" After climbing a great hill one only finds that there are many more hills to climb ", said Nelson Mandela. I woke up that morning pulling down the heavy winter blanket that warmed my skin for almost 7 hours now, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. My window pane was foggy and water that gurgled down the washroom tap, was freezing. The scenery was of bliss and contentment. Unlike the other trips, i missed hearing the long distant chirping of various species of bird. But watching the snow rolling down the peaks with spaces of visible brown and dirty green moss -algae was one in its kind. 

I am sure you may have got hints of the place i have been referring too - The overwhelming hills of Gangtok. Being a female traveler, it was difficult to get the permission of travelling 'alone' from my parents and elder siblings. But as you know, where there is a will, there is a way or create your own way. Situated in the northeast India, known for dramatic landscapes, gigantic mountains, mouth ravishing momos, thukpas and pious monasteries, Gangtok was a 4 day stay when the temperature had dropped up to 5 degrees Celsius. 

Way to Gangtok from the station of New Jalpaiguri was a long journey . The cold breeze that unlocked my hair was piercing yet welcoming. The sight of local natives - the gorkhas, lepchas etc. never felt so warm before. The rising view of the south east facing mountain Kanchenjunga was heart throbbing. I reached by somewhat around 2:00 pm in the afternoon. As consulted with my tourist guide, the first major stop from where the most cherishing journey started was - The Gangtok City. Being the capital of the northern Indian state of Sikkim , one can visit Gangtok anytime throughout the year. The vibrancy in the color of culture, the stunning scenic beauty suits the most popular tourist destination. The major natural attractions are Tsomgo lake which is a glacier lake almost 40 kms away from the main city with an elevation of 3,753 m.  The change in the colors of the lake was unbelievable. The Rumtek Monastery - if you visit the monastery, there is a point where you can see the entire town on the opposite hill. I still can not get over the sight. However it required an uphill walk to reach the main monastery from the base gate. It is one of the largest monastery which offered finest architecture and resembled the "Tsurphu" in Tibet. The day ended quite soon. My eyes were rich and heart full. The title of "Incredible India" reiterated in my mind.

The cold temperature could not bring down my enthusiasm to explore the beauty of this surreal place. The next day we started our journey with the Ganesh Tok. Unlike the Hanuman Tok, tourists like me not only offered prayers to the lord in the temple, located at an altitude of 6,500 feet but also enjoyed the sight of the viewing lounge and the circular balcony around it. I had never seen an infrastructure of this excellence.  I was glad to be able to witness the snow cap mountains including Kanchenjunga. I shopped many souvenirs for my friends and family from the very famous fancy market and open M.G  mall. The people there were extremely generous and the day ended with some mouth watering food at various local food corners situated in the mall itself.

The third day was surely reserved for the respectful Nathula pass whose prior permission was granted to me with the help of my tourist guide. It is a fenced indo-china border where I could see both the Chinese and the Indian soldiers guarding the border. There were also engraved stones with "Nehru stone" carved in them marking the visit of former prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru in 1958. My entire day was consumed in reaching and then driving down the hill as the spot was 54 kms away from the main city. We halted for about 3 times for buying food and other necessities. I had to reach my hotel back by 7:00 pm in evening because i had a early morning train back to my hometown. 

A weird mixture of feeling gushes in when you realize its time to go back. I was tired yet i wished i could be flashed back to the start. The way back to home was filled with rafting sights of adventurous Teesta river. Throughout the journey, i was soaked in the beauty of the current waters that runs down through Sikkim and Darjeeling hills and meanders along the plains of West Bengal. It flows into river Bramhaputra. The muddy, emerald green waters is a splendid scenery. Finally when I reached back home, I left my heart and mind there. The place had its own way of acceptance. The beauty enchanted all my senses. The culture and its natives had a different charm altogether. Gangtok is a must visit for every nature lover !

Shruti Goyal