Travelled in :Month of November
It was one of my many trips to Sikkim, India over the last two decades since childhood. However, this time it was off the beaten track. I was headed to Kaluk and Hee-Bermiok,in west Sikkim. I travelled in the month of November which had beautiful weather. Pleasant during the day and cold at night with the temperature dropping t around 5-7 degrees.
On the way to Kaluk
- How to reach – From Bagdogra , the nearest airport, I took a local cab to the auto stand where shared jeeps towards Singtam were leaving. Took the shared jeep to Singtam It took about 3 hours to reach. From Singtam there are shared jeeps towards Kaluk that leave till 2 PM. It took another 2.30 hours from there The fare for eachleg by shred jeep is between Rs.140-Rs.200. Alternatively, you can book a direct cab from Bagdogra to Kaluk. The nearest railhead is New Jalpaiguri. Take a rickshaw/ auto/ shared jeep to the main jeep stand for Sikkim bound jeep ad follow the same route as described above.
- Stay : There were very few options in Kaluk. There was one budget hotel at the small market ( the only one) that charged about Rs.1200 in off season. There are three resorts that have rack rates of Rs.3000-6000. I got a beautiful room with a balcony looking onto the mountains at Ghonday Resort for Rs.1800 as it was off season.
- Do : There many places of interest like Rinchenpong with a beautiful monastery, Dentam Valley, Hee-Bermiok nearby. However, I enjoyed small day hikes to the cardamom fields the most. Kaluk has great view of the Kanchendzonga and 6.30 AM to 9.30 AM the sky would be clear. After 10 AM typically clouds would come in, very typical of a lot of hilly places.
The little market in Kaluk has small shops that has all essential items, medical stores, basic eateries etc. The show store was a savior as my shoe gave up during one of my hikes and I replaced it with a well grooved Bata floaters.
Dentam Valley close to Kaluk and Bermiok
I checked into Ghonday resort in Kaluk. I woke up in my room the next day, savoured my tea watching sunrise over the might Kanchedzonga and set off for the day. I decided to take a day hike to the picture perfect fields below. It was a steep descent and I was soon stopped by villagers for chit chat. I was told that cardamom grows well in these areas and fetch good prices. There were other crops too sown in the fields.
The sweet couple who invited me to their home for a drink
Later I was invited to a home in the village by a friendly man . He introduced me to his family. Soon we very happily chatting sitting by the fields and I was offered home-made rice beer. It was absolutely yummy and very smooth. After spending quite some time I took leave thanking them for their generosity. It always warms my heart how warm people are in the hills. The less touristy the place is, the better. The best way to explore real Sikkim, one of the most amazing states in India.
Moonlit night from Bermiok
The next couple of days stayed in Bermiok that is only a few kms from Kaluk. Public transport was scanty so I hitch-hiked on a mini truck that was transporting construction material to Bermiok. You can hire a cab to Bermiok. A few shared jeeps also ply in the morning. There were a handful of small places in Bermiok. The view of the mountains from Bermiok is different, a slice of the whole range but more up close. Here is a night shot on a moonlit night above.
There is a beautiful monastery about 40 mins hike up from Bermiok, totally worth visiting for the vistas and the peaceful ambience