NE-GQ Tour: Sikkim-Day 5– Tea Estates and a scary drive to Pelling

The driver who had dropped us half way to kalimpong had come to pick us up the next day as we had a long drive to pelling. I began a small discussion with the driver regarding the route which he would take and any possible places which can be covered on the way.

The driver told me that we have to pass through south sikkim and there is a tea estate, a large statue of Guru Padmasambhava, Char Dham which is a collection of all major hindu pilgrimage sites and sai baba temple which could be covered. As I had come all the way to see the place, I didnt want to miss out on covering these places, as I didnt know when I would be returning back. Hence I stuck a deal with the driver to include these places also for extra fee apart from covering the local sightseeing places in gangtok.

We started of by visiting Enchey Monsatery which is abode of Guru Padmasambhava.

Enchey Monastery

I couldnt take any photos inside as photography is prohibited inside all monasteries in Gangtok.

One can see the statue of Padmasambhava at the center with his disciples towards his left and right. As usual, the paintings adorn the walls of the monastery. Spending some time there and clicking a few snaps of the stupa we headed to the car and to the next destination.

The next destination we headed was a flower show, which contains various flowers being exhibited there.

Flower Show

With nothing much to do there, we left to Dro-Drul Chorten which is a big stupa. This is one of the biggest stupa’s in gangtok.

Dro-Drul Chorten Stupa

The stupa is situated right below the Institute of Tibetology which houses the Maitrey Buddha and contains various scrolls and the life history of buddha. The institute also contains various Buddhist figures taken from Tibet.

Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the complex.  One can learn a lot about buddhism in Tibet before the chinese invasion. The institute has artifacts uncovered in tibet in the late 1200’s and ancient scrolls.

Institute of Tibetology

With the sightseeing places covered in gangtok, it was time to head to south sikkim and see the places there.

We could see no of army trucks on our way. The driver told me ever since the earthquake army presence has increased here.  Many of them had been posted here to help in the relief efforts. Passing the convoy of army trucks we were on our way to namchi.

There were fewer and fewer vehicles  on the road and as per the driver it can get pretty lonely at times. A couple of hours of driving and we stopped for lunch at a hotel. The roads were pretty smooth and we were cruising along. Soon we reached the tea estates where the twisty roads began

Twisty roads

A short stop for a a few snaps and we were back in the car and of to the next place

Tea Estates

The driver however couldnt tell me who owned the tea estates in the area. The winding roads were fun to drive on and soon we reached namchi where we had a small break for cuppa before proceeding. The next place on the list was the statute of Guru Padmasambhava. The weather was chilling as mist had engulfed the place.

The statue is one of the largest statues in sikkim and the foundation stone for the statue was laid by His Holiness The Dalai Lama in 1997. There were quite a few ppl who were already present.

The statue is huge looks very life like. I clicked a few photos and proceeded to go to the top. The entrance is located from inside the base of the statue

Guru Padmasambhava

There were a couple of idols placed at a corner and a monk who was praying. Offering prayers we went to the top. The scale of the statue can be seen one we make our way to the top.

Idols

There were a less people on top and this gave me ample space to compose my shots the way I want.

Guru Padmasambhava as seen from top

The local people believe that if u pray to the guru and offer some “gurudakshina” it will be returned to you tenfold. One person told me if you offer Rs 100, u get back Rs 10000. Not sure if this is true. Spending some more time in the cold, we returned to the car and headed to Char Dham

Char dham in sikkim is a collection of major pilgrimage sites in India. Miniature temples are constructed which allow people to worship their preferred gods at one place without having to tour the  entire country.

This place was opened recently and as expected there was tight security. Passing through the metal detectors we made our way to the temple complex.

The entrance t o the char dham temple complex is dominated by a statue of parashuramaThe statue of Lord shiva and nandi is the other prominent attraction of the place

Parashurama and Lord Shiva

The char dham complex comprises of

1)Rameshwaram, 2)Dwarka, 3)Puri and 4)Badrinath.

These are the 4 most revered places which are visited by piligrims. If you are in sikkim then make sure to visit this place as all religious places can be seen at one place.

Char Dam Temple Complex

Rameshwaram

Dwarka

Badrinath

Puri

The main attraction apart from the temples is the huge shiva statue which towers above the rest of the temples. While my wife was visiting all the temples I did a small photoshoot.

Lord Shiva

The driver had asked us to not to spend too much time at the complex as we still had quite a distance to cover, hence asked my wife to cover all the temples soon, so that we could go to pelling soon.

The final place which we visited was the Sai Baba Temple which was very close to char dham.

Sai Baba Mandir

A huge idol of sai baba is present along with paintings showing the miracles performed by him. A couple of minutes there and we were of to pelling.

It was almost 7 by the time we left south sikkim. The roads which were smooth went from bad to worse and it was a slow progress. It was pitch black everywhere and visibility was a little low.  We crossed a huge reservoir on the way and the driver told lot of work has been goin on recently to build reservoirs. The bad roads and heavy vehicles made progress even more difficult. A couple of stops and finally we reached pelling at 10 and checked into the hotel, thus concluding a long day.

Contact details of the driver is given below for those interested in visiting sikkim either for tourism or for treks, he can arrange for both.

Driver Contact Details

Name: Arjun

Contact No:+917407184196

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About Subbu s
Name: Subbu Interests : Trekking,travelling Hobbies: Photography

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