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Old 24th May 2018, 22:11   #1
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Default Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

Before commencing with the travelogue, let me share a glimpse of the place I went.


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Exciting right!!! It ought to be.


It is a place in my love state of Sikkim. I feel like a denizen of Sikkim now though each time this place holds me speechless with its uncanny beauty. I always fall in love with the new facets of this place. This has been my third homage to Gnathang but I will not miss a chance to go there again-and-again.

Day 0-1 (Kolkata – Rangpo)
This time I will not be saying about the start as it is usual on and route to Siliguri is almost memorized by everyone here. Stating of the road conditions, the roads are smooth only the Farakka Bridge is the same since ages and I lost most of my time crossing that. I crossed the bridge early morning and by afternoon we were in Rangpo.
Rangpo is one of the entry point to Sikkim and well connected with public transport. This spot was our sojourn for the day.

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The only picture of the day near Teesta Bajar


To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 24th May 2018 at 22:22.
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Old 24th May 2018, 22:22   #2
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Default re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

Day 2(Rangpo – Rongli – Phadamchen – Zuluk – Gnathang):
From Rangpo, early morning we moved towards the edge of east Sikkim. Driving through the curves of silk route, we reached Zuluk. First, we anticipated staying at Zuluk but as we had enough time for the day, we continued our amity with the silk route. There was a well-defined range of cumuli a few degrees above the horizon and a massive dark-grey rain-cloud above it, from which depended long, bent fringes overlapping the lower cumuli and partially veiling them; and from time to time sunbeams poured through narrow openings and painted the exposed bushes and fringes in ripe yellow tones.

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Some fun moment on the way ..


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Beautiful Silk Route


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Wider view of Silk Route








Some small clips of Silk Route on that day


Silk Route - 01


Silk Route - 02


Silk Route - 03


It is surely going to rain soon and at this altitude rains means SNOW . Zuluk to Gnathang is just an hour drive. Midway at Laxman Chowk we were overwhelmed to see local Boleros crossing us from the other side with the roofs capped with snow. I thought we missed the snowfall but then it started drizzling then and there. We enjoyed the drizzling until it turned out to be bigger in size. The small pebble like snow started hiding inside my hoodie . We rushed in the car and pat dried ourselves to keep us warm.



Fun time started

To be continued ....
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Old 24th May 2018, 23:01   #3
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Default re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

Day 2 continued ...

Local cars were rushing to get back to their destination as the weather started getting worse. We were on the way to Gnathang valley and another Bolero in front of us was stuck at an uphill turn. The engine roared in dismay and the black fumes from the silencer pipe of the stuck Bolero said it all. The tyres were blur and lost traction on the sloppy curve. I handed over my shovel to them and me and my friend lent our helping hand to make the Bolero cross the hurdle.



Moving towards Gnathang


Somehow we manage to park the other Bolero in the hill side and decided to move forward without waiting for them. Snowfall was at its best then and within minutes; the roads domed with layers of snow with a thickness of about 3-4 inches and then Lazy Turtle was not able to move any further now. The driver of the local Bolero suggested us to rent snow-chain from Gnathang to get the car to the hotel.



Tried every possibilities


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After waiting for an hour a Xylo coming from the town asked us to wait as we will be dropping his guest and then on the way back will take us. On the way, back he asked to let someone of us go in his car so that in worst condition at least the girls can reach to hotel safely. I sent my sister with them, as he would return with a snow-chain for my car.



Heavy Snowfall outside



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Few Random Snaps where we got stuck

It is getting dark now and the snowfall has stopped, clumps of wet flakes drifting windlessly down, the air moist, and the sidewalk mushy underfoot. Snow rests upon the road as if it were a feather cushion, soft and warm. It covered the valley in perfect white gift-wrap. Being perplexed in the situation all of us packed a backpack with minimal required things and started walking towards the plateau of Gnathang. With few steps, we could see the Xylo at a distance and with hope we halted for a moment to check upon the car. Yes, it was the same car and the owner of our hotel got down with snow-chains. The girls were boarded in his car to be dropped at the hotel. The wind howled, blinding the night with ice-white dust.




While we were waiting for snow-chain

It was freezing there and setting the chains on the tyre was getting tough, as my fingers were not functioning properly to lock the chain properly. Somehow it was done with everyone’s help and drove to the hotel.
In the hotel, we have some new friends who were colleagues of my wife and have drove from Kolkata in a Xylo. Ultimately, at the end of the day, whole family was united at the hotel.


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locking the chain



It was already dark when we reached the Hotel at Gnathang


The village was deeply packed with snow. We walked at night along the dove-white roads towards the bridge connecting the other side of the village. The canal under the bridge flowed with melted snow water tripping along the road. After dinner the night was divided among ourselves to give the engine a crank and trap the heat within.

