Now, if you ask a Calcuttan or for that matter a Bengali (Allow me to generalize for a second here) Darjeeling has had their footsteps in it. Even Gantok in Sikkim has had their footsteps in it half the time. But these places of beauty are still beautiful but in a very different way. The Nepali people speak fluent English, wear clothes like the common folk all around the world and needless to say its in India so it’s absolutely bustling with people. But if you really want to travel back in time, you’ll have to go further deep down into the Himalayas, places no one bothers to go, places one in ten thousand Indians even know about. The villages. Preserved like fossils in amber. Their traditions intact, their culture untouched, their surroundings virgin.
I’ll be talking about two places together here. Let’s look into Selleri Gaon (Village) and Zuluk shall we.
If you’re asking what makes them special, you’ll want to read what follows.
Firstly , the Surroundings. People tend to think the Himalaya is all about the Everest. Or the Kanchenjunga. Well its not. It’s much more about the hills rolling up and down surrounding them and highlighting them out for you. These places in particular have rolling hills in every direction you can look at. There is no place you can look and not stare into the purity of the landscape. It has valleys and rivers making their way through every nook and waterfalls down every corner you turn. Dawn is early and so is Dusk. These are the places that can turn late risers into morning people and sleepless nights into enchanted memories. The hills go far beyond defying description. Words fail where the eyes take over. The mountains go from green to blue in the distance ending in grey and white where it gently touches the sunset orange of the untainted sky.
But what appeals more than the mere view. The people of course. The people here represent what we may call the descriptions of origin of the natives. They hardly know anything else beyond their native tongue. The people here are unlike the people of the world. They don’t know the worldly complications of the human mind and are cocooned from diplomacy. They act on passion. They are furious and can hurt you when mad but a minute later they can pick you up take you to their home heal you and give you immeasurable hospitality. The people here hardly know how to hate someone. Love is their language of life. Perhaps that is why they’ve blended so well to mother nature’s cradle.
They dress like they’ve done for centuries. Their food is of old and health. Yet hearty they are, and jovial. They know how to find happiness at times of pain and how to be kind to people who are worthy of it. They have so little , isolated from the world, but yet so much to give, so many tales to tell, such sights to show and so much to offer to any stranger passing by. They sing around bonfires, dance to folk, work sincerely through the day and revel on how everything has turn out to be so beautiful at night. They are what you may call the creator’s wish of how he hoped the human race would turn out. They are the people who build when no one can. They are the people who struggle unsung. And probably that is why they always look lovely no matter how hard anything gets.
Another thing to behold here is green. And so many types of it too. Everywhere you look, nature makes its presence felt. The untouched slopes of the hills are filled with conifers and pines and ferns. The orchids we strive to grow in our gardens every day, the roses we nurture, the dahlia’s we flaunt on our lawns, you will find , growing with the utmost ferocity through the slopes and into the meadows, painting the slopes in all colours when its their season to shine. Its amazing as how in any time during the day a wandering cloud just rolls itself in into one of these valleys and leaves tiny dew drops on the leaves that show your reflection clearer than the king’s jewels, and how the leaves sparkle in the sunlight where the sunbeams touch down on the game trail you walk on through the brown canopy that touches the sky.
Its amazing at night how the moon seems so close like you can catch it and you can see every constellation in the sky and the blue milky way just streaking across the sky and touching the horizon as it were a rainbow after a rainy day. The sky is so much brighter, and you’ve never thought black could look so beautiful with all the smoke gone and the clouds beneath you. The mountains are a place where you have nothing to physically feel, your eyes do it for you and your eyes even aren’t enough to take it all in.
Occasionally you’ll see a stray glacier peeking at you from the distance and a snowclad peak hiding among the clouds or a whole range of them camouflaging themselves with the sky where no lens but your eye can distinguish the outlines of it. But if you’re really really lucky, you’ll get to see the Kanchenjunga, in its full grandeur, flaunting its colours, rising above the clouds, the magnitude almost threatening and the beauty overwhelming dominating the landscape. So near yet so far making it dawn upon you how small you are in this vast world. Only to be surprised by an occasional red panda. If you ever want to revel, now is the time.
So to end it all, all I can manage to say is this, if you really want to see the beauty of mountains and the thoughts they echo, come to the villages. The unknown parts with people unsung. And you will see the hills unexplored looking over you and little girls happily going to school down a mountain path. You will see people offering you tea after a hike and singing to their own tunes. Sights of happy wrinkled faces and unimaginable sunsets with sunbeams lighting them up will greet you. You will experience how simple the world really is and feel like you’re a child again , that wish fulfilled after so long. And you will think of the people you love and sing Wish you were here. Come to the depths. Come to the natives. Go into the virgin lands and among the natives with their culture immune to oblivion. And you will see what we truly mean when we proudly say this is India, Incredible India.