I had booked a backup in Kanchanjungha Express and took a tiring day journey but in Siliguri greeted by welcome rain and had a good night sleep and get ready for next day journey to Sikkim in a fresh mind and body.
My driver Bhawani was late; he arrived almost around 9.00am when he was supposed to reach at 7.00am, the reason being last evening rain that triggered number of slides and blockage. Bhawani was a nice young man, drives a Sumo owned by Gopal Pradhan,. Our journey started for Sillary Gaon and Silary is in WB and the road goes through normal NH31 till Sevok, takes NH31A towards Gangtok and take right fork towards kalimpong and from Kalimpong towards the road to Reshi, you would get a completely unpaved road, even difficult to recognize unless someone tells you at your left, gone through dense forest to Silary. Its 5km unpaved road, that forest department doesn’t allow to be paved. This is simply out of the world place without electricity and dense forest all around. I saw a few snaps taken from there 2 weeks back and believe me, I never have seen such a long mountain range starting from peaks in Eastern Bhutan till Nepal in almost a 180 degree view. Even if I could see 50% of what the snap showed me, it would have been my experience of viewing longest Himalayan range ever. Unfortunately it was one of the wettest days in my travel, not even distance of a foot was visible but still the ambience was awesome, you feel connected so much to nature. Dilip Tamang, the person owns the resort is an excellent person, we received a very warm welcome and the guest house, so remotely located is very nicely maintained, foods are delicious and most importantly it’s just being located opposite ridge of Gangtok, you would get full signal of all the cell phones, datacards, excellent place to work from home, only if I could manage a solar charger for my Laptop. Anyway I would be back there and next time would stay just 3/4 days in that place only. Reshi is ok, Aritar is good, Zuluk is better but Silary is out of the world, I don’t want to compare but can’t help, go and feel the place before it’s too crowded.
Entry of Silary Gaon:
Woke up very early but its all rain everywhere with very dark outside. Heard we can’t start for Zuluk early as its heavily raining there and visibility is lesser than theminimum required for driving. We enjoyed the breakfast with ‘luchi-Alurdom’ and started around 10 in morning when visibility improves slightly. Gone to Renok and then Rangoli where the permit needs to be done for entering the old silk route to Zuluk. You just need one copy of photo and one photo Id like Passport/Voter I Card to get itfrom SDO Office at Rangpo. Bhawani did that for us, we took a cup of tea and ready for real ascent. Roads till Rangoli would be around 5K ft but it starts winding up justafter that and our next destination Zuluk was 9200ft. The roads through Lingtham (permit was checked for first time here), Padamchen to Zuluk is very less traveled andquite good in Sikkim’s standard. You would enjoy the nature at its best all through. We reached Gopal Pradhan’s Dilmaya Retreat around 4.00 in afternoon with lots of photo stops. All wooden guest house was nice, with no geysers but surprisingly with one room heater in it, we loved it in that temperature. Food was good, welcome has enough warmth but still I missed the simplicity of Silary here, may be the place is being commercialized and I could see the reservation book of Gopal Pradhan, almost till June 2nd week the Guest house is completely booked. There is no fixed charge for room/ food and car, it’s completely as you can manage kind of. So remember bargain is the key here. I paid Rs.2500/- per day for a big car where as I was asked Rs. 3500/- per day and I saw in register even people booked same route with Rs. 4000/- per day. If you go for a sunrise trip (which you must go in a clear weather) you have to pay Rs.900/- extra. But again if anybody is keen on Himalayan Sunrise, remember your time would be in Oct Mid to Dec Mid when Monsoon receded, atmosphere has least dust particles, December Fog/Haze hasn’t yet reached Indian subcontinent and Sun is other side of Equator and rises from Southern side as Sunrise never be same when you see the reflection in Southern wall of Himalayas and sun rises from Northern side of Equator. All the best sunrise shots in Himalayas are taken in those two months.
As usual it was just spending Rs.900/- for us but doesn’t worth it and visibility was poor and there were huge clouds surrounding Kanchanjungha. If you want to see Kanchanjungha closely may be Pelling/Kaluk in West Sikkim or Singhik in North Sikkim is the place to see but if you want the whole range, you must have to come Eastern Sikkims like Silary or Zuluk, amazing and unhindered view from 10k ft with the whole range visible in front of you. I could clearly understand what a large massif can be visible from the region in a cloudless day. Also note the Thambi view point would give you a much better view than the so called Sunrise Point where visibility angle is much lower. We came back, got some delicious breakfast and then start for Old Silk route covering that amazing winding roads, Nathang Valley, Tukla Valley, Kupup, Old Baba Mandir, Young Husband Track, where you would find the famous sign board showing Lhasa as 520km and the same route Atish Dipankar took while going to Lhasa through the famous pass Jelep La. It’s out of bound for civilians unless you can manage the permission through some army contacts. In Sherathang (where the road to Nathula forks) the India-China Border Trade has started and you would find lots of Chinese vehicles with their goods in this side of the border. From Kupup to Sherathang to Changu it’s almost going through the snow bound roads and we faced frequent snow falls too on the road. From Changu to Gangtok, due to road widening work, roads are pathetic, slides in every 200 to 500 mtrs and dozers are in action every where. Very tricky and delicate sections in between where you find BRO is watching the shooting stones and quickly ask you to cross the region, quite scary to me. Gopal Pradhan decided not to entertain any more Gangtok drop till monsoon is over after our journey and decided to call those who already booked; to change the itinerary.
Young Husband Track:
India-China Border Trade:
Way to Gangtok: