- Sikkim Diaries – Way to Pelling
- Pelling – Pemayangtse, Sanga Choling Monastery and Rabdentse Sanctuary
- Pelling – Darap Village, Kanchendjonga Falls and Khecheopalri Lake
- Yuksom- Coronation Stone and Norbugang Chorten
- Yuksom – Dubdi Monastery Trek
- Trailer of ‘Yuksom- Tsokha’ Trail
- Initiation into Birding @Bliss Resort, Biksthang, Sikkim
- Day Trek to ‘Kah-do Sang Phu-the cave of the Dakinis(Occult fairies)’
- Buddhism: Fluttering Flags and Floating Blessings
Last two posts in this series took you to Pelling. This post is about our third day in Sikkim and will take you around Pelling.
The day began with another ‘fabulous show‘, of sunrise on Kanchendjonga, followed by halt at Darap village, Rock garden, Khecheopalri Lake and Kanchendjonga Falls. In fact, this is also morning half itinerary of the ‘visit-less-run-more’ sightseeing tours.
Our journey started by crossing upper pelling, and then lower pelling, which was an ugly block of concrete buildings. Just after we crossed lower Pelling, a man asked us if we would not mind dropping her five year old daughter at her school in Darap Village. We happily welcomed his lovely daughter. Our driver smilingly asked the little girl her name and some other kiddie things. It is a usual practice there to take lift in some vehicle going out, on day tour, to go to school at Darap that is three kms from Pelling. We dropped little girl at Darap and waved her good-bye.
Darap is a small little hilly village with tiny houses scattered here and there. We got out to click photographs and continued to our next destination –Rock Garden. As the name suggest, it is actually a garden developed around the rocks scattered along the river. Driver was indirectly dissuading us from getting down to the river – which was a climb down of 100+ stairs.
We had already stressed at the time of finalizing the deal with the taxi driver that we will take our own time and will reach Yuksom only by evening. It disappointed us. However, when the driver realized that we were a little unhappy about his reluctance he simply said, “You are here for traveling so your happiness is important for me. Please go ahead with your plans.” His concern for us was something that we found everywhere. People welcomed us with warmness of their heart and went an extra mile to make our trip an unforgettable one.
There were fifty or more tourists at riverbank and we took a fairly long walk to find some of ‘our’ own place. Rachit was going mad – so many pebbles to throw in water, and he or rather we all also wanted to swim, cross the river. It was flowing slowly and was shallow in May. The water was very clean. In fact, till now, we had not seen any plastic thrown anywhere in Sikkim. But we did not have spare cloths; they were all up there in taxi. We allowed Rachit to throw pebbles as long as the time permitted and climbed up to move on. I would say this could be a very good place to spend a day, even with very young kids.
Next destinations on sightseeing tours were Kanchendjonga falls and then Khecheopalri Lake. By now our driver had found out our dislike for sightseeing tours and the crowd associated with it – so he proposed to take us to Khecheopalri Lake first. That will be GOOD!
In between he told us about himself- he was a Nepali, not from Nepal, from Sikkim. His surname was ‘taksari’- his ancestors were the tax collectors. And then he showed us where Nepal was, pointing to some hill. But it was all hills and hills and more hills and that too merging in each other.
Sensing our blank looks, he tried further to explain-“ There that is a hill at no. X from your left, behind that is another hill rising above the front one. You cross that hill and to left (or right I forgot) you walk down a little and there is a path going between the two hills to another hill and half of that is in Nepal and other half in India.”
Now, that was a real challenge, to locate that first No X hill among an in-distinctive mass of hills, for someone like me, who even in plains forgets about the previous turn as soon as a new turn appears. Manish is no better as every time there is a question of left or right, he has to imagine himself writing something to determine where is left and where is right. I envy these Pahari people. They seem to recognize every hill like a standalone distinctive figure.
