Gangtok, India

An Hillside Life

urban Himalayas
View of the town?s characteristic houses from the top of its Lal market.
SOS Nirvana
A heavenly encounter on an elevated bridge in the capital of Sikkim
a stupid
Monk works in front of the great sacred stupa of Do-Drul Chorten
Veg Assortment
Vegetable seller at Lal de Gangtok market
1920 ??
Movie scene? Street queue in Gangtok
the himalayan goddess
Sun rises and illuminates Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain at? face of the earth.jpg
Buddhist veil
Rumtek Monastery, one of the most disputed of all Buddhist domains
2nd touch
Young Buddhist apprentice summons others to classes at Rumtek monastery.
Kamal Saloon
Barbershop in the center of Gangktok
steps to heaven
Bright Tibetan architecture of the Rumtek monastery.
Buddhist apprentices in a rare moment of application, amidst much mischief
a lot of health
Vendors from Gangtok Lal Market at their high places of work.
Small crowd participates in another bingo afternoon on the terrace of Lal market.
against the sky
Buddhist prayer flags spread in the vicinity of the Hindu temple of Ganesh Tok.
a fluffy company
Child between two red panda extras, the animal mascot of Sikkim province.
Gappa Goal
Banca serves snacks of gol gappa (also called pani puri) in hollow dough balls that can be served stuffed or soaked in the most distinct Indian flavours, sweet or savory.
urban Himalayas II
Gangtok's houses, located in one of the first elevations of the Himalayas.
buddha cats
Cats walk on a balcony of Rumtek Buddhist monastery, the largest in Sikkim and India.
uphill, downhill
View from the lower entry point of the Gangtok cable car.
House of Tibetology
Building of the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, a research center for Tibetan Buddhism but not only.
Gangtok it is the capital of Sikkim, an ancient kingdom in the Himalayas section of the Silk Road, which became an Indian province in 1975. The city is balanced on a slope, facing Kanchenjunga, the third highest elevation in the world that many natives believe shelters a paradise valley of Immortality. Their steep and strenuous Buddhist existence aims, there, or elsewhere, to achieve it.

The Spiritual Management of Wangyal Buthia

Sir Wangyal Buthia turned out to be something of a Winston”The Wolf” Wolfe of “Pulp Fiction”. Due to different differences, our relationship with those responsible for tourism in Sikkim had started well but quickly became complicated. We met them in early December. Since December we have been trying to confirm our itinerary in that province.

Sir Buthia would only be informed that he would be welcoming us there on January 7th, two days before we arrived. On that date, most of the issues remained unblocked. Buthia solved them all with incredible subtlety and humility.

"Okay. Sir… just enjoy. Everything is according to you. Let's together florish Sikkim world wide” assures us using an automatic translator and the most positive attitude.

When we found him in Rangpo, where West Bengal and Sikkim flirt, we quickly confirmed that Wangyal was Zen himself. Illuminated by their knowledge and spiritual light, Gantkok and Sikkim seemed ever more radiant.

The guide secure us with the handkerchiefs khata, silky guarantees of the sincerity and goodwill of your intentions. From Rangpo, we traveled uphill, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Red Panda Cultural Festival, one of the most important in Sikkim.

The event took place, however, in a stadium. Its artificial atmosphere of concrete and synthetic grass nullified any photographic interest we might have had in it.

Gangtok above, Gangtok below

In spite of the displeasure of his superiors, Sir Buthia understands our motives and nods. The next stop is the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. This museum and establishment employs researchers into the language and traditions of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism.

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology Building, Gangtok, Sikkim, India

Building of the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, a research center for Tibetan Buddhism but not only.

In recent times, also the study and computer recording of the history of around sixty monasteries in Sikkim and their documents and works.

There we carry out our own investigations, which we only exchange for others, next door, around Do-Drul Chorten, a stupa that houses books and other sacred relics of Buddhism.

Do-Drul Chorten, Gangtok, Sikkim, India

Monk works in front of the great sacred stupa of Do-Drul Chorten

A religious ceremony planned there keeps several young monks busy cutting and preparing flowers, while Buddhist faithful spin the 108 prayer wheels arranged around the monument.

Some time later, the opening of the Red Panda Festival ended. Traffic began to flow again along the main slope of the city. We too go to its height.

We needed to buy fruit for the evening. Wangyal takes us to the multi-storey building of the large Lal market. When we arrived at the base, we recognized a section of the town's houses that we had discovered on the Internet and that enchanted us. We immediately forgot about tangerines and grapes. We beg you to take us to the market terrace.

