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Old 26th December 2017, 17:52   #1
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Default Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

What does one do when he does not have a project but lots of leaves available? Yes he plans for a vacation. But what if he does not have money? Does he beg, borrow or steal? Thankfully I did not have to do any of these, because long time back I had taken a loan to buy a Club Mahindra membership A caveat to this is that options are limited.

The membership alone would not have helped, my wife's credit card played an equally important role. It was around 10 o clock in the morning that I woke up and after a cup of tea I started cribbing to my wife, Rajsri, that we are not able to go anywhere though we have the opportunity. Around noon, Rajsri could not take it any more and suggested that we go to Gangtok and stay in Club Mahindra. The fuel would be paid through her credit card. By 6 o clock in the evening, our Thar, called The Sherpa, was finding its way through traffic on NH2. Shaktigarh on NH2 is around 100 kms from our place and till date we have never stopped there en route to Siliguri. The transport department is my headache and I don't like frequent stops. But this time Rajsri, a big time foodie, made it a point that we stop at Shaktigarh.

Stop at Lancha Kuthee, Shaktigarh
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171116_184908.jpg

The route was the tried and tested one through Burdwan, SH7, Moregram, Farakka, Malda, Raigunje, Botolbari, Islampur, Siliguri. There was a jam on Farakka Barrage and the culprit was this -

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171116_233358.jpg

We crossed Malda after midnight and it was a breeze. It was 2 am when we entered the Botolbari route and it was a fast drive through the twists and turns. The Thar is quite fun to drive and the KCs helped in lighting up the empty roads. We reached Siliguri by 4 am and drove straight through towards Gangtok. Reached Club Mahindra resort at 7:30 a.m after a brief tea stop in between.

Tea stop, it was terribly cold by my standards at 5 in the morning -

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171117_060448.jpg

Thar in font of Club Mahindra, Gangtok
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171117_083952.jpg

The room
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171117_085316.jpg

There was a nice little balcony attached to the room. The view from the balcony was nothing great, but for people from the cities like us, it was a welcome change!

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171117_155557.jpg

In spite of reaching way before the check in time, the people at Club Mahindra allowed us to check in without any extra payment. I remember that last year the guys at Kandaghat Club Mahindra tried to deduct .5 days when we wanted to check in before time, but finally did not after a bit of an argument.

Ordered sandwiches at the hotel and devoured them in no time.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171117_091741.jpg

Took a quick power nap after breakfast and then got ready for the next agenda, i.e. visit The Square in MG Marg for lunch
It was one of those rare occasions that we forgot to take pictures of the food at The Square. The food was superb but there were not too many dessert options. So we went to the Baker's Cafe for pastries. Yes, we eat like Tasmanian Devils!

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171117_140156.jpg

The hotel was a bit far from Gangtok and the road condition for the last 7 kms to the hotel was horrible. Coupled with that was the terrible ride quality of the Thar. But it was a boon in disguise, by the time we reached back the food was almost digested and we started planning for dinner. In the mean time we had discussed about Tsomgo Lake (Chhangu). Though it was supposed to be a leisure trip we could not come to terms with just staying in Gangtok for 3 days at a stretch. Moreover it had been more than a decade since we visited Chhangu! Found out the process of getting permits from a very helpful tour operator in MG Marg.

In the evening we went back all the way back to MG Marg and the same restaurant.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171117_194449.jpg

This time we clicked a few pics of the food.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171117_202140.jpg

While returning to the hotel I stopped and clicked a pic of the KC Lites in a desolate stretch of the road. I am pretty impressed with them!

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171117_214526.jpg

We crashed into the bed early after a long day. The next morning we needed to wake up at 4:30 am in order to be at the permit office by 5.

Last edited by BlackPearl : 30th December 2017 at 09:22.
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Old 29th December 2017, 10:49   #2
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Next morning the alarm started ringing from 4:30 am but both of us were too tired to get up. So kept on pressing snooze and finally hauled ourselves up by 5:30 am. I was worried that we would not get the permit but thankfully we found out that the officer had not yet arrived. The permit office is just below MG Marg and issues permits for Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir and Nathu La. The permit for Tsomgo and Baba Mandir is the same, but one needs a separate permit for visiting Nathu La, although they are on the same route. The police officer was helpful and the process was simple. I had to write in a paper that I wanted to visit Tsomgo Lake with my family in my own vehicle and that I was entirely responsible for undertaking this trip. The letter was addressed to Additional Director General of Polic, Checkpost Branch. Attached passport size pictures and the vehicle document copies with the letter and submitted them along with fees of rupees 10 per person and rupees 10 for the vehicle. Got the stamped permit within 20 minutes.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171118_095645.jpg

