Mumbai to North Sikkim by Car

spandit

Avid traveler, loves road trips
Day 7 - Gangtok to Lachung - 89 Kms

Today was the most awaited day as I was going to climb further up the Himalayas - upto 13500 feet! The schedule was to leave from Gangtok and stay in Yarlam Resort, Lachen. We left at around 9 AM and started our journey - this was the toughest but an amazing ride through the Himalayas! the 89 kms journey took almost 7 hours! but it was simply amazing and I could take some breath taking pictures on the way. Reached Yarlam Resort in Lachen at about 6 PM in the evening. Its a fantastic hotel - a premium one with very friendly staff and nice rooms. It was very cold though - about minus 3 or minus 4 degrees when we reached the hotel. here are some pics from the day:
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spandit

Avid traveler, loves road trips
Day 8 - Trip to Yumthang Valley and Zero Point (44 Kms)

Got up bright and early to see the sun shine on the mighty Himalayas - what a sight to remember! the weather was quite chill and high winds made it even more chiller. we left the hotel at about 10 AM on our drive to Yumthang Valley - one of the highest points in North Sikkim at about 14000 feet above sea level. Roads were typical Himalayan - narrow very tough driving conditions. unless your vehicle has solid suspensions, its difficult to drive in these ranges. Through the 5.30 hours journey (yes, it takes 5 and half hours to cover 44 Kms), the sight was simply majestic and I got a first hand feel of the rugged but serene Himalayas. Reached Yumthang valley at about 3.30 PM and spent about an hour just taking in the fresh oxygen and serenity of the mountains. started our way back to the hotel and reached at about 9 PM. Here are some breath taking pics of the day:
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spandit

Avid traveler, loves road trips
Day 9: Journey from Lachung to Lachen (37 Kms)

Left the hotel at about 9.45 AM on our journey to Lachen - the next stop where I would spend next 2 days. Lachen is a town in North Sikkim, located at an elevation of 2,750 metres. The name Lachen means "big pass". Lachen is the base camp in a way for visiting the famous Gurdongmar lake. Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world and highest lakes in India, located at an altitude of 17,800 ft (5,430 m) in the Indian state of Sikkim. I had booked the hotel Apple Orchard through Agoda.com and being an off season I managed to get good rates. Fantastic property i must say in this part of the Himalayas. It was extremely cold and windy in Lachen when we arrived there. The drive as expected was rugged with the road conditions not more than what you can expect in this part of the Himalayas. When we checked in, the hotel manager offered us a "local drink" saying it would help keep us warm (I later realized it was brandy) and it did help for a while - as the night set in, the weather turned worse and it was extremely cold with the room heaters hardly working. we had to get up at 3 AM next day for our drive to Gurudongmar lake, so we slept early - the entire resort was empty with no guests and there was complete silence so we could only hear the sound of the winds. Here are some pics of the day:
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spandit

Avid traveler, loves road trips
Day 10 - visit to Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world and highest lakes in India, located at an altitude of 17,800 ft (5,430 m) in the Indian state of Sikkim. it is extremely tough to reach this place, particularly in peak winter in December. the drive is rugged, rather dangerous with high winds gushing in. One has to reach this place by 6 AM and leave at best by 8 AM because after that it is impossible to stay at this place. We got up at 3 AM and quickly got ready for the drive. the Hotel staff had packed the breakfast for us as we left at 3.30 AM. Reached the lake by 6.30 AM and friends I tell you - when you get to this place, you will forget all the troubles of the journey - particularly when you are driving all the way from Mumbai to reach this place. See for yourself:
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spandit

Avid traveler, loves road trips
Day 10 - Lachen to Gangtok 82 Kms

After visiting the Gurudongmar lake we decided to cut short our stay in Lachen and go back to Gangtok because there was nothing much to do in Lachen and it was extremely cold and windy. I booked the Hotel Keepsa Residency again using Agoda. The drive back to Gangtok took us 6 hours and 45 minutes to cover the distance of 82 Kms. The drive was tough but there was just so much scenery to enjoy and fresh air to breathe - so we did not realize the duration of the journey at all! On the way to Gangtok we got fantastic views of the Kanchenjunga mountains - the third highest mountain in the world, which lies partly in Nepal and partly in Sikkim with an elevation of 28,169 feet. I could take some breath taking photos of the mountain using my Nikon DSLR camera. Here are some pics of the day:
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spandit

