Ravangla (6,800 ft), saddled on the ridge between the Menam (10,600 ft) and Tendong (8500 ft) peaks, is the sub-divisional headquarter of the South district of Sikkim. Literally “Ra” in Bhutia language means wild sheep and ‘Vong” means rearing place and “La”means pass. Ravongla is a pass to go any direction in Sikkim. Situated on the state highway between Gangtok and Pelling / Pemayangtse, Ravangla town and the surrounding villages is an ideal destination to experience the rich cultural & natural heritage of Sikkim. Relatively a new spot, Ravangla has turned into a natural tourist resort for its magical snow view and tranquility. The placeis a newly created off beat tourist destination in South Sikkim. It is connected by state highway to other major towns in the state and lies between Pelling and Gangtok. It acts as the starting point for the trek to maenam la wildlife sanctuary. Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Pandim, Mt. Sinialchu, Mt. Kabru are just a few of the major peaks that are clearly visible from Ravangla. Upper parts of Ravangla experiences snowfall during winter. During the months of April–May the place is surrounded by many flowers including orchids and Rhododendrons. Ravangla stages the Pang Lhabsol festival in a grand manner every year around August-September. The festivities last for three days, culminating in the traditional dances known as ‘Chaam’ on the last day.
8 kms on way to Damthang is the Rayong sunrise view point that offers spectacular views of the first rays of the sun falling on snow peaks. Visit the Ralong monastery as well as the Tibetan Carpet Centre. The traditionally designed and woven carpets available here are said to be the best you can buy anywhere.
In April Ravangla stages its own Tourism, Culture and Crafts Festival.
Surrounded by high-forested hills, undulating valleys dotted with village huts Ravangla is an ideal place for short treks and bird watching. Surrounding Lepcha and Bhutia villages of Yangang, Tinkitam, Kewzing, Barfung & Bakhim are ideal for short village tours. Situated in the southern part of Sikkim at a distance of 70kms from Gangtok, it is a perfect destination for village tourism.
Thousands of known and unknown flowers are in full bloom during April-May and Ravangla gets a romantic look with the colours and fragrance of the flowers. With rich natural diversity, the exotic flora and fauna in virgin forest, lofty snow mountains, waterfalls, picturesque tea gardens, quaint villages, hospitable villages, ethnic culture, old monasteries and fresh atmosphere Ravangla is becoming a popular tourism destination. A few very old monasteries around Ravangla namely Bonn Monastery, Ralong Monastery, old historical market of Kewzing, along with few mysterious caves are some of the majore attractions in the area.
Fauna in Ravangla
Ravangla attracts a lot of Himlayan birds and a bird watcher's paradise. Birds like Verditer Flycatchers, Blue-fronted Redstarts, Grey Bushchats, Dark-throated Thrush, Blue Whistling-thrush, Green-backed Tit and White-browed Fantails can be easily spotted. The forests around Ravangla have other avi faunal species like Laughingthrushes, Babblers, Cuckoos and Hill Partridge. The rare Satyr Tragopan can also be spotted in Ravangla.
Trekking around Ravalngla
Ravangla also offers some fabulous short treks. A 12 km trek from Ravangla through the Oak, Pine, Rhododendron, Magnolia and fir forests will take you to Mainam peak at 10,600 ft. Another 1.5 km uphill trek leads to valedunga, a hilltop offering beautiful view to the surrounding mountains. The entire trek route passes through the Mainam Sanctuary which houses a rare collection of Himalayan species like the red panda, Himalayan black bear, leopard cat, black pheasant cat etc.
Menam (10,600 ft) is located about 12 km up hill trek from Ravangla. A traditional meditation site for the monks it is also vantage location for a spectacular view the mountains at sunrise. The trek takes about 2.5 hrs to 4 hrs (depending on one's speed) and winds through a thick forest of oak, chestnut, magnolia and rhododendron trees. The forest is a riot of colours during spring (March/April). A natural habitat of the red panda, Himalayan black bear and many species of deer, this area is designated as a Wildlife Sanctuary and the motto of leaving only footprints & taking back only photographs & good memories is required to be followed strictly to maintain the area.
A 20 kms drive to Damthang & 2.5 hrs trek takes one upto the Tendong peak (8500 ft) for a spectacular 360 deg. view of Sikkim & the distant plains of North Bengal.
Ravangla is well connected by state highway to all important places of Sikkim. Situated on between Pemayangtse and Gangtok Ravangla is 65kms from Gangtok, 134kms from NJP, 142 kms from Bagdogra, 55kms from Pelling and 75 kms from Darjeeling.
Rayong Sunrise point:
At a distance of 8kms from Ravangla on the way to Dentham, Rayong is known for its magnificent snow view over the Kanchenjunga Mountains particularly at the Sunrise.
Kheunpheling Carpet center:
A Tibetan Refuge Settlement Camp cum Carpet weaving Center is located just above the Ravangla Market. A good place for buying carpets and shawls traditionally woven and designed by the Tibetans.
Located on the banks of river Rangeet in a natural surrounding is an excellent fishing spot and river campsite.
Phur-cha-chu (Hot Springs):
Ideal spot for bird watching and butterflies.
At 8 kms from Legship and 34 km from Ravangla towards Naya Bazaar on the banksof river Rangit, lies the popular Hot Sulphur Springs. Its great medicinal values as well as religious importance attract many tourists and local devotees. The place is also important for two sacred caves Khandosangphu and Sharchog Begphu, where the great Buddhist Saint Padmashambhava is believed to have meditated during His journey to Tibet in 7th century.
At an altitude of 8530 ft the Tendong Hill is one of the most prominent landmarks of the area. Tendong is immersed in myths and lore passed down through generations of the ethnic Lepchas. Tendong, believed to be a dormant volcano, offers a beautiful short trek through forested hill tracts. The hilltop offers a 360-degree panorama view of Sikkim Snow Mountains and distant plains of Bengal.
The Maenam Hill at 10,300 ft towers over South Sikkim with Tendong on one side and Ravangla Bazaar on the other. On a clear day, it is even possible to see the plains of West Bengal and a Himalayan span of the Indo-China border towards the North. A short distance away is the legendary Bhaley Dunga, a kind of rocky spur, which juts out from the ridge top and remains suspended in the air above Yangang Village. The trek to Meanam from Ravangla takes about 4 hours and from Maenam hilltop one has the option to take the gentle walk down to Borong village or the more treacherous trails taken by the famous British Botanist, Sir Joseph Hooker, down to Yangang village.