Made two copies of the permit as directed by the officer and went on our way to Tsomgo Lake.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_5771.jpg

I wanted to take a picture of "The Sherpa" in front of this Shop, but unfortunately the parking spaces were occupied by these Innovas :(

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_5774.jpg

We did not stop at Tsomgo Lake, instead went ahead a few kilometers in order to get a better view of the lake from a higher altitude.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_5793.jpg

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_5796.jpg

A picture of Chhangu Lake that we had clicked in 2006 -

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On our way back we stopped at Tsomgo Lake and clicked a few pictures.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_5844.jpg

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_5860.jpg

After spending some time at the lake we started our return journey towards Gangtok. There are many nice places on the way for photo opps and we stopped at quite a few since we had nothing in agenda and whole lot of time at hand.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_5909.jpg

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_5917.jpg

There was no one around to take our pic, hence had to put the camera on timer and make a dash to this spot
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_5934.jpg

Saw this tastefully done up Bolero pickup, it had a nice registration number as well. This was a privately registered Bolero. I wanted to have a chat with the owner, but could not find anybody nearby.
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_5939.jpg

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_5942.jpg

The loops here were nothing close to those we see in Zuluk, but still looked quite nice
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_5945.jpg

After returning to Gangtok we went straight to MG Marg for a late lunch. This time it was not The Square, instead it was Tate of Tibet!
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171118_153322.jpg

Had Chicken Momo and Phaley. They were tasty but not too healthy.
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-momo_phaley.jpg

It was quite late by the time we reached hotel. Called it a day and planned to wake up early next day to watch the sunrise from Hanuman Tok.

Last edited by BlackPearl : 29th December 2017 at 17:57.
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Old 29th December 2017, 18:08   #3
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Next morning we woke up at 4 am and went straight to Hanuman Tok. It was bitter cold and quite windy. The sky was clear and we hoped to see the first rays of the sun on the Kanchenjungha peak. We were not going to be disappointed.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6012.jpg

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6019.jpg

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6034.jpg

The morning light was beautiful. Took a few pics of the Thar

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6118.jpg

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6141.jpg

From Hanuman Tok we went towards Tashi View Point. Had breakfast at a lovely little roadside joint just opposite Tashi View Point. The food was so good that we promised to go back there for lunch.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171119_072529.jpg

There was the Gonjang Monastery nearby and we paid a visit. A festival was supposed to start and preparations were in full swing. It was a wonderful experience!
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6157.jpg

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6164.jpg

A must-have click with the smiling Monk
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6221.jpg

Saw this good looking Kia Sportage with Bhutan registration, parked at the monastery
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6231.jpg

We roamed around aimlessly around Gangtok and the mighty Kanchenjungha was visible from everywhere. It gets very difficult to resist taking pics.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6261.jpg

"Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear"
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6283.jpg

Went back for lunch at the same roadside joint. I had momos and Rajsri had rice and a superb chicken curry
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171119_132133.jpg

While returning to the hotel I wanted to try a steep path that I had been eyeing everyday. I thought it would need 4WD to be engaged. It turned out to be quite steep, but 4WD was not needed. At the end of the road found this monastery.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171119_142207.jpg

Junior monks playing cricket
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171119_142336.jpg

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6356.jpg

Descending from the steep road that led to the monastery
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6373.jpg

In the evening we went back to MG Marg and Rajsri bought a beautiful singing bowl
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-dsc_6397.jpg

Then we went to Cafe Live and Loud for dinner. The pizza was fantastic.
Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171119_183422.jpg

The next morning we planned to start at 2 am from the hotel, but finally started at around 3:30 am. It was a non-stop drive till Shaktigarh and stopped at Balaji Food Park for tea and snacks.

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171120_165705.jpg

Reached home by 6 in the evening. A short and sweet impromptu trip came to an end!

Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar-img_20171120_192203.jpg

THE END

Last edited by BlackPearl : 30th December 2017 at 12:35.
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Old 30th December 2017, 13:26   #4
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!

Even I have a 2004 snap of the lake!

Last edited by ampere : 30th December 2017 at 13:28.
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Old 30th December 2017, 13:47   #5
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Wow, great tlog and absolutely upto the Blackpearl standards. Whenever I see a TL penned down by Blackpearl, I take it for granted the write up and photographs shall be 5*. Hence the rating
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Old 30th December 2017, 14:05   #6
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Fantastic trip, short, crisp and unplanned. Infact they turn out to be more memorable and adventurous. Beautiful photographs. The lights have turned out to be a great hit, quenched your thirst for led bars.
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Old 30th December 2017, 21:10   #7
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Fantastic travelogue as usual. The Square and Cafe Live & loud have great memories for all of us. In fact, in the hindsight, getting stuck at Gangtok was the best thing to happen in our last trip.

