Hello world!

Dzongri under snow cover (1)

Being passionate about trekking, I have been trekking to many such wonderful places in Sikkim…which some may never get a chance to visit….

I would like to share those moments with you all….please take a time to go through and leave your comments and suggestions…I will be glad to have it…

Bharat

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Meeting The Rhododendron Man

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After JD Hooker, only people who did extensive field explorations on rhododendrons are Shri Udai Chandra Pradhan and Shri ST Lachungpa. After them, the field based explorations on rhododendrons were not taken seriously by anyone, for some reason.

As a trekker, I have been trekking to rhododendron rich areas in Sikkim since the year 2006…During the course of my visit, I used to encounter rhododendrons with beautiful flowers………slowly I developed interest on rhododendrons which resulted in explorations of many new populations of important rhododendron species like Rhododendron maddenii and Rhododendron niveum, albino form of Rhododendron hodgsonii ………….as well as new species discovery like Rhododendron mekongense from Sikkim. Nevertheless, I wanted to learn more about rhododendrons and the only person who could guide me was Shri UC Pradhan sir……I wanted to meet him so much but was unable to do so because I was not having his contact address…..It was through social media, facebook that I could contact and communicate with him….could clear many of my doubts….

Further, their book on rhododendron “Sikkim Himalayan Rhododendron” is so handy and useful for me and I wanted to have the copy of the same…I looked for it in Darjeeling, Gangtok, etc. I browsed through the net but was unable to get it. Suddenly I thought of contacting Shri UC Pradhan Sir…….finally I messaged him and asked for the book…..it was so nice to receive instant reply from him asking how to send the book. Since I desperately wanted o meet him, so I told him that I will collect the book personally ……he replied back to me to make on Tuesday, the 21st July afternoon….It was a golden opportunity for me which I did not want to miss it…..He also provided the address of his residence at Kalimpong………I was so excited……it was like my dream come true…..

On Tuesday, I started at 6:30 AM from my house to Deorali motor stand thinking that I will catch the first service to Kalimpong but unfortunately the vehicle started at 8:30 AM…I had to wait for 2 hours in the motor stand as there were no passengers…I was bit worried because I wanted to make it on time……I reached Kalimpong at 11:30 AM…..and directly went to his house…….I just gave a formal call to him saying that I have reached……As I reached the gate …….Madam Pradhan opened the gate smilingly and took me to the drawing room.

After few minutes, UC Pradhan sir and Hemlata came with the book…it was such a wonderful moment for me to meet him, which I only dreamed of. He was so humble, soft toned gentleman…….we talked only about rhododendrons, orchids….he shared his experiences and his vision….and listened to mine patiently. He was very happy to know that I am taking interest on rhododendrons…….he was so interested to discuss about rhododendrons of Dzongu, north Sikkim; he said that they could not explore the valley when working on the rhododendrons of Sikkim Himalaya including Darjeeling Hills……we talked about the recent discovery of new species like R. mekongense, R. argipeplum, albino form of R. hodgsonii. He suggested me to focus on some particular aspects and to take the work seriously…… he further said that due to health problem, he is not able to give time to the people these days but for me he managed somehow because of my keen interest………I must be thankful to him as well as to everyone including Madam, Hemlata and Crish……for sparing their valuable time for me…….

By the time it was already 1:00 PM and I had to travel back to Gangtok…so I bid goodbye to everyone……..While leaving, he handed over the book to me which is the greatest gift I ever had and I cherished every single minute I spent with “The Rhododendron Man”………..

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Panch Pokhari Trek

lakes in Singho cho area (1)

On fine day of 6th May, suddenly I was called by our DFO (Divisional Forest Office) Mrs. Dechen Lachungpa to her office and was asked to plan a combined field trip to Panch Pokhari in Upper Dzongu for Biodiversity Survey and Musk Deer study along with Suraj and Dorjee. We immediately fixed our tour date from 12th June to 25th June 2015 and started our preparation, did bit of shopping like medicines, batteries, etc.

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After reaching Mangan, we did the major shopping for the trek along with Mingdup, our guide for the trek….. we were so thrilled……..We had trekked with Mingdup earlier also…he is very experienced person and has wonderful knowledge on the local biodiversity, culture, etc.

We were supposed to make a halt at the Namprikdang guest house; nevertheless, due to heavy rain and……river blockage…we were suggested not to halt there….so Mingdup arranged our stay at Passingdang in home stay………staying there was nice experience…….

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Since we had already decided to camp at Leek Gumpa, last night, we started bit late, somewhere around 10 AM in the morning. We enjoyed our food at home stay….red rice, green vegetables, papad, dahi (curd), dal, home made pickles…so delicious…and I was thinking in my mind that when will we be getting to eat such food again because……in the field you have to eat whatever comes in front, fully…no problem in that….we are used to it……

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After having food, we three went to Mingdup’s house where he was with the boys packed up…..Mingdup was so particular about everything……he had made the lists of items each one was carrying so that there won’t be any difficulties in finding it whenever required…I liked the way he had made arrangements. After having chat with the boys for sometime, we started our trek from Passingdang…..The weather was good, it was sunny though it rained cats and dogs, the whole night……there were smiles on everyone’s face…….all were so excited as it was first trip for some of the boys including Suraj and Dorjee and for some, more than that…..they were feeling proud and were narrating their earlier visits and…….blah blah….and for me, it was second time to Panch Pokhari………

I had heard people saying that “Leek village is a paradise for the bird watchers”. It turned out to be true as we saw many beautiful birds on the way. The village road was well maintained till Leek, even though it was steep and we were sweating like anything, but we did not feel exhausted because we were busy taking photographs of the birds, butterflies, flowers, etc and also there was cool breeze for most of the time…..

Suddenly, Dorjee shouted pointing at the butterfly….there’s bird wing….for me it did not make any sense as I did not know what is bird wing….from him I came to know that it is one of the largest butterfly and he was vey happy that he got the evidence of its existence in Dzongu valley……we spent almost 30 minutes as Dorjee was busy making observation and taking its photographs and Suraj…marking the coordinates……and I got a chance to take rest for sometime….

It took almost 5 hours for us to reach Leek village. As we reached the village, it drizzled so we took shelter in one house where I got an opportunity to take a photograph of an elderly person weaving the basket out of the local bamboo…..

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We did not have to pitch our tent at Leek as the house on the top of the village was vacant….Mingdup got the key of the house and we all settled our belongings there…

The trek was exhaustive but…we all enjoyed our first day…..

Continued……..

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