The first time I visited Sikkim was when I was an infant, and the only thing I remember is a certain type of road divider which I had first seen in Gangtok, and then in Kolkata, after which I used to keep on saying “Gangtok, Gangtok” whenever I saw those railing-dividers.

On the 21st of January, 2017, 17 students embarked on a magical (trust me, I don’t use this word lightly) journey to the eastern side of Sikkim.

Walking at Siliguri

Heading towards the parking area | Siliguri

Sillery Gaon is a small village in Darjeeling, West Bengal. It’s situated at an altitude of 6000ft.

Sillery Gaon

Sillery Gaon

Homestay at Sillery Gaon

There were four rooms, each could hold four people

First floor, homestay

First floor

The kitchen

The kitchen (a few metres away from our house)

Nine or ten of us hiked towards the small, forest-like area at the top of the hill on which Sillery Gaon is located (see the second photo). The sun had almost set completely.

Sillery Gaon road

On the way

Hike in Sillery Gaon

The four of us, comprising Maa, Baba and Gunja had went on a trip to Kinnaur, during October, last year. I was back to the mountains within a span of three months, and it didn’t feel any less refreshing – the forest, the locality, the furry breeds of dogs, the¬†low temperatures (oh, by the way, this was my first trip to the mountains during winter), and the pointy, elevated lands.

When the sunlight gradually disappeared, only five of us were still on the hike. The rest had returned. Thankfully, we had a loyal friend who kept on leading us forward (although, he did disappear at one point).

Bhai, o toh territory mark korte korte choleche ūüėÄ

– Prantik

Four standing in the forest at Sillery Gaon

Subhasish, Debanna, Prantik and Aditya (L to R) – at the summit of our tiny hike

We walked down as carefully as we could.¬†Our smartphones’ flashlight-torches were all we needed.

On reaching the place where we were staying, we found our teachers and the rest of our friends gradually making a bonfire. Arpan and I decided to go back to our rooms and keep our stuff before having the pakodas which were being prepared.

We looked up while walking back and stopped.

(I’ve been giving the following description to¬†everyone¬†I know)

Imagine a black chart paper. Empty and spread out the contents of an entire container of salt on it.

The night sky was like the black chart paper, with stars sprinkled on it.

Our homestay under the starry sky

Trust me, visit Sillery Gaon during new moon, or during the week of new moon, you’ll see this (if there’s no cloud cover) | Sillery Gaon at 6:30 PM

Essential to-dos in Sillery Gaon:

(the following pointers are components of ‘mountain madness’, as one of my friends say)

  1. Stand in the corridor, or on the ground with an open view of the mountains and the night sky.
  2. Sing out loud (although, not too loudly; the village is actually pin drop silent, if there’s no wind).
  3. Or, listen to music (your favourite playlist).
  4. Hug your best friend and jump around (I don’t hug all that much, and I’m stating this).
  5. Stand silently, and stare at the sky.
  6. Breathe in the cold, unadulterated air.
  7. Capture a photograph of star trails (if you’re into that sort of stuff).

Star trails (sans Pole Star)

After clicking the above photograph, Arpan and I just couldn’t leave that location. The Pole Star’s location had become transparent. So, we set the camera for another half an hour.

Star trails with Pole Star

Sillery Gaon isn’t even a place where many people stop to stay. It’s often a sight-seeing location. This is¬†exactly¬†the reason for which you should stay.

The solitude. The silence.

Beautiful elements. Usually, you have to travel to a far-off place, or a remote, hard-to-reach location to find those while on a trip. But Sillery Gaon, well, it’s a 4-5 hours drive from Siliguri.

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