What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say West Bengal? Well for me it's Kolkata. Now being a South Indian that's all the information I have about Bengal, its capital. I haven't traveled towards that side of the country either, which contributes to my limited knowledge. But as I was scrolling through the Indiahikes website for treks to do in December, I came across one situated in Bengal. I was absolutely surprised. Mostly because I had no idea that Bengal had Himalayas too. I literally had to look up the map to confirm this. And as I began reading about the trek with its mesmerizing pictures in the website, I knew this was the one for me.
To begin with, let me tell you a little bit about the place. Sandakphu is the highest peak in the state of West Bengal (3636m.). It is situated in the Singalila National Park in the West Bengal-Nepal border and comes under the district of Darjeeling. If you have traveled around the Darjeeling area you would've observed that it has a lot of Buddhist influence to it. The same is the case here. Sandakphu gives you a pure Buddhist feel rather than Rosgullas, fish and cigarettes. Sandakphu is motorable as well. You can hire jeeps and reach the peak, but let me warn you, the roads aren't pretty. It is an extremely bumpy and uncomfortable ride (personal experience of some friends). So I do not recommend it, because I am a personal fan of trekking more than motoring. Sandakphu is the only place that offers you some fantastic views of some of the world's tallest mountains - Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Lhotse. Every day you keep moving closer to the Sleeping Buddha (the mountain range that contains Kanchenjunga) and everyday its views keep getting better and better.
December 9th, 2017.
This was the day I happily ran off from my house in Mangalore to the mountains far far away. I was going for my second trek in the Himalayas and no wonder there was palpable excitement in the air around me. Throughout the day I had a big smile on my face. Partly because of the trek and partly because I had chosen the trek dates to perfectly coincide with my college result day. I could not have imagined a better place to run to away from all the academic stress, tension, and judgemental people. I reached Siliguri at night with that big smile still on and checked into my hotel where my friend Abhishek had already been waiting for me. We went ahead and met some of our fellow trekkers who were staying in the same hotel and ended up having dinner together. All in all it was a good start to one good trip.