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)

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