Saturday, 7 November 2015

Rupin Pass Trek - Oct 2015

We planned 2015 puja in the lap of Himalaya, Rupin Pass, one of the most scenic and beautiful trek route in India. Rupin Pass was earlier known for traditional Shepherd and sheep crossing path from Kinnaur district to Uttarakhand.
Unfortunately 28 days before our journey, I faced a foot tendon injury and doctor asked for 1 month rest. Inspite of the injury, my parents and family always encourage me for the trip and with their wish and support I was able to complete the trek successfully.

Day 1 [DEHRADOON to DHAULA (1580m) - 210km – 9-10 hrs]:

We onboard Train from Howrah on 16th Oct and reach Dehradun on 18th Oct morning. Our Guide cum Trek organizer Samsher was waiting outside of Dehradun station with a cab. From Dehradun, it took 10 long hours to reach Dhaula. On our way, we crossed known town like Mussorie and Mori. After Mori the road is really beautiful with Rupin River aside and through pine forest. Every trekker for Har-ki Doon and Rupin Pass needs to take permit from Netwar.

Day 2 [Dhaula (1560 M/5119 ft) to Ali khad via Sewa (2040 M/6693 ft) – 7 hours walk]:

This is a full day trek through some remote village and bare fields. In few places the trail is really risky with loose small boulders under your feet. There are few apple trees on the way to Sewa but unfortunately there were no apple left in those tree. In the way to Sewa, we got some beautiful red grass. Local people prepare chapatti with that. 

In Sewa, there is a beautiful temple of ‘Poku devata’. Local people gather for a small festival in late Aug/early Sept near this temple. 

Sewa Temple

We step forward towards Goasangu and pitch our tent in the river bed. The place called as ‘Ali Khad’ and it is around 30 minutes down hill from Sewa.

Our teant at Day 1 @ Ali Khad

Day 3 [Ali Khad to Jhaka (2650 m/8694 ft) – 8 hours walk]:

One of the longest and laborious day with long steep uphill walk in narrow trails. We crossed village like Goasangu, Bawta and Jiskun and reached Jhaka in late afternoon. Jhaka is the home village of our guide Samsher and he kept us in his own house. There are 2 big apple tree full of apples in his house. This is the 1st time I saw apple in tree. We spend a good late afternoon mostly on the apple tree J In the late evening we went to visit near by Dara temple which is one of the oldest temple in that region.

Samshe's house with apple tree in the backend

Day 4 [Jhaka to Burash kandi (3450 m) – 5 hours walk]:

The path to Saruwas thatch was a relatively easier one with gentle walks in between climbs/descends. After few km, we crossed the rupin river for the 1st time and follow the right side for next few days. 

Team crossing Rupin river to go to the right of riverbank

In May the Rupin River become frozen and trekkers walk along the river bed after certain km. But in this time of the season there is no snow and we had to walk over the mountain ridge.

 After couple of km suddenly the valley opens and we find snow peaks in front of us. We crossed Saruwas thatch and pitch our tent in Burash Kandi. This place is well known for Himalayan Bear and our crew members warned us not to go far in the evening or night.

Out Tenting place at Burash kandi 

Day 5 [Burash kandi to Dhantaras thatch (lower water fall - 3560 m/ 11680 ft) – 3 hours]:

Undoubtedly the Easiest path in the entire trip with some easy 3-4 hours walk without any climb. Certainly after 2-3 hours of walk a beautiful meadow opens up in front of us. The camp site is located at the end of this meadow and just below a waterfall from where Rupin River formed. We spend the entire 2nd half playing cricket. It was fun as well as good acclimatization technique.

Lower water fall camp

Day 6 [Lower Waterfall to Rata Pheri (4250 m/ 13944 ft) via Upper water fall (4000 m/13124 ft) – 8 hours]:

From lower water fall it is a steep 3-4 hours climb through rock cliff and snow patches until we reach the upper waterfall. This part is punctuated with some real scary and risky, edge of the cliff walks. From upper waterfall, we saw the valley deep down below, that's where we had started the day's trek.

crossing Snow bridge

Rupin Waterfall
View from Upper Waterfall

Instead of staying in Upper waterfall our guide decided to go further till Rata Pheri. Rata Pheri in local language means Land of Red Rock. During May-June Upper waterfall, Pata pheri and Pass is fully covered with snow and most of the trekkers opt ‘rata-pheri’ as their campsite to make pass climb easy. We also go with the same approach as our overall team health condition was superb.

