Kaluk to Bermiok – Exploring West Sikkim

by Sagarneel Sengupta

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 spent the next 5 days exploring Ravangla, Borong, Uttarey, and Kaluk. On the 7th Day, we traveled from Kaluk to Bermiok, details of which are described in the post below. To read the previous parts of the travelogue, please click on the links below.

The journey so Far:

Following the same routine I had got used to, in the last few days, I woke up early. With expectations surging probably beyond the height of Mt. Kangchenjunga itself, I went out to get a glimpse of the mighty mountain.

However, as my fortune would have it, she seemed to have decided to keep me in misery. It was a very cloudy morning. A slight drizzle accompanied by a thick sheet of fog rendered visibility near zero. The rain picked up momentum in no time and it started raining cats and dogs shortly.

Knowing the reputation of Kangchenjunga for being a very proud mountain and not revealing herself easily, I decided not to lose hope. Still, the disappointment of missing out on her view for the second day in a stretch poked my heart uncomfortably.

Of more concern, however, was the fact that we would be off to Bermiok shortly. Although it was a pretty short journey of just half an hour (4 k.m), the rain looked intimidating. We also had not pre-booked a car.

Day 6: Kaluk to Bermiok

The owner of the hotel, Mr. John Chhetri, volunteered and arranged for a car in minutes. To our delight, the car that he arranged for was on its maiden journey. It was purchased just the previous day.

The rain subsided a bit by 9 a.m. We didn’t waste any time leaving Kaluk. The brand new WagonR meandered along the curvy mountain roads and we reached Bermiok in almost no time.

Subratada had been waiting for us. Needless to say that we were, the only guests again!!! We had fallen in love with the room adjacent to the dining hall and didn’t think twice to make it our sojourn.

Visual Delight at Bermoik

Of all my experiences with nature, the most valuable lesson that I have learned is that it is always beautiful. In whatever form it presents itself, it is, by default, beautiful.

It was gloomy all around, and it rained intermittently. There was not a trace of any mountain to be seen. Hence, ideally, it would be safe to conclude the day as a dull day, and crib about it.

However, if the same situation was looked at from a different perspective, the entire conclusion could be turned around. How many times had I seen such a play of mists and clouds?

How many times had I seen the rain cleaning every speck of dust off the foliage and imparting the freshest of all greens tints on them? I never had the opportunity to see clouds rise up right from the womb of a deep valley and rendering everything that could be seen clearly a couple of minutes ago, invisible.

No doubt I regretted having missed the view of Kanchenjungha. I had been anticipating it for the last 4 years. But the mystique ambiance of Bermiok was a pure visual delight.

Hotel Silent Valley

We had a lot of time to be lazy. The weather was perfect to make us more so. To add to the delight, Subratada had a mouth-watering proposal for us.

‘Will you have khichdi for lunch?’ was the best offer made to me in more than 5 years. We were made a similar offer by Dhananjay, albeit on a similar kind of day, during my first visit to Borong. After so many years, the same proposal was made again.

Our made-to-order Bengali taste buds jumped at the offer.  Suddenly the salivary glands were working overtime. We added double omelets and Beguni to add to the potentially drooling menu. Beguni is a Bengali snack made of eggplant/ brinjal slices deep-fried in batter.

Hotel silent valley, as I previously mentioned, overlooks a wide valley and a long stretch of mountains. It was a day when the clouds went back to their childhood days and decided to play childish games. Volumes of fog raised from the depth of the valley, and spread all across.

The entire stretch of mountains went beyond the thick sheet of clouds in moments; only to be revealed the next moment as the clouds moved upwards. A damp chill wrapped us as the cloud ventured into the hotel thru the open windows. We could feel the fog fill our lungs with every breath.

It was such a pleasure just to watch nature at its very best. More than witnessing it with our eyes, we absorbed the beauty with our hearts. The silhouette of the trees peeped from within the mist. A remote outline of a buffalo having lunch on the meadow below was faintly visible. Raindrops dripped as if pearls precipitated.

Lunch & A Long Nap

Our lunch was ready soon. Before Subratada could finish asking if we would have it, we were actually having it. The steaming Khichdi and its delicious associates were one of the best things that had ever gone down my food pipe.

To savor good food, taking time to relish it is of utmost importance. We could not complain of a shortage of time. The chilly mist was busy taming down the fuming khichdi. After stuffing ourselves with the most mystique platter of our lives, and keeping alive the resurgent Bengali spirit alive in us, we didn’t take time to doze off.

What was supposed to be a nap, actually ended up becoming a long sleep that would put a narcoleptic into shame. While we had slept, it was still gloomy, but it had lit up by the time I woke. I rushed out and was stunned.

The clouds had almost disappeared, and the valley was clearly visible. A couple of snow peaks, with packs of clouds bisecting their torsos in half, glowed in a pinkish crimson pall as the sun bid adieu to them.

The sky looked bluer than ever. The mountains on the far left were painted in copper-gold. Small clusters of rain clouds that still existed at the remote end of the sky, looked like scarlet flakes marching towards infinity.

Beauty in the Dark

To add to the delight, the power went off. One would normally associate a power outage with agitating irritation, where sweat, mosquitoes, and hand fans continuously strive to freak one’s brain.

This power cut, however, came as a blessing. The entire hamlet of Bermiok sank in darkness, while the long stretch of the mountains dazzled. Geyzing being the district HQ of West Sikkim, was the most illuminated. The light Pelling adorned the top of the mountain like a king’s crown perched with diamonds.

To our right the faint lights of Ravangla were visible. What stole the show, however, was the glittering lights of the Rangeet Hydroelectric project. A lone candle rendered a haunting appearance to the hall where we sat and looking at the otherwise dark giant hill with the dazzling lights twinkling like stars on the sky, was pure bliss to the eyes.

The weather was spotlessly clear by now, and even a moving car could be made out from its headlight. The breeze was cold but bearable. Since we were the only guests, Subratada and Sanjay, another staff of the hotel joined us. Needless to say what happens when a few Bengalis flock – pure adda.

By now, the glittering stars had started to twinkle in the dark sky above. The majestic evening kept on showering endless moments of ecstasy. The weather gave an idea of the beauty of the proceeding morning, and I had already started to dream about her.

Below are a few pictures from our trip. These are not specific to this day but from the entire trip.

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End of Day

Dinner, a short stroll post-dinner, a bit more chit-chat, all meant the passage of time, which in turn meant getting closer to seeing her, realizing the dream that I had seen for so many days in the past.

Still nurturing the dream, and relishing the fact that it was the last night of dreaming before I watched her in real, my sleep took me to my own dreamland. A pristine locale, perched somewhere deep in my subconsciousness, a web of a land I had knit with my thoughts.

A place where there was no one else, but the most beautiful lady of the planet, whose elegance could put collective elegances of all earthly queens to shame. The mighty, and gorgeous, the one and only Mt. Kangchenjunga.

Please click on the link above to continue reading the next part of the travelogue.

Kaluk to Bermiok – Conclusion

I hope the travelogue, pictures, and details of our journey from Kaluk to Bermiok 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.

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