Rustic Rinchenpong

Through this lucid travelogue, Parna shares her first-hand experience in Rinchenpong. Read on to know what to see, where to visit and whom to contact for your booking.

I tend to seek refuge in the Himalayas. The lofty ranges, the green trees, the valleys and the moors of the Himalayas help me to rediscover myself again and again.

Running away to the mighty mountains gives me solace every time the hard routines of life rebukes me and intimidates me with its fiery red eyes.

The Buddhist Prayer Flags fluttering in Rinchenpong
The Buddhist Prayer Flags fluttering in Rinchenpong

A few months ago, along with my family members, I went to the sleepy Himalayan settlement of Rinchenpong in the western part of Sikkim. The entire region seemed to be well-adorned with flowers to celebrate the spring carnival, – the small, simple and pretty forget-me-nots, the Red Lillies, the Arum Lillies, the Bleeding Hearts, the Poppies, the Foxgloves, the Salvias, the Pansies, the Daisies, the Poinsettias, the spiny Rhododendrons, the Orchids and many unknowns added dashes of colours and made the region more verdant and vibrant.

Lilies smiling beside the roadside
Spiny Rhododendrons
Spiny Rhododendrons

After a 5 hour-long journey from New Jalpaiguri, all of us were quite tired. The limbs wanted to recline in the comforts of the hotel we were staying in but the heart wanted to wander around. As a sincere listener of heart on all occasions, I went out for a stroll. The road headed towards the unknown. I took short strides ahead. The Buddhist prayer flags greeted me and fluttered in the cool breeze with absolute glee. Some unknown birds chirped about their daily chores. As I moved ahead, I heard the crickets singing an unknown song. Perhaps, a song of melancholy, or, perhaps a welcome song for a two-legged animal who calls herself civilized. The Pine trees stood tall and protected the flower shrubs, creepers, grassy and mossy green carpets like the responsible elders.

I stopped and took in deep breaths – the abundant and unleashed pure air to help me go on for a few more months until the schedule of my next refuge. The air which I took in had a sweet, slightly pungent, intoxicating and wild fragrance. Was it of the Pines? I really don’t know. The fragrance had the quality or vice to turn anyone into a life-long wanderer. The fragrance mocked the civilization and its advancements and laughed devilishly at the attempts to harness its source. I started climbing up a flight of mossy stairs. They led me to a place where the slightly crowded settlement of Kaluk waved and beckoned from a distance.

Kaluk beckoning from a distance

I quietly told myself, “maybe next day” and headed back to the hotel.

Next day, we went to our Rhododendron adventure and came back to Rinchenpong late in the evening. We couldn’t explore much of Rinchenpong on that day. The Kanchenjunga, too, did not smile at us at all.

The day after, we woke up to a bright, warm, sunny weather. As we peeped outside of our glassy window, the Kanchenjunga smiled warmly. She stood tall with all her pristine and spotlessly white mighty peaks, flanked by the Mt. Kumbhakarna from the left, the Simvo twins and Siniolchu, guarded her from the right.

The day was so bright that we couldn’t hold ourselves back and went out for a hike down the slopes towards Tato Pani.

Towards Tatopani
Towards Tatopani

The entire region seemed to be having a gala time, with the treetops lightly swaying their heads, the flowers dotting the green slopes and the children playing in the football ground basking in the warm sun. Our sojourn could not be carried on further as our tummies growled with hunger. We headed back for lunch. The lunch platter was an amazing one. The ‘gundruk’ soup made with locally available ingredients and the dried shrimp curry were absolutely delicious.

After lunch, we, the younger turks of the group, instantly made a plan to hike up 3 Kilometers to Kaluk. The road was a smooth, pitched one with the Pine guardians strictly guarding each of its curvaceous turns. The walk was a pleasant one. We took relaxed strides ahead. The intoxicating fragrance went along with us. The quaint mountain scenes elevated us to speechless appreciators. But, frankly speaking, Kaluk failed to live up to our expectations.

What more can a crowded settlement, crowded shops and crowded luxurious resorts with people hankering over Kanchenjunga’s sight from the rooftops offer to the ones who were smitten by the simplicity of Rinchenpong? With a deep despise we turned down on the left side of the unkempt road towards a village called Boom. The pathfinding plackard showed that it was just 1.75 Kilometers down Kaluk. Whether we really wanted to explore the place or not, I don’t know, but in a state of trance, we moved ahead. However, sadly enough a loud rumble in the clouds above us pushed us back to our senses and we decided to return because we were not equipped for the sudden rainfall. Thanks to the friendly cab driver who favoured us by transporting us back to our Rinchenpong hotel.

The sun’s rays on Kanchenjunga

The conventions of the civic life we are used to, threw us back to the din of the city. Our workplaces waited for our attendance. Honestly, I did not want to come back so early. I just wanted to stay back and seep in the flavour of the place slowly just like a wine enthusiast seeps in some exotic old wine. I really longed to go back to the pitch-dark nights illuminated by the humble lights of the mountain hamlets. I longed to go back and spend a night under the stars and several known and unknown constellations. I longed to go back to the life of a rambler roaming around the mountains and going on a high after inhaling the intoxicating fragrance of the wild forests. Yes, there’s no escape from the mountains, Mr. Ruskin Bond. I can’t but totally agree to the words you spoke with such a conviction,

“It is always the same with mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape.”

– Ruskin Bond, Rain in the Mountains: Notes from the Himalayas

How to reach Rinchenpong and where to stay

i) Reach New Jalpaiguri Jn on any NJP bound train. 

ii) Take a cab directly to Rinchenpong. It would take about 5 or 5.5 hours to reach the place.

Hotels and resorts in Rinchenpong:

  1. Rinchenpong Nest
  2. Orchid Villa Homestay
  3. Yangsum Heritage Farm

Photography Courtesy: Avik Das

First published as a post in the facebook group “Weekend Tours From Kolkata”

6 thoughts on “Rustic Rinchenpong

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