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Old 24th October 2008, 01:04   #211
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Thumbs up The Gangtok Ropeway

We then went to the Gangtok Gondola ropeway. It was a long way uphill from the city. It was an amazing experience. The ropeway starts from the top most point of Gangtok and ends near MG road.

I have been privileged enough to travel in a couple of ropeways, which are among the best in the world. The first one was in Genting Highlands, Malaysia and the second one in Blue Mountains, Sydney, Australia. Those two ropeways are absolutely spectacular and it is forever etched in my mind!

But this was the first experience for my wifey and she enjoyed it to the maximum. We got a bird’s eye view of Gangtok and it was truly an enchanting (and a bit scary) experience! I hope my photos will give the readers a glimpse of what we experienced that day!!!
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Old 24th October 2008, 01:17   #212
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Talking MG Marg

After the ride, we decided to spend the rest of the evening shopping and just hanging around the city. MG Marg in Gangtok is converted into a walking plaza every evening and it is really fun just walking and taking in the cool fresh air. It was really chilly that evening! cheers:
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Last edited by Chevy_lover : 24th October 2008 at 01:23.
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Old 24th October 2008, 01:38   #213
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Default "MAJOR" Chevy Lover!!!

I will narrate a hilarious incident which happened that evening. I was wearing a military cap, which I had purchased from the Himalayan Mountain Institute in Darjeeling. I was also wearing a heavy military style winter jacket.

We were walking on MG road. We went inside a small hotel on the road side. There were two policemen sitting on a bench near the entrance. As soon as I entered the hotel, in the green jacket and military cap, the policemen jumped up, stood in attention and almost saluted!!

They must've thought I was an army Colonel or Major!!! Then they realized their mistake and quietly sat down. Wifey and I were actually startled by their sudden reaction. After about 5 seconds, the truth sunk in and we burst out laughing!

The policemen were really embarrassed and beat a hasty retreat! We were rolling on the floor with laughter, with tears running down our cheeks! This incident still brings a smile to my face even after so many years! I would have loved to capture it on camera!

Later that night, we had a terrific dinner from a Chinese restaurant near MG road. It was one of the best authentic Chinese food I ever tasted in India. The Noodles and Chicken dishes tasted a lot like those I had in Singapore and Malaysia a long time back!
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Old 24th October 2008, 02:46   #214
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Default Nathu-La, here we come!

After a tasty dinner, we went back to our hotel. We had already planned to go to Nathu La pass the next day, which incidently also happened to be our second wedding anniversary! Everything was a divine coincidence!

Ram came to our room later that night and gave us our permits to visit Nathu La. We had given him our passport copies earlier, to apply for the permit. We were eagerly anticipating an adventurous trip the next day and retired for some much needed rest.
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Old 23rd November 2008, 13:37   #215
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Default Nathu La, here we come!

The next day early morning, we left for Nathu La in a new Maruti Omni arranged by driver Ram. This van had much better pickup than the one we used the previous day. The driver was really good.

Our trip to Nathu la, along the highest motorable highway (31A) and the original silk route was arduous and filled with anticipation. We passed a whole range of areas affected by landslides and sinking areas and continued to pass many brave jawans manning posts and living in bone chilling conditions. How could they fight Kargil in winter is unimaginable!!!

Nathu La is 14200 ft high. Atmospheric air gets rarefied of oxygen to 9% compared to the 26-27% at lesser altitudes and we are used to a fair dose of Carbon dioxide mixed in the plains. We were breathless when we disembarked from our car. Some people faint when they start doing any activity soon after arriving there.

Nathu La is one of the world's highest navigable roads and is located on the 563 km long Old Silk Route. It is located on the Indo–China border connecting Sikkim with the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China.

Nathu La is one of world's least photographed places. Perched at a height of 14,200 feet and enveloped in mist, the Nathu-La (Nathu means "listening ears" and La means "pass" in Tibetan) is zealously guarded by the armies of India and China. Nathu La was sealed by India after the 1962 Sino-Indian War. We had very limited access to the border area.

There are no permanent human settlements in the region, though it has a large number of defense personnel who man the borders on both sides.

Tsomgo Lake en-route to Nathu La is regarded as a very sacred lake by the local Buddhists and the Hindus. Tsomgo Lake extends to 1 km in length, deepens to 15 meters and happens to be oval in its shape. From winters up to mid-May, the lake remains frozen. local residents have arranged shops that sell yak cheese, trinkets and local curios here. We also enjoyed a Yak Ride at Tsomgo Lake.
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Old 24th November 2008, 00:58   #216
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Thumbs up Changu Lake

Changu Lake has perhaps one of the most beautiful landscapes in Sikkim. The lake was still partially frozen.
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Old 24th November 2008, 01:22   #217
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We enjoyed an extended Yak ride around the lake. Yaks are very sweet animals and we felt totally secure on top of them. My Yak was named Shah Rukh and my wifey’s Yak was named Sultana. Yak rides are much sturdier than a horse ride. But we did miss some heart beats when my Yak slipped a bit on a steep climb!!! I really thought that I would end up in the bottom the Changu!!!

In the commotion, I lost my camera lens cover in the bushes. It took us half an hour to find it!!! The Yak handlers took us a long way to the other side of the lake.
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Old 24th November 2008, 01:43   #218
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Default Some more pics...

