Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary is located in Sikkim and is surrounded by striking mountain ranges of the Himalayas. One of the most renowned sanctuaries for impressive collection of rhododendron species, the park is a popular tourist attraction during Spring.
Why travel during off-season?We started downhill in the late afternoon so that we could reach our rooms before sunset, since it gets dark pretty quickly at higher altitudes. (And also, a cosy bonfire was planned for the night.) We stopped at a roadside joint on the way to fill our bellies with chai, wai-wai, bread and freshly-whipped omelettes. That little tin-roofed joint was the only one we could find in the area, thanks to our 'ill-timed' visit. None of us minded though, because visiting during the off-season meant we had the entire place to ourselves, without crowds throwing around garbage, photo-bombing our shots, and conjuring up what would only look and sound like a fish market.After this experience, I can not emphasise enough: off season is the best time to discover the pulse of a place without any interference or distractions. I've been in Sikkim during both peak and off seasons, so take my word for it. The locals spend their time farming and relaxing during the off season, when there are very few tourists and almost no commerce to be done in the countryside. They subsist during these months on their savings from tourist season. I wish this travelogue, as also other travellers' stories, encourages more people to visit Sikkim (and all hill areas) during the off-season. It has the two-pronged benefit of helping the local populace during hard times as well as exposing the lucky travellers to a whole new level of beauty, serenity, and charm.