Echoes from Ecchey Gaon
Nomoshkar. I am Ecchey Gaon, writing to you from the lap of Eastern Himalayas in West Bengal. In the local dialect, the Bengalis here named me “Ecchey gaon” or “Ichhey gaon”, the wishing village. Located in the Himalayan district of Kalimpong, with Teesta flowing along the valley, I am where your wish for a tranquil getaway will come true.
If you are going to Sikkim, you can stop here for a couple of days. I am not as touristy as some of my neighbors. Trust me, that’s a good thing. There are only about 30 families that call me home. They lead a simple life, practice organic farming and run guesthouses for travelers. Imagine staying in one of those wooden cottages you see in the postcard, enveloped by immaculate natural beauty.
“But what can I do in such a small village”, you may think. Well, I cannot offer you commercial adventures as many tourist destinations do. Nor can I offer you the nightlife of the city. But you will experience staying in a pristine Indian village with the loveliest people in the world. They will arrange for you delicious food made of fresh organic ingredients, guide you on treks and arrange bonfire and music for you at night. And you will meet the friendliest dogs here. Let me tell you about the best things you can do when you come to my humble abode.
Watch Sunrise at Ramitey View Point
On a clear day, the sunrise over Mount Kanchanjungha is a treat to the eyes. I see her every day but I’m never bored of the mesmerizing view. The peak looks like it’s drenched in gold as the first rays of the rising sun fall on it. The perfect scenery is complete with the sulfurous Teesta flowing beneath. The entire Himalayan landscape with 14 bends of the Teesta can be captured in one frame while air is filled with the music of unknown chirping birds.
Trek to Sillery Gaon and Damsang Fort
Sillery Gaon has been nick-named “New Darjeeling” for its impeccable beauty. Sillery Gaon is located on the opposite side of the hill. After enjoying the sunrise at Ramitey with a cup of tea, you can trek to Sillery Gaon and Damsang Fort. After a 2.5 km trek through the forests of pine and birch, and crossing the maize and cardamom fields, you will reach the ruins of Damsang fort. Constructed in 1690, it was the home of Lepcha King, Gyabo Achuk. It was destroyed in the Anglo-Bhutan war and is now in ruins. The whole trip to Sillery Gaon and back will take close to 5 hours.
Jalsa viewpoint and other places nearby
Another beautiful viewpoint is Jalsa that offers the grand panorama of Cinchona plantations. You can also marvel at the British architecture at Jalsa bungalow. You can also visit the 300-year-old Sangchen Dorjee Monastery,
Just live the life at Ecchey Gaon
That’s the best thing to do when you stay with me. Take those long leisurely walks in the forests, spot Himalayan birds, talk with the locals and eat local delicacies. Momo and Thukpa are staples here. Chang is a special kind of beer which is served in bamboo mugs. Here we do not have hotels. We only have homestays managed by the locals. But you will not miss the hospitality of luxury hotels in these cottages. Vamoostrail Icchegaon is a very popular homestay here.
How and when can you visit me?
I am located in the Gorkhaland Territory of West Bengal. So to meet me you first need to come to West Bengal, the gateway to the east. I’m almost equidistant from the Bagdogra airport and NJP railway station. After landing in either of these places you need to hire a cab to come here. The weather is normally pleasant here between 2 degrees in extreme winter to 22 degrees in summer. Autumn (October- November) and Spring (March – April) is the best time to visit when the sky is clear.
So what are you waiting for? Oh I know, for the lockdown to end! After that, quickly plan a trip to North Bengal and North-East India. I will be waiting for you. Till then, stay home, stay safe and keep reading postcards from India. Don’t forget to share this letter with your friends and family.
Blogger’s notes: The post is a part of the series “Postcards from India” written for the A2Z Blogging Challenge. I am writing about stunning offbeat destinations in India which I want to promote for tourism once the lockdown is over. I have personally visited most of these places, while some of these are high on my bucket list. Ecchey Gaon is one of the latter. I would like to thank Amartyabag for the pictures (Wikimedia commons). I used multiple sources to research about the place, most notable once being North Bengal Tourism and Rupashi Bangla.