As Dr. Gyatso poured locally made wine into my husband’s and father in law’s shot glasses, they were over the moon. As if they had found the preeminent purpose of travelling 1500 kms to this remote ranch village in Sikkim. The wine obviously tasted like heaven.
“Orchids, figs, bananas, Sal, bamboo, wheat, guava, barley, oranges, tea, and cardamom and what not. With its subtropical climate , ample rainfall and altitudinal gradation, a lot grows here ( not to forget the exotic flowers)” said Dr Gyatso (our host). “My wife came here 7 years ago on a family vacation”. And I was transported back to the glorious monsoon memories of Sikkim as my husband mentioned that. All the weariness of the road expedition had faded away with the bonhomie of the Biksthang Heritage Farmhouse.
The joys of homestays are too many. A taste of the local culture, authentic food, interesting inside stories (some are just too funny), warm fellowship feel, untamed and unseen views and a rare, non-touristy experience.
Waking up to a misty morning the next day, we decided to drive to Ravangla before reaching Martam for our next halt. A huge Buddha statue gives Ravangla a distinctiveness that can be seen even from a distance.A prodigious Buddha statue in the backdrop of nomadic clouds. What a resplendent sight!
Dusk approaches so fast in winters here that it gets pitch dark at even 5 pm (Can you imagine ?) and so we always felt the rush for time. As we reached Martam, it was already dark. A village walk arranged by our resort the next day was so heartwarming . Cutesy kids shaking hands with us, waving golden & carefree rice paddy fields, smiling villagers left us with a tender feeling. A visit to Rumtek monestry was a must-do en-route to Gangtok.
One thing you will notice right away about Gangtok is its immaculate streets. An orderly and calm pace despite being a big city. Something you won’t find in other cities in India. Citizens are aware, disciplined and peaceful.( quite impressive!).In fact, in a small village like Martam , you can find bamboo-made trash holders at every few meters and yes those vibrant prayers flags!
“Woohoo! I can see Kanchenjunga” screamed the hubby. At 15,500 ft, the clouds moved and the white peak of Kanchenjunga magically appeared for a few seconds. We felt overjoyed and super excited. Thanks to the cable car , we got a bird’s eye view of the pristine Tsongmo Lake and Nathu La peaks. It was a “wow” moment for both of us.
Goa, Daman and Sikkim. Only three places where you will find casinos in India. As we entered the Casino Mahjong, my folks were reminiscing the experience of casinos of Las Vegas & Nepal while I was clueless. Never been to a casino before! Grooving dancers , pouring beer, revolving roulette and it was getting exciting. Playing ( and some winning ), giggles & fun. We created some hilarious memories to cherish
We did cover some hot tourist spots like Bakhtang waterfall, Hanuman Tonk, Tashi view point, MG Road in Gangtok to get the feel of the city. At Tashi point , a Sikkimese guy said” Aap dono me toh bahut pyaar hai, mere mummy papa toh hamesha fighting”. I smiled and was rather amazed at his spot-on remark. Moments like these make your travel memories interesting. Human touch I would say!
Being twice to Sikkim I felt a strange companionship with this gorgeous place. Now becoming 100% organic adds to its magnificent list of achievements. Thoughts about moving to this state crossed my mind while I was leaving the influence of its charming aura.
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