Here, find splendid silence and warm people

Here, find splendid silence and warm people

Off The Tourist Radar

Here, find splendid silence and warm people

A six-hour-drive from Bagdogra in West Bengal, the road to Pelling is bumpy in places and winding throughout. But mountain brooks, tall pine trees, lush greenery and waving children make up for it. Slowly, the heat of Bagdogra becomes a distant memory, as the mountain chill sets in and fluttering Buddhist prayer flags welcome us.

With places en route like Chakung, Mayong and Gozing I tried to correlate the facts told by our driver Agyas with the information I was reading. Agyas like many Sikkimese,  spoke with a mild rolling accent often swallowing the letters R and L. It was with some difficulty that we followed his Hindi. Nepalese is the language widely spoken here, followed by Sikkimese, Hindi and English. Agyas treated us with stories about his land throughout the long journey. “Khangchendzonga has never been scaled. We believe that Gods reside there. Legend has it that mythical beings there plant seeds in the morning and reap a harvest by evening,” said Agyas.


The next morning, it was sunrise by 5.15 but the view of the Khangchendzonga, with its sister peaks was obscured by clouds. We decided to visit the nearby Sangachoeling monastery, which is the second oldest in Sikkim. The uphill walk took nearly an hour. This monastery built in 1642 AD was renovated in 1966 and has wall paintings and clay idols.
Beyond the monastery is a verdant path where all one hears is an occasional bird call.

The next day we drove to Khecheopalri lake (pronounced khichupari). Both Hindus and Buddhists come to this wishing lake and upon fulfilment of wishes return to offer thanks. The lake surrounded by woods has no leaf litter. Locals attribute this to the presence of a mythical bird, which picks out any stray leaf.

We then headed towards Yuksom. The route to this place is dotted with water falls and many flowering plants. Wild orchids and Rhododendrons bloom everywhere and in the distance we saw step farming. At one spot, the view beckoned us to get off the vehicle and as I slowly made my way down a gravelly trail to the gently flowing river, time seemed to stand still. It was with great reluctance that I resumed the journey to Yuksom.

The Sikkimese will tell you that Yuksom is Danny Denzgopa’s village. More importantly, Yuksom is the first capital of Sikkim and this is where three prominent Lamas came together to consecrate the Chogyal (king) in the 16th century. The stone coronation throne, the footprint of the Lama and the commemorative tree that still stands tall and majestic, make it a historic and a religious place. Yuksom is also the place where many groups begin their arduous trek to the Himalayas.

Bird paradise

As the previous monastery had such an interesting approach road, we decided to visit the Perfect Sublime Lotus monastery too. The 2 km walk is tough and huffing and puffing, I reached the top. The view atop is spectacular. The monastery houses the wooden model of the abode of Guru Rimpoche and priceless manuscripts.

We also visited the Rabendtse ruins, which was once the capital of Sikkim. The trail leading to the ruins is a bird watcher’s paradise. What strikes one in Pelling is the silence. As you go for a walk in the woods, there are hardly any people. There are vehicles on the main road but you don’t hear much honking. The trails of course are bereft of any vehicular noise, shielded as they are by trees on all sides.

Another thing that strikes you is the modern way of dressing. Girls in shorts working at a quarry, young men in low waist jeans and spiked hair, tarring the road are a common sight. That is Pelling for you, spectacular views, splendid silence and warm people.