Rata-pheri campsite

Day 7 [Rupin Pass day (4650 m/ 15256 ft) - Rata Pheri to Sangla Kand via Ronti Gad – 10 hours]:

We wake up early on the pass day and had some light breakfast. Yesterday evening our guide took us near the pass to show the path and difficulty. We are mentally prepared for the final accent. Soon we identified that it was much tougher than what we anticipated. We crossed some big bolder zone and then came just below the pass. I could see Rupin 100 mtr above but the path was 70+ degree steep loose boulder zone. Every step requires a full lung air and you feel as your lung may explode any time. In May-June this part is covered with snow and guides used to fix rope and the trekkers follow the footsteps and rope to climb to Rupin. We faced some more challenging task as the slope was 70-75 degrees and boulders were loose and continuously falling. After some 3 hours tough climb we reached Rupin pass. It was amazing as the other side opens up with Kinnaur-Kailash range. Surprisingly the other side of the pass was full of snow and we had some fantastic moments there.

Rupin pass final steep

Subhra is almost there at the top

After spending some 2 hours at the top we were told to decent as the weather condition was getting worse. We had some snow slides and snow walks before we reach Ronti Gad in the noon.

We had our lunch at the lap of snow peak. We were with high energy after lunch and we decided to decent further till Sangla kand. 

Lunch near Ronti Gad

We crossed some beautiful mountain curves keeping Kinnaur-Kailash top in front and reached Sangla Kand in the evening. According to the locals and guide, Sangla Kand is the upper ridge extension of Sangla town where villagers come with their shepherd and cows. This place is very beautiful and remind stone age with color.

Sangla Kand Campsite

Day 8 [Sangla Kand to Sangla - (2679 m / 8790 ft) – 3 hours]:

We had a campfire last night and all of us became bit sad in the morning as we need to go back to the so-called civilization. But soon, our sadness changed into charm as we start playing cricket with our team and porters. We had some 3-4 hours playing sessions and then start for Sangla around 11 AM. 

We along with our Guide and porters
This is the most scenic route of the entire trek with some colorful tree and apple gardens. In this season (Sept-Oct) entire Sangla range is full of apple and we found lot of apples in the fields. On the way we found ‘Akhrote’ and ‘peech’ tree too. After 3-4 hours walk we saw Baspa River and Sangla village.

colorful Sangla Kand
never say goodbye

Our guide arranged our final day accommodation at ‘Sangla Resort’ and next day they went back and went for Shimla after visiting Chitkul.


Important Information:
1.       Dehradoon to Dhoula cab charge ~ 7K
2.       Need Permit from Netwar
3.       No shop/ATM at Dhoula till Sangla
4.       No Network from Dhoula till Sangla (only BSNL network works in Jiskun and Jhaka)

Our Guide and crew members:
Organizer cum Guide: Samsher Negi - One of the most helpful person I ever meet (Mob: +91 9459587843)
Assistant Guide: Dinesh - Most close to all of us and helped us in all critical phase of the trek
Cook: Narandra - His cooking hands are awesome 
And 5 Porters - They played cricket well :)

For More Snaps, please check below flickr link:

Rupin Pass Album

For Videos, please check following youtube links:

Rupin Pass summit
Team at Rupin Top
Getting down from Rupin pass
Beautiful Sangla Kand

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Zuluk Nathang in Old Silk Route

If someone would like to stay very close to nature and enjoy the silence away from the din and bustle of the city then Zuluk-Nathang (old Silk Route) are the places. This is an offbeat tourist destination getting popular in last few years. This place is well connected from Gangtok (3 hours), Siliguri (NJP/Bagdogra – 7+ hours) or Kalimpong (4 hours). You need to take permits from Rangoli, East Sikkim to entire this route. No Foreigners are allowed to entire this place due to army base camps and international borders (Bhutan and China).

NJP-Mankhim-Aritar-Phadamchen-Zuluk-Nathang-GAngtok Map
Our itinerary:
Day 1: NJP to Mankhim (near Aritar) 
Day 2: Mankhim to Padamchen (near Zuluk) via Rangoli and Lingtum  
Day 3: Phadamchen to Nathang via Zuluk and Lungthung 
Day 4: Nathang to Gangtok via Old Baba Mandir, Kupup, New Baba Mandir, Changu

Day 1 (Mankhim):
We have arranged our trip without any trip organizer/group, rather we went with one driver who stay in Rangoli and traveled this route multiple times. Barnabesh, a gentle and decent person, was our driver cum guide cum organizer.

