Rinchenpong – A village with vast open valleys in front of it, with the distant hills just high enough to allow Mt. Kanchenjunga to peek above them , handful of hotels to stay in & with numerous opportunities to experience nature treks while at the same time being known as a place of historical importance.
If you are looking ahead to a quiet & pristine weekend refreshment for 2-3 days, this place is ideal for you.
How To Reach ?
Located at an altitude of 5500 ft approx in West Sikkim, about 40 km from Gangtok, 130 km from Siliguri, this place is 5 hrs drive away from New Jalpaiguri Station. The road can be a bit bumpy since it passes through many landslide zones but the government is ready with immediate services required for clearing & maintaining the roads. One can stop for refreshment at Jorethang, crossing Sevoke > Kalijhora > Meli on the way & enjoying the view of rivers Teesta, Rangit all along. The way can be extremely dusty & you will be required to raise the window glass every now & then. The last 22kms before reaching Rinchenpong has marvellous road condition.
Winter is the best time to visit for clear view of the mountain ranges & a chilled weather. Summers are pleasant with requirement of pullovers in early morning & late night. It is advisable to avoid the monsoons because of landslides along the road.
If you book a car ( bolero/ sumo) from NJP it will take around Rs. 4000 – 5000 depending on availability to only drop you at Rinchenpong. The best option is to get hold of cars from the locality by contacting the Hotels/ homestays you are booking at Rinchenpong. In this case you can keep the cars along with you till you return at the same rate of Rs. 4000 per day.
Where To Stay ?
There are 4 -5 hotels in Rinchenpong bazar area, all of them providing a gorgeous view of the valley in front. Denzong Regency, Rinchenpong Village resort, Hotel Rinchenpong nest are few of them. A person named Gogo has a wonderful budget hotel here with pleasing availability of food which gets cooked in the hotel accompanied with excellent hospitality. You may send me a mail or comment here, if you want to contact him. The rates as on June 2017, are approximately Rs. 1400 – 1600 per day inclusive of breakfast, lunch & dinner.
Points Of Interest
The morning is the best time to get around & feel the offerings of mother nature. Unlike in towns & cities, people in the village here get busy from early morning. In summers one can find them working as early as 4:30 am in the morning. I was astonished to find a girl studying in the open, in front of her house as early as 5:15 am when I had set out to explore the surroundings. The local school had also started of by 6 am in the morning & we could hear the students chanting the prayer aloud from quite a distance.
NATURE WALK is the best option if one is trying to find solace & some refreshment away from the daily hustle of busy city life. In Rinchenpong bazar area there is a road that takes you further uphill. This is the path to take if you want to spend sometime with nature alone. Walking uphill for about 5 min brings you to a point from where you can take left to see the famous POISON LAKE. It is named after the famous incident in mid 1850 – 1860 when the British sent an army to this place. The locals – Lepchas had poisoned the lake resulting in the death of more than 200 British soldiers, who had drunk from the only source of water in the area. At present one cannot find any water in this lake as it is believed that due to rising concern of the lake bursting itself and flooding the villages down the slope, the then government had pumped out water from the lake.
If one goes to the right from the road, opposite Poison lake, he will end up in RINCHENPONG GUMPA. It is one of the oldest monasteries in the area, constructed in early 1700s. You get a warm welcome to the monastery by an array of fluttering prayer flags to your left. One can find a lot of disciples in the monastery. Rotating the drums around the monastery building is a pleasure. You can sit in the compound on the grass & enjoy the cool breeze across your face.
Throughout the nature walk one can enjoy birding a variety of species. Further ahead one can see the Resum Gumpa which happens to be another monastery and the Dack Bunglow. It will take you about 2 – 2.5 hrs to cover all the spots on foot while at the same time relaxing at the destinations.
The chirping of the birds in the early morning hours is a bliss to hear when you walk along this path. We could spot a variety of them like verditer flycatcher, mountain bulbul, doves, common green magpie, treepies, etc.
You will be accompanied by lots of stray dogs from the area throughout the walk & they will keep fooling around among themselves making your walk not a lonely one. Of course if you are searching for birds then they can play a villain’s role in scaring them away.
Nearby there is another monastery named Rinchen Chholing Monastery overlooking a valley on one side of which is Gyalsingh & on the other side Mengyong. The valley is gorgeous & in the early morning hours one can see the clouds rising from below the criss cross pattern of hills interlocking each other – a beauty to watch.
After returning to the hotel & finishing off the breakfast, one can hire a car to explore the area further west to Rinchenpong. Although it is a good option to go north towards Peiling & explore few more monastries, I personally chose west since it will take me some iconic places which gets too far to visit if one is staying in Peiling.
Our first stop is about 15km away from Rinchenpong at Hee Water Garden. It is located in a gorge type area surrounded by hills on all sides with a natural stream flowing through the garden. It is a wonderful place to relax in with your family with artificial bridges made across the stream. You can easily spend an hour here without even feeling the time pass by. There are options of walking on the hill slopes also to get a top view of this garden. Due to the funnel shape area, one can experience pleasant wind here.
Our next stop is about 27km away from Rinchenpong at Singshore bridge suspension which is the second highest suspension bridge in the Asian continent with approximately more than 100m height. Spanning to more than 198m approximately this is an engineering beauty. It connects two gorges and one can spend above 1hr here. There are two moderate cafe at each end serving momos. Its an amazing feeling to look down from the middle of the bridge.
On the way back you can visit Alpine Cheese factory which happens to be a vendor of Amul & see the cheese manufacturing process. The Dentam valley is another place where one can enjoy the beauty of a naturally formed marvelous landscape.
The night at your hotel is when you can enjoy the jewel studded valley in front of you. you just need to sit quietly & live the moment. Rest mother nature will take care off.