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Silky Silk Route


Tripoto.com
Duration: 7 Days
Expenditure 14000

Silk Route is an old route in Sikkim that connects Sikkim in India with China occupied Tibet. Silk route lies in eastern part of Sikkim along the rough terrains of Himalayan range. In earlier days people used to take this route while ferrying goods between India, Tibet and China. Still now goods are ferried through passes in borders.

As I love to travel to different places, and for me, mountains are the most appealing things in the world, travelling to silk route was a long due. Finally after a dilemma of 3 months, I was able to submit my application for vacation, and I was ready to go.


We were a group of two people, and boarded the Darjeeling mail on 9th april. Thanks to our "Luck", tickets were confirm, and we had the lower berth. If you love to travel by train, you can relate this with me : A sleeper class train journey on a lower berth while the moon is on its' full glory is the most classy thing you can have to start you journey.

DAY 2

The second day began with the news : Train is running late by 1.5 hours. Seems very normal, thanks to Indian railway. At around 10 am finally we reached NJP. We had a pre-booking for the tour. The driver was very punctual, and was waiting at NJP station from 7:30 am in the morning. You can book your cab and trip from NJP station also, but that's not preferable in my opinion.

We started at 10:30 am from NJP, and the according to driver (His name is Suresh Tamang) - suresh vaai, it will take 3.5 hrs to reach our first destination. We haven't had our breakfast at NJP, so we stopped at a road side hotel near Sevok road, and had some food. The views through the window was obviously awsome !!!

Photos of SIP - Sevoke Road, Siliguri, West Bengal, India 1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

After having a good beakfast,started for our destination: Icchey Gaon. Roads were good, maintained, with Teesta river flowing along with us. Suresh vaai was talkative, we were responding also, but after sometime we went silent. Basically we didn't want to talk, not because we are not enjoying the trip, but because of motion sickness.

After a 2 hours of hike and hike and hike, finally reached a dead end of the road. OMG !!!! That's a whole village, merely a village comprising of 40 houses. That's icchey gaon for us.

Photos of Icche Gaon, West Bengal, India 1/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Icche Gaon, West Bengal, India 2/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Icche Gaon, West Bengal, India 3/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Icche Gaon, West Bengal, India 4/4 by Abhra Ghosh

Icchey gaon is a small village, on the oppsite side of a mountain, that guards Sillery Gaon. It's a lesser known place, with lesser crowd, but with a better view of the surroundings. After having a quick lunch (which was unexpectedly good) and a proper bath with chilled water, we started for ramitey view point.

Photos of Icche Gaon, West Bengal, India 1/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Icche Gaon, West Bengal, India 2/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Icche Gaon, West Bengal, India 3/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Icche Gaon, West Bengal, India 4/4 by Abhra Ghosh

Ramitey view point is the top point of the mountain, which gives a wounderful view of the surronudings. It's much more easily accessible from Sillery Gaon, but, route from Icchey gaon is much more thrilling with steep hike and through dense forest. Actually, there is no proper road to go from icchey gaon, and one can experience a little trekking through out the route. It was at dusk when we reached at the top and the sharp wind makes us feel that the night will be cold. Sunset at ramitey was not so good, as the weather was not in our favour. We started to descend after 15 mins, and it ws all dark when we reached our home stay.

Photos of  1/3 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of  2/3 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of  3/3 by Abhra Ghosh

Night at icche gaon was peaceful, just like any other secluded village in the hills. We had a delicious evening snacks also.

Photos of  1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

It was a starry night with cold breeze, we two and suresh vaai were gossiping outside our room. Everything was pitch dark outside, except those small light glittering from the houses. That's when we came accross the true beauty of the place. If you are travelling during full moon, this can be the only reason you must stay at Icchey Gaon. The top of the hill looks like this during full moon.

Photos of  1/1 by Abhra Ghosh
DAY 3

The next morning, after having a quick breakfast, we started to move at around 9 am. Our next destination is a far lesser known place, Rolep - a small hamlet in the himalayan foothills with panoramic views of the Rangpo Khola River valley. To go to rolep, you have to pass through Rishi Khola, a border between sikkim and west bengal. You have to submit a xerox copy of your identity card and a photograph, to make a entry pass.

P.S: Bring atleast 5-6 copies of xerox of your ID card and 3 copies of photos. Xerox shops are just like Yetis in this part of sikkim.

Photos of Rishi Khola 1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

After having our passes, we headed towards Aritar and mankhim. On can reach aritar first and then go to the view point at mankhim by foot. We obviously avoided that and suresh vaai took us to mankhim view point first. Though we were unable to find a proper route to view point, and somehow managed to reach there, but the bird view of aritar lake from there made all the hard work worthy.

