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Mulkarkha : The Wishing Lake


Tripoto.com
Duration: 6 Days
Expenditure 5000

I have been trekking for a long time now. I have made a bucket-list of roughly all the Himalayan treks in India to be covered in my lifetime. And I have already made my way through a number of them. I have trekked the very common points such as Sandakphu, Yuksom-Goechala-Dzongri, Roopkund, Valley of Flowers, Chandertal Lake-Hampta Pass, etc. However this time I was looking for somewhere uncommon (if not virgin!). That was exactly when I came across Mulkarkha Lake trek over the internet (thanks to travel journalists and bloggers). It was not a virgin place even back then, but what I inferred from the blog(s) and what I inferred later on when I myself went to trek was that, Mulkarkha had not yet been treaded upon by a lot of trekkers. And without giving it a second thought I set out for Mulkarkha Lake!

Now this trek is called Mulkarkha Lake trek because of the presence of a magical lake at the summit that is Mulkarkha. Why magical? Because you would get to see the direct reflection of Mt Kanchenjunga in its water. When I stumbled upon this piece of information, I myself could not believe even after seeing the Google images, until I myself stood by the lake and captured several images of the magical reflection (of which I will talk about later).

It was the month of October when we started. Mulkarkha Lake trek is basically a family trek owing to its extreme easiness and cal also be used by beginners. Not only is it low altitude trek ranging between 4800 ft to 7300 ft, but also it is a very short trek of just 22 km. There are actually four halts, namely Lingzey, Jhusing, Tagathan and Mulkarkha. But one can skip Jhusing and go directly to Tagathan from Lingzey which would be an uphill trek of just about 8 km. That also through lush green scenic villages!

So we (5 of us) started off for Mulkarkha.

DAY 2

We reached New Jalpaiguri (NJP) station which is probably the only gateway to north Bengal. Just like the homestays we had also booked the cars from Kolkata itself. You could also take sharing cars but it is better an option to hire a car to yourself if you are more in number.

The roads from NJP to Lingzey are distributed through forests, tunnels, villages and markets, brooks and streams, and what not. In fact, the river Teesta accompanied us for a long time in the beginning. The roads are steep but we made peace with them through stereo, conversations, naps, photography, and everything fun! Our driver, who happened to be very cool guy, chatted with us throughout the way. And I kept on writing down my thoughts in my notebook once in a while.

Photos of New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri, West Bengal, India 1/1 by Rituraj Banerjee

Lingzey is roughly 104 km from NJP. 4 hrs by car. And we reached there by noon. The last kilometer is non-motorable I must tell you. So here is actually where you start your trek! This last stretch is a shady road under the canopy of pine-like trees. I could tell they were not exactly pines by looking at them. Even so strangely, there were tropical trees we generally find in plains as well, like bananas and all! On our way we had to seek permission from Sikkim checkpost as the road had bent at one point from the soil of Bengal to that of Sikkim. It was only a matter of some IDs and all that.

The only shelter to stay in Lingzey back then was the Lingzey Eco Tourism of Mr Paudial, with whom we made great acquaintance later on in our trip. Lingzey Eco Tourism is actually Mr Paudial’s own house divided into two parts : one Mr Paudial’s stay and the other the guesthouse or the homestay as it is called. It had 4-5 rooms of which we had taken just 2.

Photos of Lingzey, Sikkim, India 1/1 by Rituraj Banerjee

Lingzey Eco Tourism was surrounded by plenty of forests, and beautiful little orchards and gardens showcasing various fruits and colorful flowers. Mr Paudial was a bald little man, stout but stardy in appearance, friendly at heart. He had a small family of a wife and a daughter.

We spent the entire evening there listening to Mr Paudial play folk instruments and his daughter (whose name I have forgotten now) sing nostalgic folk songs that echoed amongst the mountains. And after having spent the night at Lingzey, we started off for Jhusing the next morning.

DAY 3

The entire way from Lingzey to Jhusing was through the little mountain villages. We passed farmlands, stables, poultries, vines and orchards, dispersed hilly settlements and what not on our way to Jhusing. We met poor villagers with whom we exchanged food and medicines.

Photos of Jhusing Homestay, Lingsay Khasmahal, Sikkim, India 1/1 by Rituraj Banerjee

Jhusing is 5 km uphill trek from Lingzey. And the place is actually marked by the only homestay which appears out of nowhere in the middle of nowhere. In all honesty, Jhusing was roughly a barren place in terms of beauty or scenery. And it should practically be skipped and one should directly trek to Tagathan as I have already mentioned.

Anyway, so it was an easy trek from Lingzey to Jhusing (5400 ft). Places of interest : Jhusing view point, Servang waterfalls, and a sunset.

