It is hard to believe today that there was a time when North Bengal hill trips meant a visit to Darjeeling. Darjeeling tourism flourished without any competition from its neighbors, during those times. But, once the travelers started looking beyond Darjeeling tours, many new destinations came to the forefront. The hill town of Kalimpong, was one of the first alternatives to Darjeeling. And even till date new Kalimpong sightseeing destinations are being uncovered. One of the latest entries in the places to visit in Kalimpong is Icche Gaon (or Icchey Gaon). This picturesque hamlet is a still unknown entity to the outside world and that means you can enjoy nature at its virgin state here. So, today let us take a trip through this latest Kalimpong sightseeing hotspot at RailYatri Blog.
ALSO READ: Tourist attractions of Kalimpong, Trekking to Sandakphu
Tourist attractions of Icche Gaon (Icchey Gaon)
Icche Gaon (or Icchey Gaon) is a pristine Himalayan hamlet nestled in the Kalimpong hills and surrounded by Pine forests. Situated some 15 KM away from Kalimpong city, this Lepcha village presently houses 30 families.
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While in Icche Gaon you can enjoy a trekking experience, as per your endurance levels. There are both short and long trekking trails available from the village. One such short trail leads to highest point in in the Kalimpong district. The point not only offers magnificent views of Mt. Kangchenjunga but also dishes out memorable sunrise and sunset views. The best time to visit this point would be during the dusk hours when you can enjoy the fiery red view of the peaks and see the twinkling lights of Darjeeling and Sikkim at a distance. If you are seeking a longer trekking trail than you can embark on 2.5 KM trekking trail to Sillery Gaon. This trekking trail would take you through dense Pine, Cedar and Fern forests. During the months of January-March, these forests adorn a colorful avatar with the blooming of orchids.
This viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the surroundings. You can view the winding journey of Teesta River along with its 14 turns all the way from Mt. Kanchenjunga. Of course, Ramitey Dara provides a chance to see the changing colors of Mt. Kanchenjunga during various times of the day (from bright yellow to fiery red).
Sangchen Dorjee Monastery
This is a revered Buddhist monastery and a prime tourist attraction of Icche Gaon. This 300 year old monastery was built when the Bhutanese king ruled over this region. The old section of this monastery still contains some beautiful wall paintings, which depict the various principles and tales of Tantrik Buddism. Another attraction of this monastery is the mummified remains of a Bhutanese priest. Between the months of April and May the Chyam Dance Festival is celebrated at the Sangchen Dorjee Monastery.
Situated 6 KM away from Icche Gaon, this is a Kalimpong sightseeing spot is cater-made for the history and culture buffs. The Damsang Fort was built in 1690 by the Lepcha rulers to resist invasions by the neighboring states. A significant portion of this fort was destroyed, by the British forces, during the Anglo-Bhutan War of 1864. The fort has a scenic mountain backdrop with greenery all around.
Cross Hill in Pedong
The Cross Hill is situated, some 15 KM away from Icche Gaon, near Pedong. This is a pilgrimage site of significance for the local Christian community. The cross sitting on this hilltop was erected by Father Augustine Desgodins in 1882, in memory of the missionaries who lost their lives during their missionary tours to Tibet. The cross faces directly towards Tibet to commemorate their ultimate sacrifices. The site is known, among the Christian community, to have miraculous powers and many devotees flock from nearby areas to pay their reverence here. The viewpoint offers glimpses of Tibet and the Chinese border in the horizon. Cross Hill is also a perfect place to enjoy the sunset.
Silence Valley near Sillery Gaon
Silence Valley is a beautiful grassy woodland that offers tranquility. This woodland, which constitutes of tall pine trees, is one of the most silent places on Earth. The silence of this valley is occasionally interrupted by the sweet song of birds. During the monsoons, each year, there is a lake formed. The lake is called Siyal Pokhari and enhances the green beauty of the valley.
So, are you ready to pack your bags and head for Icche Gaon?
Very nice place to visit. An unexplored tourist attraction.