My account of the last day of our travel to Sikkim has been pending for sometime now, thanks to the procrastination bug which caught me and a busier work schedule off late. Anyways a few months on I would give it my best shot to recollect the things we did on the last day of our tour to Sikkim. We were to go around Pelling, once the capital of this kingdom.
The fatigue after a long journey the day before had vanished thanks to a fairly cozy sleep at Tashigang Resort. After waking up I had immediately rushed to the balcony to catch a glimpse of Kanchenjunga which had been elusive during our entire travel because of the hazy weather we had got. For a few minutes I did see the peaks of the highest mountain in India, it was more like a hazy outline in the distant horizon which gradually disappeared behind the haze and clouds again. I also noticed how nice a location it was where I stood, our resort was situated at a perfect spot with a beautiful view of the valley around. On a clearer day we would surely have been gazing at the spectacular snow capped peaks of Himalayas, a moment where all you could do is to let out a deep sigh and look forward to rest of the day.
Like all the other days we had an early breakfast and headed out for the excursion around Pelling. First on the list was Khecheopalri Lake, the revered wish fulfilling lake which is a sacred pilgrimage for both Hindus and Buddhists in this region. To reach the lake we drove up to Pelling and from there it was another half an hour drive through the lush green landscapes of West Sikkim.
Along the way we saw the Cardamom plantations which were in plenty, a commercial crop which people grow here, especially around Darap village. Rimbi Waterfalls was a suggested spot on our day’s itinerary which we had decided not to cover but got to see it anyways because it was right on the road. Rimbi River flew along for a while before we took the road which would lead us to the lake.
The parking lot near the lake was already buzzing and full of vehicles. We bought the entry tickets, nominally charged and took the mini trek to the lake. Bright and colourful prayer flags adorned the path, totally shaded under the trees. We observed that all along there were quite a few stacks of stones kept, stemming from the belief that if you were able to manage the stacking of 7 or 9 stones the wish would come true.
Since the lake was a sacred space we needed to take our footwear off to go all the way to its shore. It was very crowded there as tourists gathered for the rituals. Even feeding the fishes of the lake was also one of them and fish feed was available at the shops outside.
After observing the activities for a while we returned to pick our shoes. Barring the little commotion we had just come back from it was hard not to admire the absolute tranquility of this place. This divine lake surrounded by the Khecheopalri hills was like a natural spa where you could sit for hours and may be retrospect.
On the way back to Pelling we stopped at Orange River Garden on Rimbi River. A beautiful and cute little garden with pagodas curated just above the river. There was a restaurant and a few shops which sold some local souvenirs but we were only interested in going all the way down to the river bed. A well maintained staircase took us there and splashing our feet in the gushing waters of Rimbi was one of the most exciting thing we did on the day. Down on the river bed scene was almost out of those posters we have grown up seeing on our living room walls.
The first half of the day was over and we had got back to Pelling to take a break for lunch. It was afternoon and the town seemed to have gone into a siesta as we walked around looking for a place which would offer local cuisine. It turned out be a failed foray hence we settled in the best option available which was ready to serve food. It was a good break to reminisce the things we had already seen in the day as the excitement of going down to the Rimbi River still lingered.
After the lunch break in the sleepy town of Pelling we went to the Pemayangtse Monastery. It is one of the main monasteries in the region and is situated between Pelling and Geyzing. It was a beautiful structure painted in colours, atop a small hillock.This was another place where we felt the need of a guide, since there was no one around who looked like one we ambled around to have a look ourselves. We walked around to the other side and the facade of this monastery became even more ornate with its colourful windows and arches. We could hear the monks chanting in the prayer room on the first floor. I had peeped in and was tempted to go further but decided not to interfere. Also on display were a lot of artefacts, weapons and even the apparel which the Namgyal Kings adorned.
The next and the last stop for the day were the Ruins of the Rabdantse, the second capital of Sikkim. These ruins were visible from the monastery and were only a few kilometers down the hill. Once you enter the compound a trek of good 15-20 minutes leads you through the forested hill to these ruins. At the fag-end of our day it really tested our fitness levels as we walked up and down the slopes which came along.
It was not a long trek but it made us realise how far we were from being fit, although we would all claim to have pur daily routines, diets and apps just for that purpose. So finally we reached the spot which would have been the entrance of this erstwhile palace.
Although these are only ruins of a palace where the power once rested but the entire site has been very well maintained. A proper stoned path takes you to main premises where you see what is left of the palace with well curated lawns all around. You can see two distinct wings, one of them was the residence of the royal family and the other was where the king would have an audience with his subjects. While you are there you can also admire the views of the valley all around. We tried to see if we could catch a glimpse of Kanchenjunga again but the haze made it impossible.
So with the visit to this beautiful site our day around Pelling came to an end.
Things to Note:
- The resort where we stayed is not exactly in Pelling but highly recommened
- Taking a tour of Darap village is a thing to do. You would probably need to look for a guided tour prior to coming. We missed doing that.
- We skipped Kanchenjunga Falls which is another attraction.
- There are a lot of treks here which you can research before your visit.