Total Pageviews

Monday 18 April 2016

Sandakphu & Phalut Trek - Eastern Himalayas

Sandakphu & Phalut Trek ( Upto Phalut - Gorkhey - Ramam - Rimbick )
Write-up : Anish

           Mt Everest Ranges
 Kangchenjunga Range                           Three Sisters Peaks                           Trek Map

I have been thinking of a solo trek through any of the Himalayan ranges for a while now. Since I had some work at Kolkata I’ve already made up my mind to stretch more days to get ready for some trek. And obviously Sandakpu was finalized because several factors worked perfectly well. First this place is one of the oldest trekking trails in India, a full rounded trek would nearly hit a 100km, it crosses borders with Nepal and you never know when you are in which country. Towards the end of the trek you reach the borders of Sikkim. One can experience numerous mountains and villages of West Bengal, Nepal and Sikkim and explore their way of life and culture. Situated inside Singalila National Park known for its rich floral and faunal diversity it has rare varieties of species and endangered animals like Red panda, Clouded Leopard and Black Panther, the park is now a Wildlife sanctuary and one needs to buy a permit with entry ticket at Maneybhanjan town which is the gateway for this trek and the first border town of India and Nepal. Half way towards the trek we reach Sandakphu which is also the highest point in West Bengal district. It is the ultimate Vantage point where you can witness 4 of the 5 highest peaks (besides K2) in the World ( Mt. Everest, Makalu, Lhotse, Kanchenjunga) what more do you need? And people who are further trekking from Sandakphu to Phalut have chances to see the panoramic views of the gigantic Himalayas from Nepal to Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh up till Bhutan views on a clear day.  I was thrilled because I was all alone this time and when I’m alone I don’t plan anything other than the flight tickets to the nearby airport. For tourists the gravel road which is made out of boulders up to Sandakphu till Phalut can also be driven by Vintage land rovers which can be rented out from Maneybhanjan. Till some years before trekking trail was the same as the gravel roads but now trekkers have their own trails and steep shortcuts meeting the boulder road from time to time. And above that one can always choose to walk through the nearby mountains as well. It is also mandatory to have a guide now. People who trek further from there to Gorkhey and Rimbik passes through forest trails for a complete circle trek of 92km. And my idea was to do just that.
Manebanjan Town
13th April Reached Bagdogra airport by 11.30am. Had to reach Maneybhanjan by today evening. Met a couple from Bombay who was on their way to Darjeeling for vacation and we agreed to rent out a taxi. From the moderate climate of Bagdogra and Siliguri to the cool mountain airs of the Darjeeling hills it was a fun ride watching the Darjeeling Mountain Railways with the age old Steam Engine crossing by. After a 70 km ride I was dropped off at Ghum which is also the highest railways station in the world. It was cold and misty I had a diversion from here to Sukhia Pokhari. Waited with tea in hand for some time for a shared taxi and reached Sukhia. It was gorkhaland and I was a weird fellow in center of all those Nepali chicks. After lunch from a small hotel with just rice and daal and some shopping’s for the next one week I had to rent a solo taxi from there to Maneybhanjan. I told him to drop me at the Highlanders Guides and porter Association but I’m sure he quite didn’t get me and dropped me off at the other end of the town. Got down and bumped into Benoy Moktan in pradhan hotels who was also in charge of tourism department.  After some discussions Benoy assured me that next morning all my plans will be sorted out and provided a room for a stay. With hot Chapatti and Chicken listening to Old Salil Choudary’s songs from the next room the night just passed by.
14th April  Next day both of us went to the office and he said up to Sandhakpu I might need 5 days and for a full trek till Rimbik it might take 8 days. I know Guides are mandatory now and 700 rs were the fees per day for an English speaking guide. Had to pay an advance for permit and there came a young chap Ashok who will be my guide and partner for the next how many ever days I wished to trek there. By 9am after having some bread and omelets we left Manebhanjan to stop at the check post for permit tickets and entry details . Chennai is not in India so you are an international tourist, you will have to pay more and there is a separate register for me is what the person in the counter said. But I was in India at that time and haven’t crossed any borders.  Had to fight smilingly for a while to prove my nationality with a person who never knew Chennai existed in India. Finally after hearing all the noise some other people came and showered some light into to that person and thus I became an Indian again.
Maneybhanjan – Tumling – Gariabas  (17 Km)
                                                                                                                   First Stupa
We started our journey into the hills. Our plans for today were trekking till Tumling which is around 10km and stay for the night. The trek till sandhakpu had two steep trails. One was the beginning from Manebanjan to Chitrey and the final stretch from Bikeybanjan to Sandakphu but I was not aware of this. The first two kms upto Chitrey was actually tough since I was just starting to walk, there wasn’t really a stretch that i could kind of warm up. It was steep and above that my guide took me through the shortcuts which were even steeper.  With around 10kg backpack my back was pulling me down while i I moved up slowly without stopping. If the entire trek was like this I started thinking that I will be having a tough time     here.  Did not want to give a wrong notion to Ashok that I was less fit. Finally after a km we stopped for a break nearby the first Stupa which is a dome shaped monument erected as a Buddhist shrine. Could see the small town we just left from and some Nepal villages to the right. After one more km we reached Chitrey. Saw Gumba monastry,the associated temples and a closed school which is for training young lama kids. We had to circle twice the monastery before continuing.  International funds helps in maintaining and construction of new buildings nearby the monastery. Above that there were a couple of houses with a tea shop. I could see easy green slopes ahead and it was very similar to ooty grassland, from November onwards all these places will be under snow.

