Rinchenpong is one of the newest additions in the list of attractions in Sikkim. The panoramic view of Mt. Kanchenjungha is breathtaking from here. However, Rinchenpong has been famous in history for some other reason. When the British sent an expeditionary force to Sikkim in 1860, the Lepchas who were the natives of Sikkim poisoned the water of a pond which was the main source of water in the area by using herbs, thus killing almost half of the army. This act forced the army to retreat. Since then, the pond is named as Poison Pokhri. Located at an altitude of 5576 feet, Rinchenpong is famous for the spectacular views of the Mt. Kanchenjunga range, some ancient monasteries and a house where the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore spent sometime. The whole area is covered in lush green forests which is home to a very healthy bird and butterfly population. BOOKING DETAILS OF RINCHENPONG
Places to see at Rinchenpong: A very famous place to look out in Rinchenpong is the pond – Poison Pokhri. Opposite to it are stone staircases that lead to a forest trail that takes you to the Rinchenpong Monastery that was built in 1717 and has a very unique idol of Ati Buddha in Yub-Yum position. The trail further leads you to Reesum Monastery. Then again, if you keep on following the steps, you will find the traditional Lepcha house, that is built in the old Lepcha style. Some other places to look for include the Maggi Dara, a new monastery and a marble plaque with verses from Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali. This is known as Rabindra Smriti Van and Rabindranath Tagore stayed here for some days. There is also a 100 year old British Bungalow covered in forests in the upper regions of Rinchenpong. Built with wood and stone, spending a night in the bungalow would be a great experience.
Nearby attractions from Rinchenpong: The world’s largest prayer wheel powered by water at Hee Water Garden is only 6 kms fom Rinchenpong. The famous Chaaya Taal Lake is also nearby and so is the Dentam Valley, Singshore Bridge (India’s highest hanging bridge) and Uttarey Valley.
All these destinations can be covered in day trips from Rinchenpong. The Srijunga Temple, located some 8 km from Rinchenpong, is a very popular picnic spot as well. Besides, there are other places of attractions near Rinchenpong like the Reesum Monastery, the Barsey Rhododendron sanctuary, Temi Tea Garden, Bermiok and Van Jhakhri waterfalls. If you are fond of local treks and Sikkimese culture, then a visit to nearby Sribadam village could be very rewarding. Short nature walks through forests originating from Sribadam would take you to some breathtaking jungle lakes, waterfalls and view points.
Things to do in Rinchenpong: Apart from watching sunrise over the magnificent Mt. Kachenjungha, taking village walks and birdwatching are the other favourite activities of tourists visiting Rinchenpong. You can go for village walks taking the stone-paved trails that pass through Lepcha traditional houses and old British forest bungalows to ancient monasteries. All these activities can be done during the morning time, but in the evening, you can go out for some exploration of the local bazaar or chat with your hosts and other fellow travellers beside a campfire.
How to reach Rinchenpong: If you are coming by train, then the nearest Railway Station is New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. Pick-ups from the hotels in Rinchenpong are arranged from New Jalpaiguri for the guests. However, if you want to avail shared cars of public transport, then you would get them from Siliguri. These cars would take you to Jorethang from where you can take further shared cars to Rinchenpong. If you are travelling by air then the nearest airport is Bagdogra in West Bengal. The journey from Bagdogra or New Jalpiaguri is some 130 kms and takes some 5 hours along the banks of Rangeet and Teesta Rivers.
Best time to visit Rinchenpong: You can visit Rinchenpong any time of the year but the mighty Himalayas are best visible during the winter.
Lodging and dining facilities at Rinchenpong: In Rinchenpong, you would get nice modern resorts and age old British bungalows to stay in.
The British Bungalow at Rinchenpong:
If you find staying in a heritage British Bungalow interesting, then you can opt the erstwhile PWD Bungalow in Rinchenpong. Completely surrounded by lush green forests and a pretty garden, this bungalow has only two rooms to offer to its guests. Recently, renovated, this bungalow has an extensive verandah overlooking the gardens and forest and a a nice cosy lounge with wooden furniture and a fireplace. This British Bungalow is one of the last reminiscences of days of the Raaj. Spending a night in this bungalow will take you to a time travelling experience. You can take food from any nearby restaurant or ask you Chowkidaar to cook the meals for you.
The Modern Resort at Rinchenpong:
A few minutes walk downhill from the British Bungalow through the beaten path is a nice modern resort beside the road with all types of facilities like hot water geysers, restaurants, room heaters, lawns, gazebos, fish ponds, landscaped gardens and modern rooms with views of Mt. Kanchenjungha. Planned like a village resort and spread out through a large area, this resort offers cottages as well as rooms to its guests. There is a bar and a multi-cuisine restaurant in the resort too. Traditional Sikkimese food and drinks is also available on request.
Photographs by: Abin Chatterjee and Others