People who smoke get slides when they don't smoke for quite sometime....and something simalr happens with Riders when they are kept away from roads for long. It had been 6 months since I hadnt taken my Zeus (Bullet on a ride) and there was this inner calling which made me look for places around Kolkata and to my surprise there were not many.
Thats when my friend spoke about Zuluk Pass (59 hairpin bends) and Made me google about it. Trust me when I saw the first pic Google suggested me, I had made my mind and I knew my next ride had to be Zuluk.
Before I start talking about my ride lets understand what is the famous Sikkim Silk Route is all about.Old Silk Route or Silk Road which passes through East Sikkim is a part of the ancient network of trade routes which connected China to India. This route passed through Lhasa and Nathu La and Jelep La Pass and finally reached the port of Tamralipta (present Tamluk in West Bengal).
The only pain in this plan I had, was to take my Bike to Siliguri. After my Bhutan experience I had no mood to ride from Kolkata to Siliguri. Finally three riders choose to join the ride from Siliguri. So we transferred our bike on Train to Siliguri and thats where we started our ride.
Things to remember while transferring bike to destination.
Best mode of transport is always Indian Railway. Get all ur documents ready (Bike registration, DL, Insurance, Pollution Check). Find an agent to do all the packing and documentation (it saves lot of time n hassles). Transfer the bike two day in advance so you receive the bike right on the day of ur ride. Get it properly packed at the station to avoid damages and unpleasant surprises.
Its essential to get your permit done before hand when you plan this trip. Permit is required to enter Sikkim, Cross Zuluk, Nathula, And Enter Gangtok. Preferable 05-06 copies of Permit + Permission from Sikkim Home Department. And Proper copies of the vehicle documents is essential.
Suggest to take help of an agent by sending documents before one week to get the permits done. So last minute running around is avoided.
Took the delivery of bike from New Jalpaiguri station and got it checked before the ride. The Ride starts from Siliguri. You start climbing hills right after sevole more.The roads to Kalimpong goes right along bank of Teesta River and the first feel of a hill station is what you get when you reach Kalimpong through the curveous roads.Then you descend & climb many more hills till you reach Reshi. A beautiful town on the river bank. Stay at an eco resort. (Prior booking is advisable). Rest in the right at the river side resort. Rooms are as cheap as 700 per person. (includes Dinner & breakfast). Beautiful place to relax and enjoy serenity of the nature. Take cottages which are facing the river. A trek of 15-20 mins to reach Reshi Eco-resort while taking bamboo bridges and jungle pathways.We were escorted by a German Shepard till we reached the Resort. Rooms were basic but spaicious. Suggest to carry your own Towel & toiletries. Food is homely.You can sip your rum..breezer sitting right on the river bank & enjoy the sunset.
You don't need entry permit till Reshi.
Day-2: (Reshi to Gnathang)-- Via Rongli, Zuluk.
Lazy breakfast,exploring the river bank jungle, clicking pictures of birds, butterflies and landscapes did set the mood for the day.we packed our saddle bags, carried it back to river through the same routes we came from and bid farewell to Reshi. Loaded the bags on bike-- secured it with Bungee cords, covees it with polywraps to save it from Rain,we started our trip for Zuluk pass. First check point is right after 40 mins of ride from Reshi. Don't forget to show your pass and give a copy at the post.(Or else you may have to return back if you cross the gate without submitting a copy). The beauty of Hills starts right after Reshi. Roads are narrow and picturesque and you won't regret riding. Monsoon rain did make us stop at places but didn't kill our spirit because Zuluk was waiting for us. We rode through the misty clouded mountains. Roads were well maintained and ride was nothing but sheer pleasure.
Crossing Zuluk and taking 59 hairpin bends was the kick of the Day 02 ride and we reached a small town called Gnathang. Thambi View point was amazing from where you get the best view of Zuluk.We couldn't see the whole landscape of Zuluk along with all the hairpin bends due to clouds but still the view was breathtaking and my camera shutter didn't stop for 15-20mins. Book your homestay at Gnathang before you reach. We experienced the best hospitality of simple & homely people of hills who cooked maggi-- gave us hot coffee as many times as we asked with a smile-- made your room warm with room heaters and cooked amazing chicken.
Day-03: (Gnathang to Gangtok) Via-- Kupup, Nathula, Changu Lake.
We started as early as 6 am. Visited Thambi view point again. And then we were back to explore the route full of lakes, army bunkers, snow covered hills.It was day full of sight seeing. Every 02 kms you get to see a lake. Take prior guidance of Locals so you don't miss any. And what all we saw....is like a never ending list.
- Thambi View Point
- Strawberry Lake
- Kupup Lake
- OldBaba Mandir
- New Baba Mandir
- Yak Golf Course (Golf course at World's Highest altitude of 13000ft)
- Changu Lake
The ride after Changu Lake was bit difficult due to Land slides, heavy fog and increased traffic of tourist visiting Nathula from Gangtok. But our bikes cruised through all this till we reached Gangtok. Its a trip worth exploring on bike and not to mention a delight for photographers & explorers. Don't miss to see the Chinese Army Camps while crossing Kupup and reaching Nathula. Another border touched another pass conquered and we reach Siliguri back from Gangtok descending down. If you have time explore Monastries near Gangtok, Play Casino & enjoy the Karoke bar at the Mall road.