Saturday, June 7, 2008

Incredibly Beautiful Sikkim

Rivers flow at my feet
A cool mist engulfs my chest
I stand, surrounded by breathtaking beauty
With my eyes focussed on mountains that reach for the sky

Sikkim in general and North Sikkim in particular is a land of incredible natural beauty. As you are driving towards your destination, you see a gorgeous waterfall at every turn. A pristine lake wherever there is space for water to gather. Wherever you turn, every inch of the available land is covered by trees and brush. You can see clouds rolling into the valleys through the passes in the mountains. It was every bit the paradise that I imagined it would be.

The sight of Lake Gurudongmar is one of the most amazing sights that I have seen till date. A crystal blue lake located in the middle of a high desert at an altitude of 17800 feet above sea level. A place so queit, so tranquil, that you can hear yourself breathing and your heart beating. It is truly a landscape from a dream. On three sides, it is surrounded by barren land of high desert. On the fourth, it has two snow-covered peaks (named Raja and Rani) with a glacier that feeds into the lake. I stand corrected, even dreams are not this beautiful. It was sheer bliss.

The cattle sheds in little towns of Lachen and Lachung have better views than million dollar penthouses in the metros of India. I was standing at the base of towering peaks in Yumthang valley when I asked a local for the names of the mountains that I see around me. I was surprised to find out that most of them did not have any names. Only the tallest ones did. The parallel to our life ... only the most successful get noticed.

My description of Sikkim would not be complete without mentioning the people that inhabit this paradise. I have not met a population that is nicer or more peaceful. There was a genuine niceness in these folks that could not be missed. It was apparent in our driver/ guide who took care of us like he was our dad. It was in the little kid who walked me to the local phone in Lachen. The people were a lot more courteous and genuine. Most of us believe that quality of life lies in the material possessions that we have which make our tasks simpler, but does it really? I believe the people around you are the biggest determinant in assessing your quality of life. For this reason, I honestly believe that the quality of life in Sikkim is far superior to the one I lead in Hyderabad.

Sikkim is easily missed on a larger map of India. However if measured in terms of beauty per square kilometer (if it is possible to rate), I doubt there is a place on Earth that is better. In the 5 days that I spent there, it felt like I was barely scraping the surface in terms of what is to be seen. Yet, I have returned with memories that will last a lifetime.


Anonymous said...

I guess sikkim needs more marketing..Well written thoughts..I am looking forward to going to sikkim one day!