Here is Why Ravangla is the Latest Trend in Sikkim. A 4-Days Itinerary to Offbeat Sikkim.


Perched in the lap of the mountains, Ravangla, in south Sikkim is an absolute retreat for the Nature-lovers. Wrapped in the clouds, the weather is often misty here. Only through November, to April, the mornings are desiccated, and the evenings equally nippy. I happen to be lucky enough to have been posted there for about a year or so before getting into research. Once you are there you would feel that you are in one of the most tranquil places you could ever be.


A clear sunny view from 14th Mile in Ravangla @doibedouin

A clear sunny view on a glorious day from 14th Mile in Ravangla.





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     Here is Why Ravangla is the Latest Trend in Sikkim. A 4-Days Itinerary to Offbeat Sikkim. Here is Why Ravangla is the Latest Trend in Sikkim. A 4-Days Itinerary to Offbeat Sikkim.



    How Slow Traveling Through Ravangla Helped me to Know The Place In and Out

    Do I stroll relentlessly on a sun-kissed shoreline or go on an intrepid trek through the undulations of the mountains? Ravangla happened as a boon to this never-ending dilemma of mine. Not as holidaying, but a vocation. And hence slow traveling was a godsend.


    I have been to Ravangla plenty of times. If you ask, I have lost counts really, but the village never failed to surprise me anew each time. The first time, though, would be etched in the memory. A pensive one for the Pensieve. It was a prolonged journey as most of the roads were blocked due to the incoming monsoons. The last bit was through the multiple loops of Temi Tea Garden and a fogged uphill road, gelling enough to slow down the car. We did a quick stopover, 30 minutes top, midway the loops. A vast verdure of the rain-washed slopes carpeted for miles in front of me, vanishing into the cotton of the clouds. Turning around, the same carpet soared up high and disappeared into the grey. It was as if, this time the greens were looking down upon us. I could feel the wetness in the air, and suddenly the cold came blazing in.


    I was tumbled in Ravangla in the middle of peak monsoon. It took me one long month to discover the presence of a range therein. One fine morning, I walked to my balcony to surprise my eyes by a line of rocky peaks, peeping out through the clouds. And beyond that, two white peaks dazzled, head held high. A part of the Kanchendzonga Range, the twin peaks of North and South Kabru made my morning that day. As the day clocked out, clouds swooped in and shrouded the view. 


    A few of those days, when a drizzling night pave the way for the early gleams of the Sun on the peaks of the Kabru twins. doibedouin

    A few of those days, when a drizzling night pave the way for the early gleams of the Sun on the peaks of the Kabru twins.


    I longed for another glimpse in the following few weeks. I could not wait for another chance to get a visual of the peaks winking at me. It was not soon enough when the sky was crystal clear. Let me break a secret here. If the previous night had rained a good amount, rest assured you would be blessed with an ethereal sight the next day.

     

    My normal were the frequent emancipation of the Nepali songs in the air. Even sometimes, from the counter of the restaurant where I lunched.  Taking classes, which was “the vocation”. The weekends consisted of minor trekking, down the roads and shortcuts through the hills. That was my bit of an adventure. On my re-joining journey from home, which was often in the early hours of the day, I found a precarious car drive through the turnings of the hills quite the gutsy. So much so that I preferred the front seats. It is said that one seating beside the driver should not fall asleep. So I was the “Chosen One”. Never did I miss to enjoy the bolero’s piercing ride, through the murk of the fluctuating thickening fog.

     

    Ravangla at a Glimpse

    There is something innately amazing about the simplicity of the untouched Nature. And experiencing it up so close was all I could ask for. Ravangla is a lot more than just a quaint village. You can hike through it, visit Buddha Park, trek Maenam Hill in a day, attend a Festival, interact with the locals, and the list would go on appending.

    Some beautiful village resort will pose out to you for a contrast in your albums. To name a few, Mount Narsing Village Resort, Kha-choe Residency, Tathagatha Tsal are quite the ones.


