We were going to the railway station, a 15 min walk away.
Here's our old friend Kanchenjunga again.
Now for some sightseeing around the city. All these attractions were outside the main town. This is the entrance to the Japanese Peace Pagoda.
It was built in 1992.
There is a temple alongside the pagoda.
The interior was interesting but photography was not allowed (a very Indian quirk).
And now to the pagoda.
The next stop was Tiger Hill. It is a very popular spot to view the sunrise- the sun shines directly on Kanchenjunga on clear days. However that involves reaching the base of the hill at 3 AM and dealing with large crowds, and finally making way to the summit...no thank you! But the view in the afternoon was good enough.
Since you have gotten an idea how the Kanchenjunga looks like, I'll spare you another picture. Apparently Everest could also be sighted- but not by my bad eyes.
The last stop was a Buddhist monastery.
Later in the afternoon, around the mall:
Decided to visit the terrace once again for the sunset. India has only one time zone- and Darjeeling is quite east- so although it is not very northern, the sun sets at around 16.45.
Decided to take a stroll through town in the evening. This is a colonial building- of the State Bank of India.
Lots of winter clothing on sale everywhere.
"Gorkhaland" is a proposed new state by locals in Darjeeling and around. However it is certainly not an actual state yet. Many shop signs have "Gorkhaland" written- no idea why- maybe a sign of protest, and not-so-subtle calls for the new state formation?
That concluded our only full day in darjeeling. Next I will show Sikkim.
Interesting Ansh and great photos - I can imagine why this area produces tea looking at the slopes around the city. Kanchenjunga is very beautiful - is it in India or Tibet? I had no idea that, what seems such a vast country, had only one time zone.
The next day we began the 3-4 hr journey to Gangtok, capital of the state of Sikkim. State border post:
Compared to the rest of India, Sikkim is quite distinctive. I don't mean other Indian states are similar to each other but something in Sikkim strikes out. Is it the general cleanliness and lack of ramshackle buildings? Yes, definitely. Road courtesy is widespread, honking is minimal and roads are good (except for the very mountainous areas).
Sikkim is the least populated (600,000 people approx) and second-smallest state in India. There are about 11 official languages. However road signs are only in English and Hindi, although some surprisingly exclusively in English.
Post-independence (of India), Sikkim has a noteworthy history. Copied from Wikipedia: In 1947, when India became independent, a popular vote rejected Sikkim's joining the Indian Union, and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to a special protectorate status for Sikkim. Sikkim came under the suzerainty of India, which controlled its external affairs, defence, diplomacy and communications, but Sikkim otherwise retained administrative autonomy. A state council was established in 1953 to allow for constitutional government under the Chogyal. Meanwhile, the Sikkim National Congress demanded fresh elections and greater representation for Nepalis in Sikkim. Palden Thondup Namgyal, the Chogyal at the time, proved to be extremely unpopular with the people, and in 1973, riots in front of the Chogyal's palace led to a formal request for protection from India. In 1975, the Prime Minister of Sikkim appealed to the Indian Parliament for Sikkim to become a state of India. In April of that year, the Indian Army took over the city of Gangtok and disarmed the Chogyal's palace guards. Thereafter, a referendum was held in which 97.5 per cent of voters supported abolishing the monarchy, effectively approving union with India. On 16 May 1975, Sikkim became the 22nd state of the Indian Union, and the monarchy was abolished. To enable the incorporation of the new state, the Indian Parliament amended the Indian Constitution. First, the 35th Amendment laid down a set of conditions that made Sikkim an "Associate State," a special designation not used by any other state. Later, the 36th Amendment repealed the 35th Amendment, and made Sikkim a full state, adding its name to the First Schedule of the Constitution
There was nothing interesting to photography on the way to Gangtok, so I would show photos from upon reaching Gangtok.
In the following image you can see the cable car, called the Gangtok Ropeway.
A decent sidewalk was maintained on one side of the road.
A road sign exclusively in English
This was our hotel- it was designed in a Buddhist style.
Getting better and better. And may I venture to say that I find that your photographic skills are improving as well? (Not that they were bad before, but I think that all of us have noticed that when we started making these reports for everybody to see, we started looking at our photos differently and saw ways to improve them.)
Wow, a pedestrianized street in India! I'm impressed. Even though motor vehicles have last priority in so many other streets, after pedestrians, bicyles, carts, stray animals, etc., it really makes an incredible difference to just see pedestrians.
Things look so much better maintained there than in a lot of other places you have shown us. I know a lot of people who are afraid of ever going to India, but if this were what they could expect to see, they would relax... But yes, I know that even you have told us that the condition of this part of India is exceptional.
I think Sikkim is just exceptionally well maintained. Darjeeling wasn't as much- but wasn't too bad either. Long time since I've been to hill stations in Himachal Pradesh (Shimla, Manali etc) and Uttaranchal (Naini Tal, Mussoorie). But the hill stations of the south, such as Kodaikanal and Ooty are smaller cities (so not too unclean) but definitely not like Sikkim.
Next day we were going up to Nathula Pass, the India-China border at an elevation of slightly more than 14,000 ft (approx more than 4300 m).
On the way...
First sightings of snow:
The area is home to much military activity and access to visitors is restricted. Each visitor must have a pass issued (which usually takes 1 working day, at least for Indians- I think the process is a bit longer for foreigners).
Yaks on the way.
This is frozen Lake Tsomgo- a very touristy attraction hereabouts.
Here is another frozen lake on the way:
This is the Indian side of the border:
The Chinese post was some meters away. Photography of the Chinese post was forbidden
Nearby was the Baba Temple. Just a quick glance:
That was the end of our visit to Sikkim, and the entire trip. I'll post about Kolkata too, which was our first destination of the trip.
Kanchenjunga is on the India/Nepal border. It has 5 peaks actually- some in India, some in Nepal.
Thanks Ansh. I have just been looking at the places you visited on the map - such an isolated part of India in terms of the other states. Thanks for the link to the political history of the area. Great photos yet again. To be honest this is one of the few areas within India that I could see myself visiting and enjoying easily. Top of my list though would be Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Any chance of a report from there ?
Actually nobody lives in the area between Gangtok and Nathula- except for the military (who need to be there because of the border). There are some cafes and shops for the tourists- I guess these workers go back home in the evening.