Ravangla Sightseeing: Floating Above the Clouds

My Ravangla trip happened by chance, but in this travel blog, you’ll realize how happy I am that destiny took me to this pristine tourist spot in Sikkim, India. Further below, you will also find a short Ravangla tour guide.

Besides Darjeeling and Kalimpong, if Calcuttans prefer any other mountain province close to their home, it is Sikkim. And honoring the age-old tradition of a ‘mountain holiday’ in summer, my husband and I ended up in this ever enchanting land, at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas.

Last summer, when the sun was scorching southern Bengal, we decided to escape the heat and head up north. It was rather by accident that we ended up in Ravangla. We have to thank our driver for suggesting this place to us when we were initially headed to Pelling. We planned to stay in Pelling for a few days, do a quick road trip around nearby attractions, and eventually return home. But at the honest recommendation of our driver, we decided to stay for a day in Pelling (since we had prior bookings) and then head to Ravangla.

Table of Contents
Pelling to Ravangla
Ravangla Weather
Ravangla Hotels
Ravangla Sightseeing
·       Sunrise at Ravangla
·       Buddha Park Sikkim
·       Bird Watching in Sikkim
·       Sikkim Carpet Weaving
Ravangla Travel Tips

Pelling to Ravangla

Ravangla is a beautiful and enchanting place situated in the South Sikkim District of the Indian State of Sikkim, lying in the North Eastern part of the country. It was a four odd hours of drive through the mountain roads. The roads here are good but not great with loose tar and rubble in some stretches. We were glad to get a top-rated car on rent in Kolkata which ensured a comfortable vehicle and safe drive all the way.

Ravangla Weather

Ravangla by Ankur P on Flickr
Ravangla by Ankur P on Flickr

The cozy and captivating town of Ravangla sits at a height of 7000 feet in the southern Sikkim district. Owing to its altitude, the town remains cold all year round, except at noon in the summers when the sun shines strongly and makes it warm enough but never hot. The best part of this town was its location, which served as a vantage point for amazing views of the Greater Himalayas on one side and the Eastern Himalayas on the other. What else can one ask for? A treat for the eyes and the soul, Ravangla made me fall in love with its landscape instantly.

Ravangla Hotels

We found a boutique resort which sat at a decent elevation and opened up into the mountains on the north. Hilltop Rabong’s red-brick building with French windows and the surrounding ambiance gave it a very Scottish highland look.

Here’s what our sightseeing in Ravangla encompassed:

Sunrise at Ravangla

Sunrise over the mountains
Source: Abhijit Kar Gupta on Flickr

As clichéd as it may sound, there’s something ethereal about sunrise on the Himalayas, especially on the northeastern part of the country. So, we found out about the Rayong Sunrise Point, at a half hour drive from Ravangla. The viewpoint was a height of 2000 meters on the Ravangla-Damthang Road. As the first rays of the painted the horizon in a faint orange tint, the morning mist faded and the mountain ranges became clear, offering a spellbinding view.

Buddha Park, Sikkim

Buddha Park Ravangla Sikkim
Source: Ankur P on Flickr

Buddha Park is a part of the Rabong Gompa monastery. A huge complex of manicured gardens, fountains, and stone paths, the park also houses a gigantic 130 feet statue of meditating Buddha. The idol sat so high that it seemed as if it appeared from the clouds and the mountains were protecting him. The adjoining monastery serves as an important pilgrimage center for Buddhists.

Bird Watching in Sikkim

Grey bushchat by Shrikant Rao on Flickr
Grey bushchat by Shrikant Rao on Flickr

I always believed that bird watching requires patience. It is a virtue I am still acquiring, and hence, I always avoid birding expeditions. But Ravangla had some of the most beautiful avian creatures in such abundance, that anywhere you go, you could find one or two of these beauties. So one morning, both of us went for a walk right outside our resort, into a forest trail that led to a valley below. It was a Thrush Trail, or so I named it. On almost every tree there was a thrush, either a dark throated one or the laughing thrush. There were also finches and hoopoes.

Sikkim Culture

Sikkim is known for its carpet weaving industry. Once again, at the recommendation of our driver, we went for a tour of the Kheunpheling Carpet workshop. This was established by Tibetan refugees who sought shelter in Ravangla after the Indo-China conflict. The artisans have been working here across generations and make the most beautiful carpets and shawls, albeit in their traditional designs. A lot of people (including adventurous foreigners) also come here to learn weaving and wood carving.

Ravangla had all the ingredients of a perfect mountain holiday: splendid views, picturesque locales, enchanting diversity, and much-needed serenity.

It rarely happens that a place reminds me of a poem that I read when I was in the first grade. The trip to Ravangla was such which took me back to the words of William Wordsworth where he ‘wandered lonely as a cloud that floats high over the vales and hills’. Well, although I wasn’t lonely as a cloud, I surely had my head in the clouds, and literally so!

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Guest post by Archana Permi

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Ravangla Sightseeing Guide