I dreamed that we could not wake up on time and Kanchendjonga has disappeared forever. It woke me up at somewhere around 3 in night and after that I was not able to sleep at all but was not feeling tired. At four, finally, I waked up Manish. We both were sitting on bed looking outside, trying to figure out where IT could be. Soon it was twilight and we both were stunned. They were right in front of us; we did not need to move an inch from our bed to have a view of the mountains but for the whole expanse. We went out in balcony. First rays of sun turned it into pink and then orange-gold and all this happened in just 10 minutes. We were still spellbound by all this but suddenly we realized that soon the show will be over and Rachit( my 5 yr young son) has not seen. We waked up Rachit asking him to look outside the window. All of us were sitting on bed- speechless, looking at the mighty snow clad mountains; Rachit’s first ever. He rushed out in balcony, then to terrace and then wanted binocular to have a closer look. He was so excited, so happy and we both were happier than him to see him.
When clouds drew the curtain to end this magnificent show of 40-45 minutes, we reluctantly came inside and got ready for the day.
Pemayangtse Monastery was a little more than 2 km from upper Pelling, taking around 45-60 minutes to walk (with a kid). The walk to Pemayangtse was a lovely one. We were out of the town in 10 minutes and walking on a smooth, winding road lined (not by planted trees but by naturally growing vegetation) with tall trees, in fact tall is a small word to describe them; they were rooted somewhere deep down on slopes and were reaching far out to sky. We were stopping here and there, asking people (they were a few) about trees. People were friendly, told us in detail about the trees they knew and became friendlier when they came to know that we were basically from Udaipur.
Pemayangtse means “ the perfect sublime lotus”. Lhatsun Champo, one of the three Lamas of Yuksom, founded the monastery in 17th century. It is the most important gompa in Sikkim and belongs to Nyingmapa sect. A winding and climbing road lined with fluttering prayer flags in all colors took us to Gompa.
First came the outhouses with intricate woodwork. It was for the first time that we were seeing any Buddhist Monastery. Moving past those outhouses, we reached to Gompa.
Inside,there were statues of Guru Rinpoche- for us better known as guru Padmasambhava. He was one of the most well known disciples of Bhagvan Buddha. In Sikkim, he is revered more than Bhagavan Buddha, as it was he who spread the messages and religion here. After having taken a round of ground floor, we looked for someone who could tell us about the Gods depicted there etc. but found nobody so we took out our travel guide to know at least something about those three floors of the Gompa.
“ Built on three floors, the Monastery centers around a large hall which contain images of Guru Rinpoche and Lhatsun Chempo, later was an enigmatic Tibetan Lama, and an exquisite display of thagkas and murals. On the top floor, a magnificent wooden sculpture (it was indeed) carved and painted by Dungim Rinpoche, a former abbot of gompa, depicts sang thok palri – The celestial abode of Guru Rinpoche, rising above the realms of hell. The extraordinary detail includes demons; animals, birds, Buddhas and Bodhistavas, chortens and flying dragons and it all took him just five years to complete. An annual cham– a masked dance is held here during the Tibetan new year (Feb).”
Outside some kid monks were lazing around in shade of trees. Somehow I did not feel good. Such little ones, they should better live with parents. They are sent to Monasteries sometimes because of financial problems and at other times because being a Lama guarantees respect in society. Sometimes parent send them when they feel that kids are going out of control and a way of giving them the good education is by sending them to Monastry.
We intended to go to Rabdentse which was the second capital of Sikkim and was founded by second Chogyal. As at most of the places in India- there were no sign boards for people who want to trek. That made us spend next half an hour understanding from people how to go there. There were two options- first was a shortcut passing through woods and second was a longer route by road. We chose first option. There was a proper track passing through dense vegetation- too dense to let any light fall on trek. Rachit simply refused to go through it because of darkness so we took longer route that was around 2 kms from Monastery. It was going down and down so Rachit was happily walking or almost running but I was a little worried about climbing up while returning. Anyway we continued and reached Rabdentse.
