NE-GQ Tour: Sikkim-Day 5– Tea Estates and a scary drive to Pelling
January 2, 2012 Leave a comment
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.
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.
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
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
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 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
The final place which we visited was the Sai Baba Temple which was very close to char dham.
Sai Baba Mandir
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