The Festivities Around

The following post is a part of the “Kailash Mansarovar Yatra” Blog Series Into the Sacred Space. To read complete travel memoirs and trip report, please visit here.

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Having completed the Tibet part of the Yatra, we arrived at the Nathula quite late in the morning; with our Liaison Officer recording in her journal, “Nathula again! O! the joy.” Quite surprisingly, the customs related checks and formalities didn’t take much time. A light shower of rains greeted us as we once again assembled on the no man’s land. Over the duration of the trip to Kailash Mansarovar region from the Nathula in Sikkim and back, our group and the entourage travelled nearly 3,500 km. After exchanging some pleasantries, the Tibetan and Chinese staff gleefully waved us off one final time.

The upper Chumbi Valley; just before the crest of the pass

The upper Chumbi Valley; just before the crest of the Nathula

No Mans Land

As we lined up on the no man’s land, a light drizzle came and spattered the crest of the pass; not more than 40 m in length. Please visit Flickr Photoset for more images of the region

The Tibetan side from the no man's land

The Tibetan side from the no man’s land. More images from the region at Flickr Photoset

Good Wishes

“We all bid you adieu” from the lovely Tibetans and Chinese. More images at Flickr Photoset

On the India side of the border, in the windy chill of the high-altitude mountain pass, the ITBP had hosted a high tea for us. The young officers of the Police Force keenly listened to our stories of the yatra. After some more formalities, we proceeded towards the Seventeenth Mile, Sherathang, where the ITBP had organised a formal function for us. The atmosphere was euphoric as we arrived at the acclimatisation centre at Sherathang. More stories from the yatra emerged; many of which even I wasn’t aware of. As if this wasn’t enough, the STDC guys briefed us that the Government of Sikkim has organised a formal reception for us next day at the Governor’s House Gangtok; as a tribute to mark the success of the first batch through this newly opened route. Almost all of the group members received that news with much interest and excitement. I rued the chance of exploring the hilly estate of Gangtok. Anyhow I was still hopeful about the evening.

Getting "back to the country"

Getting “back to the country”. More images from the region at Flickr Photoset

The Sentilnels of Nathula

The Sentinels of Nathula. Please visit Flickr Photoset for more images of the region

Sorting out luggage before processding for Gangtok

Sorting out luggage before proceeding to Gangtok. More images from the region at Flickr

At Sherathang;

At Sherathang; exchanging wishes. More images from the yatra at Flickr Photoset

And Yours Truly!

Just Tanned! (yours truly; not the officer). More images from the region at Flickr Photoset

Given the bad weather, the STDC arranged smaller vehicles for us to facilitate our transport to Gangtok from the pass. Our driver gave us the news of multiple landslides in the terrain but mercifully none obstructed our movement. With Kishore Da’s numbers playing in the car, our descent to the state’s capital was awesomely engaging for reasons more than one. The vibrant rain-washed hillside on the way looked even more natural and pristine. The celebrations wouldn’t just get over even till late evening that day as the locals kept thronging our guesthouse to greet us and get some first-hand information about our experiences. There was a sort of success and rejoicing throughout the hilly town.

The road ahead

The road ahead. More images from the yatra/ region at Flickr Photoset

The MG Road market of Gangtok

The MG Road market of Gangtok

Later that evening, we took a stroll in the market of MG Road. The famed market offers typical hill touristy stuff primarily comprising articles related to cold weather along with an extraordinary variety of home grown tea as well as articles related to Buddhist culture. Running short of time, I couldn’t reach much of the Lal market. I did not splurge much on anything except some copious amount and varieties of tea. My groupies seemingly bought everything under the roof; at least their swollen bags reflected that. The market square has some nice cafés looked after by locals. For those interested in nightlife, there are options too; frequented by local celebrities foot-tapping on hip-hop or techno or even college classics. I’d say that some of the best nights out happen spontaneously! *wink

The Governor of Sikkim, Sh Shriniwas Patil addressing the gathering at Raj Bhawan

The Governor of Sikkim, Sh Shriniwas Patil addressing the gathering at Raj Bhawan Of the many activities at the function, the best was the Jan Gan Man, the National Anthem played by the Sikkim Police band.

After the Group Photo

After the Group Photo. Please visit Flickr Photoset for more images of the region

The sprawling greens of Raj Bhawan

The sprawling greens of Raj Bhawan. More images at Flickr Photoset

Nuff Said

Some more photo-ops with tanned and happy faces. More images at Flickr Photoset

Nuff said

Confused. Three subjects. Many cameras. More images at Flickr Photoset

Following morning, the first batch was accorded an unprecedented welcome at Gangtok. It had the honour of being attended by the Governor, the Chief Minister along with the entire cabinet and state top machinery at the Governor’s House, the historic White’s Residency that has silently been observing the changing political landscape of Sikkim for over hundred years. After the speeches and a bara luncheon, the participants were presented with a souvenir by the Government of Sikkim. Another group photo with the chieftains; the final one, and we were packed off to the plains to board our flight to New Delhi.

Like a family; elated faces at the Raj Bhawan

Like a family; elated faces at the Raj Bhawan, Gangtok, Sikkim

13 Comments on “The Festivities Around

  1. Pingback: Retracing the Trade Route to Nathula | bNomadic

  2. Pingback: Into the Sacred Space | bNomadic

  3. Whenever I see foto or glimps of Mansarover Kailash yatra, really I reach there with my all co-pilgrims. Its just like recent visit लगता है कल होके आया हूं।यादें ताजा करने के लिये धन्यवाद।खुश रहो उन्नती करो।

  4. यादे ताजा हो गई ,मन करता हेकि आप सब की साथ फिर से एक बार जाये।

    • चलिए फिर से एक बार! रस्ता बदल लेते हैं। ॐ नमः शिवाय।

  5. Enjoyed reading this The photographs are refreshingly different from your usual ones. Good to see happy content faces. Keep up the good work.

  6. Pingback: Back to the Plains | bNomadic

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