Travel Log & Info

Rinchenpong, A travel note 11Jul

Rinchenpong, A travel note

The quaint little town of Rinchenpong adjacent to Kaluk in West Sikkim is an excellent place to be in for a weekend getaway. Situated nearly 6000 metres above sea level, in a thickly forested area, Rinchenpong has much in store for both the lovers of adventure and history. Locals, mostly comprising of people from the Bhutia, Tamang and Gurung community, believe that the town first emerged as a monastic village back in early 1730s. The monastery, nearly three hundred years old, is still in function with more than 84 monks residing in its quarters. 
One of the distinguishing features of Rinchenpong is the proximity that the villages still share with the monastic community and the monastery. This makes way for a memorable experience whereby one can live very much within the monks, accompanying them in their quotidian activities and imbibe the tranquillity that such a stay promises. Adventure lovers can trek further up to the forest where there is much to tickle their sense of mystery – the Kalapani (dark water lake) and the bikh pokhri (poison lake) are two such sites. The monastery houses one of the few Ati-Buddha or Adi-Buddha images associated with the Tibetan Buddhism of the Nyingma order. The forest is also a bird-watchers delight. One of the primary attractions of Rinchenpong is the sun-baked golden view of the five peaks of Kanchendzonga.  
Rinchenpong is conveniently connected with the main tourist centres of West Sikkim. You can easily avail share taxi services from Jorethang market area which will take you straight to the Rinchenpong market area. Jorethang can be reached easily from Siliguri by hiring one of the share taxis that ply regularly on this route. There are private taxi services connecting Rinchenpong to Pelling, Gangtok and Gyalshing. There are a few hotels in the market area and one adjacent to the Rinchenpong monastery delivering decent services. So, if you want to wake up to the mystical notes of the Tibetan bagpipes or if you want some time alone with the Himalayan birds then Rinchenpong is worth a visit.

Author: Samyak Ghosh

Woody Tales Mouchaki 10Jul

Woody Tales Mouchaki

It was a little tiring day. We had a journey by car for around 4 hours from Panjhora and then we reached our next destination- a beautiful place named Mouchuki. Mouchuki is not that much of a popular place, it has still not being explored to that extent. It is a kind of forest based hill station throned with flora and fauna. Our shelter was Mouchuki Eco resort (picture given below). It was a reasonably nice and cosy cottage, well furnished and most importantly well neat and organized. We reached over there tired and hungry. After getting fresh and in place, we were served a sumptuous lunch by a boy whose age would be around 12 years. His cordial behaviour and twinling eyes caught my attention. There developed a brother-sister feeling between us. After finishing off with the lunch and a short post-lunch nap, we decided to go for forest tripling. Just when we were locking the doors, it struck my mind, that we were not having the lock and key of that cottage.After searching here and there for a while, I came across one of the cottage staffs. We exchanged smiles and then I asked for the lock and key of the cottage room. He was initially a bit surprised then he asked me just to lock the latch and go for the trek. I was not that much in favour of it because I had all the so called branded belongings inside the room. Many things were going in my mind. He broke the train of thoughts, "Madam, dont worry, we wont steal anything from your room." Those words just hit me so badly that I felt ashamed of my action. I somehow gathered my words and said, "No I never meant such." We then left for the trek. We returned back late in the evening. We had a campfire where we were giving adda and having freshly prepared snacks. The cottage keepers also joined us. They were a bunch of jolly enthusiastic chaps. They shared the stories about their lives. This plot belonged to them which the government undertook from them promising them jobs in forestry instead.But neither the promises were kept neither they were given their dues for their plot. They are now mere keepers in their own land. I hesitantly asked them how they manage to earn livelihood now and how they still manage to be this happy? Their answers were short and simple. Not a preachy one. I learnt a big lession from these hilly guys, their honesty, their willingness to toil hard and to help each other. They have more needs but less demands. They are perfectly satisfied and happy the way their life is. They dont beg, instead they dont shy away to do any kind of jobs - big or small.
That night, I went to bed with a good lesson - Lack of money does not always maketh you poor. A happy person is a rich person :)

P. S it is a blend of fiction with reality.

Author: Krittika Samajdar

The Picturesque Paren 10Jul

The Picturesque Paren

They say, “Beautiful things never crave for attention.”  Paren is one such beautiful hill station located between Bindu and Jhalong. Throughout the tour I was messing up with the name of this place. Neither it is astoundingly famous nor does it claim to offer something exquisite to its tourists.