Some more pics from Changu lake...
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Old 24th November 2008, 12:08   #219
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At any point, did you feel like taking a dip in that half frozen lake?

Priceless Pics ...
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Old 24th November 2008, 14:49   #220
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Originally Posted by RufRoc View Post
At any point, did you feel like taking a dip in that half frozen lake?

Priceless Pics ...

That lake is very deep. You cannot reach out for the water. It is not like a bowl which is shallow at the end. But is like a well really on most sides.
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Old 6th January 2009, 15:34   #221
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We spent a lot of time exploring the lake and the surrounding areas. We had Maggi noodles from a roadside shack. There are many restaurants near Changu lake. Most of the shacks serve chinese cuisine and snacks.
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Old 6th January 2009, 15:53   #222
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Originally Posted by RufRoc View Post
At any point, did you feel like taking a dip in that half frozen lake?

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As already clarified by Sridhga, the lake is very very deep. Some say it is more than 70 feet deep in some areas. Our Yak handlers had asked us to be very careful before taking us inside. They told us not to let go of our grips on the Yak, even if we fall!!!

They told us that the lake is around 5 - 10 feet deep even near the shore.
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Old 6th January 2009, 16:09   #223
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We then went to the valley of Kupup which is approximately 60 km from Gangtok. Located here is the shrine of Baba Harbhajan popularly known as Baba Mandir.

Major Baba Harbajan Singh served in the Indian Army and died in an accident near the Nathula Pass. Harbhajan Singh was born into a Sikh family on August 3, 1941 in the village of Batthe Bhaini in Punjab. He competed his preliminary schooling at village school and then did his matriculation from DAV High School in Patti in March 1955. In June 1956 he enrolled himself as a soldier in Amritsar and joined the Corps of Signals. On June 30, 1965 was granted a commission and posted to the 14 Rajput regiment. During the 1965 Indo-China war he served as an Adjutant of his unit. Later he was transferred to 18 Rajput. It was with this regiment that he met his end. On October 4, 1968, Harbhajan Singh was escorting a mule caravan from his battalion headquarters in Tekula to Dengchukla. He fell into a fast flowing stream and drowned. The search for Harbhajan’s body yielded no results.

On the fifth day, his colleague Pritam Singh had a dream of Harbhajan Singh informing him of his tragic accident and where to find his body. Harbhajan Singh desired to have a samadhi made after him. Pritam Singh ignored the dream as just as an imagination. But later when the mortal remains of Harbhajan Singh was found at the spot where he had told in the dream, the army official was taken aback. To fulfill his last wish, a samadhi was constructed near Chhokya Chho.

It is believed that even today Baba Harbhajan Singh warns fellow army men about the dangerous activities on the border through their dreams. Even Chinese army men say that they have seen a human figure doing patrolling in the night across the border.

Baba Harbhajan has been guarding the international boundary of the two Asian giants, China and India over the last three decades.

Baba Harbhajan Singh is today honoured with the rank of Honorary Captain and his samadhi reconstructed at the junction of Kupup Gnathang road and the pathway leading to Menmoichu Lake.

Over the years the shrine of Baba Harbhajan has obtained huge devotee across all frontiers. Baba is respected and worshiped by every man in uniform in Sikkim. They believe that Baba would forecast accidents in the valley before anything happened.
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Old 6th January 2009, 16:24   #224
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Default Baba Mandir

Baba Mandir is a three room complex. The central room has a large portrait of the Baba along with other Hindu idols and photos of Sikh Gurus. To the right of the central room is the room of Baba. The room has every household items required for daily activities, from clothes, shoes, slippers and a neat sleeping bed, and it is all well maintained.

The uniforms are neatly ironed and shoes polished ready for use. Opposite to this room is a small room that has an office cum store room. The room is filled with water bottles, unused slippers, tooth brushes and other items offered to Baba.

The followers believe that the water kept in the Mandir after a week would turn into holy water and cure every ailment. People believe that the slippers kept here would help patients with gout and other foot problems and so on.

Devotees who cannot visit the shrine sends letters to Baba Mandir and they are opened by associates of Baba. These letters usually have requests to Baba to help solve personal problems and some express gratitude for the help, they claim they recieved.

Every year on the 4th of October, a special ceremony is organized by the Indian army to honour the role of Baba Harbhajan Singh as well as the martyrs of Indian army who laid their lives to safeguard the country.
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Old 6th January 2009, 16:50   #225
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Default ATM for the Jawans

We spent a lot of time near the Baba Mandir. We were not allowed to go to Nathu La Pass. But I managed to find a photo of Zero point at Nathu La.

On our way back we saw an ATM meant for the brave Jawans. It is said to be the World's highest ATM!!!

There is a huge military presence near the ATM. The army men were well camouflaged. At that time, there were atleast 100 eyes on us. I was really keen to take photos, but was stopped by our driver. I then went to the Army bunker to obtain special permission to shoot these pics, from an Army captain, who incidentally did not look a day older than 20 years!!!

He asked us strictly not to take any pics of their positions. I was accompanied by a soldier during the photo shoot. It was a scary experience, shooting these pics with atleast a 100 AK -56 guns and 5 Bofors Shelling guns aimed at us!!!
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