Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.
“If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here; it’s here, it’s here.”
Although this is a famous quote said by Jehangir for the beautiful place that is Kashmir, even he would have backed me up when I say that Sikkim is a place where you will find the feeling of happiness, beauty and peace just like you would have felt in heaven.
Being a famous tourist destination across the world, people come here to see the most famous tourists spots like Nathula Pass or Tsongmo Lake or the lake in the beautiful village of Pelling. But my primary goal was not to do the ‘touristy’ things but rather try to relax and chill and explore the city at my pace although I had limited time in my hand.
What helped me to get to know the city and it’s stairs (those damn stairs) was my friend who is a local boy who loves trekking and clicks amazing photographs. He took me and my friend to local cafés which are quite famous among the locals and also the youth of the city. We went and sat at the same seats where ‘Qarib Qarib Single’ was shot. (watch that film!). One might think that the nightlife must not be as happening as the other party capitals of the country, but that’s only if you don’t know where to go. And
thankfully, we know someone who knew all about it. One of the best cafés we visited was Selvi’s. A place to have a good time with good friends, there are games you can play, performance arts and generally a place for friends new and old to come and have a gala time.
Another café which we visited and is my favourite of the lot was the Bibliotheque book café, located on the top floor of a market building overseeing the market and the view from the window is breathtaking. The owner is a bibliophile and has a very lively vibe going on with some amazing food and drinks to opt for. (I miss that cappuccino) If you are a writer and looking for inspiration, there is a perfect spot for you.
Being a small city everyone knows everyone, and that’s a beauty of small towns, isn’t it? We went to see Tsongmo Lake and Baba Harbhajan Singh’s Shrine too – (check Bhuvan Bam’s short film on that or just google). The whole area comes under Indian Army, and it is commendable to see our soldiers living and serving the nation in those not so easy conditions. On our way, we stopped to have the ‘food of the tourist’ which was momos and Maggi and I can tell you nothing beats that combination.
Next in our itinerary was to visit Pelling Lake and our friend’s house in South Sikkim. Before I start with that, I would like to tell you that if you are visiting other parts of Sikkim from one, you need to start early in the day because there might be some roadblocks that one can face, landslides, fallen trees, etc. which can stall traffic on the beautiful yet scary one way road. We reached our friend’s beautiful house where he runs an AirBnB service too at Lungchok Farm in Kewzing Lingzo.
Located deep inside far away from the city life, one can be at peace there. We were fed authentic homemade organic food prepared by his sweet and loveable mother. We ate real homemade cottage cheese. There are homemade wine and extracted pure honey too for people to buy, which tastes amazing. Besides the food, the thing which makes that place to visit is the view from the rooms. Imagine, waking up in the morning and looking at the Kanchendzonga mountain peak from the window, how amazing is that!
Next day, we went to Pelling to see the lake which is in the shape of a foot. The legend says that the lake is always clean, even a tree or some leaves fall on it, some bird or birds will come and pick it up.
We took our leave from that peaceful house and headed back to Gangtok. Our ride was a shared Jeep if you can say, our driver was just not a driver but a messenger/courier guy too. Picking up or delivering goods to people to and from the village on our way back.
I had a flight to catch the next day and since there are no direct flights to Sikkim that time I had to go the same way we came – Taxi to Baghdogra airport and from there the flight to Mumbai. I wasn’t prepared to be back but the holiday was over, and it was time to go back to earth from my very own ‘heaven’.
As a tip for my fellow traveler, if you are planning a trip to Sikkim keep at least 10-11 days in hand because it will take you that much time to explore the city, the other parts of Sikkim. And don’t be in a hurry to do things, relax, chill, sit with a cuppa and take it all in – the beauty, the peace, the happiness i.e. Sikkim.