We were trekking through the Eastern Himalayan biodiversity hotspot area and I was enjoying the walk along with ashok hearing the stories of mountains. He told me that we are fast enough and at this rate we will reach Tumbling by 2pm, we could possibly try Gariabas today itself which was another 7km from Tumbling. I said ok and till the next stop Lamydhura we walked through the trekker’s trail avoiding almost all the Gravel jeep roads. Lamaydhura had 3 to 4 houses with a tea shop run by a lady. With a light breakfast I was already hungry and Noodle soup along with tea was a relief from the cold. Met Sanjoy and Pankaj from Guwahati there. I could see an old Land rover jeep which was more like a piece of antique parked there.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Ashok
We left the place through the roads to reach Meghma village which was 4 kms ahead. Landscapes changed so quickly because the flow of mist was just too quick. Taking photographs was a funny affair because the small views which existed in naked eyes would be misty through the lens. Ashok said every day after 10am this is the situation for the remaining day. You could only see long views in the morning time. Rhododendrons started showing up. Red varieties of different kinds of flowers bloomed here and there. Just before reaching Meghma I saw the border line fencing between India and Nepal. Photography was prohibited but I unknowingly took one. As I crossed it one security personal asked if I had an ID and I said yes, problem solved. There was one more monastery here.

India - Nepal Border

The walk continued till Meghma and we took the Gurasai route to Tumbling cancelling Tonglu. Actually this route is steeper but a little shorter. From here onwards I got some splendid views of the nearby mountains, small streams, stupas and small bell temples built nearby main water sources.  Everywhere you see some sought of colorful prayer flags flying high. Each flag color has its elements like yellow-earth, green–water, red-fire, white-air and blue-space. They believe that the energy of the prayers and sacred mantras written on the flags are blown by the wind and promotes peace, compassion and wisdom. The walk till Tumling was just beautiful and we stopped at 1.30 for lunch.
What I like with Ashok Is I don’t get to see the best hotel or lodge within the very few rather It was always pakka local and I wanted it that way. Had Roti and Omelets in a small hut and we left the place by 2.30pm. This is the place where I was initially planned to stay today but we are now moving to Gariabas. I insisted that we walk through the forest and cancelled the Joubari route. Just after sometime there appeared the gates of Singalila National Park. I had to show my tickets there which I got it from Manebanjan and we were now let inside the park. After crossing some Army camp buildings Ashok diverted into the forest trails. Even though March was the blooming season of Rhododendrons I was not disappointed by what was left. 