Gangtok Lal Market Stall, Sikkim, India

Vendors from Gangtok Lal Market at their high places of work.

Sir Buthia leads the rush as we climb several flights of stairs. At the top, it reveals a hidden corner among the many typical Sikkim food stalls that lined the edge of the building.

From this corner, we can better appreciate the curve of rounded, colorful and emblematic houses, minutes before sunset, to the sound of communal bingo that hundreds of Sikkim residents – including police officers – play there every evening. .

Gangtok House, Sikkim, India

View of the town's characteristic houses from the top of its Lal market.

Night was not long in falling. We were tired from the morning journey from Kalimpong, and the next journey of exploration would begin at inappropriate times.

The Omnipresent Kanchenjunga Mountain

The story has pushed Sikkim into a kind of groove on the Asian map. The old kingdom arises under the Tibet, between the Nepal and Bhutan, with the border between the vast Indian subcontinent and Bangladesh just below. The Himalayas are also emerging in its territory. An exuberant part must be said, starring the third largest mountain in the mountain range and in the Planet.

In Gangtok, since outside the monsoon months, Kanchenjunga is almost always present. We watched her wake up and pink to the day from the breezy, icy top of Tashi, one of the many viewpoints that serve the city.

The temperature hovers around 0º. A group of Indian military men in t-shirts enjoy the spartan atmosphere and train for any upcoming courier. The sun, on the other hand, emerges, triumphant from the start, from the east on our coasts. For a brief moment, the various pinnacles of the Himalayas rose and gold.

Kanchenjunga Mountain, Himalayas

Sun rises and illuminates Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain on Earth

Leave them to the frigidity of whiteness and height while a maddened flock of crows follows the example of the military and competes against each other and against the wind for the best roofs, terraces and branches in the surroundings.

More than a majestic peak, Kanchenjunga is part of the spirituality of the people of these places. Of Buthias and Lepchas. Even the Nepali, who form the majority in the province, have their lingua franca and named the neighboring nation. Finally, from the Tibetans who reside on the northern and eastern fringes of the province, closer to the Tibet.

Most of them believe in a Dzo-nga deity – a kind of local yeti – and in the existence of a Valley of Immortality hidden in the mountain range. At least the belief in Beyul Dmoshong is so real that, in 1962, a Tibetan Lama led hundreds of followers to the high, snowy slopes of Kanchenjunga, on a pilgrimage with the purpose of clearing the way into that same valley.

Sikkim: from Kingdom to Indian Province

But Sikkim is not just about mountains and Buddhist strongholds. For a long time independent or protectorate, the ancient kingdom was incorporated into the India, in 1975, during the term of Indira Ghandi, after a strong protest against the Chogyal monarchy and a referendum that resulted in a 97.5% yes entry into the Union, but whose legality continues to be disputed.

Today, fully integrated, Sikkim province is still home to a growing number of Bengalis, Muslims hailing from Bihar and Marwaris, the ethnic trio that thrives on trade in the southern region of Sikkim and Gangtok.

Lal Market in Gangtok, Sikkim, India

Banca serves snacks of gol gappa (also called pani puri) in hollow dough balls that can be served stuffed or soaked in the most distinct Indian flavours, sweet or savory.

We find them every time we return to the Lal market to restock, installed on their terraced stalls full of fruit, seasonal vegetables and other foodstuffs for the whole year.

Also in others where they sell countless Made in garments and utensils. China that, despite the bad relations between the India and the Dragon, cross the northern border on a regular basis and supply far more than Sikkim, the entire Subcontinent.

With the sun aimed at the zenith, the temperature becomes bearable. We close the contemplation and worship of Kanchenjunga. We return to the heart of Gangtok longing for the cozy porridge that, like children, we begged Sir Bhutia to escape our Indian breakfasts.

Gangtok's Overcrowded Streets and Alleys

As we reach the main artery of MG Marg, a statue as humble as Mahatma Ghandi himself blesses a multi-ethnic, young, and sometimes Westernized, sometimes traditional crowd that intersects in a much more orderly fashion than in the south of the Subcontinent.

Curved and divided into two sections depending on the capricious terrain, MG Marg is Gangtok's avenue par excellence. Sikkim prides itself on its status as the “greenest”, organic and cleanest province in the India. MG Marg proves at least the last of the titles.

When we walk through it, between shops and small shops full of products from famous but fake brands, agencies, bars and restaurants with minimally careful looks, we give ourselves the impression that we've landed in any corner of Europe, or the most civilized of Asia.

Street scene in Gangtok, Sikkim, India

Street movie scene in Gangtok

From there, Gangtok branches into a fascinating network of hills and stairs that keep the residents' legs strong.

We board the cable car that serves the city and enjoy, from a good panoramic distance, the gaudy and hanging houses. Another morning, Wangyal gets the company and jeep of a brother-in-law.

Most of the time in a pleasant chat, the two take us across the River Teesta and to the Rumtek Monastery, one of the most emblematic but also controversial in Gangtok.

Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, India

Bright Tibetan architecture of the Rumtek monastery.

In the early 90s, the right to ownership and administration of the monastery, the largest in Sikkim and the richest monastic center in the India generated a state of siege.

Rumtek: a Buddhist Monastery in a State of War

Anyone who thinks that Buddhism is just meditation and spiritualism is wrong. Real pitched battles broke out between the two factions.

Since then, until today, the Indian government has kept military machine guns present, with instructions to disperse any attacks perpetrated by the side that intends to reconquer the monastery.

The environment is surreal. A mystical ceremonial theme of horns and cymbals almost hypnotizes us, adorned by the gong played by a young monk who calls his colleagues to the learning of the day.

Gong for lessons at Rumtek monastery, Sikkim, India

Young Buddhist apprentice summons others to classes at Rumtek monastery.

At the sound of this soundtrack, we pass between bulky, camouflaged soldiers and cross the main portico. Indian visitors enjoy tossing coins into the air with the superstitious purpose of immobilizing them on top of the central pole of the peace flag. A large flock of pigeons flies over them.

We look for a privileged vantage point when we come across another younger group of apprentices sitting on the floor of a terrace, handing over their notebooks. The adult who supervises them is absent. Immediately, they replace the monastic chores with successive tumults.

Attract the pigeons with pieces of chapatis left in a corner of the ward. At some point, all the birds approach them. The little religious people hit us with stones and newly produced flour balls. Frightened, the pigeons flit above us, take a little tour of recognition and return to begging.

Monks at Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim, India

Buddhist apprentices in a rare moment of application, in the midst of a lot of mischief

The game is repeated until the tutor returns and puts them in line with vigorous lashes. On the other side of the courtyard, in one of the many structural layers of the temple, continue the horns, cymbals and the ceremony of homage and offerings to the 16th Karmapa, who has his relics in a golden and sacred stupa.

We left Rumtek to the rotten peace he had fallen into. We return to Gangktok. Upon arrival, artificial lights were already illuminating the city's XNUMX lives. We free Sir Buthia for his and we watch Lal's market bingo alienate hundreds of others.

Bingo in Gangtok, Sikkim, India

Small crowd participates in another bingo afternoon on the terrace of Lal market

The authors would like to thank the following entities for supporting this article:  Embassy of India in Lisbon; Ministry of Tourism, Government of India🇧🇷 Sikkim Tourism

Dawki, India

Dawki, Dawki, Bangladesh on sight

We descended from the high and mountainous lands of Meghalaya to the flats to the south and below. There, the translucent and green stream of the Dawki forms the border between India and Bangladesh. In a damp heat that we haven't felt for a long time, the river also attracts hundreds of Indians and Bangladeshis in a picturesque escape.
Jaisalmer, India

There's a Feast in the Thar Desert

As soon as the short winter breaks, Jaisalmer indulges in parades, camel races, and turban and mustache competitions. Its walls, alleys and surrounding dunes take on more color than ever. During the three days of the event, natives and outsiders watch, dazzled, as the vast and inhospitable Thar finally shines through.
Goa, India

The Last Gasp of the Goan Portugality

The prominent city of Goa already justified the title of “rome of the east” when, in the middle of the XNUMXth century, epidemics of malaria and cholera led to its abandonment. The New Goa (Pangim) for which it was exchanged became the administrative seat of Portuguese India but was annexed by the Indian Union of post-independence. In both, time and neglect are ailments that now make the Portuguese colonial legacy wither.
Tawang, India

The Mystic Valley of Deep Discord

On the northern edge of the Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang is home to dramatic mountain scenery, ethnic Mompa villages and majestic Buddhist monasteries. Even if Chinese rivals have not passed him since 1962, Beijing look at this domain as part of your Tibet. Accordingly, religiosity and spiritualism there have long shared with a strong militarism.
Guwahati, India

The City that Worships Kamakhya and the Fertility

Guwahati is the largest city in the state of Assam and in North East India. It is also one of the fastest growing in the world. For Hindus and devout believers in Tantra, it will be no coincidence that Kamakhya, the mother goddess of creation, is worshiped there.
Dooars India