Photos of Mankhim Top View Point, Aritar, Sikkim, India 1/3 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Mankhim Top View Point, Aritar, Sikkim, India 2/3 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Mankhim Top View Point, Aritar, Sikkim, India 3/3 by Abhra Ghosh

Next stop was Aritar lake. En route, we had a beautiful monastery to visit.

Photos of  1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

Aritar lake was beautiful obviously, with its emerald colour water. One can do boating here, and can stay here for a night. A couple of home stays are available.

Photos of Aritar Lake, Aritar, Sikkim, India 1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

From aritar, Rolep is a 40 mins drive. One have to take the left turn at the start of rongli bazar. A mere 10-15 mins drive will lead to another dead end road. One have to go by foot from there. But, what was waiting for us, on the other side, was very much unexpected.

Photos of  1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

While staying at Icchey gaon, if you have though that, no place could be as peaceful as iccheygaon, Rolep has to be in your list to stay a night duirng this trip. Rongpo river is flowing just in front of you and you can have your meals by sitting in the banks of this majestic river. Bdw, where will you stay? There are just two homestays with 8 rooms. So, better to pre-book the room.

Photos of Rolep, Sikkim, India 1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

After reaching rolep, we had our lunch and we started to explore rolep. There is a trail by the side of the hill and one can go up through that. That trail will lead you to a hanging bridge known as Rangkey Bridge. As the scene depicted, there were a wooden bridge at first, but that has been replaced by a wire bridge now. You can trek to buddha caves also, but always keep an eye on the watch, as you may land in trouble once the sun goes down.

Photos of Rolep, Sikkim, India 1/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Rolep, Sikkim, India 2/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Rolep, Sikkim, India 3/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Rolep, Sikkim, India 4/4 by Abhra Ghosh

Night was uneventful. Every side of the area was pitch dark. The only thing, that made us realise that we are in a living world was the sound of the flow of the rongpo river.

We started late on the next day. Next destination was Zuluk. It was around 10-15 mins after we started from rolep, suresh vaai stopped the car and showed us a narrow trail and asked us to go down there. There was no proper steps to follow, no support to hold. Just keep in mind, your have to reach the lowermost level anyhow. And why all this? Because, there lies a 40 feet waterfall - Buddha Waterfalls on Shokey Khola River - Isolated and beautiful !!!!

Photos of  1/1 by Abhra Ghosh
DAY 4

After spending 10-15 mins, we again stated for zuluk. We made a stop at Rongli Bazar to make some phone calls, as there will be no network after rongli.

Photos of Rongli, Sikkim, India 1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

We came across lingtam, padamchen while coming to zuluk. There will be stoppage for making pass, as you are going to enter a reserve forest. Roads are comparatively good in this segment. You can enjoy the scenic beauty of twisted roads as you go up. If the timing is proper, Rhododendron of different colours can be seen along the road side.

Photos of  1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

We reached zuluk at around 12:30 pm. The famous zig-zag road was infront of us. The whole day was there for us to roam around and to wonder how one can feel when he gets to the top of the zig-zag road.

Photos of Zuluk, Sikkim, India 1/3 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Zuluk, Sikkim, India 2/3 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Zuluk, Sikkim, India 3/3 by Abhra Ghosh

We were unable to understand, how the time flew away. Eventually, evening arrived by gifting us an amazing view of sunset.

Photos of  1/2 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of  2/2 by Abhra Ghosh

Night was much colder than last two nights. We had our dinner much ealier that night, as power cut was a very common issue at zuluk and above. It was good for us also, as we had a tight schedule next day.

Next day was the most important one, as we had to cover a whole lot of places and we had a news that the weather was gonna betray us. We started early at around 8:30 am after having breakfast.

The journey through the zig-zag road was epic. At first you will not be able to see anything. But after reaching the second level, when you look down, you will have a grand view of the zig-zag road. This road through Zuluk makes almost 32 hairpin turns to reach Lungthung/Dhupidara.

Our next stoppage was Thambi view point. Though there are several view points along the road, but Thambi is the best amongst them. You can have a 270 degree view of the surroundings along with the complete view of the Zig-Zag road, and the mighty Mt. Kanchenjungha. Though when we reached there, the weather was in worse mode and we only had a bunch of clouds to see.

Our next stop was Nathang view point. As we have taken the main road, we weren't going through nathang, but through the outskirt of nathang. As one can expect, Nathang valley was majestic surrounded by mountains and clouds.

