Thursday, 16 October 2014

Darap Village – A Sneak Peek Into A Fantasy World

Going offbeat in Sikkim

“Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.” — Lawrence Block

I found this quote to be bang on for my story about Darap Village. I landed up in Darap Village, while I wanted to go to Pelling. I was oblivious of the fact that I had booked my accommodation in a home stay, which was in Darap Village, and it was a little away from Pelling. So yes, I passed through Pelling, but my actual sojourn turned out to be in Darap Village.

Roses are a common sight in Sikkim.

As soon as I reached my home stay, I realised I had something better in store! I was thrilled to bits to discover that I was in the midst of plenteous natural beauty. All I could see around was lushness and hear a reverberating sound of water running by somewhere. It was all so refreshing and pure. 
 
An abode of nature.
On a clear day, you can see Kanchenjunga mountains from Darap village.
Every nook and corner is beautified with flowers.
Abundance of love.

The Village hike

The following day, I was all set to go on a village hike with a young local guide, who was also a student. He proved to me a great help, as I had planned a serious photography day. Since it was raining on and off, it would not have been possible without his support. He held my umbrella for me while I took my own sweet time in framing and focussing.

My guide and assistant on that epic day.

As we continued to hike, my guide educated me on many little things about the village, like its inhabitants were a mix of Limboo, Lepcha and Gurang community. The first and foremost thing that I noticed on my own was the blossoming Cardamom plantations. Later, I was told by my guide that it was their main source of income.

Cardamom plantation 

Ancient mud houses

My first halt was at a house, which was supposedly 100 years old. Yes, it was that ancient. There was just one old man inside the house, who was sitting by the stove. His kitten kept loitering around him. After a brief chat with the old man, we moved ahead to meet other villagers.

A kitten for company
An ancient house - 100 years old as told by my guide.

Tribal folks

The tribal folks in Darap Village looked so fascinating. They dress a certain way, they wear quite a lot of ornaments and they have an uncanny layer of contentment on their faces. I hope you didn’t miss the photo essay on the faces of Eastern Himalayas.

This lady appeared out of nowhere, but she looked picture-perfect.
This is the preparation of a Sikkimese local beer - Tongba

I discovered many quirky things about the village life in Sikkim (I don’t know if that’s the lifestyle in villages everywhere else, too) – as I mentioned earlier, there is a kitten around the stove, perhaps because she wants to stay warm. When I asked my guide about it, he told me they kept a kitten in every house to keep mice at bay.

So story-bookish... isn't it?

Hospitality of the old-fashioned hearth

I was offered tea or water at almost every house that I visited. All of it seemed to me a storybook kind of a fantasy – cute little huts, old-fashioned hearth and the queerly dressed tribal people.

She's heating the vessel to prepare tea for me.
...And here's my tea! (Notice the mug! It's so pretty!)

Straight out of a story book

The classic old woman, who gave me my best photographs ever.

My absolute favourite was an old woman, who stood outside her hut as we approached. It was all misty and surreal around her hut. She had expressions of an English royal lady and even her attire was so old-worldly and charming. Her smile had a certain conceitedness that she wasn’t aware of. It seemed as if she had got bored of her palace and moved into a hut. My camera was dying to capture her wrinkles. While I was on top of the world to have photographed her, she kept saying “I am old, I am old”.

Well, I was certainly on a high while trailing through Darap Village - meeting villagers, exchanging smiles and pleasantries, sipping their smoky water, and lapping up their simplicity.

Have you experienced a ‘fantasy world’ like this? Is Darap Village your kind of an offbeat escape?
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22 comments:

  1. Good work on the post. Quite interesting to note that on a totally different but very latest sojourn of mine, in a village hut in the Sahyadris in rural Maharashtra, a cat I too observed by the cooking place! It will be coming in my blog very soon.

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    1. Thanks Jatin! :) That's nice to know. I would love to see your post! I guess, keeping a kitten by the stove is a common tradition in villages.

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  2. Surreal! Love such small secluded villages way up in the mountains. Excellent post, Renuka.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, it was surreal indeed. :)

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  3. I want to go there... Love the atmosphere that comes through in your great pictures Renuka! The color of those flowers, the faces of those people, the cat sleeping ... Aaawww- awesome!

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    1. Thanks Eli :) I'm glad that you feel inspired to visit Darap village. It is indeed a wonderful escape!

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  4. Renuka I simply love your blog and never miss any of your posts. The charming write ups and stunning photos, makes your site top my favourite list of Indian travel blogs. Keep the great work coming.

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    1. Thanks! That's so heartening to hear!

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  5. Renuka, Gorgeous photos. I really want to go to Sikkim! Love the kitten next to the man...love it.

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    1. Thanks Corinne! :) Yup, Sikkim is a fascinating land!

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  6. Love this post Renuka :) You had such an awesome time there...

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    1. True! I can't even begin to describe my experiences in Sikkim. This post is an understatement.

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  7. This place sounds fantastic. There's something very utopian about it. And that little kitten is the cutest thing ever. I love how it's just curled up by the fire :) I wouldn't mind having that little guy in my house!

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    1. That's right, Justine! :) Darap village is a sort of a mini paradise - it's so full of beauty, peace and love that it seems a dream!

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  8. wowsers. what an amazing place Renuka! Thanks for sharing your amazing photos.

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    1. Thanks Andrew! :) I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

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  9. That place looks like the roof of the world! I've always been fascinated by North Eastern India. Thanks for sharing this amazing journey with us!

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    1. Welcome Tim! :) True, Northeast India is quite fascinating! Sikkim has been an exceptional journey for me.

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  10. Sounds like an amazing experience! Love the photos of the women - the one peeking out of the window and the one standing outside the house. You have got a great eye for photography!

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    1. Thanks Catherine! :) Darap village was a delight for me as a photographer! It would have been a shame if I hadn't churned out such beautiful shots.

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  11. Sikkim is beautiful and unexplored. I wish it was connected better! It has so much of scope for tourism! Or...maybe it is best that it stays like a hidden gem!

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    1. Sikkim is definitely an offbeat destination. It is quite well connected. You can fly to Bagdogra and then take a taxi to Gangtok. In all likelihood, they are going to have their own airport pretty soon!

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