Keep having these impromptu trips.l & writing great logs for us.

Regards

Pawan
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Old 30th December 2017, 21:18   #8
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
... The sky was clear and we hoped to see the first rays of the sun on the Kanchenjungha peak. We were not going to be disappointed.
These pictures are truly surreal as the appearance of the first rays on the peak are nothing but magical! It's always a pleasure to read your travelogue! Keep it up!

Cheers,
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Old 31st December 2017, 21:38   #9
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Just back from a trip to the Sikkim and Darjeeling hills and your photos make me wanting to go back! Superb narration and indulgent photographs - yet again! It seems that you don't spend a month at home continuously

Travelling is almost like a drug. Once you have tasted the hills and the highways and the rotis and chicken curries at the dhabas - they become a part of you and you cant ever leave them behind.

Keep travellin'

Cheers!
Sayak
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Old 1st January 2018, 18:24   #10
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Even I have a 2004 snap of the lake!
Thanks ampere for making the travelogue live on the site. Which time of the year was it? Please share a snap if possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ALTIMAed View Post
Wow, great tlog and absolutely upto the Blackpearl standards. Whenever I see a TL penned down by Blackpearl, I take it for granted the write up and photographs shall be 5*. Hence the rating
Thanks a lot Suneel Da!

Quote:
Originally Posted by himadrimondal View Post
Fantastic trip, short, crisp and unplanned. Infact they turn out to be more memorable and adventurous. Beautiful photographs. The lights have turned out to be a great hit, quenched your thirst for led bars.
Thanks Himadri! Yes, the lights are fantastic. As you know, I had got an LED bar but was not able to fit it on the Thar. In the meantime a friend from USA gifted me these KC Lites and they are absolutely superb. Don't know what to do with the LED bar now

Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaBravo View Post
Keep having these impromptu trips.l & writing great logs for us.
Thanks Pawan!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gmhossain View Post
These pictures are truly surreal as the appearance of the first rays on the peak are nothing but magical! It's always a pleasure to read your travelogue! Keep it up!

Cheers,
Thanks a lot. But I wish I had a better camera. Also I had forgot to take the 300 mm lens this time :-(

Quote:
Originally Posted by sayakc View Post
Just back from a trip to the Sikkim and Darjeeling hills and your photos make me wanting to go back! Superb narration and indulgent photographs - yet again!
Thanks Sayak, is your travelogue up on the site?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sayakc View Post
It seems that you don't spend a month at home continuously
I wish it was true!
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Old 1st January 2018, 19:37   #11
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

So you drove to the Himalaya's yet again! Whats going to be the excuse for your next drive? You missed a pic of Sherpa in front of Sherpa Cafe? Between how many times you have hit the Himalaya's in 2017?

Nothing new to say on your travelogue. As-usual an engaging read with beautiful pics. The early morning Kanchenjunga pics are mesmerizing.

The yellow Bolero looks stunning.

The only question is, you got the permits so easily because you were driving an SUV or any car can get the permit, be it a hatchback or sedan?

Last edited by Samba : 1st January 2018 at 19:41.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 09:04   #12
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Lovely TL as usual BP. I envied the variety of food you guys had. Loved the pictures of the Thar with the new look due to the KCs, perfect position for the fit and it gives a good look. Also, the sun rays on the Kanchenjunga were beautifully taken.

Well executed trip Cheers to many more miles with the Sherpa.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 10:40   #13
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Another lovely travelogue!

Excellent pictures and engaging narration with an enjoyable dose of humour. Some of your lines like "The food was superb but there were not too many dessert options. So we went to the Baker's Cafe for pastries. Yes, we eat like Tasmanian Devils!" and "But it was a boon in disguise, by the time we reached back the food was almost digested and we started planning for dinner." had me .

Rated a well deserved five stars.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 12:10   #14
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Excellent log, and even better images. I pull out a cup-of-coffee before reading your threads. Same goes with reading Navsjab's travel threads. You both put them together so well, and integrate the timeless Jeep role.

Waiting for many more!
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Old 2nd January 2018, 13:58   #15
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Default Re: Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake in a Mahindra Thar

Awesome TL. Thanks for sharing. I will be travelling to Gangtok in Feb.

Do you know how the permits work when one hires a cab to travel from Gangtok to Tsomgo lake? Does the vehicle and driver, who in all probability will be a local resident, need a permit as well? Do I have to get it done for the driver and car as well or is it something that the taxi driver takes care of?
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