This post is in continuation with a previous one and a part of my Sikkim travelogue. We reached New Jalpaiguri from Delhi by train and then Ravangla by road. From Ravangla, we went to Borong and stayed there for a night on Day 3. On the fourth day, we traveled from Borong to Uttarey by private cab, details of which are mentioned in this article. To read the previous parts of the travelogue, please click on the links below.
The journey so Far:
I have never been an early riser in my life, and hate the idea of rising early. My definition of early is well after a ‘normal early hour’ on a winter morning. Due to some reason or the other, my biological clock re-adjusts itself when I go to the mountains, and I often don’t require an alarm to wake up.
It was 5.15 by the clock and I was wide awake. Relishing the laziness for a while, I could not resist the desire to venture out to get a glimpse of how things were outside.
Day 03: Borong to Uttarey
It was a clear and pleasant morning, and the flowers looked fresher than ever due to the last night’s rain. The outline of the snow peaks was prominent. All I needed to do, was wait for the sunrise. It was a perfect time to become a child again and make good use of a wooden swing of the resort.
Gradually the horizon started to turn red, and the peaks started assuming the same color. A small piece of cloud that was afloat atop one of the peaks seemed to have caught fire.
Gradually the color of the morning sun, made the snow on the mountains burn. The dark mountains glowed in an unnatural crimson tint. The soft sunlight kissed every petal of the countless flowers. All the impurities of the world seemed to be washed away by the pious touch of the morning sun.
This is a kind of an experience that makes one feel the worth of one’s life. It taught me a lesson I have learned many times before – the world is indeed beautiful and life is worth living.
As the sun became prominent, the snowy mountains stood like white giants safely guarding Borong against all evil. Our destination for today was Uttarey in the extreme West. We had a long journey on identical roads as previously encountered ahead of us.
New Ralong monastery
We wanted to reach Uttarey before lunch and hence decided to start as early as 8 am. The road was the same, and so was the misery. After some routine jerks and shakes, we reached and took a pit stop at the New Ralong monastery.
The monastery was a delight to watch. It was huge and stood in a massive courtyard. Scores of young lamas adorned the courtyard and reminded us of the wildflowers we had seen previously in Borong.
We spent some time enjoying the monastery and the beautiful surroundings before making our way towards Ravangla and to Uttarey thereafter.
Ravangla & Geyzing
The dreadful Borong road came to an end a mile before Ravangla where we stopped for breakfast. We fuelled ourselves well enough to get going for the next 4-5 hours and left Ravangla at 10. The road to Uttarey from Ravangla goes via Legship, Geyzing, and Pelling.
The journey till Geyzing was uneventful barring the pathetic road making life miserable and millions of roadside wildflowers patiently applying balm on the wound as they fluttered and danced in the breeze.
We needed to halt at Geyzing as that was the only place in our route where we would get an ATM. Although Pelling has one, I was told that it remains non-operational frequently.
A brisk stop and Geyzing, a quick cup of tea, a bit of a stroll to re-tone our muscles, and we were off again. We had made a deal with our driver that we would be stopping at Pemyangtse monastery, Chhangey falls and Singshore bridge on our way to Uttarey.
We took the detour from the Geyzing-Pelling road and reached our first destination – Pemyangtse. I had been here twice previously and had walked up to the monastery from Pelling both times. I remembered a rock near the last hairpin bend, where my mother, fatigued after the steep climb, sat and took rest during my first visit 15 years ago.
The world has changed. Pelling has undergone a metamorphosis in these 15 years. But the stone brought back some apparently insignificant, but extremely fond memories. My travel to the hills with my parents, learning to fall in love with the mountains, developing a bond with nature!
The monastery is at an altitude of 2085 meters. It follows the Nyingma Order of Tibetian Buddhism and was founded by Lama Lhatsun Chempo in 1705. It is one of the oldest in Sikkim and controls all other monasteries of that order in the state.
I always had a secret desire to view Mt. K from the monastery complex. But ‘K’ seemed to have other plans, and never gave me a glimpse. There was no reversal of fortune this time around too. We had to be satisfied by enjoying only the tranquil ambiance of the monastery.
Pelling & Changey Falls
We set off again and reached Pelling. It was teeming with tourists everywhere. Now that I have become desensitized to the unplanned urban clutter of Pelling, I just shrugged off any inner sigh and headed straight towards Uttarey.
The road after Pelling was bad. We reached Changey falls after some bumpy ride. Although not as scenic as the Kanchenjungha falls, this one has its own beauty. The two-step cascade was as delightful to see as ever. Time up for Changey falls and we were off again.
One of the best things that we came across was the view of a lush green Dentam valley, en route to Singshore bridge. The terraced paddy fields adorned the mountain slope, and a continuous breeze made the plants sway. It seemed that the entire Dentam valley danced to the tune of the air. I have hardly seen such vibrancy in a mountain valley before.