The stretch from here on was of thick forest but nowhere near to Western Ghats as flora at such altitudes tend to grow really slowly. Patches of bamboos, Magnolias and oaks where found everywhere.  After 7 km of misty walk up and down we joined a scary rocky road which led us through steep declines into the valley finally reaching Gariabas by 5pm.We were actually in Nepal now and just opposite there was the Indian border with army security buildings. There were beds available at Magnolia lodge and both of us decided to stay there. Met another team there who was staying in the nearby Gta lodge.  Took a small nap and dinner was rice and dhal curry. I was hoping to have a good sleep but the horrendous winds that night smashed a couple of windows and the cold were unbearable finally I couldn’t sleep at all. It was around 4.30 am next morning and I saw light outside. It was like 6am in south India and it was a new experience for me. By 5am Ashok and I started chatting about yesterday night’s winds, I could feel the big wood house shaking and vibrating throughout the entire night. Crazy it was. By seven I got out  and roamed around the area. So blissful it was. After some breakfast of roti and boiled potatoes by 8 am we started our second days walk.

Gariabas - Kalapokhri - Sandakphu – Aal  (15 km)

Since Gariabas was somewhere deep down the valley today we had to compensate on yesterday’s decline. The first 1 km was climbing up for the lost altitudes and it wasn’t easy. There were other trekkers too who started some 30 minutes before us but we were overtaking each of them. Most of the walk with Ashok was through steep shortcuts and mountains showing very little of the actual gravel road which is much easier compared to the short routes. With a couple of breaks we reached Kaiyakatta which had not more than 6 houses and a tea shop. We did not stop there and carried on. From here we had to follow the roads for the next 4km till kalapokhri. It was kind of an even walk without many changes in altitude. On the way again met Sanjoy and Pankaj the Guwahati guys. We tagged along till we reached kalipokhri the scared lake. Two special things about this lake are water color is black not because it is dirty but the black mud reflected and made it look colored. Second was this lake never freezes even in the extremes of cold seasons. There was a Stupa built above the lake and the views around was just too beautiful. Had some photo sessions and our next stop for lunch was at Cwang hotel run by a family just above the lake.
                                                              Kaliphokri Lake
Took some time out there  and had some yummy egg fried rice. Sanjoys guide phurba was a Sherpa and a funny man. By 1pm five of us started from there. Our next stop was Bikeybanjan which was 3km away. Now the views down to Nepal were long and could spot some villages at the far end. We stopped for blooming flowering trees and climbed on top of huge rocks just to get some good shots on the way. Both our guides were now hand in hand deeply discussing about some local happenings. Within an hour we reached bikeybanjan and stopped for one more black tea.

Next was the final steep stretch of 4 km to Sandhakpu. Sanjoy and I moved ahead and covered a good distance leaving his friend and the guide’s way back.  We tried most of the steep shorts and went through the small mountain finding new ways. Sanjoy slowed down a bit but I continued to stop somewhere on top for a longer break. Most of the vegetation just changed into huge pine trees and shrubs with grass lands. The sceneries were just getting better and better and the color tone of the entire surrounding was something I’ve never experienced before. After some 20 minutes I stopped for rest and within minutes my hands were shivering out of cold. Now I had to wait for others to join in. Sanjoy joined me and while we were resting suddenly when the clouds cleared up we got a slight glance of Mt Kanchenjunga range. Waited for a long time but the guides somehow took another shorts and were ahead waiting for us. I had to say goodbyes to Sanjoy  to catch up with Ashok.

