The Damthang road bifurcates into two- one towards Singtam another towards Namchi. The one to Singtam passes through the Temi tea garden. There is hardly anyone who hasn't tasted the Temi tea. It is internationally famous tea with an aromatic flavour and produced organically. The tea garden is on the gentle slopes of the Tendong hill and the road loops through it making it sublime to the eyes.
A sight to behold on your ride to South Sikkim.
My first halt was at Temi tea garden. The highway to Namchi pass through Temi. I spend some time in the tea estate and had a organic tea from a tea stall near by. I continued my journey to Namchi. I have read a lot about this city in books. We were driving through the clouds. Around noon I reached Namchi. My first point of interest was Namchi Monastery. The monastery was under its renovation process for the coming tourism months. Finishing my exploration there I headed to Shirdi Sai Mandir. When my driver told this, I was amazed. Sai mandir here.. Yes definitely. This is the first sai mandir in Sikkim. The temple was beyond my imagination. A huge with gold colour decoration. On entering I was amazed to see painting on the roof of the hall. I felt like I was standing inside some planetarium. The entire universe was above me in terms of painting. My next destination was Char Dham. From the gate my eyes caught the glimpses of 108 ft tall lord Shiva's statue. The Chardham situated on the top of a mountain has all the religious places of Shiva in a complex. The architecture of all temples replicate with the original ones. It took two hours for me to cover the entire complex and clicks. I asked my driver in a Buddhist dominated state such amazing temple and Sai mandir. Truly good. The reply he gave was "our C.M is a very nice man. He has provided a good education system in Sikkim. He made all these so that poor and age old people who cannot go that long to see these places can fulfill their wishes here". From his words I can feel a proud Sikkim citizen. After finishing Namchi I headed to Ravangla. My driver was telling "sir, you have Buddha park there. A one of its kind in India." I was not having much idea about it. I guessed, it must be like all other park with a Buddha statue. But the first sight of Buddha statue changed my initial mindset. A big idol of Buddha on the top of a mountain in the centre of the park. The whole park and its surrounding was lush green. A beautiful chant of Buddham Sharanam Gachami was playing in the background in a different Chineses tune. The situation was masterpiece. Chill breeze touching my skin while they pass. All these will make a man to go into his soul and identify himself. After spending a quality 1hr in park I stepped inside Lord Buddha's shrine. Stunned with the wall painting and the hierarchy of the God's city at center, I stood amazed. It took another an hour and half for me to study and appreciate the the paintings and their devotion. The whole wall painting was done by specialists from the Himalayan Kingdom- Nepal. Winding up my days trip I headed towards Pelling. The time was 1845 hrs. It was dark. I was recollecting the day's journey and how coincidental everything was. Missing my cab to Pelling, a driver offering this trip else I would have missed a lot in this beautiful state. I reached Pelling at 2015 hrs. Checked in at a hotel. He offered me a room which have a direct view of Kanchenjunga from my window. The hotel was right in front of the village junction.
The biggest challenge and the trickiest part of your journey will be cycling your way to the only tea estate in Sikkim- Temi Tea Garden. Though the ride starts with an easy descent, a long steep climb to the tea garden follows. And the final stretch is quite high, where some may even choose to take the shuttle van. We will check into the only accommodation at the top of this hill - Cherry Resort. And here you'll see the fruits of that tumultuous climb unfold before you in the scenic and sprawling tea estates, while the misty clouds of that altitude float around you. Distance cycled: 50 km
Temi Tea Garden is one of the most lovely day-trips I have taken. It is beautiful in nearly all seasons -- if the skies are clear, the Kanchenjunga forms the perfect backdrop to swathes of endless greenery; if not, the cloud cover and fog only add drama to the landscape, making the green greener and the views more breathtaking. Tall trees line the tea estate, adding a spot of colour to the surroundings. It is a photographer's delight in the true sense -- every glance is a picture. However, if you want some of the actual tea, you will have to head to Gangtok!