     Buddha Park doibedouin ravangla Kha-choe residency ravangla nit sikkim doibedouin

    Buddha Park on a clouded day while the Kha-choe Residency on a clear day with the range in the background.


    Grace your presence with Pang Lhabsol, a Buddhist masked festival as an offering to the mountainous deity Kanchendzonga. A must attendance in the month of September at Rabong Monastery. Another non-descript locale being the Tibetan settlement. Witness the weaving of the carpets here, the thread’s twining chemistry.


    Getting to its hiking trails, Maenam trek does not go unstated. Wake up at the crack of dawn or start at midnight, irresistible views would await you at the end. Climbing up those slopes landed me in a “misty”reous part of the world, a Narnia of mountainous firs.

     

     The Rayong Bustee edged by the fir trees. Under the shadows of which there is an undisturbed serenity. The Rayong Bustee edged by the fir trees. Under the shadows of which there is an undisturbed serenity. doibedouin rayong bustee

    The Rayong Bustee edged by the fir trees. Under the shadows of which there is an undisturbed serenity.


     Into the woods I go. And that I guess has become my signature pose Into the woods I go. And that I guess has become my signature pose

    Into the woods, I go. And that I guess has become my signature pose.


    Looking for a quirky in an offbeat? Visit the sacred cave of Sarchog Bhepug at a few minutes’ drive from Ravangla. Or, Ralong Monastery and the Borong Hotsprings are your calls. Do not fail to visit the Rayong Bustee. Through every bend of the road, imposing pine trees slope down the hills. And the road is edged by the peaks of the ranges that Ravangla offered. You might want to have a closer look into the forest and get lost in it.

     

    Tired enough? No worries. At the end of the day, a delectable platter of momos or meatballs would curb your appetite down, followed by a more delicious Shya Phalays. Bon Apetit!


     A bowl of meat balls and shyaphalys. Besides the usual staple momos, shyaphaleys are one of the best foods of Sikkim. shyaphaleys doibedouin

    A bowl of meatballs and shyaphaleys. Besides the usual staple momos, shyaphaleys are one of the best foods of Sikkim.


    Best Time to Visit

    November to March. Although the month of December and January faces the chilling cold at nights, the mornings would be clear and sunny. Other months of the year, Ravangla faces severe rainfall being on the windward side of Maenam Hill.


     The beautiful Ravangla on a glorious day. However, through the half of my stay, I found Ravangla shrouded in a cloak of clouds. The beautiful Ravangla on a glorious day. However, through the half of my stay, I found Ravangla shrouded in a cloak of clouds.

    The beautiful Ravangla on a glorious day. However, through half of my stay, I found Ravangla shrouded in a cloak of clouds.


    How to Reach Ravangla

    Aboard your train and get down at New Jalpaiguri station. Therefrom get into a shared bolero or a reserved one (which would fare around 3000 INR) to Ravangla. There are two roadways you could reach Ravangla, one through Singtam (sometimes via Temi), the other being Namchi
      

    Or if you opt for flight your destination would be preferably Bagdogra domestic airport (IXB) at Siliguri or Pakyong Airport (PYG) at Gangtok. Cars are available there. For budget travel (i.e. shared) (on or before 14:00 hrs IST), however, go to SNT from Bagdogra or Gangtok from Pakyong and avail shared cars. Direct cars (10:00 hrs IST sharp) and bus service (13:00 hrs IST) to Ravangla are also available from SNT bus stand at Siliguri. 


     bengal safari siliguri doibedouin sevoke road siliguri doibedouin

    I still remember the day entering into Sikkim. Going through the Siliguri-Sevoke road is the best part of the journey. Partly, because of the long stretch of the forest here. But most importantly it is where you see the mountains grow in the horizon.


    Itinerary

    Day 1: NJP (New Jalpaiguri)/ Siliguri- Singtam- Temi- Ravangla (6hrs), check-in a hotel, go and visit the market place and Kunphenling Tibetan Settlement.

