Gangtok: The Final Chapter

As the name suggests, this is the last blog from my north east travel diaries! Did I just catch you heaving a sigh of relief??!! Haha!!😜 I can’t forget this trip! I loved it so much that even talking about it makes me want to go back in time and relive those days!😍

The last day was the cherry on the cake! We were to go to an altitude of 14,500ft to see Changu Lake and Baba Mandir. We embarked on the journey at 8 am. The snake shaped roads gave us goosebumps and the weather couldn’t have been any better.💜 We felt we could literally touch the clouds! Our driver was one hell of a man, all along the way he kept telling us stories and urban legends of Sikkim.

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Changu lake, also called Tsomgo lake, is is a glacial lake in the East region of  Sikkim, some 40 kilometres (25 mi) from Gangtok. It is located at an altitude of 12,313 ft. The locals told us that the lake’s surface reflects different colors with change of seasons and they hold it in great reverence. The lake is surrounded by steep snow clad mountains, has a surface area of over 60 acres, which is frozen during winter. During summer the snow cover melts and forms the source for the lake. We were fortunate to see the lake cause we were told that the lake generally remains frozen till May!

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Manju Lake (enroute Baba Mandir)

The Sikkimese people have put up shops near the lake, one can buy souvenirs, or shop for jackets, sweaters etc or just enjoy a cup of tea and coffee while appreciating nature’s beauty. You can also take pics with the yaks there!📷

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Next on the list was Baba Harbanjan Singh Mandir, our driver told us that since everyone can’t go to the original Baba Mandir, they have made an exact replica at a lower altitude so that people who have breathing problems or are old to see the original one can see the replica!

We decided to take a chance and go to the original one! For those who don’t know much about Baba, he was a Major in the Indian army who died in 1968 near the Nathu La in eastern Sikkim. He is respected by soldiers of the Indian army and often called the “Hero of Nathula”. The army men have also built a shrine in his honour. Many believe that his spirit protects every soldier in the inhospitable high altitude terrain of the Eastern Himalayas.

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Top of Baba Temple

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The Indian Army has built a temple near the bunker were Baba used to stay while he was serving in the army. Once you’re near the temple, you’ve to climb 25-30 stairs to reach the bunker. There’s a golden idol of Babaji inside the bunker, his clothes are ironed everyday, his shoes are polished daily which many have claimed that he uses everyday!

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As the story goes, Harbhajan Singh drowned in a glacier while trying to lead a column of mules carrying supplies to a remote outpost. As the first casualty of the 23rd Punjab Regiment in that war, a manhunt was launched to find him. His remains were found after three days and he was cremated with full military honours. It is said that it was Harbhajan Singh himself who helped the army find his body. Through a dream, he instructed one of his colleagues to build and maintain a shrine in his memory.

Indian soldiers believe that in the during wars between India and China, Baba would warn the Indian soldiers of any impending attack at least the three days in advance. Even The Chinese acknowledge his presence and during flag meetings between the two nations at Nathu La, they set a chair aside to honour of Harbhajan Singh. People claim to have discovered him visiting the camps at night. It has also been claimed that the regiment still keeps an empty bed and other items of daily use. Some sources suggest that he continues to draw a major’s salary every month till date. Sends chills down the spine, doesn’t it?

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The velocity of the wind at that altitude was so high, I felt I fall down. It was quite a task not to feel dizzy there. Before reaching the mandir, I was really concerned about my dad falling sick, but it was my brother and I who were gasping for air and had to sit down! But after that it was playing with snow time!! Yay. I couldn’t enjoy Rohtang much cause my cousin threw a snow ball at me which hit my nose badly and I couldn’t breathe properly then. So I was all set to enjoy the snow here, I still remember my brother asked me to come and sit in the car cause my hands had turned BLUE cause of the snow! It was so cold and to think that I didnt want to wear a jacket to begin with makes me go hug mom who forced me to wear one!🙈

I was thrilled to be there, it was once in  lifetime experience for all of us. We stayed there for around an hour, soaking in the energy that the place has.🙌

The last place to visit was the flower show, sadly it turned out to quite  disappointment since it was off season and most of the flowers weren’t in the blooming phase yet we took a few pictures cause for me, nothing is unworthy of a picture!

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Looks like someone found true love! 😛

And with that, the final chapter of our wonderful, adventurous north east trip ends! It was an experience that I will never ever forget in my life. The picturesque views, the happy go lucky people, the cold wind, everything about north east is beyond beautiful. If you love travelling and north east should be on your bucket list!

I’m all ears to know how you liked my trip and the various adventures we did!👻

Keep travelling and keep discovering! Life’s too short to be whiled away!

Love,

Aakanksha😘

 

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