Thursday, December 24, 2009

The one 'where the inquisitive monk asks life changing questions'

5th October 2009. Mr Bhutia, the man designated to take us around Gangtok showed up around 9.30ish in the morning. 1st stop - the Flower Show which took like 10 minutes.

Post that, a visit to the Handloom Centre which is soo government like its unbelievable! The mist had come into Gangtok by then.

We then took the Ropeway Cable Car wich had supersonic crazy views - you were about 5000 feet high up in the air suspended and after a while the height got to me and I sat down on the floor of the car and watched - suspended mid-air in disbelief :P

We then visited the Chorten Stupa and the monastery nearby.

This place was beautiful. It had well preserved Tibetan Buddhist artifacts like this one below

But it had also one more thing: 'The Inquisitive Monk' - this monk pestered T. He followed him around - asked his weight, height and what T did in Bombay. So T patiently answered and all this why they both turned the prayer wheels around. Let me illustrate my point here -

Then he asks T if I was his wife. T says no. 'Is she your girlfriend?' T says no. 'Would you like her to be your girlfriend?' T was flabbergasted at this point not knowing what to say to the 'agony aunty' monk!

Rumtek Monastery almost a hour's drive from Gangtok followed. Rumtek is sort of above cloud level. It was quite a forbidding place espcially because they had a lot of security at the entrance. The presence of the army at such a religious site was really disturbing. This was taken at the entry to Rumtek. Vehicles are not allowed inside at all so you make the long trek inside and uphill to the monastery.

They had a Golden Stupa here covered with actual turquoise and coral - the stones were as big as bird's egg and probably cost a fortune. There's apparently also some religious turmoil - the presence of two Karmapas adds to the problem and hence the need for such security.

Post Rumtek we went to Banjhakri Waterfalls - very developed. Its a perennial waterfall and the government has developed it into a picnic tourist hotspot. They have put in pagodas and what not jazz to make it exciting for the tourist.

We then proceeded towards Lingdum Monastery. I would recommend it over Rumtek anyday. It's beautiful, quiet and serene. Wonderful artwork and ever so quaint. Some details of the monastery here...

Tashi Point next stop. Completely pointless as it was misty as hell and I have photos to prove it as well.

Ganesh Tok was awesome. It really gave you a sense of perspective on how much mist had spread across the whole town. There's a heavy army presence in this are which is why we also managed to grab a cup of nice adrakwali chai.

Got back to M G Marg and wandered around. Had an awesome Tibetan dish at 'Taste of Tibet, at the corner of MG Road. Called shyaphale, these are fried momos with a mixture of meat and spices.

Dinner finished, we headed towards Cafe Live & Loud where we listened to a local band play. I consumed whisky to go along. Came back to the hotel and packed. North Sikkim starts tomorrow.....something I am damn excited about!

1 comment:

Abhi said...

Wow! This post made me nostalgic!It had all the elements of my Gangtok trip two summers back. Precisely in that order. Mazaa aa gaya! :)

Have a great time in north Sikkim! :)