The hike was beautiful- through the valley, woods and tea gardens and the simple village. As I was soaking into the splendour of this romantic solitude, I could hear the birds, I could hear the sound of the prayer flags fluttering in the air and I could even hear the sound of even a falling leaf. That was the magic that silence and quietude brew. Still untouched by man’s greed for urbanization, people seemed contented with the little materialistic things and vast Nature’s gifts they had. Whoever I met on my way were welcoming me with a broad and warm smile, even willing to offer me evening tea. Then there was the enthralling music of Tibetan trumpets, gongs and drums together with Buddhist chants from the monastery for the evening prayer. I shook up from the trance and started walking back towards the monastery which was just beside my home stay.
I am talking about my short and sweet stay at Tinchuley, a Himalayan hamlet near Darjeeling, nestled in the lap of Mother Nature. It is called Tinchuley because it has ‘tin’ or 3 prominent hill tops which appear like ‘chullahs’ or ovens.
Every time I feel the deep need to resolve the poverty of the mind amidst abundance of our materialistic civilization, I plan a trip – a trip that enriches my mind, body and soul. And this time this little village with its hospitable people did wonders.
The Gurung Guest House, run by the local Gurung family, hosted us. They were very hospitable, courteous and friendly, making us feel at home. The neat and clean rooms are nicely done with most of the provisions and amenities of a modern day good hotel. However, one should not expect WiFi. Even mobile phone signals are very weak here, almost all the time. However, that is a bliss if your purpose of the visit is to rejuvenate your mind and soul. We stayed in the Super Deluxe Room which had huge glass windows on the 3 sides of the room, giving us a wonderful views of mountains and the forests. We woke up with the sounds of the chirping birds. As we removed the curtains of the windows behind our bed, the Magpies and the numerous bright green Barbets flew away with flapping wings and the bright morning glories wished us ‘good morning’. We could see the clouds gushing in through the pine forest. From the windows on the other side of the room we could see the Kalimpong hills. Clouds rushed inside the room the moment we opened the windows. The bed tea with such view is therapeutic. The Gurungs served us amazingly tasty home cooked meals. For me, a happy belly, is key to a happy soul.
This trip was meant for leisure and rest, somewhere far from the madding crowd. So the second day I began walking around the place again and with a purpose. Himalaya is therapeutic for my soul which often gets tired with the daily urban mundane and so I thought let me do something for the Himalayas. I started collecting plastic wrappers which were lying on the path I was trailing. This act of doing something for the environment, however little it may be, has given me a different sense of satisfaction. (If anyone is willing to do something like this, please ensure that you carry gloves and hand sanitiser.)
Then I reached the Gumbadara view point and became speechless by seeing the breath taking view. I stood amidst the tea gardens with a cup of freshly brewed tea and observed the meandering roads going down and the fluffy cottony clouds weave their own magic. On clear days the gorgeous Kanchenjunga range, Sikkim’s NamchiChardham and Samdupchey at the North and the Kalimpong Hills, Durpin and Delo in the East and the Teesta and RangitRivers can also be clearly seen down below.
I realized that I worked up a proper appetite with this hike and by playing with the furry street dogs and collecting plastics for quite some time. So I walked back to the guest house where I was served a sumptuous lunch.
After the fulfilling lunch I leftfor the Orange Gardens at Baramangwaby carwith my husband, who had spent his time reading till now. It was a short trek through an amazing forest trail. The entire firm was organic. I was amazed to see the different types of trees and plants it houses, including some from the dinosaur era. Vegetables, fruits and berries are grown and the forested garden was left so natural. The owner guided me through the train and he plucked berries and gave them to me to eat. They were so juicy, tasty and fresh. It was so relaxing to sit on a seat for meditation inside the garden with the soothing humming sound of a little stream flowing. Finally such a rejuvenating walk ended in their factory selling products using fruits and veggies from the firm. The orange marmalade which I got from there is definitely a good buy.
After that relaxing visit to Mangwa, we returned to the guest house. We loved our cozy comfortable room. The smell of pine wood furniture and the flowers and orchids in the vas on the coffee table, plucked from the garden itself, wove into a different kind of freshness to welcome us home.
Well, there is not much to do or explore in the evenings in Tinchuley. However, if relaxing and resting is your motto of the trip, it shouldn’t matter. We enjoyed our evening tea with hot smacking mouth-watering momos. Mr. Gurung also sat with us in the evening for a good adda and music. Well I could just brush some thoughts on to paper during that time. Definitely this trip was inspiring.
With a heavy heart the next morning we started for Bagdogra airport. The 4 hours’ drive was beautiful, through RungleeRuniot Tea Estate and then meandering Teestha River started flowing along with us. We stopped at Loharpool and grabbed some tea and momos at a road side eatery. I sat beside a window and pondered over how rejuvenating this 3 day short and sweet trip to Tinchuley has been.