    Day 2: Visit Ralong Monasteries- Buddha Park-Ravangla Gompa- drive towards Legship- visit Mt. Narsing resort only if it is a sunny day- Tashiding bridge- Kirateshwar Mandir- back to Ravangla. 

    Day 3: Visit Rayong Busty pine forest (if you wish to view sunrise leave this for the return journey)- Sunrise viewpoint- Tareybhir- Namchi rock garden- Namchi central park- Chardham- Samdruptse- Return to Ravangla

    Day 4: (optional Trek Maenam)/Get on the early morning bus to Siliguri (ticket cost-170/-)

    prayer flags buddhist sikkim

    The prayer flags (these are the Darchors) are a frequent sight throughout the State. It is also found in other Himalayan region. The colours have their own significance. There are basically two types of prayer flags: Lungta and Darchor. Darchor flags are mostly made up of one large, rectangular cloth that is hung alongside a pole, laterally. Darchor flags, resembling a banner, are said to carry wishes of longevity, fortune, health, and money on the wind. Lungta flags often come in a string of five flags, one in each flag color. You will find the Lungta flags in cars, doors lentils etc. It is also a souvenir that you can bring from Sikkim.

    The colours are meant to represent the elements: blue representing the sky, white representing the wind, red representing fire, green representing water, and yellow representing the earth. All colours are used on a string in order to bring harmony through a balance of the five elements. Contrary to popular belief, prayer flags do not carry prayers to gods, but rather are used to promote peace, strength, compassion, and wisdom. The wind is said to carry these messages from the flags to all people


    Places to Visit in Ravangla

    Ravangla itself is an amazing rural land. Once you get on the road you would find even the roadside views charismatic. It is as if Mother Nature has painted the slopes with the best strokes of her brush. The mountain ranges visible are Mt. Siniolchu, Mt. Narsing, Mt. Pandim, and Mt. Kabru i.e. the twin peaks of the Kanchenjunga range. The stepped farming is a frequent food to the eyes here. A horticulture farm is also here wherein various medicinal samples are also cultivated.


    Tathagatha Tsal, commonly known as the Buddha Park, is the main attraction of Ravangla featuring a 130 ft of Buddha statue at the center of the park. The entry fee is 50INR for common people and 10INR for students. Cars are available for aged persons for 200INR. As soon as one enters the premises of the park, one gets to hear a faint humming of "Om Mani Padme Hum" which inherently refreshes the mind. The park also holds a souvenir shop, a cafe, a prayer hall, and a restaurant wherein delicious momos are available.


     buddha park ravangla sikkim india Buddha Park, locally known as the Tathagatha Tsal has a centrally placed huge statue of Buddha.

    Buddha Park, locally known as the Tathagatha Tsal has a centrally placed huge statue of Buddha.


    Besides the Buddha Park is situated the old Rabong Gompa, a century-old pilgrimage center which later on extended to the present day Tathagatha Tsal. This is famous for the celebration of Pang Lhabsol in the month of September.  


     rabong monastery sikkim gompa doibedouin Rabong Monastery doibedouin sikkim

    The old Rabong Monastery. If you happen to take the shortcut, which is a number of stairs you can visit the small campus of the monastery taking you to the Buddha Park of the present day.


    ProTip: Have your stay preferably at Mt.NarsingVillage resort. It is a quiet and unperturbed resort at the top of a hill. The view from the resort is breathtaking; the whole of the range is visible with a little more of the twin peaks. The car would not go up there, so one has to trek, a tad bit of it though. However, the awestruck destination would just subdue the tiresome journey, no doubt. Also there is a cafeteria alongside the main road, so if you are not up for the trek you can have a cup of coffee here.


     The roadside cafeteria of the Annex of the Mount Narsing resort. The main resort is way up the hill, a few steps ahead from this cafeteria. The roadside cafeteria of the Annex of the Mount Narsing resort. The main resort is way up the hill, a few steps ahead from this cafeteria.

    The roadside cafeteria of the Annex of the Mount Narsing resort. The main resort is way up the hill, a few steps ahead from this cafeteria.


