A year ago I went on a trek with my family to Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Sikkim. We had always been passionate about treks and had done quite a few. The trek began from Hilley and is very short and the best time to visit is March/April as it is the blooming season of the rhododendrons. This is the second time we are doing this trek and the scenario that greeted us was completely different than we had known. Hundreds of cars were parked near the gate of the sanctuary. Disheartened by this sight, we embarked on the 4 km trek after getting our permits.
We had expected lots of rhododendrons along the way but were greeted with none with the exception of a few rare standalone trees filled with red or pink rhododendrons. We encountered hundreds of people on their way back from Varsey, some blared music on loud speakers and some carried huge picnic baskets. All we wanted was some peace and quiet and serenity. Embittered by all these, we grudgingly walked on. After an hour of walking, we were suddenly engulfed by thick fog, also we were alone on the trail at the moment. The fog was so thick that I couldn’t even see my dad properly who was just walking two feets ahead of me, all I could see was his red sucksack. We slowly and carefully walked through, so as not to fall off and kept a lookout for any kind of animals as the trail is through a thick forest. It was magical and dangerous at the same time, nothing like we have experienced before.
The fog continued on for 20 minutes or so. Soon we reached the trekker’s hut at Varsey. It was already teeming with people of all kinds. It was evening by the time we reached as we had begun late and upon reaching we resolved to leave the next morning. We were given a small room at cut-throat price. It started raining as soon as it was dark. A big family was dancing and singing and chatting away loudly in the hall and under the shaded porch outside, a huge group of young people played music loudly and drank. We were left confined to our room for the rest of the evening and only came out for dinner. That night I resoluted to explore the place early morning before we left.
The next morning, Mt. Kanchenjunga was shining in all it’s glory and hordes of people from the trekker’s lodge spilled out in front.
I took my camera and went off in a remote trail with a dog trailing behind me. Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary consists of deep and dense foliage with probable wild animals. I realised the truth of it the moment I left the common path. In went into the deep forest through a broken trail. After I walked for a 100 mtrs or so, I could see all the trees filled with different coloured rhododendrons. Pink, red, white, the trees were oozing with abundance of colours.
It was a wondrous sight to behold. I couldn’t keep my eyes down .On my trail, I saw a bird with a long tail, I was intrigued about it and wanted to take a picture so I left my trail. I went into the forest and kept seeing the bird in a distance but whenever I reached close it flew away. After a while of chasing, I looked around. My trail was nowhere to be seen and I seemed to be sinking. I was petrified. I couldn’t remember where I came from and I couldn’t stand in a place cause I was sinking in piles of rotten leaves whose depth I wasn’t sure of. After going in random directions for quite a while, I saw the dog which had followed me. He looked at me and walked a while and waited for me follow. This way he took me to the real trail. Later, I saw that I strayed far from my trail. I have no words to express the gratitude I felt for him.
Soon I was safely back at the trekker’s hut. A dog is a man’s best companion, couldn’t agree more with this saying after my small endeavour. Later that afternoon we headed back to Hilley.