By Geetanjali Prasad
I stood bewitched, gazing at the mighty Kanchenjunga in Gangtok. Nestled in the Eastern Himalayan range, 5500 feet above sea level, the capital of Sikkim is another world altogether, be it the enchanting landscape, their ancient traditions, the food, or simply the warm and—must say fashionable—people.
If they see you licking ice cream or sipping cold coffee, the locals here will remind you to use the dustbin. No wonder Gangtok remains pristine. The city welcomes you with open arms or rather, majestic valleys. The cobbled paths are lined with delightful flowers and colourful little houses.
Their MG Road bazaar is far from old-fashioned: expect lots of knick-knacks for your house, hip eating joints, and pubs. The fiery Teesta River slices through the hills, putting Sikkim on one side and West Bengal on the other. If the clouds hover overhead, make sure your step is steady as a mountain goat. The paths zig-zag and the slopes are steep.
So I stood before the mighty Kanchenjunga, about to bite into my fast-cooling Maggi. Without warning, the sky changed to black and poured a powerful squirt of showers upon me. It was the month of May, smack in the middle of summer. The sudden sweet chill thrilled me. Realizing I was drenched, I turned to shelter myself, then stopped, struck by the beauty of the moment.
The flowers were laughing. The beautiful Buddhist monasteries seemed to drip joy. Little llamas played hide and seek. Tourists began tucking into momos, thukpa, and yes, Maggi! Local women scurried with their groceries into mysterious bylanes. The delicious rain and the heaven-scented breeze had me bewitched. I decided to give my umbrella a break, and stood there beaming like an excited kid!
Quaint getaways such as Gangtok are abundant in India – you simply have to know where to find them, and when to make acquaintance! The mountains can lead to epiphanies – here’s one such account from our California correspondent : What The Himalayas Taught Me About Myself.