And their prediction about rain! Whenever we showed apprehensions about venturing out due to thick rainy clouds, they would look at sky and predict – “Oh. It will rain only for fifteen-twenty minutes/ it is not going to rain here, it will rain at XYZ/ it is raining heavily over that hill” And their predictions were always right. May be they can teach something to Met. Department of Delhi.
So I was talking about the Lake.It is the most sacred of the lakes and is believed to be an emanation of goddess Tara, and it’s shape looks like her footprint. The Lake is on a detour on Pelling-Yuksom road from zero-point or Khecheopalri turn. It is an eleven km steep ride from there (lake is at 2000M) up a moderately good motorable road. We were climbing higher and higher, traffic was light and at times it was scary to look down.
Wherever you travel in West Sikkim, some river or stream is always in sight. This time it was that same river in which we so desperately wanted to take a dip earlier. I was dreaming of some tour that will trek along the river- to imbibe all that beauty of which we were just able to take a glance here and there. I was feeling a desire stirring up in my heart to trek in all those out of reach places and I found that Manish and Rachit were feeling the same. When I asked Rachit would he like to trek at those places, he replied, “Yes. But we will sleep in a hotel only”. He was afraid of sleeping in a jungle and I could understand. Kids have their own fears and pleasures. Rest of the journey we spent silently admiring the nature and dreaming of going close to it.
Vehicle are not allowed inside the entrance gate to the lake. There was a gompa that we did not visit. It was a short and beautiful walk in shadow of big trees to reach the Lake. Mr Taksari has already told Rachit about making a wish there at the lake, as it was sure to be granted. He was excited about all this wishing and its surety of being granted.
The Lake was visible only at the end of the walk as it was surrounded by dense vegetation and hidden in a sort of mountain bowl. It is also known as ‘Wishing Lake’ and is considered very sacred. Legend has it that even if a leaf drops onto lake’s surface, a guardian bird swoops down and picks it up, thereby maintaining the purity of water.
We took our shoes off, crossed a wooden bridge, lined on both sides by Prayer Wheels, to reach at the water of the Lake. Water was crystal clear even at the banks. Colorful fish were so clearly visible even when they were deep inside. It was pristine and peaceful. I asked Manish to take care of Rachit and found some quiet corner for myself for my Sumiran of Him.
One can trek from Pelling to The Lake (six hours), stay overnight at Lake (basic accommodation available), and trek next day to Yuksom (around four to five hours).
We were told about excellent views of Mount Pandim from Khecheopari village and gompa but could not view, as it was cloudy (May is generally cloudy in daytime). Once outside, we took our lunch that we brought with us from Pelling and it was a good idea to do so, and descended for our next destination – Kanchendjonga falls.
By the time we reached falls, we were tired of sitting inside taxi. We quickly came out of taxi to have a look at falls. It was a mountain length but a narrow streak of water. I proposed to take a chai and get going. But there were some stairs going up somewhere that was not visible from road. As ever, I remained there because there was no certain goal and Manish went up to find out if there was something interesting up over there. Suddenly I heard Rachit shouting at the top of his voice-“ Mamma! Look! It is a big big thundering water fall”
I hurriedly climbed up. Oh My God! It was so wild up over there in mountains and a big thundering waterfall, And best part was that we could easily go right up to the point where it was falling on rocks with such a thunder that we could not hear each other even in earshot distance. Both father and son went right up to there and drenched themselves in flying water droplets. We remained there for 45 minutes or so and by the time we came down Rachit was all wet.
After that I decided that we will not get down from taxi, else Rachit will catch cold. We were moving towards our destination in perfect solitude. The scenery was breathtaking, wonderful, and beautiful in its entire wilderness. Soon our wandering spirit took control of us forcing us to get out of our mobile cage. We roamed around for another half an hour and I made a promise to myself that once my little darling is old enough to trek for days, I would trek here.
By the time we reached Yuksom, it was about to rain. As soon as we entered the porch of Tashigang hotel, it started raining heavily. I wished driver would reach to Pelling safely.