Sometimes on your travels, you end up in some strange place which you thought existed only in your dreams. Most times, such moments happened rather accidentally. You didn’t plan it. Everything falls into place as if it were controlled by some strange force. I have had very few such experiences. I landed in Khecheopalri Lake one evening while my tour in Sikkim.
I didn’t have the slightest intention to stop there for the night. I would make a quick stop at the lake, and would head for Yuksom. But as luck would have it, I was stranded in the secluded lakeside village with no means of transport. It was already 4pm and the chills of the mountains had begun to cast giant shadows all around. A faint drizzle broke the silence and at that moment I knew I had to stop even thought it was the last option. A local boy came to my aid and pointed to some nearby hotels, most of them looked forlorn and unoccupied. When he saw the dejected look on my face he quickly pointed to the unspoiled mountains over the lake and told me that there were some good guest houses, few minutes walk from where we were. My eyes lit up. I wanted to see what lies beyond those deep mountains haunted by shadows. Luckily a couple who ran a guest house drove up all the way from Pelling. They happily escorted me all the way to the Khecheopalri Monastery Village. A few minutes walk turned out to be a good 45 minutes of steep climb. The guest house I expected to see soon kept eluding me. I had quite a lot of luggage; a bag full of clothes, two DSLR cameras, a tripod and a laptop. It made the climb a lot harder. I wanted to know why there was no road. The answer was simple; to preserve the rustic village lifestyle. It came with a cost. The villagers have to bring all their daily supplies on foot.It was surprising to just see the sight of colossal trees still growing so close to human habitation. Here, people live very close to nature. It amazed me!
Finally we reached the peak with some clearing. It was just about twilight; few houses glittered like fireflies. The cheerful sounds of kids playing echoed through the silence and I had arrived at the most peaceful village I had known. The first house I came upon was an old dilapidated mud house but inhabitants welcomed me with warm smiles, they even tried to start a conversation with me in broken Hindi. Darkness soon set in and I could see as much as I would have wanted to. I checked into my small room adorned with only a few words carved by tourists who stayed here. Most memorable sentence was, “Here the clouds are always in my head” by a guy from United States. The mattress was too thin and I could feel my back on the wood as I lay down. But I was too tired to be bothered by that. After a humble dinner cooked and with nothing much to do I was soon asleep as early as 8pm.
I got to see the whole village only in the morning. You could see the tip of Kanchendzonga early in the morning. During the day it became less distinct. I was surprised to find 5 foreign tourists at another home stay. Most of them find their way there, because they were recommended by travellers they met elsewhere. As I sipped my black tea, I knew I had landed somewhere special. A place I would love to come back to again. There was a certain peacefulness; a certain ease.