Gangtok: The pride of Teesta

peaceful The park at Gangtok. Photo by author

The place is Sevoke and an old Kali Bari (temple) stands guard. The NH31 from Siliguri branches off here to Dooars.

But, the real bliss starts thereafter. Flanked by misty mountains, greeted by clouds scudding above, escorted by the tumultuous Teesta, our new car skims like a fairy. Cruising along such a dreamscape is pure bliss. The scene is further enriched by the mighty river which strings along till Gangtok (and beyond). My heart throbs with joy and I devour this ineffable splendour with a few snaps. After three hours of steer up I reach the hotel at Ranipol 10 kms ahead of Gangtok. Binod Baral, the resort manager receives me at the reception. He is perky and romantic. “Gangtok is famous for 3Ws. Weather (it is always pleasant); wine (it freely flows); women (the ruby skinned girls beguile you,” he grins. His sarcasms and wits enliven me.

Next morning I come out for constitutional. The ambience is incredible. The hotel overlooks a mountain draped in green. The post-lunch session involves a visit to an unique park called Ban Jakri. All the names in Gangtok sound outlandish. The Lamas are ubiquitous. They have clean shaven heads, a red apron and an yellow half slack (without sleeves). Nepalis, Lepchas and Bhutias dominate here. Going around this Buddhist influenced town is like viewing a Jackie Chan film.

Most of the buildings have an arch in Sikkimese style. The park is not an exception. Inside it is a deep forest and has gardens, meadows, gazebos, splash pool with a dragon and a lovely cascade and a stream. But the settings are somewhat weird.
Who is Jakri? There is a museum in the precincts which comes up with an answer. Jakris were tribal healers and the museum houses icons of Jhakri culture. In the days of yore, they used some occult practices to cure the diseased. We see interesting exhibits littered in the park.

We move on to the jharna (waterfall).  At the top I see some anglers. The gush is not very ferocious but not safe enough to have a bath. My chauffeur takes me to Deorali a suburb of Gangtok. It has a ropeway of about 1 km. The cable ride is thrilling. It spans the busy Deorali area. As the cable pulls out of the deck a dramatic scene unfurls before us. About 50ft below the world goes by. We get a glimpse of the entire town on one side and on the other is the fogged deep valley. I bemoan that I don’t have thousand eyes. Initially intended to ferry the commuters it is now mostly used for pleasure trips.
There is no dearth of monasteries here. While the famous Rumtek is large and bountiful, Enchay is small but petite.
Tsomogo or Changu lake is the one you cannot afford to miss.

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