Early December is the best time to visit little Himalayan villages. The dropping winter temperature and the warmth of the cosy homestays with magical views make the best combination. Today I will tell you about Rishop, a Himalayan hamlet at an altitude of 8500 feet, in Kalimpong District of West Bengal, India.
The village exists like a cute misty fairyland, veiled by fluffy clouds; far from the madding crowd. Rishop is magical with sky-high pines and birds and crickets chirping in the woods and colourful flowers everywhere, even in the creeks of the cemented walls; with a gorgeous view of the mighty Kanchenjunga. The sight of the glorious Kanchenjunga and the entire ‘Sleeping Buddha’ can be best experienced at this season.
Things to do at Rishop
Soak yourself in a sense of romantic solitude and silence. Hike on the meandering paths of the hill and the valley dotted with little pinewood huts which serve as homestays. The greenery and the colourful flowers are a treat to the eyes. The clouds gushing in through the forests with the aroma of pinewood mixed in fresh air is very soothing. The silence of the Himalayas speaks to your soul. Experience it. Stand in amazement at the snow-white Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain peak in the world (28170 feet).
Do not miss the sunrise. November and December are months of clear skies. The entire Sleeping Buddha range shines like gold with the first rays of the sun at dawn. The whole of the Kanchenjunga range appears like Buddha in a sleeping posture. The sunrise will be etched in your heart forever.
There are 2 view points to visit: The very popular, Tiffin Dara and the ‘not so heard of’, Damsanguri, a hidden gem.
Hike for 45minutes through an old jungle trail to Tiffin Dara. It is a viewpoint at an altitude of more than 9000 feet, a mountain top amidst the jungle. You will be spellbound with the breathtaking 360 degrees view of the Himalayan ranges. The snow-capped Kanchenjunga range, the Blue Mountains of Sikkim, Nathu-La and Jeep-La pass can all be seen from here. During sunset, these ranges bathed in gold, red and purple hues look heavenly. This is also known as the Sunset Point.
The ruins of Damsanguri, at an altitude of 6800 feet are intriguing ruins against the mighty Kanchenjunga as the background. These structures have witnessed a cycle of creation and destruction and therefore have a plethora of narratives from the pages of unknown or undiscovered history. It was a fort of the Lepcha King. It is also called the fort of the Rakshash King.
Neora Valley National Park
Drive for half an hour to Kolakham, a neighbouring hamlet to visit the Neora Valley National Park. The car will take you till a point which is 13 kilometres inside the National Park. If you wish you can continue a guided trek through the forests. This is an exciting place to visit. The months of April and May are the best for the Neora Valley trek as the National Park houses more than 50 types of rhododendrons and they are in full bloom at that time. However, except during rains, one will enjoy the National Park at any time of the year. The mystic vibe of the forest is an experience in itself. Be alert else you will miss the unique red panda. Red pandas are shy animals and are found only in the eastern Himalayas and parts of China.
Enjoy the warm and hearty meals and the warmth of the simple hill people. They will provide with simple home-cooked food with genuine smiles which will not only fill the stomach but also the heart.
These tiny little picturesque villages, often unheard of, are secret show stoppers. Rishop can be reached by car from Bagdogra Airport at Siliguri or from New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Railway Station.
A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.