I could now see the top of Sandakphu and was climbing fast. Caught Ashok on the way and within 20 minutes we were on top of the highest peak of West Bengal. There were around 20 buildings which were mostly small lodges. Some groups were running around for the booked rooms to confirm. But here I am with no bookings and no plans just a layman in a no man’s land. After having tea there watching kanchenchunga in parts and pieces we moved to the next stop called Aal which was 1 km away.
                                                         West bengals Highest peak                     View of kanchenchunga from Sandakphu
It was also the sunset point and had 4 houses and a tent. My place was Pinky hut. Rustic and local just like what you see in Hollywood Himalayan movies with a few local people around smoking anything and everything out. My hut had 3 rooms and a small dormitory and I got a small separate room there. I have reached where I intend to and all I want was some good views of the Himalayan ranges tomorrow early morning. After settling in gave my camera batteries to recharge from the only solar power set up there. I have been hearing about a special  local drink called Roxy for the past two days from Ashok while getting to know more the mountain drinks and It was available at several places but I knew this was the right time to try some shots because it’s now confirmed that tonight the temperature will go down below 0 degree. Went to the nearby hut and the Roxy party was actually fun as I was joined by two other friends from Darjeeling and one carried a flute but knew only one bollywood tune and he kept on repeating the same tune several times. A couple of glasses made things ease up a little bit and I started to play the flute for the remaining timeof whatever little I knew to play until they had their share of Roxy.                                                            Music & Party time
Back to the room I had some hot noodles soup and the other team members from Darjeeling also became quick friends. We chatted for sometime till rice and curry with chilies came to the table. By 10 pm I wanted to go out and face the cold for some time. After some 20 minutes watching the moon through the dark superfast clouds the cold was deadly to me. My fingers have almost gone completely numb. Back to the room which was made of wood but had umpteen numbers of small holes. I was actually enjoying the struggle and got a couple of hours sleep. Rest was managed by listening music through headphones from my mobile until it clocked 5.15 am.
Sandhakpu – Phalut – Gorkey  ( 36 km) The longest mountain walk ever on a single day.

With hot tea in hand I went out to see one of the most stunning views of my life. It was the Everest ranges. The sun was just about to rise in another 20 odd minutes. Soon ran inside to cover up with all the remaining jackets and woolen hand gloves because I know I will stay outdoors watching the Himalayan ranges for quite some time. Grabbed my camera and started walking to the nearby hill top to get a 360 degree view of the entire place. Along with other guys we reached the top to witness The glowing Himalayan ranges with the sunrise. It was special feeling.

Mt Everest Ranges

To the left the Mt Everest ranges, in the center was The Three Sisters Mountains and to the right was the Kanchenchunga family which was slowly clearing up from the mist. Others left but I stayed back. In the Mt Everest family, Lhotse, Makalu and Chomolonzo peaks were clearly visible. The Mt Everest Mountain was visible but the peak was hidden with clouds. Hard luck I waited and waited but the clouds just stayed there.

Three Sisters peaks
 Towards the Kanchenchunga, also known as “the sleeping Buddha” has got its shape now after an hour of painful waiting and I could finally see more and more peaks popping from the Pandim ranges which extended to further right and probably some from the Bhutan ranges. Ashok came by then and pointed out each and every peak. I was still staring at the Mt Everest peak to check if there was any difference but there wasn’t. I was worried about myself because If something went missing I know I will chase it another day. In a way I thought that the Everest was inviting me closer and who knows I may be on top of that one day. At least a base camp trek to Mt Everest is a sure shot on my bucket list.

Kanchenjunga Ranges

2 hours of watching the snow capped glittering Himalayan ranges was actually too short for me until I was distracted again by Ashok at 7.30am telling me that our today’s walk to Phalut was a long 21km so we have to start by 8am. So got down from the hill and by 8am we were ready by having Noodles soup at the nearby hut. If it was a clear day the views can be enjoyed till Phalut, and Kanchenchunga from there is much closer and feels like it’s just a Stone throw distance is what Ashok assured me. The guys from Darjeeling had initially planned to walk till phalut but now changed their mind to hire a land rover as some of them were in pain and not willing to walk. Hoping for the best of climate we started at 8.30am.
                                                                                                                 A billion star Lodge

 Beautiful Rhododendrons with different color palates of blue, red, orange, light violets the descend from the peak through the roads was sunny and I stopped for a change of lighter jackets.   
That’s when I met Dipankar from kolkata who just crossed me with his guide. We hit off well and tagged along for the next two days. I thought he was a solo trekker like me but he walked with his wife from Chitrey and reached sandakphu yesterday. Today she left him alone and went ahead in a land rover till phalut to wait for him. I thought he must then be an experienced trekker to enjoy walking even when his wife was travelling in a jeep but that was not the case he was trekking for the first time in his life. 

