Please login to vote.
Friday, 20 November 2009

Sikkim and Darjeeling: Eco-travel at its Best - Page 3

Written by Christina Kay Bolton
  • Print
  • Email
  • AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Sikkim is the greenest state in India in more than one way. It is lush and vibrantly green due to its unique micro-climate, created by its location in the shadow of Mt. Kanchenjunga and between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. Books have been written about the miniature biosphere created here, and the region’s multitude of different species. The cyclones of the Bay of Bengal reach up to the Himalayas and to Sikkim in particular; that, combined with the monsoon, means Sikkim receives more than its fair share of rain, but it is also ‘green’ in an eco-sense. For instance, plastic bags are banned so they don’t end up on roadsides and in rivers like in the rest of India. Shops use paper bags or newspaper to wrap things and shoppers can buy inexpensive re-usable bags in most places. In fact, Sikkim is definitely the cleanest state that I’ve been to in India.

Pelling

Sikkim and Darjeeling: Eco-travel at its Best, travel india, travel Sikkim, travel Darjeeling, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Eco-travel, Quest Himalaya Adventures, Arthur Pazo, The Orchid Retreat, Kalimpong, Elgin Mount Pandim, Pelling, Norbu Gang House, Hotel Tashi Gang, Yuksom, Mayfair Gangtok, Mayfair Darjeeling, Gangtok, Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling, KurseongAfter another nice dinner and breakfast at the Orchid Retreat we left for Pelling. We had to take the long route to get my Sikkim permit along the way. Pelling is a pretty town with many hotels as people are drawn here for its outstanding views. I stayed at the Elgin Mount Pandim perched in the mountains with one of the best views of Mt. Kanchenjunga in the area. My room was luxurious as was the lobby with many nice seating areas. We were served Darjeeling tea in a silver teapot with a plate of cookies and cakes. After I settled in, we explored the area visiting two local monasteries including the Pemayangtse Monastery which is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim and has an incredibly large intricate carving on the top floor completed by one monk over the course of his lifetime. It would fill a small room, so it is quite a feat.

Sikkim and Darjeeling: Eco-travel at its Best, travel india, travel Sikkim, travel Darjeeling, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Eco-travel, Quest Himalaya Adventures, Arthur Pazo, The Orchid Retreat, Kalimpong, Elgin Mount Pandim, Pelling, Norbu Gang House, Hotel Tashi Gang, Yuksom, Mayfair Gangtok, Mayfair Darjeeling, Gangtok, Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling, Kurseong

 

Dinner was a nice affair, served buffet-style with helpful waiters. The food was very good with a multitude of options. I slept well under a pure white duvet with lots of pillows. Sikkim and Darjeeling: Eco-travel at its Best, travel india, travel Sikkim, travel Darjeeling, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Eco-travel, Quest Himalaya Adventures, Arthur Pazo, The Orchid Retreat, Kalimpong, Elgin Mount Pandim, Pelling, Norbu Gang House, Hotel Tashi Gang, Yuksom, Mayfair Gangtok, Mayfair Darjeeling, Gangtok, Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling, KurseongThe only disappointment was the weather. I woke at 5:30 the next morning to see Kanchenjunga, but only the close mountains were visible with just clouds in the distance. By 8:30 everything was covered in mist. The Elgin breakfast buffet was plentiful and tasty and prepared me for our village walk through the rich forests and past people working and children playing.

Sikkim and Darjeeling: Eco-travel at its Best, travel india, travel Sikkim, travel Darjeeling, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Eco-travel, Quest Himalaya Adventures, Arthur Pazo, The Orchid Retreat, Kalimpong, Elgin Mount Pandim, Pelling, Norbu Gang House, Hotel Tashi Gang, Yuksom, Mayfair Gangtok, Mayfair Darjeeling, Gangtok, Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling, Kurseong

For lunch we went to Norbu Gang House which is a new part of Norbu Gang Resort that has its own kitchen, lounge, yoga/meditation room and just a few bedrooms for an exclusive feel. If you want to cook and have guests over this is the place to do it. The chef’s kitchen is huge with everything you could need and the dining room elegant with a wall of glass looking to the mountains. We had a fabulous lunch prepared by their chef with more dishes than I could even try – all presented in style.

Sikkim and Darjeeling: Eco-travel at its Best, travel india, travel Sikkim, travel Darjeeling, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Eco-travel, Quest Himalaya Adventures, Arthur Pazo, The Orchid Retreat, Kalimpong, Elgin Mount Pandim, Pelling, Norbu Gang House, Hotel Tashi Gang, Yuksom, Mayfair Gangtok, Mayfair Darjeeling, Gangtok, Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling, KurseongThen we went to the ruins of the second capital of Sikkim which is a small area of stone ruins overlooking a deep valley. It is a gentle walk through an area filled with birdsong to get there.

 

 

Yuksom

We continued on to Yuksom, a small town known as a trekking outpost where the famous Goche-la trek begins. We stopped at one of the area’s large waterfalls Sikkim and Darjeeling: Eco-travel at its Best, travel india, travel Sikkim, travel Darjeeling, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Eco-travel, Quest Himalaya Adventures, Arthur Pazo, The Orchid Retreat, Kalimpong, Elgin Mount Pandim, Pelling, Norbu Gang House, Hotel Tashi Gang, Yuksom, Mayfair Gangtok, Mayfair Darjeeling, Gangtok, Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling, Kurseongalong the way and arrived at Hotel Tashi Gang just after dark. The hotel has a comfortable lobby and good rooms for this area. It is one of the better places in town, but is definitely not luxurious, with its lumpy pillows and an electricity outage that lasted most of the time we were there. The power outage was not their fault, though; almost as soon as we arrived the sky opened up and heavy monsoon style rains disrupted the entire area.

Arthur arranged the meals here – he had his favorite trekking chef prepare dinner and bring it to the hotel’s dining room. This is actually a common practice in the area – there were a number of trekking groups staying at the hotel either before or after their treks and almost all of them had their meals presented family style by their chefs. The chef he employs for treks is one of the most sought after in the area, so I would have been well taken care of if I had gone trekking. In some ways I wish I had gone, though that particular day I was very glad that I didn’t have to go out. The weather had worsened overnight, and by morning the rain was so heavy that our morning hike was cancelled, as well as a planned detour to Tashidang, a hilltop monastery, on our five-hour drive to Gangtok. In fact, the weather was so bad that I was afraid to even make the drive.

Sikkim’s skinny, winding roads, which traverse many waterfalls make travel a little nerve-wracking even in sunny weather, but during the monsoon there are frequent landslides due to the steep slopes and loose soil and rocks. Locals are used to the problems, so it’s not such a big issue, but for foreigners it can be very unnerving. Arthur said to me, “Don’t worry, if there’s a landslide it will only take them a few hours to clear the road and then we’ll keep going.” This was not reassuring, as what I was afraid of was getting pushed over the edge into the abyss, not being held up along the way. Landslide management has been perfected in Sikkim, though; bulldozers are kept near spots with frequent problems and major roads are cleared quickly. Despite the fact that we had a very safe, quality SUV, and probably the best, most careful driver in Sikkim, Prakesh, I was still nervous.

(Page 3 of 7)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

Search Content by Map

Search

All Rights Reserved ©Copyright 2006-2019 inTravel Magazine®
Published by Christina's Arena, Inc.