Our 4-day Sandakphu Trekking under the banner of Assam Mountaineering Association came to an end with a 21 km downhill trek; 11 km before lunch and 10 km after lunch.
Sandakphu, also known as Sandakpur is a mountain peak with an altitude of 3636 metres (11,930 ft) in the Singalila Ridge on the border between India and Nepal. We scaled the mountain way back in March 2016.
The stay we crashed in was unusual from other accommodations so far. It was a massive compound with cottages for tourists, hikers, trekkers, an RCC building of the property owner, huts to relax and have food, and a common recreational space attached with a multi-seater dining table. Strangely, we were accommodated in the owner’s house, making us feel the warmth and extraordinary hospitality.
Six of us entered through the hallway and arrived at our room to see a space arranged with sufficient beds- spacious enough to fit us all. The room had a different vibe with medals, trophies, mementoes beautifully placed inside the same. These somewhat made us curious to know who earned all these; probably, some eminent sportspersons in the house.
All these four days, we realized how capable and experienced our troop leader, Amar J Deka, is. He had a lot of connections, which made our journey enjoyable. But our secret queries, like who’s the owner of the house, were met with a mysterious smile.
However, whenever there was connectivity in his phone, he called someone by addressing the person as “Didi” and updated about our moves, our choices of food for evening tea and dinner apart from confirming its availability, in case an alternative plan has to be made.
It was an evening, and we went to the common dining space downstairs to see Amar sir. He was gossiping with a lady, must be in her early 70s, and who was introduced to us as “Didi”. I felt like addressing her as my granny as she served us the big hot case filled with momos and bowls of chutney (my all-time favourite snacks). As we were busy munching the dumplings, suddenly Amar sir grabbed our attention to the point at a picture which was unusual than the rest we saw all these days.
Usually, it’s prevalent in this region to see a framed picture of Tenzing Norgay in many of the households and even in commercial spaces. A closer look at it took our eyes to the caption, which read as “Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru with Tenzing Norgay and his granddaughter.” Now we were asked to look at the lady and the girl in the picture to spot any similarity. No sooner, we realized the girl in the photo frame is right in front of us, none other than the lady addressed by Amar Sir as “Didi” and for us, our granny. All of us in our trekkers’ group were shocked and surprised to meet such an iconic figure.
Hell Yeah! We are staying in Tenzing Norgay’s granddaughter’s home. That night we were on cloud nine with all the love and care from our granny and a feeling of pride to have seen someone from the glorious past. The dinner was like a feast. The highlights were: Nepali style Pork and the traditional “Gundruk” mixed with herbs containing medicinal properties to heal aches and fatigues of trekkers.
The following day, I had the most delicious noodles of my lifetime (a mixture of glass noodles and rice noodles prepared with local eggs). Bidding adieu was difficult with just a night left to spend time with our granny, but we had no option. We began our return journey with warm hugs and a gorkhali style goodbye “Pheri Bhet Honcho” (We will meet again).
The lady or the granny is none other than Pasang Lhamu, a renowned figure in the hills of Rimbick, a small town in the Kalimpong district of Darjeeling. An affluent family treats adventure lovers with great hospitality, not for money but to keep the legacy alive in their’s and our hearts.