Mankhim & Aritar Lake (Lampokhari Lake: 4600ft):
Normally, Silk Route travelers stay 1st night in Ichhe or Sillery Gaon. But we had visited this place earlier, so moved to a new place called Mankhim. We stayed at Kanchanjunga Mirror Home Stay. This is located near Aritar lake view point. Most surprisingly this remote home stay has all modern facilities like western bathroom with geyser, good room conditions with new floor carpets and clean bed covers.
Our Home Stay at Mankhim - Kanchanjunga Mirror Home Stay

With Lalit Rai, owner of our home stay
The evening was spent with a nice camp fire arranged by our Driver Barnabesh and home stay owner Lalit bhai.
CampFire at Mankhim

You can visit Aritar Lake which is 15 minutes’ drive from here. On the way there is a Monastery as well.
Aritar Lake

Monastery near Aritar
Day 2 (Phadamchen):
We took permit from Rangoli and then move forward to Zuluk. Today our destination is Padamchen. We opt this place as Zuluk is bit populated this days and we would like to stay in less populated place. After all formalities we started from Rangoli and in less than 1 hours we reached a beautiful village called Lingtum, one of the cleanest village of Sikkim. Then we crossed a beautiful falls called Kuekhola Falls.

Kuekhola Falls
We reached Phadamchen in another 1 hour. It is a quaint village enroute to Zuluk. You can take an afternoon walk to nearby localities. They will welcome you with mist, fresh air and calmness.

with Local ladies
Day 3:
Zuluk or Dzuluk (10000 ft.):
Starting from Padamchen you reach Zuluk in 30 minutes. Zuluk is the most popular place in the entire route with ~60 families and few home stays. Unfortunately when we reached, Zuluk was full of clouds and mist and visibility was very less.

Zuluk village
Lungthung (13000 ft.) & Thambi View Point:
Lungthung is around 1 hour up-hill drive from Zuluk. This place has few homes and 1-2 home. This place is one of the most beautiful place in the entire route with zig-zag roads in one side and kanchanjunga view on the other side.  You can take some spectacular snaps here. Sun rise from Thambi view point near Lungthung should be a must see point in your plan.

Zig-zag roads near Zuluk
Sun Rise from Thambi View point

Kanchanjunga from Thambi

There is another beautiful lake near (5 minutes walk) Lungthung-Nathang high way. This lake is known as Strawberry Lake and surrounded by mountain and mountain reflection on the water.

Strawberry Lake
Nathang or Gnathang (13,500 ft):
This place is fully covered with Inidian Army and this is a level 2 Armey base camp near Indo-China border. 

Our Home Stay at nathang

cards at night @ Nathang Home Stay
From Nathang you can visit few nearby places. Few of the attractions are:
Tukla Valley
KalPokhari or India Lake
Nag Temple and Adi Baba Mandir
Kupup Lake or Elephant Lake
Kupup village
World’s highest Golf course (Yak Golf Course) near Kupup
Ice hockey field near Kupup
Momencho Lake

Monastery in Nathang Valley
Kupup or Elehant lake

Other side of Kupup Lake

Kala Pokhri or India Lake

Kupup Village

Kupup lake view on the next day

Blue bright clear sky from Kupup village

Kupup Check Post

Ice Hockey Ground

World's Highest Golf Course

In Worl records 

You can go to Lasa (permit is tough to get)

On the way to Gangtok, an unknown lake

another heavenly lake en-route to Gangtok

Frozen Changu Lake

Changu Lake - another view

Important Information:

1.       This place does not have any hotels, home stays are only options
2.       Package trip includes car, fooding and lodging in home stay
3.       Permit (from Rangoli) required to entire this route - 1 PP size photo and ID card Xerox required, Keep the original ID card with you too. Foreigners are not allowed to visit this place
4.       Winter is very chill with frequent snowfalls and continuous -ve temperature. Carry warm clothes accordingly
5.       No Mobile connection in Zuluk-Nathang range (BSNL has some connectivity), No internet
6.       Keep medicines with you – No medical store
7.       No ATM

Our Driver and Home stay details:

Driver Barnabesh (9832368745): He took sole responsibility and arrange everything for us superbly
Manhkhim Home Stay: Kanchanjunga Mirror Home Stay (Lalit Rai)
Phadamchen Home Stay: Golden Dream Home Stay (Nima)
Nathang Home Stay: Sun Sheat Home Stay (K B Pradhan)

For more Snaps visit my fliker website:

Contact me for any details.