At the Gates of the Himalayas

We arrived at the northern threshold of West Bengal. The subcontinent gives way to a vast alluvial plain filled with tea plantations, jungle, rivers that the monsoon overflows over endless rice fields and villages bursting at the seams. On the verge of the greatest of the mountain ranges and the mountainous kingdom of Bhutan, for obvious British colonial influence, India treats this stunning region by Dooars.
Meghalaya, India

The Bridges of the Peoples that Create Roots

The unpredictability of rivers in the wettest region on Earth never deterred the Khasi and the Jaintia. Faced with the abundance of trees elastic fig tree in their valleys, these ethnic groups got used to molding their branches and strains. From their time-lost tradition, they have bequeathed hundreds of dazzling root bridges to future generations.
Ooty, India

In Bollywood's Nearly Ideal Setting

The conflict with Pakistan and the threat of terrorism made filming in Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh a drama. In Ooty, we see how this former British colonial station took the lead.

Hampi, India

Voyage to the Ancient Kingdom of Bisnaga

In 1565, the Hindu empire of Vijayanagar succumbed to enemy attacks. 45 years before, he had already been the victim of the Portugueseization of his name by two Portuguese adventurers who revealed him to the West.

Goa, India

To Goa, Quickly and in Strength

A sudden longing for Indo-Portuguese tropical heritage makes us travel in various transports but almost non-stop, from Lisbon to the famous Anjuna beach. Only there, at great cost, were we able to rest.
savuti, botswana, elephant-eating lions
Savuti, Botswana

Savuti's Elephant-Eating Lions

A patch of the Kalahari Desert dries up or is irrigated depending on the region's tectonic whims. In Savuti, lions have become used to depending on themselves and prey on the largest animals in the savannah.
Hikers on the Ice Lake Trail, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit – The Painful Acclimatization of the Ice Lake

On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.
Colonial Church of San Francisco de Assis, Taos, New Mexico, USA
Architecture & Design
Taos, USA

North America Ancestor of Taos

Traveling through New Mexico, we were dazzled by the two versions of Taos, that of the indigenous adobe hamlet of Taos Pueblo, one of the towns of the USA inhabited for longer and continuously. And that of Taos city that the Spanish conquerors bequeathed to the Mexicothe Mexico gave in to United States and that a creative community of native descendants and migrated artists enhance and continue to praise.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.
Saida Ksar Ouled Soltane, festival of the ksour, tataouine, tunisia
Ceremonies and Festivities
Tataouine, Tunisia

Festival of the Ksour: Sand Castles That Don't Collapse

The ksour were built as fortifications by the Berbers of North Africa. They resisted Arab invasions and centuries of erosion. Every year, the Festival of the Ksour pays them the due homage.
, Mexico, city of silver and gold, homes over tunnels
Guanajuato, Mexico

The City that Shines in All Colors

During the XNUMXth century, it was the city that produced the most silver in the world and one of the most opulent in Mexico and colonial Spain. Several of its mines are still active, but the impressive wealth of Guanuajuato lies in the multicolored eccentricity of its history and secular heritage.
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
Apia, Western Samoa

Fia Fia – High Rotation Polynesian Folklore

From New Zealand to Easter Island and from here to Hawaii, there are many variations of Polynesian dances. Fia Fia's Samoan nights, in particular, are enlivened by one of the more fast-paced styles.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Chiang Khong to Luang Prabang, Laos, Through the Mekong Below
Chiang Khong - Luang Prabang, , In stock

Slow Boat, Down the Mekong River

Laos' beauty and lower cost are good reasons to sail between Chiang Khong and Luang Prabang. But this long descent of the Mekong River can be as exhausting as it is picturesque.
Women with long hair from Huang Luo, Guangxi, China
Longsheng, China

Huang Luo: the Chinese Village of the Longest Hairs

In a multi-ethnic region covered with terraced rice paddies, the women of Huang Luo have surrendered to the same hairy obsession. They let the longest hair in the world grow, years on end, to an average length of 170 to 200 cm. Oddly enough, to keep them beautiful and shiny, they only use water and rice.
sunlight photography, sun, lights
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 2)

One Sun, So Many Lights

Most travel photos are taken in sunlight. Sunlight and weather form a capricious interaction. Learn how to predict, detect and use at its best.
Aswan, Egypt, Nile River meets Black Africa, Elephantine Island
Aswan, Egypt

