I was born in a small town near Darjeeling. Till some years, when mansions were not built, Kanchanjungha was visible from our little porch on clear mornings. It wasn’t very near, but that faint outline of the peaks on blue firmament used to fill my young heart with absolute bliss.
Now that I live away from home, into cities where there is no sign of the mountains, my heart always keeps yearning to reach glimpses of the mountains.
This time I didn’t have much time in hand, yet chose to go for a small trip to the mountains. Days were limited but the plan was very ambitious. The idea was to cover the silk route of East Sikkim.
The silk route is a historic trade route used from the second century BC 14th century AD that went from China to the Mediterranean. The silk route is so named because of the popularity of trading silk during that period. The valuable fabric originated in China, which initially had a Monopoly on its silk production until the secrets of its creation spread. The silk route traversed China, India, Persia, Arabia, Greece and Italy. In addition to silk the route facilitate the trade of other fabrics, spices, grains, fruits and vegetables, animal hides, woods and other items of value.
As we chose to drive through this area, we decided to reach till Zuluk and Thambi view point and return through Gangtok. The idea was to start early as evening comes faster in mountains, so we started 8 in the morning and drove till Rongli basepoint.
Rongli is a small village of Sikkim, which is also a military base camp area where you need to reach within 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. post that permissions to proceed further in Sikkim can not be granted.
After submitting voter ID proof and one copy picture of each traveller we were given the permissions to cross the checkpoints. Necessary to mention here that، the vehicle should be driven either by the owner or at least the owner has to be present in the car.
We had our lunch at Rongpo, simple vegetarian food and started our journey toward the mountain again. Generally the roads to mountains are beautiful, accompanied by rivers or small streamlines throughout, but this was not anything like that. The roads were damaged due to landslides, new roads were in progress, thus it was all dusty and bumpy.
The first place we decided to halt at was Phadamchin. We reached the place around 4:00 in the evening and it already started getting dark. By 5:00 p.m. it was pitch dark and all foggy. sorry, that was not fog, those were the clouds.
Even though driving through clouds was difficult but that feel of mystery was very thrilling. We randomly searched for a homestay out of many in that area, a small cozy one, cost for a night was 800/person along with food and snacks. What a steal deal !!
It started raining soon after we got into the homestay. Rain in the mountains are different. It is like a teenager whimsical lover, whose love doesn’t follow any rule, scattered and irregular.
The place was absolutely out of network area, so we were sent to an enforced isolation. As we live in a very fast paced society, into a lot of noise, dead silence away from all this hustle-bustle, felt very unusual initially. Silence like you can feel deep into the sea or in the deepest of your meditations.. there every breath counts, every moment feels longer than it is…or probably that is how long moments are and that is how they are supposed to be valued… we’re just used to wasting them for long!
Arranging food is difficult there,so of course you cannot expect any luxury but like any other hill area, sikkimese were also very cordial. They cooked fresh chicken curry, potato fry and rice for us in dinner and that steaming hot food was probably the best meal I have tasted in long. By the time we were having dinner it started drizzling outside again, pitter patter of rain joined us for the dinner.
We went to bed early, around 9:00 p.m. which is considered as kinda late night in mountains and by that time it was raining cats and dogs already. Cold was increasing exponentially and when it rains at night in the mountains and you have a full satisfied stomach, trust me, going to sleep is the best choice to make.