Local legend has it that any wish you make will be granted by the lake, hence the pseudo name ‘ The Wishing Lake’. Though my only wish is that the tranquil lake along with it’ surroundings remain as is, despite the onslaught of hoards of tourists. The very first time I visited Khecheopalri in 2007, fell in love with that place. Due to paucity of time we stayed there only for a day, though I wished it would have been longer. I now saw the perfect opportunity to be back, as Khecheopalri seemed the most ideal place to recuperate for my trek.
Within fifteen minutes of reaching Darap I managed to get a seat in a tourist jeep heading to Khecheopalri. I found myself in the company of a regiment of Bong tourists hob knobbing their way to various tourists points. One of them started making conversation with me during which he was pretty surprised to discover that I had actually walked for six days in the mountains. Our first halt was at the fabled Kangchendzonga water falls where the entire regiment was ready to shoot with their cameras. Within no time there was an entire convoy of jeeps spilling out with Bong tourists, posing in front of the falls to get their pictures clicked. The next halt came twenty minutes later , this time though it was the river bank with some views. As the tourists flocked out of their jeeps I found it really amusing to see most of them wearing thick jackets despite it being bright and sunny. From here the driver directed the jeep to Khecheopalri lake over the last stretch of winding roads. Unloaded my rucksack and off I was marching to the Trekkers Hut. Took the same room in which I had stayed the last year, as the place was completely empty. Now that I was settled there were only two things on my mind, bath and breakfast. Treated myself to a delicious cheese omelet, while two buckets of hot water were getting ready for my bath. The hot water felt heavenly as I scrubbed six days of grime and sweat off my pores. Completely refreshed went for a walk to the lake which was buzzing with tourists at this hour. To escape from the cacophony walked further down the lake to sit in the lap of the forest. Soon I was back in my room to take a nap and complete my log.
In the late evening went back to the lake to enjoy the solitude of the place. The bird calls reverberated vibrantly, indicating it was time for them to go home. The lake has a very magical effect on me, something which I cannot express in words. It is an amphitheatre of peacefulness and tranquility surrounded by thick verdant forests. I continued towards the bank of the lake, watching the golden orange fishes occasionally come up to the surface to nibble for food. The entire setting completely stilled my mind awakening the soul, making me one with nature. Sat there for a long time marveling at the fishes, listening to the birds and absorbing the environment around me. I had company when I reached back to the trekkers hut. An Italian named Vladimiro had reached in the evening from Pelling. During the course of our conversation found out that he was doing his research on sustainable development , helping out on an olive project in the impoverished district of Dolpa in Nepal. Our interesting conversation continued well over dinner as both of us exchanged our experiences and ideas.
Early next morning went for a walk to the Khecheopalri village which was a half hour climb from the taxi stand. Got breath taking views of the lake as I wound my way nearer to the top.
The village bore a very silent and peaceful look in the tender light of the morning sun. The old wooden houses lent a completely different charm to the place, as though I had walked back in time. Post breakfast Vladimiro and myself exchanged some notes after which we set out for a walk on another ridge overlooking the lake. Did not get much view of the lake due to the forest cover but the other side gave us great views of Thingling and the valley below. From here Vladimiro continued his circuit to Yuksom while I strolled to the jungles on the south side of the lake. Once in I was completely cut out from the world outside, it was only me with the birds, butterflies and insects. The pristine virginal forests with the filtering white light from the canopy held an astute beauty about them , like a silver haired woman beaming from her years of wisdom. On my next step saw another beauty, crawling slowly over a fallen leaf. It was a bright orange colored beetle which held my fascination, not just because of it’ color, but also because of it’ relentless effort to climb on the leaf. Spent the entire afternoon wandering in the forest, taking pleasure in the complex world of nature. Late in the evening found myself back on the lake enjoying it’ ever pervasive divinity. This evening I had the company of three Israeli women, who had come to relax at Khecheopalri after completing the Dzongri trek. Our conversation was mostly revolved around our travel experiences with some tips by me for their first train journey to Varanasi.
The last day I spent in tune with the drab grey sky, just lazing around. Relived my trek as I sat down completing the log for some time. To shake the body out of lethargy went for a stroll near the lake. For the first time the monkeys were making a huge racket, their loud shrieks penetrating the silence. They seemed to be having quite a fight within their clan. The red, green, blue of the prayer flags reflected clearly in the stillness of the lake , only to be broken by the surfacing of the fish. Took in one last breath of the tranquil surroundings before bidding the lake a final goodbye.
Check out the lake in all its magnificence.