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Some random night-shot at Gnathang

To be continued ...
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Old 24th May 2018, 23:10   #4
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Default re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

Day 3 (Gnathang – Zuluk – Rishi – Sillery Gaon):

In the morning it was crystal blue sky and the chilling cold wind gushed into the room. The sun rose bestowing brilliance, igniting colors to vibrant hues. The mountains clustered together like they were cold, and under all that snow I don't doubt they were. I imagined them to shiver under their white coats, the real cause of the avalanches perhaps. Perhaps in that rock they think in the way timeless creatures must, with no regard for time, no concept of what it must be to hurry or be anxious or sad. I would like to think that deep in the tones of granite is a spirit of the earth, slumbering since the time of the dinosaurs or before.

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Good Morning - Gnathang




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Few random snaps of Gnathang valley





Panoramic view of the Gnathang valley


Trees, rooftops, cowsheds and roads loomed into my vision, then vanished, swallowed in white. In this swirl of white, the world was washed anew, like a new page. Under this pristine layer of crystalline water was the path we had to ted going back. Ending with breakfast, it was time to fasten the seat belt and roll Lazy Turtle on the path never trend before.


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Some random snaps while returning from Gnathang



Returning from Gnathang

We had the owner of the chain in our car who was to take off the chains and bring them back. In the daylight, driving was not an issue and we were near about the Laxman Chowk were the bondage of the Lazy Turtle’s legs were removed and it was free to flap its flippers.


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Laxman Chowk, Jst before returning the chains to the owner



On the way to Zuluk

To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 24th May 2018 at 23:12.
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Old 24th May 2018, 23:30   #5
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Default re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

Day 3 continued ...


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Another view of Silk Route while returning

After experiencing Gnathang, there was no point staying in Zuluk and so the next part of the trip was meant for relaxation in a warm place. Sillery Gaon was the answer to that as it was village along the river downhill. We have been to Rishikhola once that was also the reason to relish the stay at a new destination. Booking was done on the move and by late lunch time we were on the dining table. Food was homely and simple. After lunch, we walked down the meadows to a place which will give a clear view of Kanchenjunga and this is the USP of this place.


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On the way to Rishi

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One old image from 2014 trip
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-sunlight.html






Road towards Sillery Gaon




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Some random snaps of Sillery Gaon


Bonfire under the clear sky is a retreat after an adventurous day and roasted chicken over it is a double bonanza. A day well spent to be remembered.
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Old 24th May 2018, 23:47   #6
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Day 4 (Sillery Gaon - Darjeeling):
I always look for a chance to swirl high on the roads towards Darjeeling. I exactly do not remember the count but each time I be there, I am filled with contentment and rejoice. We spent a nice sluggish stay in Darjeeling at our favorite hotel.


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On the way we spend some time at Sakya Monastery


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Coffee at keventers


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Day 5(Darjeeling - Kolkata):
Next day direct drive from Kolkata to Darjelling and reached home the next day by around 3:30 am.


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Old 25th May 2018, 08:19   #7
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Default re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

Wow! Congrats Point Zero. What an amazing travalogue and superb pics. Its wonderful to see everything around covered in snow! Your Bolero looks awesome covered in snow. I couldn't watch your videos yet. When was this trip done?
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Old 25th May 2018, 08:47   #8
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Default re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

Some Beautiful photos there PointZero. From the white snow covered Gnathang to the colorful Sakya monastery; everything is just so calm and serene. The silk route picture is like a magnet! Hope I can drive there one day.
Thanks for sharing this.
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Old 25th May 2018, 10:06   #9
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Default Re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by PointZero View Post
Before commencing with the travelogue, let me share a glimpse of the place I went.
Oh boy! What Fantastic pictures. I can only imagine the beauty of such places. Very easy to day dream about going to such places, but then I am jolted back into the reality of humid Mumbai weather.

The Silk route photo is wallpaper material. Surprising to see so much snow. Is it common in Gnathang or the other parts of East Sikkim? One more place added to the list of places to visit.

Keep posting such trip reports...
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Old 25th May 2018, 11:51   #10
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Default Re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

The pics are S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G. Many travelers usually say the pics don't do justice to the beauty of the place, but your pictures did do justice. Just wow!
Many of the pics are wallpaper material.

The snow-capped landscapes certainly draw similarity to European winters! One would certainly think of Nordic countries looking at the pictures. Looking at the pictures, I can also say you guys had one hell of a time. Sikkim has so much to offer other than Kalimpong, Nathu-la and Tsomgo lake.

And your Bolero too did justice to the stunning backdrops.
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Old 25th May 2018, 13:37   #11
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Default Re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

Fantastic one as expected from you PZ. East Sikkim is beautiful when it snows. It is great to see you take your 2WD Bolero to such places. Your tripping/travelling is inspiring.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackwasp View Post
The Silk route photo is wallpaper material. Surprising to see so much snow. Is it common in Gnathang or the other parts of East Sikkim? One more place added to the list of places to visit.
Yes. It is. Snow in East Sikkim can be found from Feb to Mid May. But it all depends on ones luck as well. It snows pretty heavily when it does. To give you an example the below two pictures were taken 2.5 hours apart last april. And this is before you go further up to Kupup where the snowfall is maximum.

