The colour green soothed my eyes and quenched my eternal thirst of being close to nature. As the chilled wind blew across with the aroma of fresh cinnamon, as the setting sun painted the sky red. I just kept wondering if this was nature’s best.
Bengal is really blessed with wondrous natural beauty. From the long and silvery coastlines of Digha, Mandarmoni, halophytic mangrove forests Sundarbans to the bounteous hill stations of North Bengal. I always wanted to write on the little that I have seen of Bengal. On my first visit to North Bengal, we couldn’t make it to Rishop. Particularly because of the dangerous mountain roads that leads to the hamlet.
My second trip to North Bengal was a college conducted tour. A mad and fun loving group of would be chemical engineers set out to explore the beauty of the hills. Rishop was our last destination. We reached Rishop in the morning, not able to recollect the time though. The journey from Lava to Rishop was adventurous and fun. Untouched nature surrounded us all through the journey. The road was winding up the steep mountains; the vegetation was different from what we saw in Lava. Here nature was more disorganised, raw, rustic yet mysteriously beautiful. Our car bumped along the stony roads leading to the nature’s pride. All of us looked out of the car window, totally bowled over by what we were seeing. One of our friends Somsubhra is a wonderful singer and throughout our journey he kept humming some Bengali folk songs. When rawness of nature around is accompanied by folk music, it can create nothing but magic.
The journey became memorable to many of us. As we reached our destination, I was spellbound to see the panoramic view in front me. This place doesn’t have luxury hotels and resorts, and I personally think it shouldn’t. Commercialisation of a place like Rishop, will steal the essence of the location. We had booked two duplex wooden cottages, which comfortably accommodated all of us. The cottages had all the basic amenities. The food was good too. The cottages inspite of not being luxury hotels, were worth a million dollars because of the spectacular view it provided to the traveller. Amidst this heavenly beauty suddenly we discovered that we were nesting at the edge of a steep mountain, with the picturesque valley unleashing its charismatic self.
That morning after reaching, we had a light breakfast and went off for a stroll around, exploring the surroundings. There was a small spice plantation just near the cottage. The place being away from the hustle bustle and commotion of city life was also away from many facilities that were easily available to us in our concrete jungles. Hence the villagers grew vegetables, spices and many other edibles in the fields nearby. They even had a small poultry farm. Life was difficult there at the mountain top yet the simplicity of the people was overwhelming.
As darkness descended on the alluring Rishop, the valley in front our place of stay looked like a dark void. Darkness had engulfed the green valley, and now it looked like a daunting pathway to the unknown.
Dawn revealed a different compelling attractiveness of the place. It was a clear sky, as the sun gradually rose to the horizon, the Kanchenjunga Range stood looming head held high. Its colour changed from shy to romantic to angry. That day we did a little trekking as well, our gang climbed a small mountain nearby; it was fun and exhausting at the same time. The best part of our trek was, when we reached a small village on the mountain, we found a group of local boys playing football. The boys in our group got excited instantaneously and decided to have a game with them. It was real childish fun, when we girls cheered for our friends who strived really hard for the game. And the bestest part was “we won”. The trek revealed a different persona of nature’s endless beauty in front of me. Rishop was really a virgin hill station; the shade of green that I observed in this place was distinctly different from the other destinations we visited. A thick growth of shrub covered the place; the trees found here was not only cedar, pine and fir but many other species which I did not find elsewhere. Dusk was no less intriguing, who says setting sun is gloomy!! After returning victorious from our expedition, we perched ourselves on the benches in the garden area, with well deserved masala tea in our hands. The aroma of spices used in the tea was powerful. They were hand picked from the fields nearby; their purity resonated in their strong aroma. Seated we witnessed the red ball of fire hiding behind the mountains.
That night we stayed awake till around 2:00am. We danced, we sang, we were happy together enjoying each other’s company. Every bit of nature has a beauty of its own, it depends how we perceive. Setting sun can symbolise melancholy to one or the hope of tomorrow’s rising sun to someone else. Rishop is an unconventional form of nature’s beauty. Closeness to creation is experienced to the paramount. But how much you love it, depends on how you comprehend. Devoid of luxury, with stony roads leading to her, there stands Mother Nature waving her magical wand, to pull you, towards her inner self.
Special Thanks to all my chemical engineering friends who made this trip memorable.
Thanks to Avishek Sengupta (my husband), who does screening of all my blogs :-).
Aritra Chakrabarty Sengupta