A grey morning greeted us on the third day. I was looking forward to this day as i wanted to see the kanchenjunga ranges. But the chances of that happening was minimal. Hey, the glass is always half full as the day turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
By the third day, it was certain that our driver Prem's daily chant was rock star songs. Even though i had given him a bunch of Cds on the first day, he continued to play songs from rock star morning in and evening out. Initially i didn't think the songs were hummable but it grew on me. Believe it or not , i am so tempted to go pick a CD now so that i can follow in Prem's footsteps.
Prem who had kept to himself the first two days turned stones when we started our journey towards North Sikkim. We were passing through isolated stretches of North Sikkim highway and he started on his fascinating story. It was difficult to understand his Hindi with a nepali/ pahadi accent. The first round , I assumed that I heard him saying North Sikkimese add " beej" to their food and hence he avoids eating on the road. When we didn't react to this, he repeated the whole thing again. This time we got it right. He was talking about " beeish". According to him, North Sikkimese add slow poison to food that kills the affected person after a couple of hours. This is done for religious reasons to enhance one's own power from the dead person's life. Now i don't know if any of this is true but he didn't stop any place for lunch nor did we ask him to as we had packed lunch.
Remember the blessing in disguise i mentioned earlier, well if the picture haven't said it yet in million words nothing will. The grey sky, the pale clouds, the green cover, the multicolored rock, the translucent mist just added to the mystery of North Sikkim highway.
North Sikkim is for the traveler who does not mind going the distance for the exotic and isolated experience.
Though it is slowly gaining popularity, North Sikkim is still untouched by commercialism. The journey of 130 kms took us 6 hours and i enjoyed every minute of it. The small settlements, the prayer flags at each settlement, the cherry blossoms in front of bamboo mud houses, the domestic stock lazing around, the kids and the old doing their thing, the lush green cover of evergreen trees, the meandering teesta river, all of this made the drive feel much shorter.
There are numerous view points and water falls along the way to stop and enjoy the serene surroundings. I would vote this as one of the best drives so far though it was the slowest one too.
Location: North Sikkim Highway, Sikkim,India
Date of travel: March 2012
Tip: Listen to the local folklore with a pinch of salt.
Must do: Road trip
First: Cherry blossoms in India
The travel connection: Local folklore!