The trip to Sikkim was one of the biggest items in Prachi’s bucket list. And she got a chance for that in April. The main purpose was to see the birds of the region and the flowering of Rhododendron trees. Even though she prepared herself by reading about the area, she was totally unprepared for the beauty of this region.
The villages were very quaint and the architecture had a distinct oriental feel to it. The people were very friendly and charming. They still follow age old customs and rituals but are very modern in their clothing and outlook to life.
Sikkim and Lord of the Rings
While in Sikkim, she visited Yumthang valley. This valley especially left an impression on Prachi because she is a big ‘Lord of the Rings’ fan and while walking she felt like she was passing through a forest right out of the book. The forest had tall statuesque Pine trees which would intermittently get covered with thick fog adding to the mystery of the place. The floor was completely covered with pine needles and in between were old fallen trees giving it a very prehistoric feel. And the major LOTR feel was due to the thick moss hanging from the trees and the quaint and small log bridges.
One of the best moments was when she was at a riverside. The shingle filled river bank was of interest to her because she was looking for a very specific bird called Ibisbill. Ibisbill is only found above 3000 feet in the high plateaus of Asia and Himalayas around such shingle river banks. It is a very distinctive bird and can be easily identified because of its bright red beak. However, the rest of the bird is gray and white in color and it merged so well with the gray and white stones of the riverbed that many times, even though it was right in front of her it was as if invisible.
Visiting Local Family
She also got a chance to visit a traditionally built home of a local in Lachung village. The house was two stories and had very lovely oriental architecture. The inside was very cozy and the windows gave a superb view of the mountains around. The prayer room was filled with traditional paintings of their gods and beautiful intricate tapestries. The large table in front of the statues of deities had traditional lamps which the lady of the house came and lit for us. To be able to see a part of their culture and daily life was a really great experience for her.
She was very happy to have seen a different face of the Himalayas. She came back with some amazing memories of the people and culture of Sikkim. But she felt that she has only touched the surface, and want to spend more days exploring the place.
Prachi is planning to visit Sikkim again in the near future with an intention of staying longer and exploring more. Her other bucket lists are to go for more bird watching and improve her writing skills.
“I would definitely advise people who want to visit Sikkim to spend a longer time. Get an immersive experience by staying with a local family so you can experience their daily life and distinct culture. And try out the local cuisine, because Sikkimese food has very delicate flavors, and the food itself is a revelation.”