    Dorling Monastery is a small monastery down the Barfung road. Cars are available from the market at 150INR which would take you down to it. Besides the monastery a small lake is there which goes by the local name of Seven Mirror Lake.


     The Dorling monastery is a small monastery amidst a lots of green and prayer flags and tombstones (stone chortens). The Dorling monastery is a small monastery amidst a lots of green and prayer flags and tombstones (stone chortens).

    The Dorling monastery is a small monastery amidst a lots of green and prayer flags and tombstones (stone chortens).


    The monastery by the side of the Seven Mirror Lake. The lake is mostly a pond surrounded by the flags.

    The monastery by the side of the Seven Mirror Lake. The lake is mostly a pond surrounded by the flags. 



    Pro Tip: While returning from the monastery one may have a detour through the Barfung Retreat which is another resort with the discreet surroundings. Another spectacular resort is Khachoe Residency which is situated just opposite to the National Institute of Technology Sikkim. It is a cluster of small huts and a perfect stay for couples.

     

    Kunphenling Tibetan Settlement is a bit of an offbeat tour attraction of Ravangla. Positioned on the top of the adjacent hills paving the road, visiting it requires a little bit of uphill walk. The settlement has a Carpet Centre, Workshop, Restaurant, two monasteries, and a school. 


     The gate welcomes you to the settlement. Such gates are quite a sight throughout Ravangla. The local huts are as simple as it could be. Normally by the side of the roads, some also offer an easy-going stay in itself. The gate welcomes you to the settlement. Such gates are quite a sight throughout Ravangla. The local huts are as simple as it could be. Normally by the side of the roads, some also offer an easy-going stay in itself.

    The gate welcomes you to the settlement. Such gates are quite a sight throughout Ravangla. The local huts are as simple as they could be. Normally by the side of the roads, some also offer an easy-going stay in itself.



     The monastery at the Tibetan settlement also offers a scenic view of Ravangla edged by the mountains, so does the school grounds. The monastery at the Tibetan settlement also offers a scenic view of Ravangla edged by the mountains, so does the school grounds.

    The monastery at the Tibetan settlement also offers a scenic view of Ravangla edged by the mountains, so does the school grounds.


    The Tibetan settlement Ravangla Sikkim

    The Tibetan settlement


    Trek the Maenam hill which has an altitude of 10,500 feet. The trek starts from Ravangla (7000ft). So if anyone is up for viewing the sunrise they should start from the preceding night. Otherwise, a day is enough; starting from 4 am and coming down by 5 pm in the evening will do. A monastery is there at the peak of Maenam. The trek is tiring but if you are determined enough you will enjoy it. Carry some chocolates, fruit juice and lots of water lest you run out of calories.


     Do not miss the Maenam Trek if you are in Ravangla in February-March Do not miss the Maenam Trek if you are in Ravangla in February-March

    Do not miss the Maenam Trek if you are in Ravangla in February-March


    Neighbouring Spots

    Palchen Chosling Monastery or the new Ralong Monastery exemplifying Tibetan Architecture is located 6 km from Ravangla. Had you been to the Rumtek Monastery already, then this (Ralong) would seem a lot more familiar. The interior of the monastery has an extensive collection of paintings and thangkas (Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton) and well-maintained seats. One would often find young monks playing on the campus.

     

     Ralong monastery Ravangla sikkim The Ralong Monastery built in the mould of Rumtek Monastery.

    The Ralong Monastery built in the mould of Rumtek Monastery.


    The old Ralong Monastery or Karma Rabtenling Monastery hosts the festival of Pang Lhabsol when Mount Kanchendzonga is worshipped, usually in August-September, on the 15th day of the seventh month of the Buddhist calendar. This is celebrated with the performance of masked dancers.

     
     old ralong monastery sikkim india The old Ralong Monastery. Here you would find the Bhutanese vernacular structures, surrounding the monastery.

    The old Ralong Monastery. Here you would find the Bhutanese vernacular structures, surrounding the monastery.


     About 9 km away from Ravangla, on the way to Namchi is Rayong Sunrise viewpoint. It is on Ravangla-Damthang Road. 