Before

Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience-before.jpg

After

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Cheers,

Pawan
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Old 25th May 2018, 18:48   #12
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Default Re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

Wow. Amazing pictures. I am craving to explore this part of our country, just not yet.
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Old 25th May 2018, 19:34   #13
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Default Re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

Stunning pictures PointZero! It takes guts to take a 2WD vehicle there in such conditions. Rated 5 stars.
Sikkim never fails to impress. I have been to this place several times but never seen such snowfall. Need to go there again
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Old 25th May 2018, 22:39   #14
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Default Re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

Thanks Flyer,
We were there at the last week of march 30th March 2018.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyer View Post
Wow! Congrats Point Zero. What an amazing travalogue and superb pics. Its wonderful to see everything around covered in snow! Your Bolero looks awesome covered in snow. I couldn't watch your videos yet. When was this trip done?

Thanks hemanth.anand,


Sikkim is such a place that you will able to see many colors of the same place during different season of the year. I am sharing two more link here where you will see completely different loop road.


May 2014

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-sunlight.html


Dec 2015

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ilk-route.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by hemanth.anand View Post
Some Beautiful photos there PointZero. From the white snow covered Gnathang to the colorful Sakya monastery; everything is just so calm and serene. The silk route picture is like a magnet! Hope I can drive there one day.
Thanks for sharing this.



Thanks blackwasp,
After making many trips of Sikkim, one thing I am very sure that common words does not work there about the weather and beauty. I have already shared other two links of same place where you will find very different beauty. Also, as PapaBravo and BlackPearl said .. even in this trip we did not see any bit of snow just one hour before the snowfall stared. And after one hour you can see the changes.



Quote:
Originally Posted by blackwasp View Post
Oh boy! What Fantastic pictures. I can only imagine the beauty of such places. Very easy to day dream about going to such places, but then I am jolted back into the reality of humid Mumbai weather.

The Silk route photo is wallpaper material. Surprising to see so much snow. Is it common in Gnathang or the other parts of East Sikkim? One more place added to the list of places to visit.

Keep posting such trip reports...

Thanks prince0407,


BTW, Kalimpong is part of West Bengal, not Sikkim. Currently Tsomgo lake has lost it's some natural beauty because of the metal fence and tourist crowd, still it is very beautiful. Before 2010 the place was really amazing. Sharing some old pictures and I am sure that you will not get any similarity of the lake with current one other than the shape of the lake.



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Quote:
Originally Posted by prince0407 View Post
The pics are S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G. Many travelers usually say the pics don't do justice to the beauty of the place, but your pictures did do justice. Just wow!
Many of the pics are wallpaper material.

The snow-capped landscapes certainly draw similarity to European winters! One would certainly think of Nordic countries looking at the pictures. Looking at the pictures, I can also say you guys had one hell of a time. Sikkim has so much to offer other than Kalimpong, Nathu-la and Tsomgo lake.

And your Bolero too did justice to the stunning backdrops.

Thanks PapaBravo Da,
We faced the same things here. 10-25 mins snowfall made the place completely different. When the other bolero was stuck that time also the road was derivable without snow-chain, after 10-15 mins the terrain gifted us many things to learn .



Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaBravo View Post
Fantastic one as expected from you PZ. East Sikkim is beautiful when it snows. It is great to see you take your 2WD Bolero to such places. Your tripping/travelling is inspiring.

Yes. It is. Snow in East Sikkim can be found from Feb to Mid May. But it all depends on ones luck as well. It snows pretty heavily when it does. To give you an example the below two pictures were taken 2.5 hours apart last april. And this is before you go further up to Kupup where the snowfall is maximum.

Before

Attachment 1763956

After

Attachment 1763955

Cheers,

Pawan

Thanks Aditya2703.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya2703 View Post
Wow. Amazing pictures. I am craving to explore this part of our country, just not yet.

Thanks BlackPearl Da,
"Sikkim never fails to impress" - Absolutely right. Probably that is the reason, we (Kolkata TBHPians) make so many repeated trips every year to the same places.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Stunning pictures PointZero! It takes guts to take a 2WD vehicle there in such conditions. Rated 5 stars.
Sikkim never fails to impress. I have been to this place several times but never seen such snowfall. Need to go there again
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Old 26th May 2018, 15:50   #15
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Default Re: Gnathang, East Sikkim: An exhilarating driving experience

I am really floored by the beauty and serenity of this place .Your travelogue rekindled the latent desire to travel to such places and feel alive to the vagaries and nuances of mother nature .Hope to follow in your steps soon.
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