From Delhi, we had a flight to Bagdogara airport on 18th May. We decided to reach Delhi couple of days earlier and roam around some nearby places (which can be accommodated in different post). So let us fast-forward to the Delhi airport.
There we were, one hour early, sitting idle. You can’t be creative on Indian airports, even a chips could cost you 300 INR, so I thought of suppressing my shopping steak and sit somewhere quietly with a cup of coffee (which also did cost 60 INR, but when you are at airport its good to flaunt – parsimoniously). Finally, it was the time. We were very excited. Well, the itinerary was: New Delhi – Gangtok – Lachung – Gangtok – Darjeeling – New Delhi.
The flight was of GoAir and fortunately it was on time, so we reached Bagdogra on time – at around 2:45 PM. In-flight services were decent enough, with GoAir girls walking through aisle. One can see Himalayan Ranges, with snow covered peaks visible from your windows. Himalayas have always excited me (I even plan to settle there after my retirement). After reaching Bagdogra, which is the nearest airport to Sikkim, we went towards exit trying to call our tour manager. But to our surprise, I saw my name board, and we approached him.
“Good Afternoon, sir. We will wait for your fellow passengers and then we will leave for Gangtok via Siliguri”, he told us.
In another 10 minutes, there were five more people standing near MakeMyTrip board. Two couples and a single soul. As soon as they were settled with all their after flight nature’s call, all of us went to the parking area. There were three cars, so we were given our personal car – it was Mahindra Xylo (Aha, one of my favorite SUVs). Bagdogara airport has its gate as a bottleneck to the process, which creates traffic in and around the airport. The exit gate is very narrow, that only one car can pass at a time and they take toll from each and every car at the gate, so it was a hell of a traffic and we got stuck into the airport for one hour.
Once we passed this gate, we speeded towards our restaurant which was in Siliguri. Road was good with scenic views of distant mountains and plain woods surrounding the roads. Restaurant was nice; after completing our lunch, we all gathered in a hall area where our tour guide Sunny came in and gave an introductory speech.
“So first of all, welcome everybody. There are two separate teams for hereon, as one is of Lachen and other is of Lachung. Let us start with some paperwork which is required to enter these two places”
We went forward one-by-one and gave our Id proofs (Lachung has Army check post at Nathu La Pass as well as for Baba Mandir, where we need to have permit for entering these places). After this brief discussion, we were assigned our respective cars (I had the same Mahindra Xylo, thank god).
Before leaving Siliguri, its better idea to buy bananas and litchi. Litchis are awesome here. Time to reach Gangtok from Siliguri is around four to five hours (sunny day scenario), so its always better to have some snacks with you.
Best part of any voyage is always the path we follow, not the destination. Road consists of dozens of hairpin bends, and steep roads with lot of traffic as a topping. Gaining the height gradually, the road runs along Teesta river. Crossing a bridge on the river Teesta, we enter Sikkim with Kalimpong is the first city. Mountains guard you on one side and Teesta watches for you on the other. It feels like you are going in the lap of mother nature. Cold breeze adds the diamond on the golden ring, as if welcoming you to its land with both the hands open. God, I can still feel that scene; till the time I was already in love with Sikkim.
We stopped at Rangpo village. There was a small bazaar where we had a tea and attended nature’s call. It was still one and half hour journey from there. Finally, we were at the foothills of Gangtok and what’s that – A casino (that will be a spot to visit – Indians always search for casino even in the country, whether it is Sikkim or Goa). I had learnt and practiced Blackjack, Roulette wheel and poker during my MBA classes (everything happens for a good reason, I thought). By the time these thoughts flew, we were into the city – Gangtok.