Home > East Sikkim, FAM (Familiarization) Tour, FAM Trip, General, Lampokhri Festival FAM, Sikkim > Non seasonal snow on Sikkim’s Silk Route

Non seasonal snow on Sikkim’s Silk Route

Sikkim’s Silk Route

Encountering a non seasonal snow

See also: Familiarization (FAM) Tour of Lampokhri Festival and Silk Route, East Sikkim

“But from Rongli they climbed steeply out of the tropical forest into the zone of flowering rhododendrons…..To flower lovers, like Howard Bury, Mallory and Wollaston, these were perpetual delight. They were all the more appreciated because they would be almost the last sign of luxuriance and grace they would behold before they to face the austerities and stern realities of rock and ice and snow, and the frosts of Mount Everest.”

Sir Francis Younghusband, The Epic of Mount Everest

Zig Zag roads beyond Zuluk, Silk Route, East Sikkim

Zig Zag roads beyond Zuluk, Silk Route, East Sikkim

Malory and his fellow mountaineers followed the route through Rongli and then across the Jelep La and on wards to Tibet to reach the base of Mount Everest in 1921, 22 and 24

Almost a century later we started off along the same route in the dead of night, but our destination was not Mount Everest but Sikkim’s Silk Route.

Zuluk, Silk Route, East Sikkim

Zuluk, Silk Route, East Sikkim

The Silk Road or Silk Route was an ancient network of trade routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East from China to the Mediterranean Sea. [Source: Wikipedia]

The original silk route connected China with Mediterranean and past north of the Himalayas, but there were several other routes, which connected the Indian subcontinent with the main silk route. One such route passed through North Bengal and East Sikkim and entered Tibet via Nathu La or Jelep La.

In recent years, this area has developed into a major tourist spot, with thousand of tourist thronging the area for spectacular high altitude lakes, amazing views of Kanchenjunga and the feel of the ancient trade route.

Panoramic view of Zuluk Village, Silk Route, East Sikkim

Panoramic view of Zuluk Village, Silk Route, East Sikkim

But the history of the Silk Route (also known as the Old Silk Route) in East Sikkim, is not restricted to the silk trade only. The high altitude rugged mountains was also the battleground between the Tibetans and the British in 1888.

Thambi View Point, Silk Route, East Sikkim

Thambi View Point, Silk Route, East Sikkim

This was also the route, which Mallory and his fellow mountaineers took, during the Mount Everest expeditions of 1921, 22 and 24.

Mobilography, Silk Route, East Sikkim

Mobilography, Silk Route, East Sikkim

Along the snow trail, with a yak in company, Silk Route, East Sikkim

Along the snow trail, with a yak in company, Silk Route, East Sikkim

Rongli & Aritar in East Sikkim and Pedong & Ichegaon in North Bengal and a few more places have become lunch pads for this high altitude tour.

There are a different types of package depending upon the travellers time and budget. Starting from a single day hurricane tour to three day two night leisurely package ending at Gantok.

A 3 day & 2 nights package of Silk Route, East Sikkim can be as follows:

  • Start from Rongli & Aritar (East Sikkim) or Pedong & Ichegaon (North Bengal)
  • Quekhola Falls
  • Phadamchen (Night halt 1)
  • Zuluk
  • Thambi View Point
  • Lungthung Sunrise Point
  • Nathang Valley (Night halt 2)
  • Old Baba Mandir
  • Menmecho Lake
  • Jelep La
  • Tukla Valley
  • Kupup / Elephant Lake
  • Kupup Village (Golf & polo ground and ice hockey rink)
  • Nathu La
  • New Baba Mandir
  • Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake
  • Gantok (night halt 3)

I visited the Silk Route as part of a Familiarization (FAM) Tour organized by the Mangaldeep Resort, Rongli and Supreme Tours & Travels, Kolkata, as part of the Lampokhri Festival at Aritar.

On 15 April 2016, Koushik of Supreme Tours & Travels started off from the Mangaldeep Resort in Rongli at 4:00 am. It had rained all night in Rongli and we expected snow in the upper reaches of the Silk Route.

Our driver drove us through complete darkness and negotiated every hair – pin bend with remarkable precision. We passed Phadamchen, when it was still dark and reached Zuluk just before sunrise.

Lungthung Sunrise Point, with Kanchenjunga barely visible

Lungthung Sunrise Point, with Kanchenjunga barely visible

Zuluk served as our breakfast stop and we did spent some time in the small but beautiful village, which had a number of home stays. After Zuluk the road ascends steeply following a series of hair pin bends. This complex series of meandering roads is locally known as bhulbhulaiya, meaning the maze.

Panoramic snowscape, Silk Route, East Sikkim

Panoramic snowscape, Silk Route, East Sikkim

As we ascended via the bhulbhulaiya towards the Thambi view point we were greeted by patches of snow. By the time we reached the Thambi View Point, the patches of snow have grown considerably but the road was still snow free.