Avid traveler, loves road trips
Day 11 - Gangtok and Rumtek Monastery

After the tiring journey to Lachung and Lachen, we decided to only visit the Rumtek Monastery which is about 20 Kms from Gangtok and then rest for the day. Rumtek Monastery, also called the Dharmachakra Centre, is a gompa located in the Indian state of Sikkim near the capital Gangtok. Originally built under the direction of Changchub Dorje, 12th Karmapa Lama in the mid-1700s, Rumtek served as the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage in Sikkim for some time. The monastery is currently the largest in Sikkim. It is home to the community of monks and where they perform the rituals and practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage. The drive to Rumtek was quite good as the roads were in good condition. A small incident happened when we arrived at the Monastery - I wanted to wash my feet and went near the tap - i did not see that the floor was slippery and lost my balance and fell. I think I dislocated my right shoulder and was in immense pain. I somehow got up and pushed my hands in a circular motion - painful but it got the bones back in place. I could not move for about 30 minutes. I somehow completed the monastery tour and drove back to Gangtok using only my left hand to change gears as well as control the steering. Quite an adventure considering the sharp bends and steep mountain roads! I stopped at a medicne store and took some pain killers and pain ointment. Went to the hotel and just took rest for the day. Here are some pics of the day:
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spandit

Avid traveler, loves road trips
Day 12 - Gangtok to Darjeeling

My next stop in the trip was Darjeeling - i had never been to this place before and was looking forward to visiting it. My plan was to stay in Darjeeling for 2 days and celebrate the new year there. Gangtok to Darjeeling is about 78 Kms through NH 10. Some stretches of the road are very narrow with hardly space for 1 vehicle to pass. it took me 3 hours and 50 minutes to cover the 78 Kms distance. I had booked Viceroy Hotel on Gandhi Road (near MG Road) as I found good reviews for it on Booking.com. Drive to Darjeeling was quite picturesque as the landscape changed from ruggedness of the Himalayas to more greenery around.

We reached Darjeeling at about 1.45 PM and I must say I was quite disappointed with the city. Narrow roads, too much traffic and too many people. The city seems to have had no development since the British era and it was sad to see nothing being done to promote tourism in this popular place. The road to my hotel was so narrow that I had great difficulty in driving through it. Worst surprise was the hotel did not have any parking facility and the security guard asked me to park the car about a mile away. After lot of argument he found me a place to park in a small corner of the hotel entrance area. it took me about 40 minutes to navigate the parking!

Anyways the hotel inside was quite good and well maintained. after resting for a while we went out for a walk to the nearby MG road - again disappointing and nothing much to see there. its a highly commercialized place with people from nearby villages and small towns flocking to MG Road for new year celebrations. There was really nothing much to do here.
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spandit

Avid traveler, loves road trips
Day 13: Begin return journey back to Mumbai. Darjeeling to Muzaffarpur, Bihar via Nepal

I cut short my stay in Darjeeling and decided to start my return journey back to Mumbai. My plan was to reach Gorakhpur by 8 PM via Nepal. We left the Viceroy hotel at about 9.40 AM. This was going to be my first roadtrip via Nepal - I had never been to that country. The NH 110 road upto Nepal border was fantastic with some breathtaking views. We stopped briefly at Simana Viewpoint, which is a stopping point on the highway with some restaurant and great views. Traffic on this road was almost zero.

I reached the India-Nepal Border at Pashupatinagar at about 11.30 AM. There is a small checkpost here on the India side - I had to show them my car papers and my driving license. The officials there asked me few questions around my travel plans and were surprised to know I was driving all the way from Mumbai! They asked me to move ahead and in 10 metres there is the Nepal side checkpost where I went through the similar formalities. I was asked to go to another counter where I was required to pay the Nepal road tax and get a temporary local registration number for my car. this took about 45 minutes and I got a green board with local registration number, which I had to display on my dashboard.

