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Our trip to Sikkim-an incredibly awesome Himalayan spot

June 17, 2015

For our summer vacations in June this year , we decided to travel to the picturesque Himalayan location, Sikkim .  Our visit turned out to be a welcome diversion from the normally perceived notions of a “conventional” Indian holiday , well beyond our expectations . On  arrival at the  Bagdogra Airport after a pleasant 1 hour and 50 minutes flight via Indigo , we proceeded to  Siliguri for overnight stay  [ 30 minutes drive from the airport ] . The  Summit Milestone Hotel & Banquets , is a luxury hotel with 21 exclusive spacious rooms located on the 5th floor of Orbit Mall on Sevoke Road . We were welcomed with a traditional scarf and fruit juice .The Hotel General Manager, Suddhasatta Mitra and the Manager, Arjun Banerjee , pulled out all stops to ensure that our short stay at the Summit Milestone  was comfortable .

The capital of the State of Sikkim, Gangtok – we got there in 5 hours in an airconditioned Innova cab from Siliguri that cost us Rs 3000 – reflects a unique ambience which derives from a happy blend of tradition and modernity. Alongside the presence of stupas ,monasteries and temples , Gangtok also bustles like any other thriving town. Some of the key places which we visited within the short time that we had  included  Ganesh Tok, Hanuman Tok,  Do-Drul Chorten , Tashi View Point and Bhang Jakhri Waterfalls . However, as it was raining heavily when we arrived,  we could not walk on the MG Road to buy some souvenirs and trinkets . Thereafter, our helpful cabbie “ Khao Kamao” Thapa , who also doubled up as our guide and photographer , transferred us to Bamboo Retreat Hotel in Ramtek, 25 Kms away , for our overnight stay.

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Perched on a slope overlooking paddy fields, the boutique Bamboo Retreat Hotel offers elegantly furnished  rooms decorated using colours symbolising the Chinese Feng Shui elements: cuisine. earth, wind, water, fire and metal.  It offers wellness facilities like a private meditation room and hot stone baths.Enjoying views of Nathula and the Eastern Sikkim- Himalayas, the rooms come with a TV , hot water shower and free Wi-fi .Guests may take part in a guided village tour arranged by the tour desk, or enjoy a cup of herbal tea in the landscaped gardens. Due to shortage of time at our disposal, we were unable to go around but our stay in Bamboo Retreat  itself was a great experience, thanks to the hospitality extended by the Property Manager, Suraj Basnet and his dedicated 3-staff  team . Bamboo Retreat’s restaurant serves a selection of local Sikkimese dishes, Asian food and Italian cuisine. It also offers the choice of outdoor dining with views of the Himalayan Mountains. At our breakfast , we were served the most delicious mangoes that we have had in this season, alongwith mixed vegetable pakoras , buttered toast , watermelon fruit , apples, cereals and tea. The Kitchen incharge on being told of our desire to have toasts for breakfast , bought a brand new toaster in the previous evening !

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Upon check out , we visited  Rumtek Monastery situated close by. Considered as one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most important centres, the magnificent monastery  is a repository of countless invaluable artefacts (precious metal statues) , gem-studded cenotaphs with a majestic Golden stupa perched at the top.

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On our way to Namchi [ South Sikkim ]  from Gangtok , we passed  by the large Sikkim Government owned Temi Tea Estate . The tiny village of Temi in South Sikkim stands its ground as the only tea-growing region in the State, producing a delightfully aromatic brew. In one of the wayside cafes, we enjoyed a refreshing sip of the beverage without adding milk /sugar. Just before arrival in Namchi, we stopped at Samdruptse  where there is a 135 ft. high  “Statue of Guru Padamasambhava” on Tending Hill. This is a divine place with  excellent views. We had to walk on a steep climb to reach the statue as  all vehicles have to be parked at the ground level only [ Admission fee : Rs 30 per visitor ] . Thereafter we checked in  at a newly set up property   [February 2015 ]  of Summit Hotels group, the Summit Sobrali Resorts and Spa, a luxury Hotel situated at the ‘top of the sky’ , the literal meaning of Namchi, capital of South Sikkim.     10452318_1072973956063761_834061435866609401_n   11412303_1072858952741928_6058040014075352523_n Set in a picturesque location, Summit Sobralia offers an unmatched view of the Khangchendzonga range and the Rangit valley.The Property Manager, Mr Limbo took personal care of our needs in the room as well as in the Hotel restaurant . After freshening up and light lunch , our next stop  was the  Solophok hill, abode of the unique Hindu Pilgrim Centre, Char Dham,  15 minutes drive from the Hotel  . Atop this hill is a main temple of 108 feet height on which is based the 87 feet high statue of Lord Shiva in a  sitting posture. The main attraction on this hilltop are the replicas of 4 Dhams and 12 Jyotirlingas. The cultural and religious ambience that this pilgrim spot offers is simply breathtaking. The amazing complex – inaugurated by the President of India in February 2013 – is maintained in  a spick and span condition . Being senior citizens, we were exempted from payment of admission fee which is otherwise Rs 30 per visitor . The highlight of the visit was watching musical fountains and evening Arti . 14305_1073063479388142_3658910725241012587_n A travelogue like this cannot be complete without making a mention of the magnificent Sai Temple which has been established recently in close vicinity of Char Dham where we spent some time praying in absolute calm and tranquility . 11111600_1073065719387918_1237789876250796757_n

We returned to New Delhi after a 4 hour drive to Bagdogra International Airport from Namchi  in the morning hours of 14 June . Overall , the people in Sikkim are very helpful and their hospitality is indeed heart warming. Unlike many other places that I have been to , where travel agents and taxi drivers  try to fleece  the tourists, I found all the people quoting very reasonable rates without much variation and conversing in a respectful manner . A fantastic adventure off the beaten track, Sikkim is a place waiting to be explored. Tashi Delek  !  [  Blessings and Good Luck ]

For all the stunning pictures of our 4-day travel, please log on to : https://plus.google.com/photos/103137655815968648427/albums/6160215831724312833

From → My movie blogs

4 Comments
  1. G. Madan Mohan permalink

    very Nice and informative

  2. Ajitkumar permalink

    Very informative and a very good information on sikkim . Hatsoff for promoting sikkim.incredible india . May enjoy my next trip to sikkim with my family.

  3. We wish to host you again pretty
    soon.

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