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Irene's Adventures

India - Pelling

INDIA | Tuesday, 21 September 2010 | Views [660]

Google Maps explain why the 120 km journeys took 5-6 hours.  It will make you dizzy.

winding roads


We decided to head to Pelling.  Although all weather reports from internet, travellers, and locals indicated that the forecast was for more rain, we thought we'd take our chances of going further into the Himalayas in the hopes of catching a glimpse of some of the world's most impressive peaks.  We had to get up pre-dawn to catch our jeep.  It looked like it was a clear day!  We rounded the corner of our guest house and this is what we saw!!



WOW!!  Even the locals were stopping in the street.  Alas, the clouds moved in and a short 30 minutes later the scene was gone.

When we had arrived in Darjeeling, a few days prior, the kids deposited me at a restaurant while they continued, unhindered with heavy bags, to search for a guest house. It was evening and the clouds in the sky were turning that lovely peach/tangerine color.  There was a small cloud right in front of me that was the most brilliant of all.  As I sat taking in the beauty of the color of that cloud with the backdrop of deep indigo mountains, suddenly little, previously unseen, clouds began to pop up in the same brilliant color.  It was as though God had taken his paint brush and was touching the brush to canvas, they appeared that quickly and that brilliantly.  About 12 little tangerine splashes of color manifested within 5 seconds, then just a quickly, they disappeared in reverse order.  I sat there breathless, not really sure I had just witnessed what I saw.  Even as I write this, the tears well up.  I had truly witnessed a Divine moment. 

The short 125 km distance to Pelling took a gruelling 5 hours to complete.  The roads are a maze of hairpin switchbacks.  There is many a time you look out the window and realize the road has twisted 4 times to climb a mere 20 metres up.  India has been plagued with heavier than usual monsoons than are hanging on longer than usual.  Consequently, many roads are washed out or washed away.  We travelled over, around and through countless landslides; many times the water still pouring over the road.  Although, at times, these drivers seem like lunatics with their driving habits, at the end of the day one really has to respect their skill at manoeuvring these treacherous mountain passes.  Canadian standards would have blocked these roads with cement barricades to prevent access from machine, man or beast; here it is business as usual.

Pelling is a beautiful, quaint and small village situated about 2000 meter above sea level.  The hopes of seeing some spectacular mountains rose high in our spirits as we arrived in sunny weather, with clouds just obscuring the nearby hills.  Sunny weather also lifted our spirits in that we could actually wash some clothes that had a chance of drying.  WooHoo!  How little it takes to lift one's spirits!



We all got our washing done and semi-dry when those obscuring clouds now became menacing rain clouds.  That was the end of any semblance of sun for the next 3 days.

There really is not a lot to do in a village whose main tourist attraction is the hiking and scenery when it rains. We were so fortunate to have a charming Guest House with fantastic hosts whose every leisure moment was spent strumming guitars and singing soft ballads. Not surprisingly, the food was excellent with the cooks singing away in the kitchen. The one oddity (India never disappoints when it comes to oddities) was a little man who scurried about, hither and hither, with a pipe wrench glued to his hand. We're not sure what he did exactly; but suspiciously, one evening, we had not a drop of water in our rooms. We spied him the next morning and a few moments later we had water again. He was always scurrying, as though on a real important mission, however.



We did walk up to ...... Monastery, which was built in 1642. Supposedly the BEST view of the Himalayas are from this Monastery. It was a mystically enchanting hour long walk over an ancient stone path, through some very dense forest. It was so foggy, that at 11:00 am it was nearly dark as we passed beneath a canopy of trees.

 

When we arrived at the Monastery there were what I will call Baby Monks. They could not have been more than 6 years old, some looking about 4. One little fellow was sitting on a bench, all dressed in his red monk robes and sucking his thumb. It was absolutely precious. Michaela is always saying she's going to kidnap a small child to bring home. This time I think she was serious. “You divert their attention and I'll grab him.” He was cute enough that I was tempted to follow through.

     

Len, the ever popular child magnet, had them crowded around him to the point of near burying him. As always, he shows them their image in the digital display and they are mesmerized. Back in Agra, one little fellow actually kissed his own image. If that doesn't tug at your heart stings, nothing will.....

We had a look around the temple then carried on a bit further up the hill. We accomplished nothing but getting really wet and capturing some terrific shots. We then headed the hour's walk back down to Pelling, had a bite to eat, then we headed back up in the opposite direction of the first walk.

 

 

We had heard there was another, newer temple, where they had Puja at 15:00, complete with chanting, horns, cymbals and gongs. A live performance!! Unfortunately, we were mislead and there was no Puja. However, the ½ hour walk, uphill and in the rain was not a total loss. This temple was unique in that it had 3 floors, the bottom and second floor had the quintessential statues and prayer benches and butter sculptures. The third floor had a massive sculpture depicting the various levels of existence. It had to be at least 3 meters high and another 3 long and wide. It was all behind glass and was so very intricate in design and color. We had never seen anything like it before, and most certainly nothing even close inside a temple.

 

As you recall, I had fallen in Varanasi and hurt my left arm then. Now this entire day my left arm was really sore and my elbow quite swollen. I said that I felt I should have it checked by a doctor and possibly x-rayed. We booked a jeep to Siliguri, population 1.7 million, where our guest house host has a brother who is a doctor at a private hospital. Off we go armed with his phone number and hospital name.

 

 

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