Spectacular Sikkim – Part I

I had gone to Sikkim last month as a part of my college’s rural research project. We had to choose a village and carry out a study on one of our chosen topics. My group chose to go to Sikkim and study the youth’s aspirations there.

We left from Ahmedabad and caught a flight to Bagdogra via Kolkata on 17th September. The journey was pretty comfortable and the view from the plane was breathtaking.

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Clouds 😀
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More clouds! ❤
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A river I saw from the plane
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These red chillies are widely available in this part of the country 🙂

After reaching Bagdogra, we took a taxi to Siliguri and from there to Namchi (South Sikkim) as our village was located there. The road to Sikkim is extremely scenic. Although, I generally suffer from motion sickness especially in the mountains, I felt fine during this journey which was a relief 🙂

Initially my group stayed at a homestay in Kitam where another group of friends from college was staying for their rurals. The homestay was good with very nice home cooked food but I found it to be quite expensive with Rs. 800 per day charge per person. Transportation cost to any place was extra and rather exorbitant.

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Namchi Bazaar. It even has an aquarium (mid left with a green roof) in between the market

As my group had chosen to work at a village called Assangthang which was turned out to be an hour away from Kitam, we shifted there the next day and stayed put for a few days while we carried out our research. We stayed at Hotel Mount Bowl during this time where we spoke to the hotel manager and agreed upon a homestay like format (where we eat what they cook), this way our charges came to Rs. 800 per person per day. Since the money we had to otherwise spend from Kitam to Assangthang was gone and also most of the must see places were near Assangthang, we managed to save quite a bit of our money.

Our stay at Hotel Mount Bowl was very comfortable. The view from the hotel is amazing and there is also a helipad nearby (5 mins walking) from where you can go to see the entire village. We had gone to see the sunrise here. Unfortunately though, the sun rose from behind a mountain so we couldn’t see it 😦 But the overall landscape was beautiful and it was an awesome experience.

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View during the sunrise from the Assangthang Helipad
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View from the Helipad
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The photo says it all 😛
Prayer flags at the side of the road in Assangthang
Prayer flags at the side of the road in Assangthang

The hotel’s cherry on the cake is the Sai Mandir that is exactly opposite this place. It is grand and truly magnificent.

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The Sai Mandir at Assangthang

During our visit to South Sikkim, we visited the Samdruptse Monastery at Namchi. It is a beautiful place.

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The Samdruptse monastery’s main gate
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The Samdruptse monastery’s entrance

The statue of Guru Padmasambhava is so tall here that you’ll feel like you’re walking amidst the clouds. For people who like to stay connected all the time, you can access free WiFi here 😀

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Statue of Guru Padmasambhava

Outside the monastery, there are many shops that sell interesting products such as chimes, miniature buddha statues, keychains and showpieces. If you’re planning to visit Gangtok during your visit to Sikkim, I would suggest you to not buy anything from here. You will get everything they sell here for a cheaper price (almost half of what it would cost here) in Lal Bazaar near M G Marg (Gangtok).

After visiting this monastery, we went to Chaar Dham. However, unfortunately by the time we reached the place the sun had set and it had become quite dark for us to see anything 😦

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The Shiva statue of Chaar Dham as is visible from Assangthang
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Shiva statue at Chaar Dham

Ensure you reach here early as the sun sets by around 4:30-5 in Sikkim, there won’t be much that you would be able to see if you visit these places early. I regret not being able to see this place properly since we reached here by around 6.

The next day we travelled to Gangtok and I will be covering the rest of our Sikkim journey in the next few posts 🙂 Hope you liked reading this. Lots more to come!

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