Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My First Rendezvous with Northeast India – The Mighty Gangtok (Day 3)

Today, we planned to explore Gangtok on foot, because of our love for walking (only on holidays). We settled on going to Ropeway, which is indeed a cable car drive through the rustic hills of Gangtok. This is a must see as one can have a breath taking view of Gangtok during this ride. The ropeway ride has three terminal stations and you can choose to start your ride from any of the convenient points in Tashiling, Namnang or Deorali. The ropeway ride is offered throughout the day between 8:00 to 16:30. There is no seating arrangement inside the cable car. The 15 to 20 minutes ride provides spectacular bird view of Gangtok city and the surrounding valley. Ticket per head is 60/- for adults and 30/- for children. 

Bird view of Gangtok

View from Cable Car

This early morning excursion was very rejuvenating, especially to my appetite. So, here we are, in one of the most endorsed bakery of Gangtok, The Baker’s Café, located centrally on MG Square. It was a quiet, warm café with whiff of baking breads and colonial style décor. We ordered for English breakfast of eggs and bread with some pancakes and coffee. The food was average, though coffee was strikingly good. We also tried few pastries but they were all lackluster. 

Breakfast at The Baker's Cafe

Cappuccino at The Baker's Cafe

Not quite impressed, we finished our meal (3/5 to The Baker's café), and settled to visit Flower Exhibition Center. It was around 20 minutes walk from main square, near the white hall and chief minister’s residence. To our luck, annual orchid show was going on during our stay in Gangtok. Inside, the area was not very large but it had amazing collection of flowers, arranged even more beautifully, not cramming the space. There were Blue Venda orchids, Celosia, Chrysanthemum, Paps, etc. The place was ideal for great photography of flowers and shrubs. There were stalls providing seeds of flowering plants at the exit at reasonable price. We spent a good half an hour in assimilating the varied colours and beauty around, and further moved on to our next destination.

Orchid Show

Flower Exhibition Center

Around 2 km further, through the narrow roads with pastoral views, is the Gangtok Handicraft and Handloom Centre. It is situated at zero point, around 1 km from main square. Admission ticket is INR 10/-. It has a Museum to showcase local artifacts, a Training centre and 2-storey sales Emporium for selling products created at the centre. It is the best place to buy the local products from all around the northeast including Bhutan and Nepal. There were Nagas handlooms, cane products, masks, thankas (scrolls with hand paintings), Lepchas hats etc. This exhilarating trip to the cultural heritage of northeast was worth every minute.

Gangtok Handloom Center

It was already four in the evening when we finished our visit to Handloom center, so we took a taxi and decided to visit our last point of the day, Tashi view point. It took us INR 300/- for half an hour drive towards Tashi Viewpoint. It was almost five, and the view point was crowded with the tourists. It really had the breathtaking view of Kanchenjunga snow peaks. We were at wrong time of the day, sunrise is the best time to visit this unforgettable viewing area. 

Tashi View Point

Tashi View Point

Rose Tree

We returned around seven to MG road, and started exploring the local shops for the final day. We bought few local artifacts like Chinese hanging lamps, some Chinese cups with lids, a set of bowl, and of course a lot of winter wear and few long dresses (for me). Don’t miss the opportunity to show your bargaining skills here, otherwise you will regret. 

Gangtok City

Later, we decided to dine at a famous restaurant – Tangerine. Trust me; it is the best place in Gangtok for fine dining, located in the Hotel Chumbi Residency. It was a motley of great ambiance, genuine staff and sumptuous food. We ordered North Indian dishes like butter chicken, keema and roti  and momos for starters. We were delighted to find everything well made. Do pay a visit when you are in Gangtok and you won’t be disappointed.

Sumptuous food at Tangerine 

Sumptuous food at Tangerine

Finally the days to the magnificent Gangtok came to an end. Last two days spent in Gangtok were really relaxing and opened doors to new frontiers. We have seen many beautiful sights, met some great people, had lot of delicious food, danced a little and now we are taking back all these memories as a treasure for forever.

 Goodbye Gangtok...Looking forward to Kalimpong!!!

 Next, we will begin our journey towards Kalimpong. My next post will update you further. Till then, start making plans to visit the less known and less traveled part of India – Northeast….because Northeast is calling!!!!

 I will end up this post with my favourite Travel Quote 
"Not all those who wander, are lost".