The first 8km was just green meadows with broken or dead pine trees. It was a total shift of environment from the last 3 days. By 10am we lost almost all the Himalayan views but the long rolling green hills were a pleasure to walk. Clashed with some of the groups I already met in the past days here and there and met a couple from Uk, Alice and Mark. After 2 more km the meadows just ended and we were back into the trekking trails. 
                                                           One of the India - Nepal Border Army

By 11.30 Ashok took us to a Yak shed with a small stone house where the family was producing Diary products like butter and cheese. Not many tourists or trekkers visits these places because it was off the road and not easily findable. Guides had some noodle soup and we had some raw black tea. Fresh Roxy was available there and I bottled up half a liter just for fun. The fire was easing us a bit from the cold breeze outside and we sat there for some time chatting. By 12.30 we bid goodbyes to the family and after climbing through the diversions the next two km patch was stony and slippery.
After following a long ridge for the next 1 km we were off to the roads. We still had 4 km more to reach Phalut and Dipankar was pushing hard. His guide have assisted forest department census of red pandas and we were discussing stuffs more of wildlife for the remaining walk. By 2.30pm we were nearing phalut and it became completely misty. 

My dreams of having some Himalayan views from sandakphu to phalut collapsed. There was only one Gta Guest house at Phalut and to top it all there was no rooms available. Some army personals have blocked the remaining rooms but their occupancy was not confirmed as well. We may or may not get to stay there. After waiting for another 30 minutes we had only one option left. To walk to the next stop called Gorkey which is another 17km. I was ready for anything but the only factor was I will be missing the views from Phalut tomorrow morning. Dipankar’s wife had faced the same problem and had already left to Gorkhey this morning. Not much to think about we decided to start our next leg. By 3.30pm Dipankar, myself and our guides set out through the thick mist climbing down from phalut. It was fun because all of us took the situation lightly and I always like things which go completely absurd and finding a way out is where the thrill is. 

After an hour of nonstop walk it started drizzling. The plastic covers which all of us had come to rescue. I had my rain jackets too. So everything was worn to protect the camera and bags. Rains started to pour heavily and the trail started collecting more water. We had no option but to walk through the dampening mud. I slipped a couple of times. Suddenly I was realizing that something was poking my head over the plastics. It was Hailstorm. Yahooo! I was experiencing this for the first time. Everywhere it started pouring like diamonds, what if it was real diamonds I could have travelled the whole world I thought, prolonged walk has made my thinking process a bit awful I say. The stones were nearly half an inch and some were bigger. I wanted to take some photographs and somehow took the camera out through the rain jacket and plastic covers to click some pictures and put it back quickly. I might have lost something in Phalut but I gained something new here, this is what trekking is all about, just keep your eyes open and be ready to receive what nature gifts you.


After nearly two hours we must have crossed some 8 kms. Since it was raining we couldn’t use any of the shortcuts as it was too slippery. Our presence in a way made Dipankar to not think too much about the remaining kms and the conversation kept us pushing. Another hour passed we had to have a break and stopped for some time. It was slowly getting darker and I had my headlamps ready and torches as well. Steps was built with supporting wooden twigs with an extra one inch popping out which was very dangerous if our shoe laces or pants accidently get stuck, a fall was sure so with the gloomy torch lights all of us had to be extra cautious which decreased our speeds. Dipankar was fused out and all I could hear from him was a repeated mantra called Baap re Baap. I said for a first timer you are just doing great and finally we stopped for one more break. From here we could see some lights from Gorkhey village and sounds of the river. It started lightening and we moved down. I took out the camera to record the night walk and even tried to click pictures when lightening happened, crazy stuff.
Night walk
 Finally by 8pm we reached Gorkhey and Falguni was waiting for her hubby just like in the movie Roja they were finally United. Epic ! We had rooms to stay there and went inside to sit for sometime after a long long walk of 36km. Met Soumyadeep ghosh and Soumya Bosu from Calcutta there. After freshening up all of us had dinner with some much needed Sikkim Beer called HIT but it really failed to hit me. The roxy was given to other guides. After dinner we had a campfire and it was party time with Dance and music. Nearly two hours around the camp fire finally I sang Humma Humma to sum it up and It was a fun night. By 11pm all of us were so tired it was time to sleep it off.
Dance                                                Music                                             me singing

