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At an altitude of about 5650 feet, Heegaon is a mysterious hilly village in the periphery of West Sikkim. Meandering Hee River flows through the west side of the village whereas Kalez River is flowing from North corner. Rangeet River is at its East and southern part is covered by Samdong Reserve Forest. Mornings at Heegaon start with the magnificent view of almighty Mt. Kanchendzonga. Heegaon is also an unexploited shelter of a wide range of flora, fauna and birds including Blue-Fronted-Redstart, Himalayan-Bulbul, Rufous Sibia, White -Capped-Redstart, Crimson Sunbird, and Verditer-Flycatcher etc. Natural wilderness, scenic beauty and serene environment have already made Heegaon a must-to-go weekend gateway for the travel enthusiasts. To explore the hidden offbeat destinations of West Sikkim, you may definitely start your adventurous trip from Heegaon.
In the month of May, an annual cultural-heritage-tourism festival is organised by the Society of Hee Bermiok Tourism Conservation & Development. Local hosts and dwellers take part in this festival with utmost dedication and spontaneity. If you are planning to witness the colours of this festival then you must book your trip in advance. Heegaon has lots of things to be offered to the tourists throughout the year. Whenever you are in Heegaon, you can create some unforgettable memories while-
- Taking part in Mountain biking,
- Strolling around the village trails,
- Short hiking to Versey,
- Making wishes at holy Sirijunga Cave,
- Paying visit to Rinchenpong Monastery, Gurung Monastery and Azing Lepcha Fram.
- Boating at Chaaya Tal Lake.
All these lucrative places are at walking distance from Hee Bazar although to save time you can easily hire private car as per prior consultation with the local hosts. A couple of hours’ journey from Heegaon will take you to other popular spots of West Sikkim – Pelling, Borong, Utrey and Rinchenpong.
Heegaon is quite far away from the hassle-bustle of modern congested city. It comprises of hardly 300 households that are inhabited by Limboos. These Limboos are claimed to ancestors of Kirat race (mentioned in Mahabharata). It is said that the community lived in the foothills of Himalayas before migrating to the green pastures of Northern most parts of Bengal & Sikkim. They are dedicated followers of Teyongsi Srijanga who migrated from Nepal in 1740 BC.
Being situated in one of the corners of West Sikkim, Heegaon is almost 150 km away from Siliguri. Yet Hee Bermiok is well connected with Siliguri and other popular spots of North Bengal & Sikkim.
- If you are travelling by train, then New Jalpaiguri Station (NJP) will be the closest Railway station. NJP is connected with major cities like Kolkata, Guwahati and others by daily super fast express trains. At its entrance you will meet plenty of car drivers offering private or share drive up to Sikkim or Gangtok or Pelling. From Gangtok, it will take 4-5 hours’ drive to reach Heegaon whereas it is at distance of around 1.5 hours from Pelling. Heegaon is just 4.5 km away from Kaluk.
- While taking flight you have to arrive at Bagdogra Airport from where you will get frequent shared or private cars heading towards Gangtok or up to Heegaon as per prior booking.
- Siliguri is also connected with South Bengal by road. Both AC and Non AC buses ply daily between Esplanade Bus terminus (Kolkata) and Siliguri. The bus route covers some other popular cities too in its way towards Siliguri. At Siliguri bus stand many cars and jeeps wait to take passengers for Gangtok or Pelling.
- There is an alternate route too. You can avail or share a jeep up to Jorthang. From Jorthang you have to take a bus and then jeep to reach Dentam. Getting down at Hee Bazar you have to trek the remaining 8 km hilly trails of Heegaon. Although such break journey is hectic but it will finally take you to your beautiful destination.
- On prior booking local hosts and homestay owners of Heegaon provides pickup services from Bagdogra, NJP, Gangtok and Hee Bazar.
- In Heegaon a good number of local families are now offering sumptuous food and comfortable lodging facilities to the visitors at an affordable cost. Each homestay is well furnished with modern daily necessities and all the rooms are well maintained. Some of the homestays also offer majestic view of Mt. Kanchenjunga. To avoid the rush, it is recommended to plan your trip and complete the necessary bookings in advance.
