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Day 37 of The Candid Odyssey

Star hotels are luring in such a way that their beds are so fluffy to sleep on unlike what we get in the dormitories, lodges, and the train sleeper coaches. These fluffy beds reduce our motivation to wake up early. This is why we don't go to star hotels much. Haha, just kidding, you know the truth. Low budget! As we step outside to explore Gangtok, we are treated by the shared taxi people to get going somewhere. There we go :) As we commute away from the city center, we can see the ropeways and paragliding all going on. The morning has just begun and the tourist activities have already started. The cable car is running just above the main road and it's very nice to see that from below. Maybe in the next 10-20 years, we will see flying cars instead of this, who knows.

We are traveling towards Do Drul Chorten, a Buddhist temple on the hilltop, just 10 minutes away from the city center. It's near the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, a museum, library, and research center for anything and everything related to Tibetan culture. The entire area gives a different ambiance. No vehicles, full silence, and lots of scriptures and Buddhist flags along the way. And of course, we need to walk a lot and kind of hike a bit to get to the temple. The temple is serene and it constitutes a golden-domed stupa, shrines, and prayer wheels. We could walk around the place for some time. While all visitors are busy taking pictures, what catches our attention is the prayers and poojas happening inside the shrine. Entry is restricted, so we can only peek from outside. What's going on inside is fascinating. Around a hundred monks are sitting on the floor and chanting the prayers non-stop. Some are outside taking turns to bring loads of soft drinks from somewhere and mix the drinks in a very large container. It's then taken inside. On the other side, a few monks bring other containers outside and pour the mixed drinks out to the ground. That's all. What exactly is happening here? It feels a bit confusing. That's why we ask the same to a younger monk who is burning some leaves outside as part of the pooja. He doesn't speak English or Hindi, but we need an answer to our doubts. After a few attempts, we get to know that those thousands of liters of soft drinks are offerings to Buddha as part of the pooja. Once used, it's then poured out. That's interesting! We can't wait to see when will this stop and what happens next, we need to leave for now.

We are now descending from the hilltop to the next taxi stop. Along the way, there is this Black Cat Museum, a small museum managed by the Army that showcases the history of Sikkim, info about past operations, nice statues, and obviously, weapons! Almost every human-inhabited place in the world has stories of struggles to tell. Not sure if that's good or bad. For example, if we didn't know anything about wars, would we be worrying about the next one? Anyway, now we need to worry about finding a shared taxi to go back to Siliguri :) We are descending now. Since it's noon, we can see everything clearly. Including the beauty of the Teesta River that flows in the valley beside the roads. And it flows along with us for hours on our trip to Siliguri. Talking about the trip, eating in such shared taxi trips is a bit different. We have to eat really fast. If you are a slow eater like me, you better watch yourself :) And the hurryness of the drivers even results in leaving restaurants without even paying for what we eat. Yes, we forgot to pay for the lunch. It's not good. That's why we then hand over the money to the driver and ask him to give it to the restaurant. It's his partnership restaurant. Hope he gives :) 

It's evening now and we are back in Siliguri and still have some time to spare. So, where do we go when we have got nowhere to go? Yes, temple! This time it is ISKCON temple. Just nearby. Melodious Bhajans are going on inside the temple we could gladly listen to them. And when it turns out to be sermons, we will leave. No offense, it's just because we don't understand the language. Music is enjoyable irrespective of language, so, that's why we become part of it. Now we can go upstairs and read something. Remember those Gandhi books we bought? We still have those with us. And after all those time-killer activities, we go catch that train for tonight. Towards more of the northeast. We are just getting started!

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