Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Aritar - the hidden paradise
Despite residing in Sikkim for more than five years, I was completely unaware that there resided a place heavenlier than many other places practically in the midst of us. Well, not exactly! But this is comparatively much nearer to the far-off places such as Namchi and North Sikkim that we had earlier decided for the department picnic to be held. After one whole year of contemplation, we finally agreed to go to this place called 'Aritar' which I had only heard of in NDTV Good Times' "India's Most Haunted". But we booked an abnormally priced cab anyway and the journey began.
Initially the empty winding road (Could it even be called a road?)and the idea about a haunted house with a spooky-looking caretaker present near the picnic spot brought an apprehension in everyone's mind. But the view of the river, the quaint houses with pink cherry blossom trees in full bloom in the backyards and bright sunshine lightened everyone's moods. After an hour of many twists and turns, we finally reached there.
Immediately after disembarking the bus started every amateur photographer's venture of making thousand memories by capturing thousand instants, souls and objects; especially mine. We posed with the abnormally large goat, the really friendly but lame white dog, in front of the haystack and also in the midst of a mustard field perched on a tiny hillock. Ahead of us lay the most popular attraction of Aritar, the Lampokhari Lake. The lake was otherwise barren except three geese wading in a perfect straight line across the lake. The lake was on all sides surrounded by coniferous trees, colourful flowering plants, a temple-cum-monastery in one corner, our grassy picnic spot on one side and a trekking route to Lungchok Valley on another. The lake had white Buddhist prayer flags dug into the ground in its surrounding.
Since we had hired a cook, the cook would only 'cook'. In other words, making the dough for the puris, cutting, peeling, grating vegetables, serving was all our jobs. But who am I to complain? I did nothing other than de-stringing the peapods. But I did help in collecting the used plates of the boisterous people who had dumped it in the open. But before a breakfast of Puri and Channa ki Sabzi (At 2PM), we had gone trekking in the Lungchok Valley.
It was a steep but short climb to a hilltop from where the view of the lake, Gangtok and above all Kanchenjunga was horribly good. The climb itself was incredible since with each step, Kanchenjunga got nearer and the daisies on the walls got more in number. At the top, were many viewpoints, an orchid cultivation, pretty houses and a lodge under construction where we peeped and realised that it wouldn't be a bad idea to come and reside there for a few days in future.
Well we returned to our picnic spot, had a pretty good brunch, played some throwball and some went for paddle-boating in the lake. After that we danced some. Then we again ate (this time lunch at 4:30PM) a meal of rice and chicken curry which overstuffed my stomach. Some friends helped in tea-making, some in batter-making for the Pakoras which were to be consumed on the bus on our journey back to hostel.
By the time we boarded the bus it was 5PM and as all winter evenings, pretty dark already. As soon as the picnic ended, an adventure started. The bus broke down within 20minutes, not literally, but it was giving lot of steering problems so we got off and started walking. Many individuals fell - some sprained their foot, some bruised their knees and one had her ligament torn since she was 'texting' and walking in heels on moonless night on a hill road.A drunk guy from our class almost tripped and fell since a queer-looking lady was crying and sitting on the middle of the path. The experience, though extremely tiring, was thrilling and exciting in its own way. The far-off lights from Gangtok and Rangpo and the sky sparkling with million stars were worth the sight. The college was informed about the bus-failing scenario and the director personally sent 3 college vehicles to bring us back to the hostel after the bus somehow reached us halfway.
On arriving the college we were all petrified since we had reached almost 2hours later than the in-time ie. 7PM. We anticipated a lot of scolding and insults from the teachers, wardens and higher authorities. But nothing of the sort happened. They just told us 'Don't forget to inform us before you leave the next time'. I hope there is a next time.
All in all it was a good trip.