A big part of the itinerary of our trip to Sikkim was decided on the go. Because of unpredictable weather, we chose West Sikkim (Pelling, Yuksom) over North Sikkim (Gurudongmar lake, Lachen, Lachung, Yumthang). We had read great things about Yuksom in particular and were dying to find out whether they were true. With this in mind, we boarded a shared taxi with 7 others and started out for Pelling. We decided to make a hotel booking upon reaching the town. How we chose our hotel and what all we did in Pelling will be another post altogether. In this post, let us talk about the places we explored on our way towards and in Yuksom.
When at Pelling, we booked a taxi for a day trip to Yuksom. The charges were Rs. 2000/- for the entire day (off-season rate). We were promised a lot of interesting stoppages on the way. It did sound a little less exploratory and a little more touristy than we would have liked, but we decided that we would customize it as per our preference. The plan was to start early so that we can reach every place without encountering too many tourists. The decision definitely was a wise one. Tours usually start at 8:00am. We started at 7. And each place we took a halt at was virtually empty. We had them to ourselves.
Darap Village We were promised that this place had some really old houses. Immediately, the beautiful village of Dhanachuli came to our mind. The place was barely 15 minutes away from Pelling and before we realized it we were there. We were immediately disappointed. Instead of 'old' houses, we saw some careworn concrete modern houses (still inhabited) and a handful of shops. We didn't immediately give up hope though. We remembered that in Dhanachuli, the old village was a couple of kilometers away from the road, but in Darap, we inquired around in vain. Apparently there were no old houses there. Miffed, we decided to continue our journey. Both of us were silently praying that the next stop would be better.
A Google search after the trip suggests that there were indeed some traditional houses at the village. However, we received no help from our taxi driver or from the local villagers in this regard.
And, indeed, our prayers were answered. Rimbi Waterfalls was just the kind of place we were looking for. Unspoilt, uncommercialized, it was a wonder that there wasn't a soul around though the falls were right next to the highway. Also missing were the plastic litter. We stayed there for some time, rejoicing in the spray, and then decided to move on. Things had started looking up again.
River Orange Garden
The next stop, River Orange Garden, was barely a couple of kilometers away. We were very skeptical of this place, as it sounded like a typical hill-station point. We reached there before their cafeteria opened, and we were slightly hungry by then. But putting our tea cravings on hold, we headed down. The trees were all without fruit, but the Rimbi River down below appeared really attractive. We spent a good amount of time sitting on the rocks inside the river and then headed back up. The cafeteria was still closed. We decided to move on and have something at the next halt.
By the time we arrived at the Khecheopalri Lake, we were really hungry. However the stalls were still just being set up. So we decided to see the lake and then come back and eat. So we started walking. It was a beautiful walk - serene and calming. But it was a long walk. The lake was pretty, yet not as beautiful as the walk had led us to expect. We clicked a few pictures there and just when we were about to turn back, we noticed a board that pointed up and said "View Point". What happened next can be read here.
This is a waterfall that could have been beautiful, if it wasn't as commercialized. There were far too many shops along the narrow path that led up to the pool. Though we forgave these shops as they provided us the much needed snack of chana chaat. The pool was quite big and the falls high. But there were too many people. There was hardly any place to find a footing, and a local family was making the most of it. 14 members of a family were standing in a queue, "helping" people navigate the rocks and charging money for it. I have never seen anything like this.
The little town of Yuksom actually deserves its own dedicated blog post. And more. And we will definitely try to do it justice. However, for now let's just say that it was straight out of a fairytale. Clear roads, lush green meadows, cows, ducks all roaming around, mist floating by, birds chirping, prayer flags flying... you need to see it to believe it. Interesting places like the Coronation Throne, Karthok Lake, and Dubdi Monastery add more charm to this already beautiful place. More details in the post dedicated to Yuksom.
Though we covered Yuksom in a day trip, we would suggest hiring a homestay here and spend at least a night in this quaint town. It will be worth it for sure.
We headed back after Yuksom and reached Pelling in about a couple of hours. It would have been faster if the roads had been better. But no regrets. This was definitely a memorable day.