Where the Nile Welcomes the Black Africa

1200km upstream of its delta, the Nile is no longer navigable. The last of the great Egyptian cities marks the fusion between Arab and Nubian territory. Since its origins in Lake Victoria, the river has given life to countless African peoples with dark complexions.
Moa on a beach in Rapa Nui/Easter Island
Easter Island, Chile

The Take-off and Fall of the Bird-Man Cult

Until the XNUMXth century, the natives of Easter Island they carved and worshiped great stone gods. All of a sudden, they started to drop their moai. The veneration of tanatu manu, a half-human, half-sacred leader, decreed after a dramatic competition for an egg.
ala juumajarvi lake, oulanka national park, finland
Winter White
Kuusamo ao PN Oulanka, Finland

Under the Arctic's Icy Spell

We are at 66º North and at the gates of Lapland. In these parts, the white landscape belongs to everyone and to no one like the snow-covered trees, the atrocious cold and the endless night.
On the Crime and Punishment trail, St. Petersburg, Russia, Vladimirskaya
Saint Petersburg, Russia

On the Trail of "Crime and Punishment"

In St. Petersburg, we cannot resist investigating the inspiration for the base characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's most famous novel: his own pities and the miseries of certain fellow citizens.
Horseshoe Bend
Navajo nation, USA

The Navajo Nation Lands

From Kayenta to Page, passing through Marble Canyon, we explore the southern Colorado Plateau. Dramatic and desert, the scenery of this indigenous domain, cut out in Arizona, reveals itself to be splendid.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Amboseli National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Normatior Hill
Natural Parks
Amboseli National Park, Kenya

A Gift from the Kilimanjaro

The first European to venture into these Masai haunts was stunned by what he found. And even today, large herds of elephants and other herbivores roam the pastures irrigated by the snow of Africa's biggest mountain.
Engravings, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
UNESCO World Heritage
Luxor, Egypt

From Luxor to Thebes: Journey to Ancient Egypt

Thebes was raised as the new supreme capital of the Egyptian Empire, the seat of Amon, the God of Gods. Modern Luxor inherited the Temple of Karnak and its sumptuousness. Between one and the other flow the sacred Nile and millennia of dazzling history.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
Dominican Republic, Bahia de Las Águilas Beach, Pedernales. Jaragua National Park, Beach
Lagoa Oviedo a Bahia de las Águilas, Dominican Republic

In Search of the Immaculate Dominican Beach

Against all odds, one of the most unspoiled Dominican coastlines is also one of the most remote. Discovering the province of Pedernales, we are dazzled by the semi-desert Jaragua National Park and the Caribbean purity of Bahia de las Águilas.
gaudy courtship
Suzdal, Russia

Thousand Years of Old Fashioned Russia

It was a lavish capital when Moscow was just a rural hamlet. Along the way, it lost political relevance but accumulated the largest concentration of churches, monasteries and convents in the country of the tsars. Today, beneath its countless domes, Suzdal is as orthodox as it is monumental.
Back in the sun. San Francisco Cable Cars, Life Ups and Downs
On Rails
San Francisco, USA

San Francisco Cable Cars: A Life of Highs and Lows

A macabre wagon accident inspired the San Francisco cable car saga. Today, these relics work as a charm operation in the city of fog, but they also have their risks.
city ​​hall, capital, oslo, norway
Oslo, Norway

A Overcapitalized Capital

One of Norway's problems has been deciding how to invest the billions of euros from its record-breaking sovereign wealth fund. But even immoderate resources don't save Oslo from its social inconsistencies.
Visitors at Talisay Ruins, Negros Island, Philippines
Daily life
Talisay City, Philippines

Monument to a Luso-Philippine Love

At the end of the 11th century, Mariano Lacson, a Filipino farmer, and Maria Braga, a Portuguese woman from Macau, fell in love and got married. During the pregnancy of what would be her 2th child, Maria succumbed to a fall. Destroyed, Mariano built a mansion in his honor. In the midst of World War II, the mansion was set on fire, but the elegant ruins that endured perpetuate their tragic relationship.
Maria Jacarés, Pantanal Brazil
Miranda, Brazil

Maria dos Jacarés: the Pantanal shelters such Creatures

Eurides Fátima de Barros was born in the interior of the Miranda region. 38 years ago, he settled in a small business on the side of BR262 that crosses the Pantanal and gained an affinity with the alligators that lived on his doorstep. Disgusted that once upon a time the creatures were being slaughtered there, she began to take care of them. Now known as Maria dos Jacarés, she named each of the animals after a soccer player or coach. It also makes sure they recognize your calls.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.