” ….. OKHREY… ” . A offbeat destination of West Sikkim
February 11, 2020
For three to four days trip in hilly area near Kolkata, I always prefer Sikkim. Sikkim is beautiful state with lush green forest, lakes and the breathtaking views of Mt. Kanchanjunga. I have visited many places of Sikkim and this time we visited Okhrey and Rinchenpong.
Okhrey is a hamlet of west Sikkim. It is approximately 110 kilometers from the capital Gangtok and 130 km from NJP station. The nearest town from Okhrey is Sombaria at a distance of around 20 km.
It is a tranquil village with abundant natural beauty and is heaven for bird lover. It’s a great place for bird watching, to relax and enjoy the splendid beauty of nature.
We arrived in Okhrey around 4 pm. There are many home stay in Okhrey. We stayed at ” Magnolia ” home stay. The home stay was neat and clean and well decorated. The owner of the home stay welcomed us and told us that they are ready to serve us hot lunch.
The evening was well spent by conversing with the owner and with camp fire. The temperature at night was near about 1 degree. So we had our dinner at 9 pm and slept well at night.
The morning started with hot tea and by hearing chirping of birds. The humming of birds stopped all the noises in my mind.
Birds are the most amazing species in planet. It enhances the beauty of nature. Someone has truly said, “Relationships are like birds, if you hold tightly they die. If you hold loosely, they fly. But if you hold with care, remain with you forever. “
There were many species of birds. We spotted more than 15 species of birds like red billed blue magpie, common green magpie, blue rock thrush, red billed leiothrix, etc. But I was only able to capture 8 spices in my camera.I realized how difficult birding is and patience is the main criteria for bird photography.
Seating in the lap of nature and enjoying bird watching was a blissful moment. Birds are the best aeronaut in the world who can fly high and low with great precision and control. I was elated by watching the motley species of birds in one place. This place is really a paradise for bird’s lover.
Okhrey is the base point for Varsey trek. So, after having breakfast and saying goodbye to the owner, we headed towards Varsey.
It took around 1 hour journey to reach Varsey. Varsey is famous for Rhododendron sanctuary. The view of Mt. Kanchenjunga from the top of the sanctuary is breathtaking. It is around 4.5 km trek to reach the top. The entry fee is Rs 50. I requested our driver dada to accompany us.
This was first trekking experience for all of us except driver dada. We felt exuberance and excited from inside.
We started at 9 am. It was a small trek and doesn’t require any guide. Our youngest member, 1.5 year baby doll was the most energetic member of our team. We had not expected that she will be such a good companion.
Trekking in the jungle is the best way to get close to nature and to experience the real beauty of nature. It is the way to explore new things, enjoy the scenery and to get acquainted with rare flora and fauna.
While walking faster, I heard my heart beat. This was the best rhythm I had ever heard. I was delighted to hear that. It was an amazing feeling.
The temperature inside the jungle was near about 1 degree and we were shivering. It was very difficult for photography due to such a cold weather. Still I tried to capture the beauty of nature with my lens. There was snow inside the jungle.
After trekking for 1.5 hrs we reached the top. It was not the season for Rhododendron to blossom. We only saw the buds of the flower.
There is a lake which was almost frozen. Driver dada told us that it is a holy lake where your all the wishes get fulfilled.
Before our trip, one of my friend, Arindam Saha went there. He got fabulous views of Mt. Kanchanjangya. After seeing majestic views in his facebook account, I got more excited and inspired to visit the sanctuary.
But unfortunately Mt Kanchanjangua didn’t appear in front of us. I was not disappointed because I trekked in the forest to embrace the challenges, enjoy fresh air andto behold the beauty of jungle. I walked in the jungle to get rid from all my worries and refreshed my mind and soul.
The trekking experience was truly enchanting. Though the trek was an easy one, but it was very hard and tedious for all of us as we walk very less on daily basis. It felt amazing to get lost in the nature.
It was a marvelous experience. Okhrey is a paradise for nature lover. To spend time with nature this place is ideal. With lots of memories, thrilling experience of trekking and rejuvenated mind, we headed to our next destination, Ringchengpong.
How to reach –
Nearest airport is Bagdogra (IXB) and nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) direct cars are available from Siliguri, airport and NJP to Okhrey. Approx. cost of car would be around Rs.3500 – Rs.4,500(Bolero/Sumo/xylo/wagon R).
Best Time to Visit Okhrey-
Okhrey can be visited throughout the year. Road conditions are not good. So, try to avoid monsoon.
Trip cost –
The cab fare from NJP – Rs 4000
Homestay Rs 1000 per head per night including food and lodging,