Since I had gone to Kalimpong, I thought it was my business to nip across and see for myself what was happening in Gangtok. I had been here more than twenty years ago but that trip was made on Leave Travel Concession. It was absolutely unofficial. Now that I was in-charge of the operations in that state too I decided to take a look.
As you travel up from Kalimpong to Gangtok it is a fascinating landscape all through. Up and down and through lush green forests, occasional gaps revealing only the tips of the Himalayan peaks, the road winds its way along the edges of the countless hills before it hits Rongpo. The most interesting part, however, is the stretch that runs along the somewhat wild Teesta River. They have now an organization that controls rafting on Teesta.
Gangtok was as placid as ever despite the tell-tale signs of development. The offices were always efficient performing well – better than their brethren across several hills in the North-east. Here officials had a heightened sense of responsibility and they appeared far more sincere than in any other place. It was quite evident that in the intervening two decades the state had taken long strides towards prosperity. What I saw this time was much different from what I had seen last time – the difference being palpably for the better. Our Postal System appeared to have kept pace with the requirements. Though headed by a Group B officer the Division was doing fine.
We had an outing towards Nathu La. There was a lot of military traffic. I am somehow unable to tolerate people coming in the way of armymen. And, here I was doing it myself. But there was no going back as the target was Nathu La. Over the winding roads which were well asphalted we hit Tsango Lake after about a couple of hours. I did not wish to continue further on to Nathu La. This was 12000 ft in elevation and presented lovely sights. The play of cumulus clouds over the Lake dominated by snow-covered hills was fascinating. It was in fact a tourist site as there were several outfits providing tea and refreshments.
Having “done” Tsango it was our time to leave and get back to Gangtok. The next day we commenced our long trudge to Kolkata. But then it was yet to be decided whether we would drive right through or take the regional flight from Bagdogra.