There are times in this busy city life when we think of breaking free and run away to some far corners of this world, sit on a lazy chair doing nothing but admiring the beauty of a picturesque hill station, with a cup of hot coffee in hand. Quite a dream, isn’t it? When I dreamed of something similar, the first destination that I thought of was Pelling. A small hill town located at the heights of west Sikkim offering a setting that one dreams of visiting someday after witnessing a similar place in a movie or a travel show.
We reached Pelling in a quit May evening. The weather was pleasant with occasional chilly winds from the Himalayan valleys sweeping over the town. To make our stay experience a unique one we opted for a very talked about resort of this region “Elgin Mount Pandim”. We simply went ahead booking this resort looking at the online reviews which promised to offer an unforgettable experience in Pelling. And it really did.
Located amidst greenery, this heritage property was located just few minutes away from the Pemyangste Monastery and looked royal from every sense. Entering the gate, one encounters beautifully gardened path leading to the entrance and the front lobby of the resort. One can easily notice the amount of effort that has been put in to retain the royal charm of the property, which was once the guest house of the Sikkim’s royal family.
The welcome was unique as well. Along with the traditional robe, we were welcomed with the locally produced Cherry Brandy as a welcome drink (hard drink to be precise). Though it was nice to have, the strong flavor of the same might put you off, specially if you are a non-drinker. For me it was very unique of an experience which soothed my senses immediately. The lobby was pretty big and every corner of it maintained the royal essence. Furniture all around maintained an antique style as well as the overall decor. Few old fashioned lanterns were seen hanging from the walls, a giant book case was kept in a corner with some nice collection of books, a chess board with all of its men well positioned to kick start a battle was kept on an antique table for the guests, a small bar with some very unique collection of scotch and rum was available at display. Not to forget few royal sofa sets kept for the guests facing the view of the Himalayan ranges from the resort. The room again was a mixture of antique setup with modern facilities of LCD television, internet wifi, western bathroom setup, etc. The overall setup and the unique welcome makes one feel like royal guests for sure.
The real reason of the fact why Pelling remains engraved in ones mind forever is its close proximity to Mt. Kanchenjungha along with some unique holy experiences it offers. Elgin Mount Pandim is one such place which takes care of the first part by offering the most thrilling view of the snow capped mountain ranges of Singalila from each of its room as well as from the garden. A paradise of nature and bird lovers, the property has its own kind of bird sanctuary full of greenery and presence of some magnificent and rare species of Himalayan birds. Not to forget the mouth watering buffet it offers its guests right from breakfast to dinner is something that adds up to the experience.
Talking about Pelling, we visited the Khecheopalri Lake during our stay, which is located around 30 km from Pelling. This is a sacred lake for the Buddhists and a wish fulfilling spot, always full of visitors from all around the country. Located amidst serene greenery, the lake remains spotless as not even a single leaf can be seen floating on its surface. The local belief says that the birds of this region helps to keeps the lake clean by picking up anything that falls on the surface. An unique experience indeed. We also experienced the regular tourist sites of Singshore bridge, considered as one of Asia’s highest suspension bridges, Paymayangste Monastery, Rabdenstse ruins, etc.
But the real experience was offered by our resort. Be it the lovely Himalayan birds chirping all around the green surroundings, the lovely garden with some amazing flowers, the mist, the chill, the sound of trees and the calmness thoughout the day made us fall in love with Pelling. not to forget, Mickey and Rosey, the two ever awesome Russian breed dogs who are always friends with tourists. A dog lovers treat it is to play around with them, or just observe them jumping on each other. Though we missed out on a clear view of the majestic Mt. Kanchenjungha due to cloudy weather, the overall experience covered up the loss to some extent. Speaking with the staff, we came to know that post monsoon season proves to be the best to get a clear view of the majestic peak, which can be seen bang in front of the resort, making it the best place to experience the Himalayan beauty that Pelling has to offer. We got a glimpse of the peak on our very last day, but it was just a glimpse, not fulfilling my expectations beyond 10%.
After a stay of 3 nights and 4 days and experiencing nature at its very raw form, we started our journey back to Kolkata. The train was from New-Jalpaigudi, which is a good 5 hours distance from Pelling. We made sure we left well in advance just to avoid any unnecessary delays which are pretty common in such hilly areas. The journey itself was very scenic as the road passes though some dense woods, river sides and high mountain stretches. It prooved to be a very satisfying experience in the end and whenever wo go through all those moments captured in my lens, we feel like going back in time and experience the serenity once -again.