Temi Tea Cherry On The Top
Travelling desires and destinations are a myriad mix of preferences and so, each to their own! One such desire is of escape – into solitude; the absolute and non disturbing kinds. Quiet, clean, peaceful, natural yet not painstakingly remote or frightfully life-less. When such an escape is the idea of the next travel then Temi Tea Garden in Sikkim can be the place to be.
Located in the southern part of the state, Temi is the only tea estate in Sikkim yet one of the finest in India and relished worldwide.
Sikkim, on the northeastern fringes of India, perched on the Himalayan terrains has remained under the mountain mist and shadows, remote and at times removed from mainstream India. Tourism is the life-line of the state and hence new destinations emerge all the time. What is pristine and lonely today often becomes popular and dense in a matter of a couple of years. So much so that the complexion of the place changes rather drastically. Pelling, for instance, when I first visited in the late 1990s was a small hamlet on way to the Pemiyangtse monastery. The Kanchendzonga seemed within touching distance. Now, Pelling is a popular destination in Sikkim and it is like a cramped, concrete colony. Even in plains but more so in the mountains perhaps, once a new destination gains popularity, an unplanned spree of tourism oriented construction tends to spoil the sanctity in the excuse of ‘development’.
My learning through this and few other lessons has been that if escape and solitude is your kind of desire then, in the really beautiful destinations, it is better to be early than be late. Perhaps true for most things in life, that the early bird catches the worm!
While when may not quite be an early bird anymore in Temi, but Cherry Resort nestled on top of a mountain amidst beautiful, lush tea plantations, breathtaking views of the mountains and the distant gush of the Teesta river is still idyllic and picture post card like.
Cherry Resort is the only place to stay inside the tea gardens. Vast, clean and serene. Hygiene and comfort is easy, choice and luxury have not yet reached that far. Surprisingly, not many seem to visit Cherry Resort and therefore it is not like a smart resort but more like a laid back guest house. Locals engaged as staff are polite, with characteristic self depreciating demeanour and leisurely. please let us not misunderstand their leisurely pace as disinterest or disservice. Cherry Resort will become enjoyable as soon as we re-set our expectations from an urban rush to rural relaxation. On reaching Cherry Resort and entering your room of choice, one needs to spend the next few minutes briefing the smiling staff about some of your small expectations that you feel will make your stay more comfortable and homely. They oblige with innocence and modesty.
In our life and times often choice is stressful, Temi and Cherry offer very little in terms of choice and that seems fine. In our prophecy of new challenges by the hour, a relaxed routine is what Temi offers – walking up or down the metalled road along the garden, trailing through the rows of tea trees, resting in the shack with fine tea, steaming momo and boiling cup noodles, visiting the tea factory or just relaxing on the open terrace; view is the same – green, blue and heavenly.
Here silence is blissful but not deathly. Women are busy plucking leaves filling their baskets while in occasional soft conversation, kids now and then cheerfully passing by in their school uniforms without a sense of worry, free as the flowing river, the village elder pausing for a breath with a welcoming smile. As the evening sets in, dense mist begins to envelope the surrounding; women walk back with their empty baskets, tired but happy. It has been another day of diligent work and dignified earning, enough for a restful Leaving the leaves behind…evening. As dusk leads to mist and dense white clouds spread a thick blanket of white darkness, the surreal silence is interspersed with the distant din from the plantation worker’s village, few hundred metres behind Cherry Resort. The village will sleep early for a new tomorrow. Mountains wake up early…
Next day morning, more so if the sun is blossoming, life is again cheerful and you see similar sights and sounds. The first batch of pluckers have already scattered far and around like colourful dots in the green monotone. The village elder today greets with a conversational smile. The bus driver on his way to the southern capital town of Namchi waves to see if you wish to hop on for a day out at Namchi or to the biodiversity park a few kilometres uphill. Smilingly cautioning you that he would return only around evening. If your stay is for more than a couple of days then you may just wish to hop on to the bus, reach Namchi, the headquarters of South Sikkim, in no more than a couple of hours. Spend your time there in the central boulevard, Namchi’s hang-out zone for the young & old, view from afar or visit the 135 feet high statue of Guru Padamasambhava at Samdruptse near Namchi. Samdruptse literally means ‘wish fulfilling hill’ in the Bhutia language; there is also the Namchi Rock Garden located between Namchi town and Samdruptse. By late afternoon you can head back to the bus stand and by evening you are back at Temi with the bus driver gladly dropping you off at the Cherry Resort gates. It will be a day well spent with the locals, like the locals.
By now, passers by recognize you, kids allow you an impromptu game of football, as you walk through the plantation workers village their school feels homely and inviting. On your second day, you are now a familiar face, you know people, inviting smiles greet you around the bends, Temi feels like home…
And Temi grows on you, it is perhaps no more than a couple of nights and days but it certainly seems longer, much, much longer. Time moves at an easy pace, no one seems to be late as no one seems to be in a hurry.
Talking of time, since Cherry Resort is inside a tea plantation it may stay pristine and solitary for that much longer. One certainly hopes that it does. Time for some tea now, picked up with caring, learned advise on the flush period from the factory outlet. One more cup… one for the road. Temi Tea – fresh and divine.
Temi can be visited any time of the year.
Conveniently reachable by road from Sikkim’s capital city Gangtok or from Siliguri, Bagdogra or New Jalpaiguri railway station within 3.5 – 4 hours.
Cherry Resorts website: http://www.cherryresort.com
Asking Cherry Resorts to book a local car from temi to pick & drop will be more convenient than haggling with cabs at major transport hubs; unless you take a shared ride.
Carrying your medicines, regular essentials and some personal SOS items is advisable.