Passage to India – Sikkim and Gantok

Sikkim is a state, and former country, in the north east of India that still seems like a separate entity. It even has its own border crossing where foreigners must present a special permit to continue.

sikkim_map

Wrecked Jeep-00733

Bridge Over the Teetsa River

 

I traveled from Darjeeling to Gantok on some very narrow and frightening roads in a crowded ‘jeep’ for about five hours.
Wrecked Jeep-00726

The scenery was beautiful although the main road didn’t look like much compared with western roads. Wrecked Jeep-00827There was evidence of risk-taking on the part of of some drivers. This is what is called a ‘jeep’ here but they are made by Tata or Mitsubishi or Toyota. Fully loaded it can carry sixteen inside and another few on the top.

Kalimpong is the capital of Sikkim and I spent four days there. I was lucky to have a brief clearing in the fog to see Kanchenjunga from above the town.

Kanchenjunga - the third highest mountain in the world.

Kanchenjunga – the third highest mountain in the world.

Enchey monastery just a few kilometers north of Gantok is well worth a visit. Is is often visited by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and is a site of great importance to Buddhists.

Gantok Monastery-

Enchey Monastery, Gantok, Sikkim

 

Gantok Monastery-2321

Spinning Prayer Wheels in Enchey

Gantok Monastery-2318

Very Colorful Paintings on the Windows of the Monastery

At the local zoo there are many native and sometimes elusive Himalayan species including this snow leopard.

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard

As an aside, you may wish to read Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard if you have a chance.

Gantok hosts numerous Buddhist monasteries and is a jumping off point for treks in the mountains. To give you an idea of its isolation and the condition of the roads, It took me five and a half hours in a taxi to go from Gantok to New Jalpaiguri (the railway station) just 120 Km distant.

Safe travels everyone,

Grover

 

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