2018-10 Sikkim

Travelling to Sikkim is long, when I was here five years ago the roads were in a terrible state and five years on, roadworks are everywhere, so, the future is looking good but for now it took nearly 5 hours to get from Darjeeling to Pelling which is 110km by the road. Pelling is a beautiful spot which has a direct view on the full range of the Kangchenjunga high tops of the himalaya. At birds distance the closest of the tops is probably only 30km and the kangchenjunga itself is at 40km aprox. We are so lucky with the weather, the sky is blue, there are no clouds at all in the mroning and the afternoon clouds clear in the evening sor a beautiful sunset light on the sumits. This is very different to my first visit when the visibility was very bad due to clouds, I never realy saw all the beauty of the place. The sunrise is just amazing and best of all we could view it directly from the room window. Another great thing about pelling are the monasteries and especially Pemayangste which dates back to to the 17th century and houses many beautiful buddhist statues, ornaments and clothing but also an incredible 3D sculpture of the heavens. The monks perform different rituals and prayers with the use of traditional instruments. Another monastery overlooks the small town of pelling, its on a ridge and the view from here is breathtaking. They have built a monumental statue on the top of the hill, its inauguration is 2 days after our visit, we attend to the final preparations. In this short trip to Sikkim, we are able to fit in a day tour of three amazing sites, Lake kacheopalri, Yuksom and Tashiding before heading to Kallimpong where we will spend our last two days in the mountains. The site are beautiful but the roads are in bad state or under construction so we only reach Kalimpong for dinner time. Kalimpong is busy market and army city in west bengal which overlooks sikkim and offers a beautiful panorama on the mountain range from Nepal to China. I had booked our stay in a very quiet and special homestay that offers simple but comfy bungalows in a beautiful garden, but this place has been put under new management and it has lost that special touch, trash is scattered throughout the garden, the bungalows seem very much run down. We decide to only stay one night and move to a better place the next morning. In Kalimpong the market is quite interesting especially for buddhist materials as it seems its a bit of a local hub and offers wholesale opportunities. I was looking to purchase quite a large quantity of prayer flags, I am able here to get a very good price and get them shipped to Kerala. Otherwise time is spent relaxing in the sun and walking to a few viewpoints. Next and final stop for this part of the trip is Guwahati in Assam. I have never been to this part of India, I am looking forward to discovering this city and getting a glimpse at what Assam has to offer. The plan is to visit the few important temple, the emblematic Kali temple and the Shiva temple located on the river Brahmapoutre.

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