Trek to Sandakphu, the land of two Buddhas

Tripoto
23rd Nov 2018
Photo of Trek to Sandakphu, the land of two Buddhas by Chandrima Biswas

The desire to see the snow white sleeping Buddha repeatedly stir my mind. Instead of daydreaming, I formed a group of 6 people and decided to trek to the land of sleeping Buddha aka Sandakphu just after finishing Dzongri trek. I chose the time as November end in a hope to get the view in its fullest. Trains and trekkers huts booking were done three months prior.

Photo of Trek to Sandakphu, the land of two Buddhas 1/2 by Chandrima Biswas
Gopal Dhara Tea Estate, on the way to maneybhanjang.
Photo of Trek to Sandakphu, the land of two Buddhas 2/2 by Chandrima Biswas
must have refreshment.

On 24th November morning, just before reaching NJP, a little surprise was waiting for me. They had teared up the heart of my new Quechua rucksack by their beautiful white teeth and ate all the peanuts. Sadden by this event, I started for Maney bhanjang and reached there around 12 pm. The first thing we did there was hiring a guide for 4 days from guide and porter association. I did not like the guide at first sight at all. He seemed boring and dull compared to Girish, guide of my Dzongri trek. Had to bear with him for the next 3 days. Sigh! Anyways, we didn't have much time left as we had to start for Tonglu before 2. Meanwhile, we purchased entry fees to Singalila national park and booked a Land Rover to Tonglu, our first stay.

Tonglu Trekkers Hut.

Photo of Mane Bhanjang, West Bengal, India by Chandrima Biswas

Sunset  at Tonglu

Photo of Mane Bhanjang, West Bengal, India by Chandrima Biswas
Day 1

We reached Tonglu trekkers hut around 2.30 pm. At first, Buddha kept himself hidden behind the clouds. But in a matter of seconds, the clouds betrayed him and the unveiled beauty beyond us was enough to make us tongue-tied. That was the day after the full moon. As I was anticipating for this night to come for long, I along with my two partners, went out of hut shivering in minus temperature to witness out of the world scene of Kanchenjunga under the moonlight. That night, I went for bed with a mind full of bliss and eyes full of tears of joy.

Breath taking: Sleeping buddha under moonlight.

Photo of Tonglu, Singalila Forest, West Bengal by Chandrima Biswas
Day 2

Next day, Buddha(our guide) came just on time and we started our journey to Kalipokhri, around 15 km trek. As Buddha came to know that I also did Dzongri trek like him, he showed interest and befriended with me. Don't know what was in the air, but I grew some sort of feelings. Suppressing those unknown feelings I keep moving through the scenic path of Nepal. Had delicious momo at Gairibas and lunch at kaiakata. Reached chawang lodge at kalipokhri during sunset. Meanwhile, that dull, boring boy from maneybhanjang became part of our group. Those precious sweet memories, that were made in the mountain, will go to my memory bank forever.

Dream Capture at Sandakphu

Photo of Kalipokhri, West Bengal, India by Chandrima Biswas
Day 3

In the Third day of our trek, we started for Sandakphu which was 6 km away from Kalipokhri. The fascinating thing about Sandakphu trek is that the route spread across Nepal and India. After bikheybhanjang, the last 3 km got steep. But the trails were much easier than Dzongri. We reached Sandakphu at 1 pm. After having lunch, we start for sunset/sunrise point which is the highest peak of Sandakphu. We did heavy rock climbing thing to reach the top. But that risk was worth taking. On one side there was a sea of clouds just under the sun and on another side, there were breathtaking views of Everest, Makalu, Lhotse, three sisters, and our very own sleeping Buddha. As we have to crawl through bushes to get down, we didn't wait for the sun to set. That made Buddha a little upset. Later, when we were watching and struggling to capture the sunset in a crowd in front of the glass room, I was regretting my decision to get down from the top. Maybe one day I will go there to witness the staggering beauty of mountains under the play of sunlight, but that day Buddha will not be there by my side!

Lhotse, Everest, Makalu

Photo of Sandakhphu, West Bengal, India by Chandrima Biswas
Photo of Sandakhphu, West Bengal, India by Chandrima Biswas
Photo of Sandakhphu, West Bengal, India by Chandrima Biswas
Day 4

Next morning, we were so lazy and attacked by the cold that we missed the sunrise. We started descending towards Sirikhola which was approx 16 km away. As the altitude decreases, sleeping Buddha was getting out of sight little by little and my mind got overloaded. Around 4 pm we reached hotel Shovraj in Sirikhola which was pre-booked. Had to bid goodbye to Buddha as there were no free facilities for guides there like other homestays. He went for Pritam homestay which was about 1 km from there. Staying in Shovraj was a big mistake for us. It was a typical Gurukul type place, full of rules and regulations. Smoking and drinking weren't allowed, so we have to cancel our post trek celebration.

Sirikhola Bridge.

Photo of Hotel Shovraj, Sirikhola, Rimbick, West Bengal, India by Chandrima Biswas
Day 5

Next morning, heard that three boys in our group couldn't sleep last night due to big wild spiders roaming around their beds and nonstop running water from the ceiling. Anyways, we hurry up and got rid of that haunted hotel as quick as possible. on the way back to NJP, sleeping Buddha was with me for a significant amount of time. I returned leaving my two believed Buddha in sleepy mountains, with one of whom I may not meet again, but the other will surely drag me here by its mystic beauty again and again.

Team Sandakphu

Photo of New Jalpaiguri Jn., Ward 35, Nayapara, Siliguri, West Bengal, India by Chandrima Biswas

Play of colors during Sunrise at Tonglu

Photo of New Jalpaiguri Jn., Ward 35, Nayapara, Siliguri, West Bengal, India by Chandrima Biswas
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