Gorkhey – Ramam ( 8 Km)

Woke up at 6am and my ankles felt some pain from the slips yesterday, thought of going for a small walk to stretch up my body and also look around the village. Grabbed the camera and went out.  I was actually very surprised at the beauty of this place. This could be the best village I’ve crossed in the past 4 days. Yesterday night when we were walking down I had no idea that this village was actually in a valley surrounded by hills and two rivers. The gorkhey river was joining the Ramam river from Sikkim just behind the village. There is agriculture here but frequent hailstorms destroys their crops like tomato and other soft to semi liquid vegetable so they are into more solid harvest like corn and potatoes. All the other stuffs had to be bought from Rimbick by walk or horses. People here are depended mostly on trekkers and there was some 20 odd houses and most of them rent out their houses as home stays. Back to the room everybody was awake and after having tea decided to start slowly from here as todays walk was just 7km to Ramam. After freshen up and breakfast under the sun, Aalu paratha was just the best breakfast there. Dipankar, Soumyadeep and I went to the nearby Ramam River crossing an old wooden bridge which was also the border of Sikkim. One of my plans was to finally reach somewhere in Sikkim and that happened. All of us roamed around watching the river and huge pine trees bordered above the village. A deserted house was once the check post of the west Sikkim border here.
                                                            At Sikkim now                                     Dipankar & Falguni

 Back to the lodge it was again music time and everybody was playing out their best songs from mobiles through a loudspeaker. Soumya ghosh played me some beautiful Bengali music and we just had enough time to enjoy all this silently listening with a synced ambience with a Sikkim beer in hand. By 12 we had a special lunch there. Special in the sense we had ordered chicken and it was actually yummy. Before leaving the place a small viper came to say goodbye to all of us and by 1pm Dipankar, Falguni, Soumyadeep, Soumya Bosu and myself with the guides started our walk to Ramam. Now the group was big but slow. Everyone was panting hardly at the start itself so ashok and I decided to move forward and catch them later.

It was like a country walk because we have lost nearly 1500 meters from phalut and the first 3 kms really connected and remembered ooty in every sense. The trees and plants were so familiar and after that we entered into the forest trail for the remaining walk till Ramam.  We were quick and with just 1 break and few photographs we were nearing Ramam.
Ashok always had some kinds of stories and experiences to share and there wasn’t any dull moment while he was nearby. Reached Ramam by 3pm and the place were not occupied by anybody else apart from our group. Kept the bags inside and waited for the rest while having tea.
 By 4pm one by one reached and it started drizzling. Dipankar was the only man who was making full use of the 30 rs rain cover everyday which he bought before the trek. From there we could see small villages of Sikkim on the opposite mountains. Mobile connectivity was finally active and there was 3g also. I had a chance to book my flights back to Chennai from this point and started planning out the return dates. These guys had their train after two days and they will be walking a short stretch tomorrow till Sepi and hire a taxi to go somewhere else the next day. My initial plan was to walk till Rimbick for a full circle trek and I decided to do the remaining 15km by starting tomorrow early by 7 and reaching rimbik before 11am. From there It was possible to to get a shared jeep to reach Darjeeling by evening. If everything went by this plan I can reach Darjeeling tomorrow evening and stay the night there.  I had booked the flight tickets to Chennai day after tomorrow from Bagdogra. After finalizing everything we started to party that night with loads of beers and unlimited Hindi and bengali chatting which I had no clue of what on earth they were talking about. Dinner was served with different varieties of simple local food and along with a creepy guest. One photograph from that dim lit house had a shadow behind falguni. Probably a ghost Haha!! By 10 pm all of us were pretty much boozed up and one of our guides started his experience about the Living ghosts in these ranges. This story however made Falguni who was trying to sleep in the nearby room to safely reach us sheepishly refusing to be in that room alone. By 11pm i returned to my bed for a tight sleep because I desperately wanted it for the next day’s long walk.

