway is also being constructed from Samdruptse to Namchi town and then to Char Dham for People to see panaromic views of the hills.













Shri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple at Namchi






Day 5 - 8 Oct 2011 – Saturday – Kalimpong

Ravangla to Kalimpong - 95 kms

At an altitude of 1250m(7000 feet), this tranquil hill station is located on top of a ridge on the east of river Tista. Kalimpong offers many good treks for the adventures. The travel attraction of this place also includes monasteries, orchid-nurseries and overall, the exquisite view over the surrounding countryside.


Kalimpong is famous for its indigenous handicraft. The artisans here produce Tibetan and Bhutanese handicraft and jewelry that are much admired in the country and abroad. If you want to go for a shopping-spree for crafts during your tour, Kalimpong is the place. The shops at Kalimpong sell traditional handicrafts such as woodcarvings, copperware like feng-sui bells, tapestry bags, scrolls, paintings and Tibetan jewelry.




The town and its surrounding area was ruled by Bhutan for about a century and a half before it was annexed by the British in 1965. This also paved way for increased trade with Tibet through Jelepla. Even today Kalimpong remains one of hte largest market places in the region.




Day 6  -  9 Oct 2011  –  Sunday  –  Kalimpong  -  Sightseeing

Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Gompa: Built in the mid-1970s and consecrated by Dalai Lama at `Durpin Dara` Hill, 5km south of the town, this gompa (monastery) houses impressive wall-paintings and a rare three dimensional `mandal` upstairs.
Tharpa Choling Gompa: This gompa belongs to the Yellow Hat (Gelukpa) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The gompa is about 40 minute walk from the main town.
Thogsa Gompa: A Bhutanese monastery founded in 1692, it is the oldest monastery in this area.
Golf Course
Deolo Lake
Cactus Nursery
Kali Temple












Day 7 - 10 Oct 2011 – Sunday – Siliguri


Kalimpong to Siliguri - 70km.


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Day 8 - 11 Oct 2011 – Monday – Kolkata

Reached Kolkata at 5:35AM


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