We then started our drive into Nepal. The Nepal side of the Himalayas is so beautiful! the drive was fantastic and after about 2 hours of drive I reached the plains .... the Himalayas slowly vanished behind and it was a sad feeling. I was back in the plains and the road conditions started to worsen. we started feeling hungry and were looking for a restaurant. We reached a place called Damak (on the East-West Highway) and asked a local traffic policeman for a good restaurant. He pointed us to a place which was about 100 meters away on the other side. The restaurant was Sangam Sweets and we found some awesome Daal and Rice. The best part of the food was Rosogollas! I had never had Rosogollas like this one.

We moved on after Lunch and it was already about 3 in the evening. Traffic was very heavy on the single lane highway and it was tough driving in those conditions. I finally reached the India border at a place called Jogban which comes after about 40 Kms from Biratnagar. This border place is actually like a busy street in Kolkatta or Chandni Chowk in Delhi or the old streets in Mumbai! its chaos everywhere and people just cross the border like its one village. Cycle rickshaws, motorcycles, cyclists, cars, trucks, bullock carts, and people. nobody stops anybody. As i reached this place suddenly a man appeared from nowhere and took away the temporary registration number. it was already about 7 PM by then. The Jogbani railway station on the India side is the last railway station on the India border. NH 527 starts from here and connects to NH 27 at Forbesganj- which will then take me back to the central plains of India. by the time I reached NH 27 it was already about 8.30 PM. Gorakhpur was still about 500 KMs away and i was very tired from the day long driving. The nearest town was Muzaffarpur so I decided to stay there for the night. Checked Agoda.com and the only hotel I could find was Hotel Atithi located on NH 27 at Muzaffarpur bypass. Unfortunately the location of this hotel on Google Maps was wrong and it took me to another hotel atithi which was actually a dingy lodge inside the town. I called the hotel manager and he directed me to the right location near the highway. I reached the hotel at about 10 PM. nothing great to talk about this hotel though - very basic rooms. Anyways getting sleep was no problem as we were so tired.

here are some pics from the day:
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spandit

Avid traveler, loves road trips
Day 14: Muzaffarpur to Lucknow 643 Kms, Day 15 Lucknow to Agra, Day 16 Agra to Nathdwara via Jaipur, Day 17 Nathdwara to Mumbai

The next 4 days took me to Lucknow, Agra, Nathdwara and finally to Mumbai. I drove through the newly constructed Lucknow-Agra Expressway and visited the famous TajMahal. Also went to the famous Srinathji (Krishna) temple at Nathdwara. Took the final leg of my journey on the evening of Day 17 and reached Mumbai at about 4 AM the next morning. What a memorable trip this was! I will remember it forever. May be sometime in future I will repeat this trip. This trip took me through the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Rajasthan and Gujarat - what a great place India is. So much to see, so much to learn.
With that friends, I sign off on this blog. Thank You.

Here are some final pictures:

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rajat667

New Member
Day 14: Muzaffarpur to Lucknow 643 Kms, Day 15 Lucknow to Agra, Day 16 Agra to Nathdwara via Jaipur, Day 17 Nathdwara to Mumbai

The next 4 days took me to Lucknow, Agra, Nathdwara and finally to Mumbai. I drove through the newly constructed Lucknow-Agra Expressway and visited the famous TajMahal. Also went to the famous Srinathji (Krishna) temple at Nathdwara. Took the final leg of my journey on the evening of Day 17 and reached Mumbai at about 4 AM the next morning. What a memorable trip this was! I will remember it forever. May be sometime in future I will repeat this trip. This trip took me through the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Rajasthan and Gujarat - what a great place India is. So much to see, so much to learn.
With that friends, I sign off on this blog. Thank You.

Here are some final pictures:

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Awesome journey brother. I am also planning Mumbai to North East in December. But I hv 16 days in hand. What route and itinerary would you suggest? Did you drive on those snowed roads? Is it safe in a non 4x4 vehicle?

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