Rishyap had been on my mind ever since I had read about it in a magazine. I have been wanting to explore this small village located at an elevation of about 8500 ft, for a long time now. The idea of staying in a village in the lap of the mountains had me excited. Having stayed in luxury hotels so far, it was a complete contrast to stay in a wooden cottage (kind of homestay) in a rural setting. Nonetheless I wanted to experience the latter.
Getting to Rishyap
Rishyap takes approximately 4 hour 28 minutes (150kms) via Lava, 4 hours via Kalimpong (110 kms) and 3 hours 30 minutes (107 kms) via Gorubathan. You can choose to go uphill via Kalimpong or Lava but both ways present you with a bumpy ride. It is advisable to opt via Lava while going uphill as it is possible to retreat via Kalimpong as well as Lolegaon while coming downhill. This option enables you to get the round trip right.
Given the steep road, especially during the final kilometers of the ride, only vehicles like Mahindra Bolero or even Innova are suitable to withstand the tough conditions. Local transportation include shared Jeeps that ply from NJP to Kalimpong or Lava. From these places you have to again take a separate vehicle to reach Rishyap. There is no direct mode of local transportation from NJP to Rishyap. However you can hire prepaid taxis or personalised vehicles to reach Rishyap without break.
It should also be noted that Rishyap via Lava can be reached by two modes. One is by use of a 11km road which can be covered by vehicle. The other is a 4km trekking trail which is characterized by small rocks throughout. The trekking trail is beautifully lined with pine trees and junipers and the intermittent chirping of birds is a warm welcome to the tranquillity you are about to feel next. Because of its steep, rocky nature and narrow width it is almost impossible and dangerous for vehicles to ply through it. A little inattentiveness behind the wheel can lead you rolling down from 8000 ft above. My driver being a regular on the trekking trail had dared to take the Innova through the 4km trail. He drove with ease, but those 4 kms was no less than an adrenaline rushing adventure for me. However it is good to use the 11km road to be safe. trekking those 4 kms will take a minimum of two hours.
The First Impression
Making my way through the pine forest finally I reached Rishyap. It was almost evening by the time I had reached, as my itinerary included a tour of Lava in between. The first thing I noticed about the place was its serenity. I have never before been to a place more peaceful. The place appeared to have limited accommodation options. The few village houses present were creatively decorated and their wooden balconies adorned with variety of flowers. The sky was in its full blue. I could breathe fresh oxygen in gas units. In the far horizon the sun was setting for the day. I watched it set in the silence of the moments.