Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim

Tripoto
24th Nov 2015
Photo of by RAHUL KARALGIKAR
Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim 1/2 by RAHUL KARALGIKAR

We reached Ravangla with the help of share taxis from New JalPaiguri. It was 1730 hours and it was nearly dark. We were a group of 4 and all were in shorts. A local saw us and laughed at our madness of wearing shorts in such a chilling weather. We booked a hotel just near the bus stand and came out to take a walk in the small town. While taking a walk we asked a local about the forest barrack from where the trek to Maenam starts. He wanted to make a bit of money so he started to tell us about the dangers of encountering beer in the jungle and also about the flowers that makes a person high and crazy. Though he helped us in getting the address of the barrack, he insisted us to hire a guide from him. We said we will be back and never went back to him. There's a famous Buddha statue in the town and it was glowing in the lights lit in the dark and the fog was showering mist on the statue. It was a beautiful sight. We spent a bit of time there and headed back soon for dinner because the restaurants close by 8pm there. We had our dinner and back in room planned for the next day's journey and had tea and slept off.

Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim 2/2 by RAHUL KARALGIKAR
Day 2

Next day early morning we finished our breakfast, the locally famous wai-wai, a noodle brand (I could see only chicken flavour of it on its packet. For strict vegetarians, I do not recommend, I ate it without knowing), kind of endemic to the region.

Photo of Ravangla, Sikkim, India by RAHUL KARALGIKAR

We headed to the forest barrack and enquired about the trek. The official(the guide later) said us about the registration and we talked about hiring the guide. Since we had to camp on the peak, we needed to hire a porter to carry utensils and food items to the peak since we were very ill prepared to the trek with no tents and sleeping bags in the anticipation that we will get all those for rent near the barrack. But we were wrong. The guide on much thought could only arrange a mat and it was manageable since there was a small hut near the peak to shield the wind and cold. Till he made his arrangements we had about 2 hours, so we visited the Buddha Park which was closed the previous night. It is about 58 feet long. Inside, there was a big hall where food was being served, so we took the full advantage of it.

Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim by RAHUL KARALGIKAR
Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim by RAHUL KARALGIKAR
Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim by RAHUL KARALGIKAR

At about 1130 hours we started our trek. For about an 20 minutes, it was a casual walk along the pipeline laid on the edge of the foothill until we had to take a diversion. From then, the steep route was difficult to manage. All the 4 of us had a fair bit of fitness to keep up with the pace of the guide and porter. He was surprised with our speed. Though there is a well laid out foot track, there is a shortcut route which cuts the footpath and goes more of straight than the winding foot path. We were majorly on the shortcut route and it was challenging and we were enjoying it. We kept taking rests at couple of points where small huts are constructed. The guide and porter kept having local made alcohol to keep warmth. After about 2 hours of trek, in the middle of nowhere, the sky grew dark and it started to hailstorm. It was so heavy that even the guide was shocked with the sight. Thanks to the huge and dense trees, our heads were saved.

Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim by RAHUL KARALGIKAR

The weather suddenly became so chilling at about 1300 hours that our hands started getting numb. I literally had to place my palm on my chest to keep it warm, our feet were wet and they were only active because we were walking, since it was better to wait than to reach the destination. The journey was just half complete. The forest was full of white patch of ice and it was snowy winter cold. At about 1600 hours we reached the hut near the peak and I finally felt we would survive today. We were above the clouds and they were blocking our view of the mountain range where we could see the Kanchenjunga. The porter started to cook the food and we tried our best to dry our feet, shoes and clothes near the cooking fire but all in vain. After sometime I started shivering even with 4 shirts on. I laid on the mat and covered myself with the rug while others were trying to make fire at other end of the hut to keep themselves warm. At about 1730, we had a very boring rice and aloo sabji but it was hot. We were ready to sleep by 2000 hours. We slept close to each other to stay as warm as possible and we kept chatting for few more hours till we went to sleep. The whole night we could not sleep properly because of extremely cold weather and lack of space.

Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim by RAHUL KARALGIKAR
Day 3

Early morning, the sun started to rise at about 0430 and Wasim went out first. This was the moment. The sky was clear and we could see the Kanchenjunga in the early sun rays. He cried out for all and we went to see and experience it but it was still extremely cold outside. We went along with our rugs and enjoyed the beautiful scene of the Himalayas and Sikkim.

Photo of Ravangla, Sikkim, India by RAHUL KARALGIKAR

zoomed vi

Photo of Ravangla, Sikkim, India by RAHUL KARALGIKAR
Photo of Ravangla, Sikkim, India by RAHUL KARALGIKAR

The porter had started preparing breakfast while Wasim and Srivatsa decided to take a walk ahead till it was ready. Myself and Arvind decided to stay back. The breakfast was ready and we enjoyed it with the view of the mountains.

Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim by RAHUL KARALGIKAR

We still had a bit of ascent to be made so we kept our bags near the hut and started climbing. To our surprise, we saw that the rain caused yesterday and a bit at night had caused small frozen water bodies along the path. We then realized what the temperature would have been at the peak of the night.

Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim by RAHUL KARALGIKAR
Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim by RAHUL KARALGIKAR
Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim by RAHUL KARALGIKAR

We were surprised how did we even survive with so limited warm clothes. It was about an hour's walk to the peak where a small Gompa (Buddhist temple) is located. We had our relaxed time there and a small photo session and then we started heading back.

Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim by RAHUL KARALGIKAR
Photo of Maenam Hill Trek, Ravangla, Sikkim by RAHUL KARALGIKAR

The walk back was a bit fast but the slopes we had climbed was easier than getting down. Arvind slipped at several places. Overall the walk back was not as bad as the one we had experienced while climbing. We reached the barrack at about 1130 hours and were waiting for paying the fees to the guide. The sun was out and we were feeling we were in dark age from few days. We sat in the sun. We paid the fees and returned back to Ravangla.

The cost of the guide was 1500 per person and about 1000 for porter along with the charges of cooking and eatables. The forest entrance fees is Rs. 25 per day per person.