13th March 2016, Sunday…Day (23) Hasimara-Gangtok 240 km
Is it Punjab?
I asked myself when I got out of my car parked outside a Gurdwara in Hasimara. Almost all truck drivers who took night break at the place were from Punjab, spoke punjabi and went inside the Gurdwara for prayers first up.
The drive from Hasimara to Malbazar in the early morning hours was beautiful. The butter smooth road passed through forests, rivulets and large tea gardens.
At Malbazar I stopped at the same shop ‘Pandit Mistanna Bhander’ from where I had poori/bhaji and amazing gulab jamun on my way up. Hot Poori/bhaji and gulab jamun were heavenly this time too.
The sight of train hurrying through the beautiful dooars, crossing over wonderfully build bridges was an amazing sight to behold. Luckily I got the opportunity and took picture of Lalpari when the train was passing over a beautiful bridge.
Again the drive from Malbazar to Sevoke was wonderful, passed through dense forest and many rivulets. From Sevoke I turned right towards Gangtok instead of left to Siliguri from where I had arrived on my way up. At that time I could not appreciate the beauty of the road and surroundings as I drove during the night.
From Sevoke the road ran along the beautiful green furiously flowing Teesta River. The road became bumpy and narrow but the landscape became even better.
After driving for few kilometers on Gangtok road at another bifurcation I took right upper road and reached Kalimpong (14 km) by mistake instead of Gangtok. Turned back and joined the same road again.
Soon I reached Melli or Melli Bazar, the border town between West Bengal and Sikkim. It is one of the few places in India which falls under two states. The two parts of the city is joined by a bridge, the longest in Sikkim. Melli looked a bustling crowded place.
From Melli, the road became better and the traffic more systematic. The difference was stark and quite visible in the way the traffic moved and the vehicles were parked. The homes looked cleaner, decorated with plants and flowers.
Reached Gangtok at around 6pm evening. The city looked beautiful, systematic and very well organised. Like any other city, was way crowded, no place for parking. Unlike North one can not park vehicle anywhere, there are places reserved for parking. The parking places that I checked charged Rs.150- and were all full.
Could not find parking in any of the parking places and kept driving here and there. Finally I saw a row of cars parked on a side near a hotel at Kazi Road. There was ample space for parking my car, parked the car and walked down to MG Road. MG Road was so refreshingly beautifully, decorated with fresh flowers and sparkling clean. It was jam packed with cheerful tourists and merry making locals alike.
The road had number of guest houses, restaurants, eating joints, shops and offices on both sides. Had amazing time walking through the road, enjoyed yummy chicken egg roll from Khan Uncle which was enough for dinner that night.
It started drizzling followed with heavy wind. I went walked back to where my car was parked. No one was there on the road, pulled the covers over, slipped into the car and slept, my first night inside the car at Sikkim, yet another adventurous night………………!!!