    Rayong suunrise viewpoint

    The Sunrise view from the Rayong Sunrise viewpoint. I captured it on one of my return journey from home.


    If you are visiting Namchi from Ravangla get down at the Rayong Bustee; here a must-visit is the pine forest, the trees are so tall that one would look puny underneath their shadow. As for the sunrise point, the place is not that well maintained. It’s all bushy and slippery. There are stairs, got hidden under the bushes, follow the trail and you would end up in front of a spooky resting place which is an unfinished monastery as it seemed. Had it been under maintenance it would have been indeed a notable place. The road from the busty to the point is a true delight to the camera lenses with the mountain peak and pine trees in the backdrop.


     rayong bustee sikkim rayong bustee sikkim

    The Rayong Bustee playground by the connecting road and the Firs edging the horizon for the bustee.


    Sarchog Bheyphug cave is one of the four holy caves of Sikkim and a few kilometres from Ravangla. Although unknown to the touristy kinds, this one is a must-visit. But a word of caution, the rationality is to be maintained strictly as this is a pious place. 


     sarchog bheyphug cave ravangla sikkim Sarchog Bheypug cave sikkim ravangla

    One of the four holy caves of Sikkim. Not for the ones who are claustrophobic.


    Tareybhir is a steep-sloped hill viewpoint at Sadam giving the panoramic view of the surrounding locales. One could see the Teesta Bridge given the weather is clear. The Namchi-Melli road is also visible from this viewpoint. The stairs would show all the way to the end, coming back is thus an uphill stairs journey.


    Tareybhir Suicide Point

    Tareybhir Suicide Point

    The Damthang road bifurcates into two- one towards Singtam another towards Namchi. The one to Singtam passes through the Temi tea garden. There is hardly anyone who hasn't tasted the Temi tea. It is an internationally famous tea with an aromatic flavor and is produced organically. The tea garden is on the gentle slopes of the Tendong hill and the road loops through it making it sublime to the eyes.


     temi tea garden sikkim ravangla The green carpeted temi tea garden sikkim

    The green carpeted tea garden


    Towards Namchi, on the Namchi Damthang road first comes to the Samdruptse hill atop which is located the Samdrupste Monastery. It is the abode of 135ft Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) whom I personally named as the angry Buddha. It is about 2 km away from the main road; a little drive uphill would do. Namchi Central Park is the market place of Namchi from where the villages acquire their goods. The district hospital is also situated here.

     

     Samdrupste Namchi Namchi central park namchi

    Samdruptse and the Namchi Central Park.


    Thereon move on to Chardham; replicas of the four dhams- Badrinath, Jagannath, Dwarka dedicated to lord Vishnu and Rameshwar dedicated to Lord Shiva is built surrounding a 161ft high Shiva statue.


     The Shiva statue and the surrounding replicas of the Char Dham in front of it. Char dham sikkim

    The Shiva statue and the surrounding replicas of the Char Dham in front of it.


    Namchi rock garden has an exotic view of the Kanchendzonga range; also lately the Namchi ropeway has been built here. So it’s a must-visit too.

     

    Although this is in the opposite direction to Namchi from Ravangla (towards Geyzing), Legship too is a tourist spot accessible from Ravangla. The Tashiding Bridge is yet another suspension bridge, besides the Singshore of Pelling. Also, the Kirateshwar Mahadev temple is the preferred Shiva temple for the localities of Ravangla.


     The Tashiding Bridge and the river in full flow underneath. The Tashiding Bridge and the river in full flow underneath.

    The Tashiding Bridge and the river in full flow underneath.



     When the dam is closed the same river becomes a picnic spot. However for the safety, it is better to know the dam flow timings beforehand.  When the dam is closed the same river becomes a picnic spot. However for the safety, it is better to know the dam flow timings beforehand.

    When the dam is closed the same river becomes a picnic spot. However, for safety, it is better to know the dam flow timings beforehand.