Ramam – Srikola – Rimbick ( 15km) Further Drive to Darjeeling 

                       From left : Soumya Bosu, Soumyadeep, Gazen, Anish, Dipanker, Falguni

At 6am I was having tea at the small fireplace inside the kitchen deciding our routes for today with ashok. He has already called up the jeep driver to book a seat for me from Rimbik and the last jeep leaves at 11.30am to Darjeeling. 15 km required at least 4 hours through the mountain. I started packing my stuffs and got ready by 7am. Even though it was just two days, I had a memorable time tagging along with the wonderful couple Dipankar & Falguni and Soumyadeep and Soumya Bosu. By 7.30 left the team hoping to meet them some other time we walked ahead through the small trail and Ramam village extended for a while with more houses and then through their agricultural lands. On the way there was lots of strawberries on both sides and we picked up a handful tasting it on the way. 

Some kind of stupas and small rock cut temples showed up after every other km. Since there wasn’t much climbing involved today we were actually very fast. Within two hours we could see Sepi on the opposite hills but it required to walk down to the valley reaching the Ramam River and again climb up. The river crossing had a curved bridge while the flow of ramam river was mild. One more km to reach sepi from there it was a steep climb. 

By almost 10am we reached the road which connects Srikhola to the right and Rimbick to the left. I still had just 4 km to end the 92kms full circle trek around Singalila National park and I was quite happy and sad at the same time. Ashok was a terrific partner and his stories never seem to end. This stretch is now in construction with new tar roads are being laid. I knew I was back into cement civilization as more and more concrete houses showed up. Deep down I could see the Ramam hydel power station which merges with Sikkim border. 

 At 10.45 we reached Rimbick and booked the jeep and confirmed the side window seats for a 5hr long drive. Ashok will get down at Maneybanjan and I asked him to take me to some special hotel for Thai food. Bought some Nepali stuffs from the market for remembrance and by 12 our jeep took off, the drive back through hundreds of mountains was feeling like as if I was really leaving something behind. We had a stop at Dhotrey which is also another entry point to this trek from the east. Ashok took me to one more hotel to try their Tibetan delicacy called Momo. My solo attempt has shaped up tremendously well and opened new barriers and couldn’t have asked anything more. Reached Maneybanjan and Ashok got down there with big hugs asking me to visit the place once again in November to catch some clear views of Mt Everest. Yes someday with a land rover till Sandakphu would be nostalgic. Straight away went to Darjeeling. I could have turned right from Ghoom to Siliguri but  just didn’t want to leave the hills that evening and wanted to taste some special Chinese or Thai cuisines and if possible visit one or two places around Darjeeling. After checking inside a cozy room my mind changed, I became tired all of a sudden I just wanted to sleep but not without trying out some popular Tibetan food like Thukpa,shaphalay a Tibetan bread which is stuffed with meat. Next day morning took a jeep to siliguri and reached Bagdogra airport by 12pm.

                                   Darjeeling Mountain Railways
 My direct flight to Chennai had one stop at Kolkata finally reaching Chennai by 7pm. Now that I’ve experienced what a solo trek through the Himalayan ranges meant I am definitely looking forward to make more such expeditions to the Himalayas soon.

  Author    : Anish vk
Clicked by : Anish
   Team: Anish, Ashok
Place  :  Sandhakpu, Phalut, Rimbick
Km Covered      : 5days || 92Kms


  1. Trekking experience through North Eastern Himalayas and Nepal Sikkim boarder is like a story any one could read this travelogue. In our 120 crore population few ones are getting these kind of also superb.Carry-on.

  2. Etta powlich. Jus one more masterpiece from you and excellent writing..

  3. Superb Etta.. I really need to know how to pronounce the places names correctly. lol.. :)

    1. Thank You Simi. Well i could help you with one now. It goes like
      Sandh- dhaak- Phuuu, Complicated stuff naa?? ;)