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GANGTOK, NAMCHI, RAVANGLA AND PELLING IN 3 NIGHTS 4 DAYS – by Anindita Barui
We, Bengalis, are known for our passion for travelling. Whenever we get a chance we strat making plans for a holiday. Be it a weekend trip or a long holiday we are always ready to explore new places.
Me & my husband are no different. Last year two of us along with our two friends suddenly made a plan for Ravangla in South Sikkim.
3 NIGHTS – 4 DAYS ITINERARY
Day 1 : Reach Gangtok & go for sightseeing. Night stay at Gangtok.
Day 2 : Travel from Gangtok to Ravangla. Enroute Temi Tea Garden & Namchi. Night stay at Ravangla.
Day 3: Maenam hill trek. Night stay at Ravangla. (We had a back up plan to visit Pelling on this day as there was a chance for raining).
Day 4 : Ravangla sightseeing & return to NJP.
So after all the bookings, we started our journey on 27th april, 2018. We had our booking in ‘Uttarbanga Express’ from sealdah station to reach New Jalpaiguri. After reaching New Jalpaiguri in the next morning, we hired a car for Gangtok. Luckily, it was a sumo & costs 2500 rupee only after bargaining. So whenever you are hiring a car outside NJP railway station, must bargain with the driver.
Our plan was to reach gangtok before lunch. But due to heavy traffic we reached ‘Deorali’ at 3.15 pm. From here one has to take another car to reach gangtok. The distance is almost 5km & it charged Rs. 300 for the trip. So finaly we reached Gangtok at 4 pm. We had our booking in hotel “Delisso Abode” popularly known as “Sterling Gangtok”. One can get ample number of hotels near M.G marg within the budget 1500-2000. As we checked in, it started raining heavily. The rain stopped nearly at 5.30 pm. It was alteady almost dark. So, we went to M.G Marg to spend a beutiful evening. Before returning to our hotel we have booked a car for the next day from the local taxi stand at M.G marg. It charged us rs. 3200 to travel to Ravangla via Temi tea garden & Namchi.
An Evening in MG Marg
If you are in Gangtok, you must spent your evening in MG Marg. The road is lined up with glittering shops, restaurants, cafes & bars on both sides. Many tourists take a table on a roadside restaurant and watch the activities on the street. You must try Momo from any of this roadside restaurant. It’s like a carnival like atmosphere out here. The entire area is free of litter, smoke and vehicle. It’s a pedestrian only zone and vehicles are not allowed on this approximately 1km stretch of the road. If you are coming in the month of December, you can experience the Annual Gangtok Food and Culture Festival at M.G. Marg.
We had decided to visit Tashi View Point the next morning for sunrise. But it started raining again at 10 p.m & it continued almost whole night. With heavy heart we dropped the plan. But there was another surprise for us! Next morning at 5.45 a.m we got a clear view of Mt. Kanchenjunga from our room. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Though it was visible only for 10 minutes, it just made our day.
South Sikkim Sightseeing
Temi Tea Garden
After taking our breakfast we started our journey towards Ravangla. Our first destination was Temi Tea Garden. It is the only tea garden in Sikkim. The distance from gangtok is approximately 50 km & it took 2.5 hr to reach there. The view was awesome. The tea garden stretches out all over a mild hill slope that begins from the Tendong Hill and creates the scope of a majestic view of the nearby terraced slopes and villages. The approach road and surroundings are filled with pine and prune trees and there are numerous walking trails all around.There is a small shop in front of the garden where one can sit & enjoy this beautiful place over a cup of tea. One can also buy different types of tea & other products here.
There is a resort inside the compound, named ‘Cherry Resort’. Though we have not stayed there, but we can easily understand that it possess a magnificent mountain view from all rooms. In spring Magnolias and Rhodendrons bloom in nearby woods. In the month of October-November, you can experience cherry blossom in this region.
