A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary

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Tendong Hill Trek

Photo of A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary by Amrita

Sikkim is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. And it is also one of my favourite destinations. Picturesque landscape, colourful culture and some offbeat trekking trails make Sikkim one of the most beautiful places to visit. For trekking enthusiasts and nature lovers, Tendong Hill provides the perfect place for one-day trekking. The highest altitude of Tendong Hill is at 8600 feet and from the hill top, you can get a majestic panoramic view of the entire Eastern Himalayas.

Tendong Hill trek starts from Damthang, a small and sere Sikkimese village. The nearest major town is at Namchi. You can either stay at Namchi or even at Tendong if you want to do the trek. We had heard a lot about this trek and were quite excited to venture out in the lush green forests of Tendong. These forests are quite rich in flora and fauna. There are almost 90 species of Himalayan birds in the forests. Apart from the birds, these forests are also the home to the elusive red panda, Himalayan bears and leopards. We were quite hopeful that we might spot a red panda!

Photo of Damthang, Sikkim, India by Amrita
Photo of Damthang, Sikkim, India by Amrita

The word Tendong means “upraised”. Legend has it that long time ago, there was a flood in this area. To save the people from the flood, the land raised itself and gave refuge to the residents. Thus came the name Tendong. After having a sumptuous breakfast at the homestay, we started towards the uphill trek route. Tendong Hill trek is relatively less visited (I will not say it is lesser known though). There was not really any signpost about the trek at Damthang Bazar area. There is a paved way though beside a shop that will take you to the hilltop.

The paved way actually led to a flight of stairs and very soon the stairs disappeared into a jungle trail. We kept on hiking through the trail. The first 40 minutes was a easy hike. We gained altitude but there was a lot of flat portions in the trail. Yes, the thick forests gave us an eerie feeling, as there was no one on the trail. There were huge ferns and thick foliage of trees interspersed with bamboo groves. The trunks of the trees were mostly covered with moss and other fungi. The huge trees formed a canopy over us. Very soon, the only sound we could hear was the chirping of birds and rustling of leaves. We were entirely away from town and the concrete jungle enjoying the time with nature. We tried spotting a few birds, but were not much successful. And red panda, was elusive as well. Our wish to see a red panda was not fulfilled even this time.

Photo of A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary by Amrita
Photo of A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary by Amrita
Photo of A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary by Amrita
Photo of A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary by Amrita

After about 40 minutes, the trail became steeper. At places the trail got quite narrow where only one could pass. We stopped from time to time, rested for a while and continued our hike towards the hilltop. As we came near the hilltop, we saw a signboard of Tendong Gumpa. There were a few trails from that point, but I think all the roads led to the same place. We took one and reached a place where the prayer flags were fluttering in the wind. Very soon we reached the peculiar looking watchtower at the Tendong Hill. It looked like a pagoda but was not one. And from there we could see the panoramic view of the entire Eastern Himalayan range. The wind was cold and the air smelled pure. There were no words to describe the beauty and sanctity of the place. Little things do give us so much joy. There was also a small monastery on the hilltop. And the pagoda like structure is the three-storeyed Tendong Observation Tower.

View of the Himalayan ranges

Photo of A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary by Amrita
Photo of A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary by Amrita

View of the Eastern Himalayan ranges

Photo of A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary by Amrita

The view from the hilltop was totally magnificent. We spent about an hour at the hilltop, had our packed lunch and then returned back taking the same route. During the descent, we saw the mountains changing colours in the glow of the afternoon sun. With happiness in our heart and fond memories, we came back to Damthang, only to promise to return back to Sikkim again and again.

Stupa at the Tendong Hilltop

Photo of A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary by Amrita

Prayer flags

Photo of A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary by Amrita
Photo of A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary by Amrita

Tendong Observatory Tower

Photo of A hike to this hidden trail should be in your next Sikkim itinerary by Amrita

Some Facts about the Tendong Hill trek

Total Distance: 3.5 km one way

Time taken: Approximately 2 hours uphill and 1.5 hour downhill. The time will obviously depend on your capabilities.

Nearby Places of attraction: Namchi, Temi Tea Garden and Ravangla are nearby.

How to reach Damthang, the staring point of the trek:

Namchi is the closest town to Damthang. From Namchi, you can take shared jeeps to Damthang Bazar.

You can reach Namchi from Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim. The nearest airport is the Pakyong Airport. You can also take a flight to Bagdogra. The nearest Railway station is New Japaiguri. From both NJP and Bagdogra, you can come to Siliguri and then take a shared sumo to Gangtok. You can also hire a cab from Bagdogra or NJP to Gangtok.

Best time to do Tendong Trek:

You can do the trek any time of the year, but monsoons should be best avoided. During the monsoon, remain careful from leech.

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