The historical old Silk Route which once connected from India with Tibet. Till the first half of 20th century before the Chinese invaded Tibet, this Old Silk Route was used heavily to trade silk, fur and wool between Tibet and India, and hence such name of the route. On the Indian side, the Silk route starts and goes through places like Rhenock, Rongli, Zuluk and northward to Nathang valley and Kupup. Finally Jelepla Pass was used to reach Tibet. But since 1962, Jelepla Pass has been closed and now the official border in between India and China in this area is Nathula Pass.
Nestling in the Himalayan mountains, the state of Sikkim is characterised by mountainous terrain. Almost the entire state is hilly, with an elevation ranging from 280 metres (920 ft) to 8,586 metres (28,169 ft). The summit of Kangchenjunga—the world’s third-highest peak—is the state’s highest point, situated on the border between Sikkim and Nepal.For the most part, the land is unfit for agriculture because of the rocky, precipitous slopes. However, some hill slopes have been converted into terrace farms.
Mankhim is the hilltop adjacent to the popular destination of Aritar, in the village of Dalapchand under the Rongli Sub-Division of Eastern Sikkim. Mankhim offers a panoramic view of Mt. Kanchenjungha and the emerald green “boot-shaped” Lampokhri Lake at the same time – this incredible view is not available from Aritar. In Mankhim, there is a small temple on the hilltop, a few homestays and a monastery, just a walk away. If you want to spend some days in complete isolation from the city’s din with fabulous views of Mt. Kanchanjungha, then Mankhim is a great choice. Bird watching, paddle boating and nature walking are other great activities here.
Nathang Valley, also known as Gnathang Valley is popularly called the “ Ladakh of the East India, is a high-altitude plateau in East Sikkim. Located at an altitude of 13,500 feet above sea level and flanked by mountains on all sides, this is a remote valley with a meandering stream crisscrossing it. Nathang is the highest location to stay in the Indian part of the Old Silk Route. It is one of the remotest Tibetan habitations in Himalayas. Nathang Valley usually remains covered with thick snow from January to April. The long four-month of sub-zero temperature makes the valley a cold desert and one of the most beautiful parts of Himalayas. Nathang Valley is the most scenic destination in the whole of Old Silk Route. There is a local Hindu temple, a small Buddhist monastery, few houses, some migratory birds, a stream snaking through the valley and a small bridge over the stream in the distance – Nathang is as close as you can get to paradise. The sunrise points of Lungthung and Gyamochen are just 5 kms from Nathang valley. The whole of Mt. Kanchenjungha range with all its allied peaks can be seen from here. If you want to see the longest view of the entire Eastern Himalayas, with Bhutan, China, the hills of Bengal including Darjeeling, the entire Mt. Kanchenjungha range and meandering River Bramhaputra across China and entering India, then you have to trek uphill for 10 minutes to reach the Eagle’s Nest Bunker. This is an abandoned Bunker of the army and located strategically on a hill top with a 360 degree complete view of the Himalayas. You can still see bullet marks in the bunker walls, which bears the testimony of the Indo-China war.
However, from other spots in this Old Silk Route like Zuluk or Padmachen, it takes around 1.5 hours to reach the sunrise points. You can take local sightseeing tours to Zuluk (24 kms away). The panoramic view of winding roads across Zuluk (also spelt as Dzuluk) with 32 turns is an interesting sight. Lungthung – Dhupidara also has a great view of Mt. Kanchenjungha and so does Thambi View Point and Tukla Valley. From Nathang, you can also move ahead following the GN Road and reach Kupup Lake (also known as Elephant Lake or Bitan Cho) at 15,600 feet above sea level. Some of the most sacred and scenic lakes like Jorepokri, Green lake, Changu lake all fall within 25 kms of Nathang and can be covered in local sightseeing tours. Gangtok is around 60 kms from Nathang Valley. There is the Old Baba Mandir (which was the original bunker of Baba Harbhajan) near Kupup Lake. There is an interesting belief about this temple. Baba Harbhajan was an Indian soldier who died near the Nathula Pass. He is revered by the soldiers of the Indian army, who have built a shrine in his honor. Baba is believed to have granted favours to the soldiers, and guard each one in the inhospitable terrain. There is a new Baba Mandir near Changu (Tsomgo Lake) dedicated to Baba Harbhajan too. You can also trek to Changala View Point around 4 kms from Nathang to experience one of the most mesmerizing views of River Bramhaputra meeting River Teesta and the vast plains of China, Bengal and Bhutan. Bird and Butterfly watching in summer, when the valley is drenched in colours of all shades is another activity to take up. In October and November Nathang Valley exudes different colours during the day. You can witness this change of colour over the valley sitting in your homestay throughout the day. If you are a food fanatic then you can try local Yak Milk Cheese (Chupri) and some other interesting traditional Tibetan Yak herder’s dishes.
Gyamochen and Lungthung:- The sunrise view of Gyamochen and Lungthung are presently five kms from Nathang valley. The total of Mt. Kanchenjungha variety with the entire its associated peaks are able to be seen from there. The sun rises above Bhutan, it clears the entire of Bhutan and parts of China with its before time rays plus reaches Mt. Kanchenjungha to revolve it cherry and you set in the center to spectator the delightful known “creation.” This wonderful understanding preserve is witnessed from those dawn places.
Eagle’s Nest Bunker:- If you would like to see the best view of the entire Eastern Himalayas, with China, Bhutan the mountains of Bengal as well as Darjeeling, the whole Mt. Kanchenjungha variety along with River Bramhaputra roundabout from corner to corner China also toward the inside India, after that you have to walk mounting for ten minutes to arrive at the Eagle’s Nest Bunker. This is an forsaken Bunker of the army and to be found advantageously on a hill peak with a three-sixty degree whole view of the Himalayas. You be able to yet observe bullet symbols in the bunker walls that stand the proof of the Indo-China war. Within five kms of Nathang Valley, those sunrise points are able to be arrived at within twenty mins from Nathang. On the other hand, from extra spots in this Old Silk Route similar to Padmachen or Zuluk, it takes only approximately 1.5 hours to get to the sunrise points.
Thambi view point :- Thambi view point is close to Zuluk and it is best view point of 32 turn zig zag road. The 32 turn zigzag road is the only one in its nature in the entire Himalayan range.. The Thambi view point at an altitude of 11,200 ft also provides excellent view of sunrise of Mt Kanchenjangha.
Kupup Lake:- Kupup lake at an altitude of 14,000ft is another famous tourist place in east Sikkim. It is also called Elephant lake as its shape is just like an elephant. The Ice hockey ground, the Yak Golf Course, the Elephant lake are main attraction in Kupup. Yak Golf Course is the highest golf course in the world and Kupup lake hosts the water polo game and it is also the highest water polo lake in the world. From Kupkup tourists can go for Jeelep La pass.
Old Baba Mandir – The shrine of sepahi Baba Harbhajan, who died as he fell from horse back on to a gorge while on duty, is popularly known as Baba Mandir. This mandir, located 60km away from Gangtok, is worshiped by local people as well as army officials. This Mandir hosts all the memories of Baba Harbhajan Singh.