- Healthy freshly prepared food is served here. Family members of the homestays cook themselves and make delicious hilly style dishes from their home-grown vegetables and local resources. Traditional purely organic Limboo food — “Jero" and “Khabze” are one of the must-to-try delicacies in Heegaon.
Strolling through the village trailsOn a sunny day, I boarded on Teesta Torsa Express from Naihati junction at around 3:00 pm. It was scheduled to arrive New Jalpaiguri Station (NJP) at around 3:30 am but due to climatic constraints it was delayed by an hour. I got off the train at 4:00 am. Daily hustle-bustle of the station was not started yet and the city was still sleeping. I opted to take a halt in the waiting room. Freshening up there I bought a cup of hot Darjeeling tea from a railway stall to enjoy the chilled morning of North Bengal. While getting out of the station, I saw a folk of drivers calling for share trips up to Gangtok. I dealt with one of them and got into the jeep heading towards Gangtok. Within half an hour the jeep got packed with daily passengers and few tourists and the driver started his jeep immediately. I already booked a room for me in one of the popular homestays of Heegaon. I called them to confirm my arrival and requested them to send a car for me at Gangtok. A drive of almost 5 hours took us to Gangtok. I had some light breakfast at Gangtok then started my journey towards Heegaon. This long hilly road journey amidst the pine forest was nothing but a perfect start of my trip. My friendly local host gave me several opportunities to explore the hidden beauties and capture majestic scenic views throughout our journey. Crossing Soren (another tiny hamlet of West Sikkim) and Kaluk we finally took the stony paved roads towards Dentam. We covered another 8 km steep narrow road with bumpy hairpin bends to reach Heegaon. The Sun was about to set when the car stopped at the door of homestay. Amidst the densely fogged backdrop, the homestay was shining as a neatly decorated well-furnished shelter for us. I was warmly welcomed there with a cup of piping hot Darjeeling tea along with crispy snacks. My room was already arranged with all basic amenities. In the late evening I went out to stroll around the village. The night at Heegaon was predominantly silent. Tiny households were lit with dim lights, little children were doing their home works and their parents were busy in daily household chores. Having a sumptuous dinner I dozed off early.
An Eventful day at HeegaonChirping birds woke me up early in the morning and fortunately I was lucky enough to witness the breath-taking view of the crown of hills- Mt. Kanchendzonga lording over the meandering mountain stream – Rishi Khola. The turquoise sunlit sky was covered with snow-white clouds and colourful butterflies were wandering around me. Such morning bliss can hardly be explained in words. As planned last night, I took part in short-trekking up to Versey (the neighbouring village). Crossing Samma Tar (a popular camping ground) and Red Panda gate, we entered into the well-praised Rhododendron sanctuary. A peaceful walk through the stone-paved narrow trails of the sanctuary under the shades of blooming rhododendron was a delightful experience. Coming back to the homestay I quickly finished the breakfast and got ready to explore the hidden gems of Heegaon. My first destination was Yuma Samyo Manghim- an age old temple dedicated to Teyongsi Srijanga who is heartily worshiped by the Limboos. Then I moved ahead towards Sirijunga Vadhan- the crystal clear waterfall that leads to the meeting point of Kalej and Reshi Khola. Besides this, there is a holy cave Sirijunga Phuku. It is said that Srijanga hide his ‘book of knowledge’ in a holy box and imprisoned it in this cave. Both the cave and waterfall are just at an hour’s walking distance from Hee Bazaar. Another prime attraction of Heegaon was Chaaya Taal Lake that is located at Hee-Kyangbari. A boat ride in this unexploited serene lake added an extra feather in my trip. On the way back to homestay I just came across Gurung Monastery and Rinchenpong Monastery. It was late afternoon and I had to bid goodbye to Heegaon. Relishing the delicious hilly delicacies, I took leave from Heegaon homestay and headed towards my next destination Uttare. Passing by Asia’s 2nd highest bridge over a George- Signsore Bridge, I put my steps into Uttare (last Sikkimese village within Bengal border) in the late evening. If you have much time in your hand then you would definitely be able to explore all the small yet beautiful hidden beauties of Heegaon. Although Heegaon will always welcome you to enjoy a relaxing weekend in its lap. The hospitality, serenity and pleasant weather of Heegaon will compel you to pay a visit here again and again.
For further details, please contact the local host.
For further details, please contact the local host.
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