A trip to Sikim would be incomplete without a trip to Gangtok, a town which on a fresh morning meets you all bathed and combed, ready to go to school, its eyes sparkling and a hint of dimples on its hill-child cheeks. Impeccably dressed women go off to work, monks hurry down to the bazaar, young men in shiny jackets amble along and tourists try out momos! In autumn, the tall mountain goddess peak of Kangchendzonga can be seen from hotel windows, restaurants and roads! The town spreads down the hillside with its prettily painted roofs and up on a hill, at Enchey Monastery, young monks cross paths with the crowds as they rush on a path ablaze with coloured flags! On the ridge, people would be meeting, orchids being nurtured and an archery competition may be held somewhere. Down in the market, sit on the sunny terrace of a restaurant munching cakes and coffee and plan your trip to Nathu La!
The Ridge is a walk up the bazaar with a delightful stretch of flat road lined with trees where everyone comes for a stroll, enclosing the White Hall and a beautifully designed palace gate. Near the White Hall, there is a Flower Exhibition Centre where you can see a beautiful display of a stunning variety of orchids. The Enchey Monastery, meaning the `high strong place’ speaks of enchanting mornings here listening to the hypnotic chants of the monks during morning prayers! The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology would have the heritage lovers overwhelmed by ancient statues and artefacts while the more contemporary-minded would be charmed by the beauty, grace and silence of the building. It has a museum that exhibits a rare collection of ancient manuscripts, statues, ritual objects and thangkas. The exhibition is dominated by a majestic silver image of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of knowledge, that was brought from Tibet! The Himalayan Zoological Park or the Gangtok Zoo has a lavish hillside haven of wild flowers and misty views. Near the Ganesh Tok Viewpoint, this open zoo sprawls across the mountainous terrain and is a place for long walks and spotting some rare animals. The enclosures are large spaces harbouring a snow leopard, Tibetan wolves, some adorable red pandas, Himalayan palm civets, leopard cats and different kinds of colourful Himalayan pheasants, which are the main attractions on the Beautiful Hilly Vacation Package
Around Gangtok, the large Rumtek Monastery is located on a picturesque road across the Rangeet river and houses a school, an aviary and a special section for monks to meditate. You could also stop by at the orchid centre at Wayside Gardens and Nurseries. A pleasant drive to the mature beauty of a wet temperate forest with slopes laden with oaks, pines and ash is the pathway leading to the serene Tsomgo Lake, though midway you could stop at Kyongnosla for tea, which is a picture postcard alpine village beside the Rongchu stream, where unprepared travellers can buy gloves and woollen socks, due to the presence of the mountains nearby which give way to the glacial frozen streams defining the solid shining white trajectories down these slopes. Once you reach the Lake, it looks like pure glass, capable of reflecting the divine, depicting the gap between this world and another. There are yaks wearing knitted decorations on their horns. As you return from this frozen sight, you could thaw out, gobbling steaming masala Maggi and black tea or hot masala tea!
Meghalaya is a treasure trove of nature, with its rich variation of dense endemic and cultivated flora, where charm in its plenteous abundance, had blessed this place with a unique array of plantation, and turned it into a happy hunting ground for the zoologists to keep them interested in the rare and diverse fauna wealth. It is also abound with a rich wealth of mammal genera, which is enough to captivate the tourists!
Contemporary Shillong is a small town, inhabited by a church-going, guitar-and-piano-playing population, glorifying its restaurants and tourist infrastructure, Indian heritage manors, waterfalls, golfing, and Shillong peaks and museums. The Umiam Khwan or Barapani, near Shillong, offers water sports facilities including sailing, water skiing, water scooter. The Orchid Lake Resort and the adjacent Lum Nehru Park is an ideal quiet holiday spot. The Botanical Garden is a secluded but captivating area with a plethora of indigenous and exotic plants and is located just below another notable site, the Ward’s Lake.