RAVONGLA TO MAENAM BHALEDUNGA TREK
To really see Sikkim, its necessary to leave the hamlets. It is Sikkim Tourist Attractionimpossible not to be awed by Sikkim’s sharp, lush hills, leaping waterfalls, thundering rivers, and placid lakes. The people, sculpted by lives of low-tech farming and mountainous travel, have behind them generations of communal intermixing.
Foreign visitors to Sikkim must first get tourist permits.
Maenam hill towers over Tendong Hill on the other side overlooking the Rabongla bazar. The trek from Ravongla to Maenam takes about four hours and from Maenam hill-top on has the option to take the gentle trek to Borong village or follow the more treacherous trails down to Yangyang village.
Situated at an altitude of 10,300ft, the scenic view from this height is perhaps, unmatched in this part of the world. Mount Khangchendzonga and its surrounding ranges loom above to dwarf the richly forested and rugged hills. On a clear sunny day, it is possible to see the plains of Bengal spanning across Kalimpong and Darjeeling hills in the south, right across to the Indo-China border towards the north. A short walk from here takes one to Bhaledunga – a peculiar looking cliff that protrudes out and resembles the head of a cock. In the west the Khangchendzonga range complete the scene.
This distinctive looking cliff resembles the head of a cock. This distinctive looking feature can be seen from miles away and during the old days used to serve as a guiding landmark to travelers. From the top of this cliff, there is a vertical five to six thousand feet fall. Far down, teesta can be seen snaking its way like a giant python through the valley.
Tolung Monastery was first built in the reign of Chogyal Chakdor Namgyal in the early 18th century. It contains rare and valuable scriptures and artifacts of other monasteries that were brought here for safety during the invasion of Sikkim by the Nepalese during late 17th and early 19th century. A brass Chorten within the monastery contains the ashes of one of the incarnates of Lama Latsun Chembo, the patron saint of Sikkim. All the relics are kept sealed in thirteen boxes under the supervision of the government of Sikkim. Once every three years in the month of April the relics are shown to the public in the monastery complex. The last display of the relics was held in April 91.
Tolung at an altitude of 8,000 ft lies in the sparsely Lepcha populated Dzongu area of North Sikkim and falls in the restricted area for which a inner line permit is required by Indian Nationals. To reach Tolung, one has to travel by road upto Linzey. There is a daily bus service from Gangtok to a place slightly short of Linzey. From Linzey to Tolung is a 20-km walk and takes approximately five hours along the thundering Tolung River through dense forests and cardamom groves.
Precipitous cliffs surround the easy track, from which plummet down waterfalls in white plumes hundreds of feet below into the narrow gorges to the valley floor. Birds tweet louder to make themselves heard over the sound of the waterfalls and the rivers. Perched precariously on these cliffs here and there are the huts of the hardy Lepchas.
As one walks towards Tolung, the surrounding mountains on the top of which ice clings tenaciously even during the summer seem to close in. on reaching Tolung one can understand why the Sikkimese chose this place to keep the relics here out of the reach of the invading Nepalese. Because of its vantage location it was easy to guard hence this place was selected for relics. There is a pilgrims hut. An easy walk of about an hour along the Tolung River takes one to a religious spot – Devta Pani.
Damthang is situated 14Kms from Namchi on Gangtok-Namchi road. Trel to Tendong hill takes about two hours on a footpath through the thick forest. The trek offers singular experience of varied vegetation and exclusive fauna. Tendong is at a height of 8530ft, surrounded by lush green ancient forest.
Historically, This place has been a place of recluse for buddhist lamas who spend years in meditation amidst the silent scenic grandeur.Legend says that tendong Hill saved the Lepcha tribe from the ravages of deluge when the whole world was flooded- legend similar to Noah’s Ark of the Bible. Even today, Lepchas perform pujas to pay reverence to the tendong Hill.
The view from the hill is something to be cherished and enjoyed as it spans across the plains of Bengal to the majestic heights of Himalayan ranges
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