The above picture kinda tells the tale. I love Gangtok, which is the capital of Sikkim. I've been here for just five days, exploring a potential new research project. The state has recently garnered extensive international attention (including some web articles that drew me here) as it is the first state to be 100% certified organic. But that's another conversation.
Sikkim in in India's Northeast. It used to be it's own kingdom (like Bhutan, it's neighbor) until the 1970s. It is an incredibly green state, both in terms of policy (i.e. the organic one, but also banning plastic bags in the early 90s, prohibiting the cutting of any tree etc). Gangtok, is the capital, and sprawls alongside a mountain ridge. As part of the Northeastern Himalaya, a global biodiversity hotspot, there are some pretty incredible trees throughout the city.
Unfortunately, I'm here during the rainy season, which means the incredible views of the Himalayas are behind the clouds. Even so, watching the clouds part and reveal tiny hillside villages has been pretty magical.
Prayer wheels at Enchey Monastery
In addition to the generally serene ambience of prayer flags billowing in the forest. I thought the spider web coated in mist hanging from the prayer flag was particularly cool.
Being in Sikkim by myself (Jo and the kids are in Mysore, Karnataka with Auntie Sarah), gave me the opportunity to do a few things I might not normally do with the kiddos in tow. Like checking out the incredible Namgyal Institute of Tibetology.
Housed in a gorgeous traditional Tibetan mansion, the institute has an incredible collection of Tibetan artifacts, including horns made from human thigh bones! No pictures allowed. Sorry.
Another thing I might not do, at least in quite the same way, with kids: go spend several hours in a bookstore. Can't remember the last time I did that, but it was a ton of fun. This bookstore was a real treasure, having been open for the last 50 years, and housing a wide range of books on Northeastern India. I started leafing through them, and before I knew it, 3 hours had passed!
One of the cooler spaces in Gangtok is the MG Marg pedestrian mall. Unlike the pedestrian mall in Mussoorie, that let paying cars in, this was truly car/moto free. Given that now is one of the high tourist seasons (which surprises me given the daily rain, but makes sense given the heat in the plains), it was just jam packed with tourists.
I hope to have the opportunity to come back, and get more of a chance to explore this incredible landscape--and next time, I will surely bring the rest of the family!