In first week of May, 2014 I got a phone call from one of the past students who regularly sends greetings on teacher’s day. He was C Soundarapandian, Professor in the Himalayan Pharmacy Institute (HPI), Majitar, Sikkim. He invited me to visit his college and Sikkim on knowing that I will be in my Home town, Jalpaiguri (a district town in sub-Himalayan West Bengal) during summer holidays.
It was 8.30 AM on 22nd May when I stepped in an Indica Vista car along with my wife and daughter on our journey from Jalpaiguri to Majitar, Sikkim. We reached Siliguri town after 1 hour drive and passed Siliguri town and followed Sevoke road and NH 31A. The national higway 31A (extension of the Sevoke road ) was excellent and so was the roadsides. Around 30 minutes drive was lush green all around.
The road on the way to Majitar (around 35 KM ahead of Gangtok) is uphills. On one side are magnificent hills and on other side down below, flows mighty Teesta river. We were welcomed by mighty Teesta river on every turn of the road and the river followed us en route all along. We crossed small towns and villages: Rambhi Bazaar, Teesta Bazaar and Melli Bazaar. Melli Bazaar is a small town in India that lies in two different States (West Bengal and Sikkim). A Bridge over Teesta connects two parts of the town and we crossed over an impossibly scenic river through this bridge.
We reached border town Rongpo (73 KM from Siliguri) that separates the state of West Bengal with the state of Sikkim. Here Security personnel do a check the visitors for their identity before allowing a car to enter Sikkim state. After another 5 KM drive from border gate we reached Majitar and was accommodated in a spacious triple-bedded room (R/106) with large see-through glass windows in Hotel Highway Inn. I visited Himalayan Pharmacy Institute (half a KM away from Hotel) in the afternoon and was impressed by the facilities in its campus in a remote part of our country. The College is situated in Majitar in East Sikkim right on the national highway 31A surrounded by beautiful views of green hilly terrain and overlooking Teesta river. We had south Indian delicacy dinner in north eastern remote place at soundarapandian’s home. All arrangements in Majitar and next day trip to Gangtok was meticulously planned by Soundarapandian and carried out by his one disciplined albeit smart student, Pralay. I felt overwhelmed.
GANGTOK VISIT: On 23rd may we left the hotel in Majitar at 7.00 AM in a ENO car towards Gangtok (36 KM from Majitar) cruising through panoramic NH 31A and passed through towns Sangtam, Jalipur, Martham, 32 mile, Ranipool. We crossed Tadong and Deorali in the Gangtok area and then reached heart of Gangtok: M G Marg (8.30 AM). Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim located in the Shivalik hills of the eastern Himalayan range, at an altitude of around 1650 meter above sea level. Most buildings in the capital city are modern and in good shape.
Our sightseeing in the Gangtok started at around 9 in the morning with visit to M G Marg. This is a pedestrian Zone with clean shopping precinct, something that is almost unheard of India. Potted plants and comfortable easy benches are placed along the middle of the road where visitors can rest, relax and spend time on morning and evening in the cool climate. Both sides of the road have quaint little eateries for all kinds of visitors, sweet stalls, gift stores and shops selling woolen cloths. We had the delight of savoring awesome Chhola bhature as breakfast at Parivar restaurant and wondered at the street of M G road aimlessly for an hour and to resume our visit to Ganesh Tok.
Ganesh Tok, a sacred shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha is located 7 KM from Gangtok on the Gangtok-Nathula road on a small hillock. The location offers a panoramic view of the entire Gangtok town and surrounding valley.
Tashi view point is just 1 KM away along the same Nathula highway. We climbed steep steps to be welcomed by awesome perspectives of magnanimous Mount Kanchenjunga (the highest peak in India and the third highest in the world). This place is famous for gorgeous sunrise point with a hypnotic view of Kanchenjunga.
There is a beautiful cascade very close to Gangtok. This is Bakthang Falls whose sparkling water provides a unique sight. Ban Jhakri Falls (4 KM from Gangtok on the way to Ranka Monastery) and energy park (including fun and adventure) was our last sightseeing spot to visit.
While coming down from Gangtok we stopped at Balagee restaurant, Ranipool for reasonably delicious vegetarian dishes for our lunch. It was 3.30 PM, we were back to the cozy car (Chauffeur- Lawrance) to proceed for about four and half hour drive to reach back to our home at Jalpaiguri. The experience of this brief but well planned trip gets embossed deep in my mind to bring a colour of joy with each reminiscence of it.