The board outside Rabdentse displays mind-blowing number of varieties of ferns, conifers, bamboos, birds, and butterflies to be found inside Rabdentse Sanctuary. We were thrilled. We looked for any guide who would take us on Nature Trail but NO. Tourists are not expected to be nature lovers, they SHOULD BE naturalists to simply go inside and be able to know each and every thing. All right. Where are the trails? None but one leading to Rabdentse. But it did not show distance. We asked some locals who were going on that path for some picnic. It was half an hour walk for them. So we figured out it to be at least one and half-hour for us. We finished more than half of the trek but Rachit was not walking willingly. The dark shade of dense vegetation was a big deterrent for him. Ruins were visible but Rachit was very tired, so we returned and were out by 2 pm. Now it was more than 4 km climb up to Pelling. We waited there for Jeeps coming from Legship/ Ghezing and luckily found one and finally reached Pelling.
Lunch and afternoon siesta recharged the energy levels to walk to Sanga Choling Monastery perched on top of a hill at a climb of 4 kms from Upper Pelling. Rachit was surely not going to make any fuss, as it was not a Tar road. He simply dislikes walking on roads. Replace it with a pagdandi and he will walk for 6-8 hrs very happily-chirping like a bird and jumping like a monkey all along.
There was no one else on that trek which was being converted into a motorable road. Soon it will be another spot on Sightseeing tours. The trek was moderately steep and very scenic. As we climbed up and up we were able to see far out to our next destination-Yuksom and the beautiful serpentine road leading to it. Beneath us were rolling hills of stepped farms in all shades of green-yellow-golden-brown surrounded by mighty mountains, all under the roof of azure blue sky filled here and there with fluffy clouds hiding snow capped mountains from the late risers.
Suddenly some pebbles started falling down on us from somewhere up. May be some machines lying there are working for road and we kept on climbing up cautiously. There was no man in sight and no machines were working. We became more cautious. After some 3-4 bends, we got some company- a mother Goat and her four babies. Rachit was delighted. Soon the whole family left the trek and started climbing vertically. I was really afraid to see that. They were climbing and sliding down again and again. If any of them fell, it was sure to die. Soon they all climbed up letting us breath easily. OK! These little ones and their mom caused all that stony showers. We laughed out heartily only to be stopped by another shower of Rachit’s never ending why, how, what and so on. My little ones brain was processing too much of information and too fast-“ why do they not follow the track? why did they climb up vertically? Can I climb up like that? Where is their papa? Oh, he must have gone to find food for babies. Why their droppings are so small? And so on…” We were smiling, replying and climbing up knowing that this shower will end only when some other fascination catches him up. And soon it was there. He had been collecting pebbles all along- Manish has filled his all four pockets of cargo , both his palm and lastly my one palm. Now there was a puddle- a God sent opportunity for us to get rid of those extra kilos. There has not been a place where he has not thrown pebbles in to water. I still remember wasting our one trip to museum in Dublin ( he was 1.3 yrs) when we could not go inside simply because it was a pebbled pathway with waterbodies.
Enjoying the path dotted with wild flowers and frequented by colorful butterflies, we reached Monastery. It was beautifully perched on a ridge looking down to all that beauty that no camera can ever catch.
It must be a great place to see sunrise and Kanchendjonga, but only if we could come. Those who are not with kids must reach there before dawn to get an experience of lifetime. Me and Rachit settled down on the edge as he was afraid of big eyes and angry teeth of images in Monasteries. When Manish came out he pushed me to go inside. It was very peaceful inside but here as well was no one to explain anything. We wanted to sit more but sun was in a mood to return home after it’s day of hard work. We too came down and reached to helipad Ground in upper Pelling from where we had started.
A football match was going on between two teams of young boys. Whatever little tourists were there in Pelling, had all gathered there and everyone was enjoying the game. We too sat there. It was great fun watching a real game being played for leisure.
Happy ending of a great day!
To be continued———