On the 28th of December, we awoke in Pelling, well rested and warm, thanks to the heater provided by the hotel, that deluded us into believing that the weather in Pelling was better than Gangtok. ‘Better’ as in warmer. The hot water in the taps only added to our misconception, leading us to thrust the extra jacket away and wear just enough to keep us comfortable, before heading for breakfast. It was hazy outside and you couldn’t see anything beyond 500 meters. It did not feel like the best day for sight-seeing.
The buffet breakfast provided at the hotel was satisfying if not sumptuous. Chole- Bhature (Baked bread with chickpea), grilled yak cheese sandwiches (yak cheese has a slightly sour and salty flavor to it), cereal with milk, saag ka pakora ( mustard leaves dipped in batter and deep fried), eggs (made to order) and a choice of tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Satiated, we were in a better position to decide how we wanted to spend the rest of the day.
Pelling has a number of sight-seeing spots of its own : waterfalls, bird parks, monasteries, Rabdentse Ruins (Sikkim’s ancient capital) and India’s first skywalk. Well, if I had a choice, I would have just declared a day off from being a tourist and gone back to the cottage. No more going on Pelling’s steep roads for me. My argument to not go on a city tour was, ‘If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.’ Rather surprising coming from me who belongs to the group of travelers who have to ‘see it all and do it all while visiting a new place and consider simply relaxing in a foreign destination, a waste of time and resources.
However, my body had pumped too much of Adrenaline over the last few days and it needed a day of doing nothing and nothing implied not driving those narrow roads. However, I was out-numbered and before I knew it, I was in the car praying for dear life on a steep road that cut across thick forest cover, on my way to see Sangachoeling Monastery, the second oldest monastery and the skywalk, which is in the premises of the monastery.
Sangachoeling Monastery is built in 1695 and has experienced a number of earthquakes, due to which the sculptures inside have crumbled. The monastery has been remodelled recently and is worth visiting. There is a huge seating area outside the monastery which overlooks the mountains. Thankfully the sun was shining again and the seating area provided the perfect spot to defreeze. Crack…Crack…I could feel my lips move again and I was smiling. That’s when I made my first Sikkimese friend, Bizzy; who informed me that the cost of living in Sikkim was highest amongst the small tier towns. Strange for us city folk who couldn’t get over the low prices at the cafe’s and restaurants here.
As we sat there enjoying the sun’s rays on our back, a cold wind blew, causing a involuntary shiver. Little did we know what that wind heralded. But as the sun disappeared behind the clouds and the place no longer felt warm and comforting, bidding goodbye to Bizzy, we returned to our hotel. The cold wind had been my savior and thankfully everybody now just wanted to be indoors.
A day without gadgets!
It was 11.30 a.m. when we returned to our room. There was no network in the room which meant we had no access to social media. Because of the strong winds, there was no signal either and the T.V. wasn’t functioning. Fortunately there was electricity and the heater worked!
So we spent the rest of the day and the night indoors – 4 of us huddled in 1 bed: talking, eating, sleeping and repeating the drill again until day-break, the next day.
Honestly speaking I’d love to do it again. Strangely, the otherwise ‘quick-to-be-bored’ millennials agreed too!
Remember the last time you spent a gadget-free day with family?
When I awoke the next day, 100% refreshed, I had no idea, the surprise in store for us; a gift perhaps for being good.
Drawing the curtains, before my eyes were the Kanchenjunga mountains, the third largest mountains in the world, standing in all their grandeur. The cold winds had heralded snow-fall; the first after 12 years in Pelling and the mountains had appeared after a month of haze (as explained to us by the hotel staff).
And I stood silent,
Disbelievingly, in awe of ‘The Beauty’
Snow-clad pristine peaks, majestically stood.
The curtain of haze had lifted
And had revealed the grandeur,
‘The magic’, the aura, the unspoken power,
I watched with utmost reverence…
A sight such as this is not for just one, I thought
And without a blink, lest it should disappear,
I called the others to view the magic that
had been revealed to me!
Was a magical day. The sun was out, the Sikkimese people were happy at seeing their much-revered mountains after a long month. Stepping out of the cottage, it did seem like the flowers were rejoicing and the bird reveling at the turn of events. After a hearty breakfast served by very happy Sikkimese people and clicking the mountains from every angle, it was time to move on, to the next destination.
And thus we bade farewell to Pelling, carrying in our hearts the magic of the mountains.
Day 4 : Gangtok to Namchi to Pelling
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