The Land of Yetis, and Monals, and ….. Beauty

mousourik

Who Am I
The temple was just beside the road, atop a small hill. Nobody of us bothered what deity was there, we paid a little money to the priest to ensure that he wouldn’t object to what we’d do next. It was also beside the river, and hence provided a good view of the awesome bridge. So the four of us went on clicking our cameras to our hearts’ content. Then we came back hurriedly, as somebody had told us that the military kept a vigil on the temple to prevent taking pics. We boarded a crowded bus – there was no room inside, so the only option was to climb to the roof top. As the bus was maneuvering along the road full of curves, we swerved from left to right to left. And the last one of our group hadn’t yet made it to the roof, he was still standing on the ladder, clinging to his life.

This incident took place 20 years ago and I, a member of that group, was reminiscing during our recent tour. I asked a few people about this temple, but everybody said that it was on the left side of the road, but ours was on the right. When we reached that point, we found that on the left there is a big Kali temple, but that one was still there on the other side. So we went to the right side temple which is now deserted, but couldn’t find those great views as the trees have grown taller and almost blocked the coronation bridge over the Teesta. I was disheartened, but took some good snaps of the bridge and the river later on.

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The rail bridge over the Teesta​

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There are two falls - the first one is at the top left corner​

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Coronation Bridge over the Teesta​

Thus began our tour in October 2010. We had come to NJP by the Uttarbanga Ex on 9th October and started by a car. The condition of the road was not good for a long stretch within the forest before the coronation bridge.

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We didn’t see Sevokeshwari Kali temple and went ahead, had our breakfast at Lohapool, stopped at many places to take photos.

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The mighty Teesta​

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Photo taken from the bridge of the pic above​

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We came by the road on the right​

Ultimately we reached Pedong in 4-1/2 hours via Teestabazar, Chitrey, Kalimpong, Algarah.

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Pedong is a small town where there are many schools. We stayed at Damsung guest house. The location of the hotel was not very good, but it was somewhat away from the main market, on the Rishi road.

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We could see the hills covered in cloud, and it dampened our spirit as we badly needed to have clear sky to watch the much talked about sunrise a couple of days later. In the afternoon we walked a bit towards Rishi, saw the Sikkim hills which would be our next destination, and came back to hotel as night descended.
 

John Mathai

john-the wanderer
It is raining logs from you..., and all are a treat for us, Kublei Shibun :)
Nice pics, waiting for the rest of the story.
 

sanuroxz

Super User
Is it somewhere on the way to Gangtok :)

Great to see the discoverer of some really beautiful still least known places in india.
 

mousourik

Who Am I
Thanks, Shekher. :)

sanu, share jeep is available from Siliguri to Kalimpong. Then again jeep service should be there for Pedong. However, we hired a car that picked us up at NJP.
 

mousourik

Who Am I
Day 2 : Pedong

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We spent the entire day in sight-seeing. First we saw the Cross-hill, very near our hotel. This was the place where a French erected a cross in 1882, facing Tibet, with the hope that some day Christianity will spread there, although he himself was not successful in his mission.

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Then we went to Pedong Monastery, where the mummy of a Buddhist priest is kept.

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Our next destination was Rikkisum, on the Algarah-Lava road. But we didn’t go to Algarah, rather there is a shortcut road which is much less traveled, has gone though a jungle and is really scenic. A water reservoir has also been built on this route, which looks pretty. Rikkisum supposedly offers a view of the Pedong town. But it was under thick cloud and we could hardly see anything. However it was a good spot, with tall conical trees.

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During our brief stay there, we saw the cloud moving through the trees near us, going from one hill to another although there was no bridge there. For us, the tourists from the plains, it was really something to enjoy.

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Then we went to a view point wherefrom one can get a wide view of the Teesta and the Sikkim hills.

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Now, something spectacular happened here. On our arrival we found that the valley below was engulfed in cloud. But our driver Binod asked us to wait a little bit. Then the entire column of cloud started rising uphill, caressing us, and the valley suddenly opened before our eyes. Binod then took us to a nearby PWD bunglow, which is nicely located and also provides a good view.

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On our way back, we saw the Pedong church.

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What we missed is Ramitey view point, Damsung fort ruins, Silent valley and Sillery village. We were told that the last three places were either inaccessible then, or full of leeches, as the monsoon had just ended. We had to believe them, but were really very disappointed. The afternoon was spent near the cross-hill, with eager discussion on what would be in store for us next day, at Rishi.

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mousourik

Who Am I
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Birds at Pedong​
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Day 3 – Rishi

We started for Rishi after breakfast. First we saw the Jelep La resort which lies on this road, further away from Pedong. The location of this hotel is superb, on a mountain ridge. One can have a 180 degree view of the hills from the open terrace – something that undoubtedly makes it the best in the town.

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The only plus point of the Damsung guest house was that we could see a lot of lovely birds there, but perhaps they can be found at Jelep La also.

The road towards Rishi is in bad shape in certain areas which are landslide-prone.

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Rishikhola is a small stream at the border between West Bengal and Sikkim. Long before the border, we could hear the roar of the stream as we were descending from Pedong.

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Walking towards the hotel​

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Rishikhola​

There are a couple of staying options on the Bengal bank of the river, way down from the main road. Our driver was not willing to take the car near the stream, so we had to start walking. However after some time we found that two cars, full of tourists, were coming up!

We were now on the Sikkim side and would have to cross the river to go the Bengal side. A couple of bamboo bridges are built over the river.

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The first two would take one to Mr. Sebastian Pradhan’s cottage, but we had booked the Prakriti Eco Resort which was further away. Our driver overtook us carrying the luggage and showed us which way we should move, but we couldn’t see anything. Now we had to walk on the dry bed of the river, as it bifurcated, through a jungle of Kash flowers that reminded us that it was the Durga puja time.

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Then crossed another bridge, a little bit of walk and we were there.
It appeared that the season had not yet started as we were the only tourists there. The cottages were hurriedly made ready for us. The room was spacious, with a clean attached toilet. It was hot outside and we sat in a shed built near the river, just watching it.

Rishikhola, Rishi the river, is a mountain stream which is not so small – so one can’t ignore it, nor quite big – so one can go easily near it. It’s the playful kid, very energetic, very lively – not the baby who can’t come to your lap on its own, nor the adult who you can’t cuddle. The stream, with its green backdrop, dotted with numerous boulders where the giggling water creates ripples, is really very inviting. It will gleefully participate in every game you want to play with it. Time flows endlessly just by sitting beside it.

Some birds, a couple of fishermen walking upstream in knee deep water with their nets – all having the same objective, a locust – these constitute the riverine life there.

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As the sun hid himself behind the mountains, the temperature started falling. In the afternoon, we spent some time sitting on the boulders, the cold water roaring incessantly kissing our feet.
 
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