With the rains having bid a final au revoir, even in the East, this is the best time for a bit of mountain adventure! And what better than a journey to enchanting Sikkim —— an exquisite, little known destination with great views, charming hospitable people and good accommodation.
Ravangla is a picturesque town perched on a ridge between Maenem Hill (10,600 ft) and Tendong (8,700 ft) and affords magnificent views of Mount Narsing and the adjacent peaks.
Ravangla is a great place to spend a couple of nights as there are some interesting spots in the vicinity and comfortable accommodation to relax in while you soak in the atmosphere.
|Ravangla is a great place to spend a couple of nights as there are some interesting spots in the vicinity and comfortable accommodation to relax in while you soak in the atmosphere.|
In Pang Lhabsol, during August-September, this quiet township transforms to one of colour, gaiety and celebrations.
The guardian deity, Mt. Kanchendzonga, is worshipped and the Warrior Dance performed at the Mani Chokarling Monastery.
A little, (8 km or so), out of town on the road to Damthang, clear days offer a glorious view of the Singalila range — Pandim, Rathong, Kabur, Jopuno and Mt. Narsing are all strikingly visible against the true blue skies.
It’s tea time The Temi Tea Estate is 12 km from Damthang and the only tea garden in Sikkim. The tea produced here is a rare blend of flavour and liquor found nowhere else and commands a high rate in the international markets.
Off the Damthang road, 6 km from Ravangla, lies Tinkitam village which boasts a rare species of orchid, called the lady’s slipper that grows on the ground rather than on trees and flowers in Octo ber-November.
The Karma Rabtenling Monastery, in Ralong (13 km from the town centre), is believed to have come up in 1768 at a spot where rice thrown from Tibet by the 9th Karmapa of the Kagyupa sect fell. The Mahakala dance is performed every November at the Palchen Choeling Monastic In- stitute.
Palchen Choeling is a new monastery, built in 1995, and is in ap- pearance a smaller replica of the one at Rumtek.
There are hot sulphur springs below Ralong and Borong, (10 km from Ravangla) which involve a 45 minute climb down to the Rangit River. However, these are only usable between December and February most years, depending on the level of water in the river.
How to get there:
From Mumbai you can take a flight to Kolkata.
From there, you could either fly to Bagdogra (Siliguri) or take the Darjeeling Mail to Siliguri.
From here it is a scenic drive along the Teesta River up to Singtam (95 km from Siliguri), from where you branch off the national highway and drive another 36km to Ravangla.
It will take up to four hours and you can be at your destination for a late lunch.
Where to stay: Mt Narsing Village Resort is located at 6,400 ft and offers a mix of budget and good accommodation.
Those who want to stretch their legs, and enjoy good views too, can take an enjoyable day-long trip to one of a couple of good trekking options.
The first involves a 20 km drive to Damthang, followed by a two and a half hour climbing walk up a bridle path through the dense forest of the Tendong Sanctuary.
Tendong, at around 8,700 ft, lies on a small plateau on top of the mountain. The view from here is breathtakingly awesome. No other place in Sikkim offers such a panoramic view of the state’s mountain range.
(This is an excerpt from the book Driving Holidays in the Himalayas — Sikkim, published by Rupa & Co)