My experiences 9

Lachen is a small village in North Siikim. People come here not only for its natural beauty, but also to halt one night here to go to the holy lake of Gurudongmar. I visited Lachen few years ago, but I could not reach Gurudongmar due to heavy snowfall. When I suddenly planned to visit Dzongu I thought I should try again to visit Gurudongmar lake. So, from Dzongu I hired a taxi which dropped me at Lachen.

I reached Lachen at 1 PM. I did not have any previous booking for accommodation. It was the season of Durga Puja, so there was a huge rush of Bengali tourists in Sikkim. Though Gurudongmar is not very much popular due to its altitude, many people do not feel comfortable at the high altitude of 17,800 ft, but still there were many groups of traveler. Not many hotels were there in Lachen, so getting down from the car I entered into a hotel which was in front of me. The owner was not there. A hotel stuff was there, he called up the owner. The owner was a young fellow. He said that his hotel was completely booked but he could accommodate me in their house. There was a home-stay run by his mother.

The home-stay was also booked but the lady somehow managed a room for me. We were of the same age. When she came to know that I have severe pain in my legs and knees, she massaged hot oil mixed with local herbs for a long time sitting beside the fireplace in their living room. It worked miraculously. I felt very much comfortable after that. A neighbour woman came there to talk to her. When she learnt that I wished to visit Gurudongmar lake next day, she arranged a Scrorpio car at a reasonable price for me talking to her husband. She was very young and never came down from the hilly region. She asked me lots of questions about my city, she was surprised to know that no one in Kolkata lived in wooden house. I had Sikkimese cuisine there cooked by my home stay owner.

Next morning at 5 o’clock I went to Gurudongmar lake and came back in the evening. A group of visitors from Assam was there, the lady of the home-stay was busy preparing food for them. Her grand daughter was helping her who came from Gangtok with her brother in law. Her brother in law was surprised to hear that I came all alone. He rebuked me for taking such kind of risk and advised me to come with someone next time. He eagerly arranged my return to Mangan next morning, and while leaving he warned me that if I would come with someone then only I would be accommodated.

Dzongu, a quaint Lapcha valley in North Sikkim

Dzongu is a valley in North Sikkim. This is a protected area for Lapcha tribe, who are the original inhabitants of Sikkim. I had no previous plan for going there. I suddenly decided to plan a short trip during 2018 Durga puja vacation. During Durga puja millions of Bengalis go out for their yearly trips. Sikkim being one of the nearest and cheapest destinations, the rush is maximum there during this period. So I thought to choose a place that is a bit different and not so popular among common people. After taking opinions of few of my travel freak friends I got an idea how to reach there.

I reached New Jalpaiguri by Tista-Tosha express at 3 Am. I waited 2 hours in the waiting room of the station. At 5 o’clock in the early morning when auto rickshaw service started I went to Shiliguri bus stand by an auto rickshaw. I boarded a bus which was going to Gangtok. I told the conductor that I wanted to get down at Singtam, a small transit town. The driver stopped the bus in front of a small bridge on the highway and informed that I have to enter into the town to get a shared jeep for Mangan. When I reached Mangan Taxi stand it was 1 PM, I found a shared jeep for Dzongu but there was no certainty when would it reach there. So I hired a taxi for myself on condition that the driver would help me to get permit from the police station as the DC office was closed during Durga Puja.

There were few villages in the Dzongu valley. I had no idea which village was suitable for stay. The driver arranged a home stay at Passindang village for me. At night I had a nice authentic Lapcha dinner with 2 types of ferns cooked in two different methods, daal, and fried beef with 2 rotis. They were very tasty, I was hungry too, I enjoyed the meal very much. I slept quickly as soon as I went to bed with the symphony of cricket and the sound of the stream that flowed nearby. In the mid night when I woke up I heard that the chirping of cricket had stopped, instead there was sound of rain drops.

In the morning Dzongu looked mystic with clouds everywhere. After breakfast I went to Tholung monastery by the car of my home stay owner. They had black cardamom plantation field there. The monastery was small. There were few stupas. It was a long way which I had to come down by myself. Though it was quite tiring I enjoyed the picturesque and tranquil views of the villages of green Dzongu valley, river Tista, beautiful birds, butterflies, unknown wild flowers, quash hanging here and there in plenty.