I stood bewitched, gazing at the mighty Kanchenjunga in Gangtok. Nestled in the eastern Himalayan range, 5500 feet above sea level, the capital of Sikkim is another world altogether, be it the enchanting landscape, their ancient traditions, the oriental food, or simply the warm and—must say fashionable—people.
If they see you licking ice cream or sipping cold coffee, the locals here will remind you to use the dustbin. No wonder Gangtok remains pristine. The city welcomes you with open arms or rather, majestic valleys. The cobbled paths are lined with delightful flowers and colorful little houses. Their MG Road bazaar is far from old-fashioned: expect lots of knick-knacks for your house, hip eating joints, and pubs. The fiery Teesta slices through the hills, putting Sikkim on one side and West Bengal on the other. If the clouds hover overhead, make sure your step is steady as a mountain goat. The paths zig-zag and the slopes are steep.
So I stood before the mighty Kanchenjunga, about to bite into my fast-cooling Maggi. Without warning, the sky changed to black and poured a powerful squirt of showers upon me. It was the month of May, smack in the middle of summer. The sudden sweet chill thrilled me. Realizing I was drenched, I turned to shelter myself, then stopped, struck by the beauty of the moment
The flowers were laughing. The beautiful Buddhist monasteries seemed to drip joy. Little lamas played hide and seek. Tourists began tucking into momos, thukpa, and yes, Maggi! Local women scurried with their groceries into mysterious bylanes. The delicious rain and the heaven-scented breeze had me bewitched. I decided to give my umbrella a break, and stood there beaming like an excited kid!
Soaked to the bone, and shivering with thrill, I clutched tight onto the railing, peering down at the raging waters below in sheer awe. I was aboard the government ship from Port Blair to Havelock Island, the most popular one among the 30-odd inhabited islands of Andaman and Nicobar, 100 km off the east coast of India. The faraway islands jutting knife-like into the ocean were no longer visible.
All I saw and felt was rain. The sea was rough and seemed to be roaring with rage. The sudden downpour was so powerful that for a few moments I feared I would topple into the Bay of Bengal. But I stood my ground on the open deck, communing with Nature, loving her, defying her. Elemental, unforgettable. I wondered and still do, why we crave for Maldives or Mauritius when we have our own tropical beach heaven.
Text: Geetanjali Prasad