Photos of Zuluk, Sikkim, India 1/2 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Zuluk, Sikkim, India 2/2 by Abhra Ghosh

Obviously, temp was falling down at a rapid rate, and we couldn't stop ourselves to have a cup of tea from the only shop we had at that view point.

Photos of  1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

As the weather continued to betray us, without wasting any time we drove to our next destination - Old baba Mandir. I am not going to describe the history behind it, as any one can google it, but just one thing to say - there are two baba mandirs - the old one near tukla valley, which is a part of silk route trip and the new one - near nathula gate, which you will be able to see if you are returning via Gangtok.

Old baba mandir is basically a bunker and you have to go to the top using a steep stairs of 50 steps to see the bunker. You can have a glimpse of the things that Baba Harbhajan Singh used during his duty. One can offer puja at the mandir. Thanks to Indian Army, they also offer the canteen service at a nominal cost at that place.

Photos of Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India 1/2 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India 2/2 by Abhra Ghosh

It started raining a little when we left Baba mandir. Suresh vaai was in a hurry, as, according to him, this will turn into snowfall any time soon, and if we couldn't cross tukla valley by that time - more trouble for us.

DAY 5

And, as he guessed earlier, the weather got even more worse within 15 mins, and there was nothing to see but dense fog. Only suresh vaai knew, how he drove through the entire valley.

After a 20 mins of horrible experience, we landed just in front of Kupup Lake, also known as Elephant lake. Weather was better and visibility increased.

Photos of Kupup Lake, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India 1/1 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Kupup Lake, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India 1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

Our next stop was new baba mandir. This was the uplanned part. The route to new baba mandir was spell- bounding with snow capped high mountains surrounding us and multiple lakes en route.

Photos of  1/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of  2/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of  3/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of  4/4 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Bholenath Temple, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India 1/3 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Bholenath Temple, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India 2/3 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Bholenath Temple, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India 3/3 by Abhra Ghosh

After roaming around the new baba mandir, it's time to go back to our homestay for tonight at Dhupidara. En-route we had a snow covered view of the tukla valley as the weather was better that time and guess what, we had experienced a snowfall.

Photos of  1/1 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Tukla Valley, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India 1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

The village of Dhupidara located at almost 11,500 feet is perched on a hilltop with panoramic views of Mt. Kanchenjungha on one side and the winding roads of Zuluk on the other. The best part of it is, Thambi View Point which offers a great bird’s eye view of the winding roadsis within 500m of our homestay.

After having a lunch, we walked down to Thambi view point, and waited there for about 2.5 hours to have the most anticipated view of the winding roads. But, bad luck and weather was not ideal for such a view, neither Mt. Kanchenjungha nor the winding roads were properly visible.

Obviously, night was even more colder than zuluk, but the starry sky got all the attention.

Photos of Dhupidara, Sikkim, India 1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

Next day morning, it was a do or die situation and we rushed to thambi view point again to have a look. Yes, this time we made it.

DAY 6
Photos of Thambi View Point, Dhupidara, East Sikkim, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India 1/1 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Thambi View Point, Dhupidara, East Sikkim, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India 1/3 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Thambi View Point, Dhupidara, East Sikkim, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India 2/3 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Thambi View Point, Dhupidara, East Sikkim, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India 3/3 by Abhra Ghosh

We started to descend at around 9:30 am. Destination was Lingtam. One can go to NJP also, if time is short. We decided to stay one more day in the mountains.

Lingtam is a small village just after Rongli - merely a 8 km away. We had half of a day to roam around and we did so.

P.S - Lingtam is Suresh vaai's home village.

Photos of Lingtam, Sikkim, India 1/3 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Lingtam, Sikkim, India 2/3 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of Lingtam, Sikkim, India 3/3 by Abhra Ghosh

Next day was the last day of our trip. But, Suresh vaai had a surprise for us. Though we were scheduled to start at 11 am, he came at 8 am with this car and took us to a surprise trip to the top of the lingtam village. Belive me, that short trip to the top made our whole tour a perfect one.

Photos of  1/2 by Abhra Ghosh
Photos of  2/2 by Abhra Ghosh
DAY 7

After spending a half hour there, we came down to our resort and ready to go back to NJP.

The journey to NJP was also good, as we took an unusual route along the rongpo river to avoid rush and finally reach rongpo and left sikkim on a high note.

"To the roads of the hills:

I will be back soon"

Photos of Rangpo, Sikkim, India 1/1 by Abhra Ghosh

I would like to give a special thanks to Avishekda for helping us to make this trip possible.

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