Resplendent Ravangla – Part I
It is a common saying that if you travel far enough, you will meet yourself. Thinking of a get away from the daily hustle and bustle of city life, then a travel to Sikkim in North East India may be an ideal vacation one can plan for a week. Come March end and we began planning for our annual family vacation. After much discussion and deliberation, Ravangla in South Sikkim and Pelling in West Sikkim were finalized as our destinations.
Situated at a height of 7000 ft., Ravangla or Rabong La is about 65 km West of Gangtok (the capital of Sikkim) and 52 km East of Pelling and is directly accessible from Gangtok (little over 2 hours), Siliguri (Northern Bengal, 4-and-ahalf hours), Darjeeling and Kalimpong. We flew out to Bagdogra Airport, North Bengal and started our journey in a pre-booked car to Ravangla through lush green tea gardens, winding roads and unending hill slopes.
Ravangla is a popular tourist destination, located at the foot of Menam hill and known for its rich natural diversity, forests, mountains, waterfalls, flowers, tea gardens, quaint villages and old monasteries. I was intrigued with the name of the town and came know from the local people that “Ra” in Bhutia language means wild sheep; "Vong” means rearing place and “La” means pass.
Summer (April and May) is the choicest time of the year to visit Ravangla: various types of Rhododendrons and orchids were already in full bloom in and around this quiet picturesque town. Another time to visit Ravangla is mid September during the Pang Lhabsol celebrations, when locals perform the spectacular warrior / mask dances at Mani Cheoling Monastery to worship Mount Khanchendzonga - the protector deity of Sikkim.
The vacation was divided into 3 nights and 2 days stay in Ravangla followed by 4 nights and 3 days stay in Pelling. Our first part of the journey in a resort atop a hill was itself mystifying with chilly morning air, playful mist and an absolute calm interrupted only with sound of birds chirping and gentle breeze whispering to the trees.
The quiet surrounding with undisturbed view of the Greater Himalayas (Mt. Kanchenjunga with its sister peaks of Mt. Pandim, Mt. Sinialchu and Mt. Kabru) from the cottage window / balcony was an added bonus. The peaks are also best viewed from the Reyong Sunrise View Point, located at a distance of approximately 8 km from Ravangla.
Excited about seeing sunrise, we got up early only to see that the weather was little cloudy. Finally the sun came out, rays formed a veil on morning dew which glistened like diamonds with a breathtaking view of the mountain peaks.