Rinchenpong and Kaluk
At an altitude of about 5576ft, Rinchenpong and Kaluk are a recent addition to the tourist map of West Sikkim. The place is famous for the beautiful view of the Kanchenjunga range of mountains. The Kaluk - Rinchenpong area is the buffer zone of the Varsey rhododendron sanctuary.
Apart from the natural beauty of the surroundings, the place is also quite significant from a historical point of view.
Rinchenpong and Kaluk are two small villages just 3 km apart. There are three roads leading to the area, all three roads meet at Kaluk market.
The first road travels from Jorethang in South Sikkim uphill to Soreng (19 km), from Soreng continues north via Sribadam to reach Kaluk 18 km away. If you are travelling to the area from Bagdogra airport of NJP station, this is your best bet.
The second road originates at Reshi near Legship (not to be confused with Reshi on the Sikkim Bengal border in East Sikkim). A steep uphill road takes you to Rinchenpong first and then to Kaluk. Legship to Rinchenpong through this route is about 11 km. This route is suitable for anyone coming from Gangtok, Ravangla or Namchi area. This is also a popular route for tourists coming from other major parts of Sikkim and Bengal, however, the Legship – Jorethang road often remains in a poor state of maintenance in which case this route best be avoided.
The third and the least popular route connects Pelling with Rinchenpong via Singsore bridge and Dentam. This is the route which is used by sightseeing tourists and visitors travelling between Pelling and Rinchenpong. The distance through this route is about 46 km.
From Pelling, you may come to Rinchinpong either via Dentam or via Legship. The Dentam route is less travelled and more beautiful, but one needs to reconfirm the status of the road as landslide is not uncommon and the road may remain closed. Distance through Dentam is also higher than through Legship.
From NJP or Bagdogra, you may follow the first or second route. The distance is about 130 km.
From Darjeeling, you may drive through the shortcut Patlebong route through which the distance is just 65 km. If you take the longer Melli road the distance would be about 105 km.
From Gangtok you may either follow the Ravangla – Legship – Reshi – Rinchinpong route or the Melli – Jorethang – Reshi route. The distance is about 137 km through the second route.
Sightseeing at Rinchenpong
Rinchenpong is famous for its natural beauty and the sights of Mt. Kanchenjunga. Rinchenpong is physically close to the Kanchenjunga range you can have an excellent view of the Kanchenjunga peaks and the surrounding mountains such as Mt Narsing etc. You can view the mountain range from the entire range of Rinchenpong Kaluk. The ridge continues from here to Bermiok, Hee, Dentam and Uttarey. Tourists go for a day visit to this ridge with its set of a variety of attractions.
Rinchenpong Monastery: There are two monasteries at Rinchenpong. The Gurung monastery or the Rishum Monastery is an 18th-century monastery located near Rinchenpong at an altitude of about 6250 ft. Rishum is also a hilltop offering excellent views all around. The area is called Maggi Dara, probably a reference to the famous noodle. This is a good place for taking snaps of the surrounding mountains on a clear day. Just behind the Monastery is a park in memory of the famous Bard Rabindranath Tagore. Though the park is not very well maintained, it is still worth a visit for nature lovers.
The other monastery of Rinchenpong is located on higher ground. You can reach here on foot through a forested trail close to the main Rinchenpong market. There is an exotic and beautiful statue of Lord Buddha inside the Monastery. The statue is commonly known as the Atibuddha statue. The Monastery is the 3rd oldest in Sikkim being built in 1730. There are other monasteries around including one at Kaluk.
Poison Lake – The Poison lake is not far from the Rinchenpong monastery and can be reached on foot. The lake is now almost dry and there is a British Bungalow in ruins nearby. The place has significant historical importance. According to local legends, when the British invaded the area, the locals poised the lake which was the source of water for the British force. Several of the soldiers died after consuming the water and the British had to retreat due to the incident. Though the antecedents of the story cannot be confirmed, the water of the lake is still considered poisonous and not consumable.
Sight Seeing near Rinchenpong
Sirijunga Temple: The full name of the place is Teyongsi Sirijunga Limboo Cultural Heritage and Research Centre. Teyongsi Sirijunga Sin Thebe was a Limboo scholar of the 18th century. The centre is expected to have a 36 feet bronze statue of the scholar. The place is situated about 18 km from Rinchenpong at a place called Chayatal.
Chayatal Lake – The small lake with its school of fish is a popular sightseeing point for tourists. An excellent view of the mountain range is also visible from here. The boating facility in the lake was also introduced here but is not operational at the time of writing this article.
Hee Water Garden – This is a popular tourist destination close to Hee and about 10 km from Kaluk market. The water garden has a restaurant, two large swimming pools and a natural park beside a small river stream.
Singshore Bridge – 24 km from Kaluk and 27 km from Rinchenpong is the location of the famous hanging bridge of Singshore. The bridge is said to be the second highest bridge in Asia.
Uttare Village – Further about 5 km from the Singshore bridge is Uttarey village. The village has become a tourist destination on its own with its wide flowering valley. There is trout fish farming in the village which is also worth a dekko.
Tenzing Hillary Park – About 5 km uphill from Uttarey is Tenzing Hillary park. This is a nice spot for nature lovers with a great view of the surroundings. There is a large statue of the two climbers on the top mountain.
Tato Pani - This is a hot water spring about 20 km from Rinchenpong close to Legship market.
Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary - The place is famous for the variety of rhododendrons that come in full bloom during March and April. The Sanctuary is also home to a number of wild animals including the rare Red Panda.
There are several small and large resorts and hotels in the Kaluk – Rinchenpong area. Good resorts such as Ghonday and Mandarin are located in the Kaluk area whereas relatively less expensive accommodations are more commonplace at Rinchenpong such as Hotel Mount View, Green Hill Resort, Hotel Dewachen etc. For an updated list of accommodations and the best accommodation to suit your budget and need, you may feel the enquiry form and our helpdesk team will assist you in booking the right accommodation. We also provide package tours to the area for which you may also ask for information through your enquiry form.