From here we headed towards Namchi. It took almost 1.5 hr to cover this 20 km distance. Road condition was really bad due to rain. The main attraction in Namchi is Chardham . It is a huge cultural complex, developed by Sikkim government. It is located 5km away from Namchi town. Though the whole place was amazing, the 87 feet tall statue of Lord Shiva mesmerized us a lot. There are replicas of twelve Jyotirlingas to offer one platform to all devotees of Shiva, as well as replicas of the four dhams (Badrinath, Jagannath, Dwarka dedicated to lord Vishnu and Rameshwaram dedicated to lord Shiva). The entry fee is Rs. 50 per adult
After that we went to visit Samdruptse. It is a 45 meter tall statue of Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rimpoche. The face of the statue is coated with gold which glitters in the sun. There is a beautiful garden around it. We had walked around the platform starting from the left and make a full circle. The magnificent view of mountains and forest from here will surely allure you. The entry fee here is Rs. 30 per adult.
From here we started for Ravangla. It took another 1.5 hr to reach ravangla & it was raining heavily. Our booking was in hotel “Clouds end retreat” which was 4km away from the main market area. There were both budget & luxury hotels near market area. After checking in the manager gave a single bed room though our booking was for double bed room! So we talked to the manager. But he said that all the rooms were booked except that single bed room. After that he helped us to shift to a nearby hotel “Candy park resort” which was few step from Clouds End Retreat.
It continued to rain till the next morning & we had to cancel our plan for Maenam hill trek. So the next morning after breakfast we hired a car for rs 3500 to go to pelling. First we went to Buddha Park at Ravangla. Spread over 23 acres of area this parkland has a towering sitting statue of Buddha which is 137ft 22inch tall. The face of the statue is coated with 3.5kgs of gold. It is the tallest metal statue of Buddha in India. It was the day of Buddhapurnima. The prayer and the humming sound of “Om Mani Padme Hum” inside the monastery touched our soul. Though we had missed the view of Mt. Kanchenjunga from here due to cloudy weather, the awesome looks of mountains and forests surrounded by this area had mesmerized us. The entry fee here is Rs. 50 per person.
Ravangla to Pelling distance is almost 50 km. The 3 hr journey was awesome. After reaching Pelling, first we went to #Pemayangtse_Monastery. This monastery was build in 1705. The monastery has three storeys. You can see images of Guru Padmasambhava and his various manifestations on the first and second floors. The top floor is known as Padmasambhava’s palace and made with wooden structures, and is considered a masterpiece.
Our next destination was Khecheopalri lake. This is a sacred lake & is believed to fulfil one’s wishes. The lake is surrounded by forests. The water in the lake remains clean all through the year. It is believed that the birds of the region never let any dirt or impurity surface the water and pick it up as soon as anything falls on it. And truly, you would never find even a single leaf floating on the surface. A wooden boardwalk lead us to the lake. We have removed our footwear before walking on it. Numerous prayer wheels are lined up along the boardwalk.
Next we visited Kanchenjunga falls. It is accessible from the road but a bit hidden. This is one of the most popular tourist spots in Pelling and a must see.
And at last we went to Rabdentse ruins. Rabdentse is the 16th former capital of Sikkim & now lies in ruins. It was destroyed after the Nepalese invasion in the 18th century. Now one can see only the stone structures of the fort. To reach to the fort one has to walk around 1.5 km from the road. It was a great experience to walk through such a dense forestry area. The northern part of the fort was the palace area while the southern part was the religious area for the common people. There are three stupas here on a stone platform which were built for the royal family to worship. It was dark when we returned after visiting Rabdentse ruins. So immidiately we headed back to Ravangla.
Next day it was time to return home. And after 3 days finally the weather was clear. We booked a car for Rs. 3800 to return to njp. On our way back to njp we stopped at Melli to experience river rafting in Teesta. It took Rs. 5000 for a boat. And with joyful heart we returned to New Jalpaiguri station.
Hotel booking information for Gangtok:
Delisso Abode : Contact no. – 09933950819. The price of this hotel is bit expensive. But the location is awesome.
Hotel Tibet : Contact no. – 03592-203468. Room rate starts from Rs. 1500.
Hotel booking information for Ravangla:
Clouds End Retreat : contact no – 08452877767 ( try to book the top floor suite rooms. View from these rooms are spectacular). Room rent starts from Rs 1500 per night.
Candy Park Resort : Mr. Ratan Bose (9804078393). Room rent starts from Rs. 1600 per night.
Sikkim is a beautiful and clean state. So please try to maintain it’s cleanliness. Do not throw plastic bottles, chips packets etc on road.. use dustbin. Remember Monastery is a religious place. So lower your voice while visiting such places. Enjoy the nature to rejuvenate your mind, dont destroy it.