Sunday, 23 November 2014

Mumbai to Gangtok

DAY 1 – MUMBAI – BAGDOGRA – GANGTOK

After packing loads of warm clothes for Sikkim, we started our day early. Pramod, Preeti and Taashi (they stay in Dombivili) took off for the airport at 4:30 am (Nikhil and I got up at that time, considering we stay in Andheri ;) which is close to the airport).

Himalayas from flight
Himalayas from the flight
We had an early morning 7:00 o’clock Indigo flight to catch. With a halt at Guwahati for half an hour we were in Bagdogra by noon. Bagdogra is the nearest airport to Sikkim (It lies in West Bengal though).

Sikkim Manipal University
Sikkim Manipal University

Teesta River
First sight of Teesta River
From Bagdogra our next stop was Gangtok. We had not pre booked any taxi. To go to Gangtok you have two options – book a cab from the prepaid counter at the exit of the airport or hunt for a cab yourself. If you book a cab from the prepaid counter the rates are fixed, you can’t negotiate the price. Also, these cab drop you at the taxi stand in Gangtok. They don’t drop you at your hotel. From the taxi stand you have to hop into another cab and go to the hotel.

Teesta River
River Teesta
If you look for a cab yourself, negotiate the rate with him in such a way that he drops you to your hotel directly. This will save you from the hassle of taking another cab to your hotel, shifting luggage from one car to another.

Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
You should remember one thing in Gangtok – it has timings for the SUVs. The city has many one way rules for the SUVs.

At 12.30 pm, we took an Innova from Bagdogra to Gangtok for Rs 2,700. From the airport you have to cross the city of Siliguri to head to Sikkim. The road was good with very slow moving traffic.

Muddy Roads to Gangtok
Muddy Roads
Once we were on the outskirt of the city and the curvy roads were about to start we stopped over at a small restaurant for Lunch – New Gautam. The food was good and reasonably priced.

Post lunch we started with the first of the many subsequent rides on curvy narrow roads of the Himalayas. It was a beautiful scenic drive along the River Teesta.

En route Gangtok
En route Gangtok
The major part of the first day was travelling. From Mumbai Airport to Guwahati Airport to Bagdogra Airport and then spending time on the road from Bagdogra to Gangtok, but the excitement of reaching Gangtok overcame the fatigue of the travel.

Sikkim
Welcome to Sikkim
After about 5 hours drive, we arrived at our hotel – Hotel Pandim, a cosy guesthouse away from the hustle bustle of the Gangtok City. It was cold and everyone had taken out their sweaters, jackets and shawls. One should remember that the sun sets early in this corner of the world and it is pitch dark by 5:00 pm. So you should gear up to start your day early and end your day early.

Road to Gangtok
Road to Gangtok
We had booked for two deluxe rooms but the hotel has upgraded one to Super Deluxe. The hotel rooms had wall to wall carpet, TV with cable connection, geyser and all the basic amenities. The Super Deluxe room had a balcony with a wonderful view of the mountains and the city. 

We had our dinner in the hotel itself as we were quite tired and were not in the mood to move out of the hotel. We had a nice dinner at the hotel’s restaurant located on the top floor offering spectacular view of Gangtok City at night.

Post dinner we all headed to our respective rooms to crash – to get ready for the excursion to Nathula Pass, Baba Mandir and Tsongmo Lake the next day.

Please note:

1. Carry a warm jacket or a sweater. Bagdogra will not be cold but by the time you reach Gangtok it is dark and cold. 

2. Gangtok from Bagdogra is just 120 kms but it takes 5 hours approx to cover this distance because of rough terrain, narrow and curvy roads.

3. The sun sets early here. It is dark by 5:00 pm. Therefore, don't waste too much time in Siliguri or Bagdogra. One should try to reach Gangtok early.

4. There are not many places to eat once you start climbing the mountains. Therefore, it is recommended to have your lunch in the outskirts of Siliguri and buy some packaged water.

5. Expense incurred in the day:


For 4 Ppl
Per person
Flight ticket from Mumbai to Bagdogra (6 months advance booking)
        17,000
        4,250
Taxi from Bagdogra to Gangtok (Innova)
          2,700
            675
Lunch
             350
              88
Hotel Stay
          3,600
            900
Dinner (In the Hotel)
             500
            125
Total
       24,150
        6,038