Sandakphu at 3636 metres was an anticlimax – I expected to see views that would last a lifetime but all that I found on the top were lodges and an acute water shortage. I did not even try to locate the Kanchendzonga, the way I did at previous camps – imagining where it should be and then superimposing the postcard I bought. Post the ritual of room allocation, we settled down for a nap. Later in the evening, our YHAI guide – Abhijit Roy, took us to the sunset point, although by now fog had entirely enveloped us and the visibility was a few metres, as we set out to see the sun which was millions of kilometers away. Instead of being a sunset point it was truly a wind point – for it was super windy and cold there! It became tough to maintain balance. I remember Sowmya exclaiming – “It’s so windy I won’t fall” with her back to the wind. The moment reminded me of the Battle of Minas Tirith in Lord of the Rings, when Aragorn would summon the ghost army as it swooped across the war plains decimating the foe. Meanwhile, our tea champion – Soumya found a nice shop for tea, twenty bucks a cup, served hot in chinaware, while some among us had maggi. The night yet again was cold and windy, blatantly challenging us, the outsiders, as we hid in the warmth of the lodge, meekly giving up against the will of nature.Gurdum our next stop was 14 km away, all downhill. Easiest of the easy paths passing through a Rhododendron forest and then through the sovereign of bamboos. Earlier in the day, I woke up at 3 to see if the Kanchendzonga had presented itself to the stars, but the veil wasn’t lifted. By around 5, all gathered to see the sunrise – to witness the burning peaks, braving the cold winds; but the warmth of our hope dismissed the conditions as we sat facing the now purple crimson horizon. We waited and waited, for the sun was late – as if the great peaks were forbidding the sun to appear, till it was high enough to hide them away. And then we saw the reddish purple sphere, we saw it through the conifers, we saw it from the glass cabin, we saw it through the fluttering prayer flags at a point higher than any found in West Bengal, we saw what 7 billion others see everyday but the mountains made it different. Back in the cottage, there was a picture of Sandakphu captured sometime in December, with pristine clear views of the Kanchenjunga, as pristine as the snow that had covered the cottage – perhaps I had chosen the wrong season to travel here.We arrived in Gurdum by 2 PM just in time for lunch. After being on a diet of rice, dal, potatoes and cabbage, the fresh peas and soybean was a delight. The courtyard was skillfully lined with flowering plants, all blooming to their full glory – roses, orchids, daisies, poppies, succulents and so many more whose names I barely knew.In the evening we had a small ceremony in the community hall where everyone was asked to put up atleast one performance. The group of Tushar, Kishor, Mayur and Akshay sang Bawara Mann, while Geetha, Honey, Giri put up a solid dance performance. Our group of Akash, Soumya and Abhinav opted for skit enacting Tony Greig and Navjot Sidhu. The other Sowmya put up a breathtaking solo indian classical dance performance. Amidst the darkness lit by torch light with sounds effects using Bluetooth speakers the night indeed became memorable.
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65 Kms from Sandakhphu
Best time to visit - September to December
Gangtok is the capital city of the north Indian state of Sikkim. Built up as a Buddhist journey site in the 1840s, the city got to be capital of an autonomous government after extinction of British principle, however it joined India in 1975. Today, it remains a Tibetan Buddhist focus and a base for climbers sorting out licenses and transport for treks through Sikkim's Himalayan mountain ranges. Settled inside higher crests of the Himalaya and relishing a year-round gentle calm atmosphere, Gangtok is at the center point of Sikkim's tourism industry. The accommodation business is the biggest business in Gangtok as the city is the main base for Sikkim tourism. Summer and spring seasons are the most prominent visitor seasons. Large portions of Gangtok's occupants are utilized specifically and in a roundabout way in the tourism business, with numerous inhabitants owning and working in Hotels. Ecotourism has risen as an essential monetary action in Gangtok which incorporates trekking, mountaineering, stream rafting and other practices.
272 Kms from Sandakhphu
I liked the Patan Durban Square cultural heritage.
152 Kms from Sandakhphu
Best time to visit - March,April,May
Bhutan has gradually become a popular tourist destination. And if you are visiting Bhutan, you can't possibly miss the lovely city of Paro. Considered to be one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, it is definitely a must visit! A perfect mix of culture, beauty, nature and history, Paro offers you an experience unlike another. Do visit the unofficial Taktsang Monastery or Tiger's Nest, which is a delight for trekkers and explorers! Located on a hill, the trek to this monastery is something you'll always remember. Do carry water, wear proper shoes before you start your trek lest the number of halts increases your trek time. Another wonderful place to visit is the National Museum of Bhutan which is located in a former watch tower and hosts a collection of artefacts tracing the history of Bhutan. Among other places to visit, Rinpung Dzong and Drakhapo are definitely worth visiting. The Paro market is also a great place to explore and makes for a perfect location for an evening stroll. If you don't want to stay in the city, Paro is where you should head to. The lush valleys here are a delight to explore and the streams and meadows are nothing less than a postcard.
255 Kms from Sandakhphu
A quick getaway from Kathmandu. Beautiful rolling hills and paddy fields, away from the city noises.
273 Kms from Sandakhphu
Kathmandu is a city stuck in a time warp, it is a city with a mind of its own and an impenetrable one at that. With its medieval temples, ethnic groups, convoluted lanes, noisy bazaars and an overwhelming number of hotels, this place is several things at once. Travellers just can't get enough of the intoxicating cocktail that is Kathmandu and the locals are well aware of this fact. It is timeless and often akin to an exotic fairytale and a visit is therefore imperative.
261 Kms from Sandakhphu
The well preserved ancient Newar town, known for its artistic excellence, splendid courtyard and palaces, pottery and weaving industries and rich customs and culture, is a ‘living heritage’ in itself. The literal translation of ‘Bhaktapur’ i.e. “place of devotees” is well justified by its magnificent temples, artwork, festivals and religious celebrations. It was enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The place is like an open air museum, best for aimless wandering and exploration. The ‘culture gem’ of Nepal, Bhaktapur is extremely picturesque and inspiring. So simply put on your best walking shoes and get ready to have a good peek into the famous Newar culture and tradition.
68 Kms from Sandakhphu
As it was now constantly pouring so we started back for Mangan in rain itself. The roads were very slippery so we rode very slow and reached back to Mangan in almost double the time than what we had taken while coming. At Mangan, we refilled our bikes and had food at the same place. This time we took a diversion for Siliguri from Mangan so that we didn’t have to go all the way to Gangtok and then to Siliguri. This road was apparently much nicer albeit longer than the road from Gangtok to Mangan via which we had come. This diversion for the road can be easily found as there is a board for the same.