     On a special note, speaking of the place and not mentioning the institution for which I could detail out Ravangla would be like an ode without the epode. National Institute of Technology Sikkim has its campus here, so engineering aspirants if you want to study and travel simultaneously then this is for you.


    National Institute of Technology Sikkim

    National Institute of Technology Sikkim


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    23 comments

    1. This looks like an awesome place. I love such small villages!

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    2. i love your picture so much !!! so lovely :) looking for more

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    3. There is just so much to see there I cannot believe it. I like that you suggest the best time to go, it is nice to know what the weather would be like at different times of the year

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    4. The trees at the peak look a little worse for wear. It seems like a great place to enjoy some time outdoors, which is how I mostly spend my time!

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    5. I've always felt that East India is so different from the rest of India, culture wise. The monasteries and temples look wonderful.

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    6. This place looks so peaceful and tranquil indeed! Especially I loved the pics of Rayong Sunrise view point!
      And as I can see there are just few people on your picutres, so I suppose this area is not overcrowded with tourists, am I right?
      How much time did you spend traveling around Ravangla?

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      Replies
      1. I was posted there for about a year

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      2. Amazing post on a hidden gem in the East. I love your blog for the way you cover this often overlooked part of India.

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    7. i surely get it! the place has everything an adventure would want for his/ her adventure! i think it is a great place to refresh the mind too!

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    8. such a comprehensive article detailing all the relevant requirements , i am sure going to bookmark this

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    9. Ravangla is a beautiful destination, almost too good to be true! I visited a couple of years ago and didn't see many tourists around. I'm glad to hear it's starting to get discovered. Thank you for sharing

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    10. Our love for Northeast India just grows everyday and when ever we see a post on the region, we want to go Backpacking North East India again! Even though we explored the region for 4 months, we still have to cover Sikkim fully and Ravangla will be on our list for sure!!

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    11. Everything looks sublime and refreshing. I'd love to come here and just immerse myself in my surroundings, take in the scenery and let peace course through my veins. Definitely adding Ravangla to my bucket list!

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    12. Amazing pictures of the mountains. And I loved the content on the Monasteries, they look beautiful. I visited one in Cyprus and it was pretty amazing :)

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    13. Hi! Thank you for your comment. It was a great experience for everyone in our group and we had an amazing time! small buddha statue

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    14. Wow!! Ravangla sounds amazing, will definitely visit it in 2021.thank u for sharing this guide with us, i don't think I will be needing any other research to explore this heaven after reading this article. 💙

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    15. Wow!! Ravangla sounds amazing, will definitely visit it in 2021.thank u for sharing this guide with us, i don't think I will be needing any other research to explore this heaven after reading this article. ��

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    16. Oh my gosh I am DYING. I want to go on vacation SO BAD and your pictures are KILLING ME. Ravangla seems interesting place to visit with friends and family. I am adding this to my overflowing bucket list. Will plan soon to visit

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    17. Woow Woow , I was exactly looking the same with same itinerary, locate, stay, and what to do in Gangtok, Ravangla. Saved this pin for my Ravangla trip. Such detailed description with every detail and excellent pictures make this post stunning and the best...

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    18. This is a nicely written article, covers most of the point. I was unaware of the difference in flags, it is good to learn about it, as I have seen it on bikes and even in few cars. The whole itinerary made it easy for me to plan out and to shortlist the places to visit in the designated time frame.

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    19. Such a beautiful place.. never heard about it, I guess that's why it's offbeat. You got to spend a year or so here, that's so cool. I would've loved to stay in a place like this where mornings looked that beautiful and nature expanded all around you. Such lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing the itinerary, I hope I get to use it and travel to Ravangla.

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    20. I read your entire post and then went back to check the best time to visit! Since its November to March, I still have hope of visiting it in 2020. Thank you for this amazing piece!

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    21. I had no idea about Ravangla before reading your blog and I'm definitely putting it on my list! I loved the way you mix personal experience, itinerary and a detailed guide together into one post. It works very well! Thanks for sharing this well written piece, definitely bookmarking it!

      ReplyDelete

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