by dense forests and hidden in a mountain bowl 33-m to the northwest of
Pelling, Khecheopalri Lake, known as the "Wishing
Lake" is sacred to the Lepchas.
Legend has it that if a leaf drops onto the lake's surface a guardian bird swoops down and picks it up, thereby maintaining the purity of the water. Another tale tells that Khecheopalri Lake and Kathok Lake in Yoksum are female and male counterparts and were once neighbours. However, villagers gave more importance to Kathok and neglected Khecheopalri dumping rubbish there and destroying her sanctity, causing her to relocate in a huff to a more salubrious and less inhabited area.
Khecheopalri village and Gompa on top of the ridge provide excellent views of Mount Pandim and there are several sacred caves scattered through the hills. Guides to these caves and to Yoksum, Tashiding and Pelling can be arranged through the Trekker's Hut. The trail to Yoksum is around 9-km and takes three to four hours. Stock up on snacks from Ghezing market or some of the small stalls in Pelling.
Road: It's a steep five-hour ascent and descent from Pelling. Public transport runs to the Khecheopalri turn off known as zero point from where it's an 11-km hike up a rough, but motorable road to the lake.
Accommodation at Khecheopalri is limited in the Trekkers'
Hut. It also has some very useful information on the local area and a
definitive list for birdwatchers. Another option is the tiny Pilgrim's
Rest House nearer the lake, which has a shrine room and chapel sometimes
used by visiting monks. A small tea stall next to the Pilgrim's Rest House
serves Chai (tea) and simple meals.