Travel is not only an effective antidote to ennui; it is a treatment of ethnocentrism.
It lifts the veil of custom from the outside world and exposes the latter to view
with all its wonders, excitement and novelties. Travel is the outcome of insatiable
curiosity of man for knowing and exploring his environment. Travel educates a person
by broadening his or her outlook. So everybody yearns for a quick getaway at the
first given chance. However, for many—this remains a distant dream put away by long
list of things to do and deadlines to meet. Most of the time, specially the journalist
live an entirely circumscribed existence being slave to a dead routine.
Thus, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh through the Department of Information and
Public Relations and with collaboration of Arunachal Press Club (APC), Itanagar conducted
a weeklong trip of 10 member media team to a land of dramatic contours to provide
them an opportunity to transcend the mechanical and trivial existence of their daily
life besides helping them gain firsthand knowledge on flagship programmes implemented
by the Sikkim Government.
Sikkim is a land of dramatic contours and its capital is Gangtok with a throbbing
life. There is an aura about Gangtok that grips every visitor and is a perfect place
to unwind. Gangtok has a strong industrial presence with tourism being its heartbeat
and it does not pull itself away when it comes to hospitality. Just as its unpredictable
weather, there is always something different happening, which wasn’t quite expected.
Visit to this mystic land of Sikkim was truly wonderful. Our journey which commenced
from May 26 finally ended on May 31 after spending 72 hours in Gangtok.
Long car journey is bit arduous and less pleasant yet it can be filled with many
surprises. For all of us too, Sikkim was one of the well known holiday destinations
of the North East and is a source of many pleasant surprises. Its cross-cultural
ethnic diversity, its ancient temples, its rich tradition of handcrafts and handloom
are always tempting enough to draw the discerning holiday maker like us. T. T. Lepcha,
Editor in the Department of Information and Public Relations, provided us all possible
help, accompanied our company and remained with us till the last day of our trip.
He is a man of great inspiration and dignity for his Lepcha community.
Here is a short sketch of what we did during our short stay in Sikkim:
Day 1 - Oomph of Balutar
Led by deputy director Obang Tayeng, the 10 member team visited 510 MW Teesta-V Hydro
Power project constructed by the NHPC at Teesta River in Balutar, East Sikkim district
and interacted with the authorities there. Later, during the day the team visited
ongoing 96 MW Dikchu Hydro Power project at river Bakcha, which is one of the major
tributaries of the Teesta. The power developer of the 96 MW Dikchu Hydro Power project
is Sneha Kinetic Power Project Limited and the project is expected to be commissioned
by 2014. The state of Sikkim has increased and strengthened its power infrastructures
and is now a self reliant power producer.
Day 2 - Amidst Nathu La Pass
Situated 56 Kms away from Gangtok, Nathula Pass is at an altitude of 14,700 ft. bordering
between India and China in the Tibetan Plateau. It is one of the highest motorable
roads and richly covered by many varieties of Alpine Flora & Fauna. Though the rain
played killjoy on our visit to Nathula but it could not dampen the spirit of our
team as each member had some reason to rejoice amidst Nathula’s grandeur. Nathula
is well known for its scenic beauty and thriving border trade between Indians and
Day 3- Mixed sojourn
Our trip included in Rumtek Monastery, Banjhakari Falls Energy Park, World Class
football Paljor Stadium and Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial Hospital at Gangtok. Visit
to Ranka Model Village was abandoned by the team due to unavoidable circumstances
which prevail throughout our trip. Yet, the mixed sojourn has its own fairy tale
to be retold later.
Rumtek Monastery-The Rumtek Monastery is about a 45 minutes drive on the hill opposite
Gangtok. It is the Dharma Chakra Center and seat of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa
who is the head of Kagyupa order of Tibetan Buddhism. The Rumtek Monastery is constructed
by XVIth Karmapa in 1962.
Banjhakari Falls Energy Park developed at the outskirts of Gangtok is a picturesque
tourist spot and is constructed by Sikkim Rural Management and Development department.
Paljor Stadium- The world class Paljor Stadium for football was inaugurated by Dr
APJ Abdul Kalam President of India on 22 September 2005. The stadium is equipped
with all the requisite modern facilities.
Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial Hospital is the biggest government hospital in the state
of Sikkim. The professionalism of the hospital management and cleanliness prevailing
is praiseworthy and appreciable. The 10-member team led by Secretary IPR Mrs Indra
Mallo Jain was received by Dr Yogesh Verma, Medical Superintendent of 300 bedded
Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial Hospital and other hospital authorities who later explained
about the various health initiatives launched by the Government of Sikkim for improving
the health of people in the state.
That Sikkim is the model developing state in the north east can be gauzed by the
presence of many national and multi-national corporate houses including pharmaceutical
giants such as Sun Pharma, Cipla, Ranbaxy besides health industries including Apollo
Hospitals and five star hotels which indications of its progressive character. The
department of IPR also brings out weekly newspapers in all local languages with an
objective of not only disseminating information to general public but also to promote
and develop tribal languages which are vulnerable to extinction sans government patronage.
The 72 hour tour to the small yet beautiful Himalayan state was a rich and eye-opening
experience for all the team members.