Yaks gazing along the Silk Route

Yaks gazing along the Silk Route

Thambi View Point, named after the civil engineer, who constructed the road, offers a extraordinary view of the Kanchenjunga and its sister peaks. But the view of Zuluk along with the meandering road with its innumerable hair – pin bends is no less an attraction. Sadly the summer haze obstructed all views of the snow peaks.

About a few hundred meters from the Thambi View Point it was just snow , snow and snow all the way, something quiet unlikely in mid April

Car could no longer make their way through the deep snow, so Koushik and I decided to walk to the Lungthung Sunrise Point, about a kilo meter away. By the time the sun have gained altitude and it was nothing better than enjoying the snow under the bright sunlight.

The snow was less than ankle deep was walking was not much of a problem and we continued our walk in the company of gazing yaks and occasional military personnel guarding the boarder areas.

Sadly the haze prevented any good views of the snow peaks from the Lungthung Sunrise Point. Finally we retraced our steps back to the car and headed back to Rongli. A non seasonal snow prevented us from covering the whole of the Silk Route but still we returned happy and with a dream of coming back again and exploring the entire Silk Route of Sikkim.

Necessary Information:

  • The Silk Route can only be done on a hired vehicle and can accommodate a max of 8 person per vehicle. Cost amounts to about Rs 3800 per day inclusive of drivers expenses.
  • Home stays are available en route and costs amounts to about Rs 1000 per head per day and includes all four meals.
  • A permit is required so please carry a photo identity and a copy of passport size photo. The hotels will do all the necessary arrangements.
  • For Silk Route Package booking contact
  1. May 4, 2016 at 12:34 AM

    Its too good…………….really amazing…..

  2. May 4, 2016 at 1:35 AM

    Had been there…3 years ago. I absolutely agree about the stunning beauty of Silk Route…🙂

    • May 5, 2016 at 9:30 PM

      Yes Maniparna, I need to go back again and complete the whole circuit

  3. May 6, 2016 at 6:53 AM

    The Zuluk village sadly seems devoid of any tree cover. i was almost hoping to see more of Himalayan forests around this region.

    • May 6, 2016 at 12:59 PM

      Thanks for pointing it out, yes the Himalayas are loosing their tree cover, tourism should be more systematically planned. The area along the silk route does have considerable tree cover and it needs to be preserved.

  4. May 6, 2016 at 11:46 AM

    Zig zag road is too beautiful…

    • May 6, 2016 at 1:00 PM

      It is really beautiful, in fact more beautiful than the photo. During my visit there was lot of haze, the photo didn’t come well

  5. May 9, 2016 at 7:48 AM

    Really very pretty, I loved the curvy roads with a blanket of snow on them 👍

    • May 9, 2016 at 8:08 AM

      Alok the Silk Route in Sikkim is really beautiful, but the snow prevented us from completing the circuit.

  6. May 30, 2016 at 3:59 PM

    A roadside junction Thambi View Point is very close for tourists planning to visit Dzuluk. Located at a height of 11,200 feet, Thambi View Point offers one of the most precious views of the mount Kanchenjunga.

    At a distance of 14 kms, from Dzuluk, ideally it should take not more than 30 minutes if you are hiring a car. Thambi View Point is also famous for the road on which it is located better known to tourists as Bhulbhulaiya.

    Locally, this road is famous for 30 hairpin turns and offers a magnificent view of the surrounding foothills.

    The road which hosts Thambi View Point has been named after the Civil Engineer who had constructed the zig zag road. The road is also visible on the way to Dzuluk.

    Situated at an altitude of 11,200 feet, this joint is a must visit for tourists who would like to enjoy the magnificence of Himalayan foothills.
    The destination is very close to Dzuluk and suddenly opens up to Mt kanchenjunga through a zig zag road which is locally named as Bhulbhulaiya. Famous for its 30 hairpin turns, this is a roadside viewpoint which is a pssing by destination.

    • May 30, 2016 at 4:09 PM

      Thank you Pradhan Ji for providing the details of Thambi View Point, I really need to get back again to witness the sun rise over Kanchenjunga from Thambi View Point and cover the whole of Silk Route.

  7. July 29, 2016 at 4:48 PM

    I love it how you provide all the information with dates and background stories. But i wanna know all the pictures you posted here are the raw pictures (without any enhancer ) or finished pictures.

    • July 29, 2016 at 7:34 PM

      Thanks Rahul for the words of appreciation. Regarding the photos, you can’t up;oad raw photos in a website. I shoot raw photos and edit them convert them to jpg and upload them.

      Three of the photos in this article are panorama shots ie it consists of a series of shots stitched together using photoshop. I try to use editing software as less as possible but I do use them.

  8. Oupamya Banerjee
    September 9, 2016 at 10:07 PM

    Just a fan o u sir…. Ur blogs r awesome… And photographs are also nyc…

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