After having spent the night at Jhusing, we started off for Tagathan the next morning. Tagathan was an easy uphill trek to an altitude of 5900 ft. We had an early morning visit to Jhusing view point and savored a mesmerizing sunrise over the Himalayan ranges (including Mt Kanchenjunga).

Photos of  1/1 by Rituraj Banerjee
DAY 4

Unlike Jhusing, Tagathan was a place of immense beauty. On our way to Tagathan, a number of streams and waterfalls, farmlands, little grocery shops, households in mud and straw, forests and snow peaks, peeping from between the mountains once in a while, crossed our path.

Tagathan was a village in steps in the sense that, the homestay was on the mid step, the viewpoint and the main road being on the upper and lower steps respectively. Kind of like step farming! Anyway, so we reached Tagathan before lunch and after having spent the afternoon in our homestay, we went for sightseeing in the evening. Well to be precise, before evening, because we witnessed the sunset from the viewpoint. How beautiful can a sunset be? We sat side by side, and in dead silence watched the dying sun sink behind the mighty mountains, leaving behind the last rays scattered like a glass pane broken into dust and spread across the sky. And when the stars began to appear one by one and we headed for our homestay.

Photos of Tagathan, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India 1/1 by Rituraj Banerjee

Tagathan was as beautiful at night as in day. The surrounding would be sleepy and silent, dark and dead. You would only hear the rustling of the leaves as if a sage is humming the chant from a distant somewhere, and the calling of the streams and the waterfalls. It would be hypnotic and you would not feel like going to sleep.

Photos of  1/1 by Rituraj Banerjee

Neither did we. After having spent the rest of the night in the woods, walking hand-in-hand, we started off for Mulkarkha the second thing in the morning first thing being the breakfast!

DAY 5

Tagathan to Mulkarkha was an easy uphill trek of 3 km to an altitude of 7300 ft. Our guide, of whom I have not spoken yet, showed us the way to the homestay. Mong Lepcha, as I happen to recall his name, was a young man of strong built, who guided us all the way from Lingzey to Mulkarkha and again back to Lingzey. Later on back to Kolkata, we would sometimes say “Hello!” to him over Facebook!

Anyway, so we spent the afternoon in our rooms, playing cards and chatting. In the evening we walked through the village road because we had nothing else to do. Mulkarkha is a spooky place I must tell you! As the night fell gradually, covering everything in darkness, we all felt a negative energy drawing us, and in haste returned to our homestay.

Photos of Mulkarkha, West Bengal, India 1/1 by Rituraj Banerjee

The night was well spent. And in the break of dawn we went uphill, accompanied by Mong Ji, to see what we had actually gone to see : the Mulkarkha Lake. This lake is also called the “Wishing Lake” owing to its magical power of fulfilling one’s wish.

We trekked for one and half kilometer and reached the Mulkarkha Lake. The last few hundred or so meters was paved with cement and guarded by railings. This pathway was canopied with bushes and hedges, plants and trees, creepers and herbs. Crawling, walking we reached the Lake.

Photos of  1/1 by Rituraj Banerjee

And there was sleeping, amidst the woods – the pines, the firs, the spruces and the birches – the mesmerizing Mulkarkha Lake. The shape was one that of a boomerang; a curve in the middle and two stretches of water at the two sides.

When we reached the Lake, Mt Kanchenjunga was covered in clouds. But to our good luck, as morning fell, the patch of dusty cloud moved away off the face of Mt Kanchenjunga and the reflection fell on the Lake’s water clean as crystal. The reflection was clear would be an understatement; it was surreal! As if the real Mt Kanchenjunga herself was peeping from under the water; from another world “on the other side”. You could never tell the mysteries that Lake held. The maya would not let you leave the place. It was like a hypnotic black hole.

Photos of  1/1 by Rituraj Banerjee

We left Mulkarkha with both haunted and beautiful memories. It was time for us to go back. Kolkata was waiting for us and so were our families. We trekked downhill the same way for 11 km straight. Easy. On our way we visited the Peetamchin village and the Sherpa Monastery. The latter was under renovation during our visit – recovering from the damages caused by a recent earthquake.

Photos of  1/1 by Rituraj Banerjee
DAY 6

We stayed overnight at Lingzey and the next day we headed for NJP.

Photos of New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri, West Bengal, India 1/1 by Rituraj Banerjee

Mulkarkha Lake trek is the trek you choose to go with your family or friends or both, when you want to avoid hardcore trekking, high altitudes, breathing troubles, and just want to chill. It is, I believe, still an unpopular trek and you must grab your bagpack and set off ASAP before it becomes one hub of commerce like Sandakphu!

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