So I was initially least interested to visit this place. At one point, I even wondered why the Bagpackers included this site seeing in our package. But wait, the best was yet to come. After the early morning elephant ride in Kalipur (Gorumara Forest), it was a long journey to Paren taking around 3-4 hours. I was semi-asleep while visiting to this place but our car then gave us a halt at Jhalong. We got down the car and found several tourists. People were busy taking pictures standing in front of the viewpoint. I was no exception. After witnessing this beautiful view point, we got refreshed and started off for Paren. After crossing Jhalong, we could literally feel the chill. The late December days were casting its effect on us. The route was like one Anaconda snake with zigzag shape. Soon we were welcomed by the scenic beauty of the place. The colorful flowers of the cottage helloed us. Our stay for that night was this beautiful cottage of Mount Valley. What I find the most amazing while visiting hilly areas are its people. The cordially and warmth with which they treat you are unparalleled.  We were being led to our rooms which were neatly arranged. There was no extravaganza but the room was cozily kept with everything at its place. The scenic beauty of Paren was just in front of our eyes and it was nothing short of a paradise. The garden of the villa was teeming with the bright and blooming flowers. Soon it was time for lunch and we were served with sumptuous meal of rice,dal and chicken curry. Somehow I did not like one thing. And that was a small boy whose age would be around 10-12 years old  serving us, he should ideally be studying now. But we soon became friends. I must say that he sings really well. They were a Bhutanese family. The boy and his elder brother urged me to have more rice like our own family members do. The food had some Bhutanese spices and was new to my taste buds. In the afternoon we went to Bindu and the place was refreshing. Besides the tourists, I found the local teenagers spending some quality time. The Bhutan border was clearly visible and it had a restricted entry.

After returning back from there, we were being treated with lip-smacking pakoras and garam chai. There was so much peace all around, away from all these hustle and bustle. After the sunset, when darkness and cold crawled in, the boy and his family arranged for a camp fire. They were singing some songs in their language. Though we could not understand the meaning, we enjoyed the melody and its tune. Around 8 pm we were being served with roti and chicken curry. As I am not too fond of rotis, I ate less. The boy asked me if I would like to have rice. His courteous way touched me but I did not let me cook rice for me again.

After a brief walk, we were warmly embraced by the comfortable fat sheets of the bed and slumber kissed our eyes.I woke up early morning the next morning and witnessed the beautiful sunrise. The early morning chill along with the cup of tea seemed heavenly. The place seemed like an abode of calm and peace. Our driver was still sleeping soundly. Suddenly it struck me and I wanted to buy some chocolate bars for that boy. I started descending downward from the cottage. There were hardly any shops. The only few shops we came across do not keep luxury items but the basic stuffs. After travelling so much by foot, I became a little tired. I bought some cakes and éclairs and returned back to the villa.

I was greeted by the boy and his elder brother warmly. In fact they were searching for me.The breakfast was ready on the table and I was being served with my favorite aloo paratha. I was pleasantly surprised. The parathas were delicious and I asked them to give me two more. The face of the boy was blushing with happiness, he quickly ran to kitchen and he was evidently so much happy that I loved their cooked foods. These small things can make you feel so special. After completing the breakfast, it was the time to leave. Our hearts became a little heavy but still we hoped to meet again soon. I handed him the cakes and stuffs which I bought for him. He hugged me back in joy.

Learn two big lessons from them.

Firstly don’t confuse your needs with the luxury.

Secondly, we should remember that happiness comes in small bundles.

The stay was worth cherishing and I could not thank Bagpackers well enough for including it in the package.

Author: Krittika Samajdar