Contended, we reached Singshore bridge, Asia’s second-highest gorge bridge (don’t ask me what’s the highest, I don’t know ). The suspension bridge passes over a deep gorge which is fed by a rapid cascading down the opposite mountain. The place has a very thick foliage cover and is pretty windy.
We dropped a stone to calculate the time it took to reach the bottom. But we were amazed to find it floating its way down and ultimately disappear in the woods, even before reaching the river below. The strong current of air destabilized it, what an amazing world. Nature has the power to make a stone float like a feather.
A small coffee break in the adjoining restaurant refreshed us. After another half-hour drive, we reached Uttarey. We had booked a double bedroom at the Nagbeli resort, which is half a mile away from the main Uttarey village.
The village itself is a pretty small settlement with a few hotels and some basic shops. A dirt road off the main road led to our resort, and we seemed to have reached the remotest part of the most corners of Sikkim.
Below are a few pictures from our trip.
The first view of the resort was impressive. It was extremely spacious and had flowers everywhere in sight. The main building, a three-storeyed mansion, houses the double and single bedrooms and the cottages stand in a series in the front.
We’d love to stay in the cottages, but they were already pre-booked. We checked into our room, and what caught out attention was the tidiness. Things were in perfect order and although it was not lavish, it was comfortable.
The room had an attached balcony that provided spectacular views of the lush green valley and mountains. Vijay, the manager cum caretaker at the hotel, had an infectious smile. He greeted us with a smile, carried our luggage with a smile, and informed us with a smile that our lunch was ready. This brought a smile to our faces too.
We have always been fans of adorned dining rooms. The one at the resort seemed to enhance our hunger by its mere look. It was spacious, with rows of very comfortable sofas lined on both sides of a long dining table.
We were the only guests (yet again) till then, as the group which had booked the cottages had not reached yet. Vijay served us a wonderful and enormous lunch and we made good use of our Himalayan appetite’ to devour it in moments.
The rest of the afternoon was perfect as it was perfectly lazy. The bright sunshine made the hills dazzle. The honeybees were having an equally good lunch as ours, as they flew from one flower to another. A soft breeze blew and made the flowers caress each other.
The Delight & The Disappointment
I was busy taking photos of the copious flowers and the huge resort complex and continued till dusk. As it started to become dark, we retired to our room. To my utter disappointment came across the only thing I hated about Uttarey – a television. As they say, someone’s misery is someone’s delight.
Destiny seemed to balance my grief by rewarding my wife with utter glee. As she happily swapped channels, I stood on the balcony outside and enjoyed the bluish evening and the mountains, which stood like dark sentinels.
Fortunately, the only watchable program that aired on TV at that time was a documentary on animal life during winters in Siberia. Sitting in nature’s lap, I had saluted the spectrum of nature’s talent that day, as I keenly watched every bit of that wonderful show.
However, as all good things come to an end, this show too ended, and then started a dreadful period of my life – the daily soaps. However, it was already 8.30 by the clock and I didn’t have to bear them for long, as Vijay brought dinner.
We slept early, however, my sleep was interrupted somehow. I decided to sneak out to the balcony for a quick look at how Uttarey looked at night.
A Magical Night
I was not ready for the show that was about to unfold. The sky was spotlessly clear and trillions of stars sparkled. The light of the half-moon was enough to illuminate the wide valley. Uttarey was at her pristine best and it was a fairytale night. The giant trees absorbed the moonlight and a creamy glow dripped from every leaf.
Every blade of grass, every tree on the mountains bathed in the unworldly luminance. I guess I’d not be surprised if I saw fairies descending from the sky above and playing with their magic wands.
No human ingenuity in this world can emulate the kind of atmosphere nature had created that night. The trees seemed to be sprayed with molten silver and their dark shadows rendered a charming mysticism to the place.
I didn’t even think of clicking a photo of this greatest light show on earth. I soaked in every second. My thirsty eyes drank every drop of the pure and exotic potion. My soul seemed to have been transported to somewhere out of the material world. I was moonstruck.
The cluttered constellations of stars, lying millions of light-years away from where I stood seemed to sparkle right before my eyes, as if I could touch them at will. Standing alone under the starlit sky, I had a feeling I hardly experienced before, a feeling of complete insignificance.
Who was I in front of this huge creation? What’s my significance as compared to the universe around us? Why did I crib ‘I don’t have this’ or ‘I want that’ when my mere existence seemed so minuscule? To a lot of people surrounding me, I may be significant.
But when I compare myself to the larger picture, I am just an inconspicuous entity. Guess we all are like that – Significant insignificance.
- Journey Ahead: Day 05 – Uttarey: A Blissful Day
I don’t know how long I stood there, neither do I remember when I went back to my room. All that still lingers in my memory is – that was perhaps the most beautiful night of my life.
Borong to Uttarey – Conclusion
I hope the travelogue, pictures, and information above on traveling from Borong to Uttarey were of help. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum, and I will be happy to answer.