The historical Glorious Silk Route which once connected from India with Tibet. Till the first half of 20th century before the Chinese invaded Tibet, this Glorious 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 Glorious 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 characterized by mountainous terrain. Almost the entire state is hilly, with an elevation ranging from 280 meters (920 ft) to 8,586 meters (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. Silk Route Tour organized by Himalayan Destination can make your vacation memorable one, as we are specialist in this sector and we operate hotels The Sunrise Residency at Gangtok also. Himalayan Destination is one of the best Silk Route tour and travel operator. Himalayan Destination is one of the best tour and travel operator, who organize Silk Route Tour.
Iccheygaon is a pristine Himalayan hamlet tucked within the pine forests of Kalimpong with a panoramic view of Mt. Kanchenjunga. Nestled at an altitude of 5800 feet, it is the perfect place for those nursing the soul of a nature lover. With numerous nature trails and short treks starting off from Iccheygaon to viewpoints like Ramitey Dara, Tinchuley and Jalsa, it is one of the best-kept secrets of this region. The evenings at Iccheygaon become very exciting when lights of Darjeeling, Ravangla and Namchi twinkle all along the slopes of the mighty Himalayas.
Mangkhim is the hilltop adjacent to the popular destination of Aritar, in the village of Dalapchand under the Rongli Sub-Division of Eastern Sikkim. Mangkhim 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 Mangkhim, 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 Mangkhim is a great choice. Bird watching, paddle boating and nature walking are other great activities here.
The village of Mangkhim located at almost 6,000 feet is perched on a hilltop with panoramic views of Mt. Kanchenjunga. Mangkhim is basically hill top of Aritar Village. From Mangkhim you can see the Birds eye view of Aritar Lake & Village. If you would like to relax and see Kanchanjunga from your room for a few days, this is the place for you. You can see the snow white Kanchenjunga through the windows of a your room. You can also go to the roof top for a more panoramic view of all the peaks surrounding you 360°.
“Mulkharkha Pokhri” or “Wish Fulfillment Lake” or “Wishing Lake” is a natural water reservoir at an altitude of 7300ft, close to the village of Mulkharkha. A place bit higher than Darjeeling and sources there confirmed – Mulkharkha gets heavy snowfall during the winter. The lake situated on top of a mountain, surrounded by pine trees, bears serenity within. One can spend hours just sitting beside the lake. But the main attraction of that place is the reflection of Mount Kanchenjunga in that holy lake. Being the main water source of that area, the lake is sacred to the local Lepcha people. Naturally, there are several legends about the lake. Like, you will never find a leaf over lake water, because there is a bird and it cleans the lake by picking up fallen leaves.
The lake “Mulkharkha Pokhri” or “Wish Fulfillment Lake” or “Wishing Lake” considered sacred by the locals and is called a wishing Lake. It is believed that anyone who makes a wish in that lake will definitely find the wish coming true. The power of the lake is believed to be very strong and powerful.
The ideal time to visit Mulkarkha Lake is from the month of October to December. To witness a cultural event, April is another good time to visit. The villagers celebrate Ram Navami worshiping the lake with celebration furor. This time of the year, the lake is believed to come to life and its sanctity is worshiped by the locals and the villagers.
Someone can trek to Mulkharkha, the trek route to Mulkarkha Lake is one of the most exciting and untouched trails of the Himalayan foothills. You would come across 200 feet waterfalls, dense forests, enchanting views of Mt. Kanchenjungha, ageless Buddhist monasteries, remote villages, hundreds of species of birds, butterflies and flowers.
Best time to visit Mulkharkha
If you are in Mulkharkha between January and March, then you can found foggy with chilling weather.
Mulkharkha is surrounded with wild flowers from April to May you can enjoy the weather and explore the whole village and lake areas.
Generally June to mid of mid of October is called rainy season.
Reflection of Mt. Kanchenjungha clearly visible in the lake from mid of October to November with clear and shiny weather.
From December winter comes and foggy weather has been started.
Padamchen is a small village on the Silk Route circuit just 14 kms from Rongli and 4 kms from Zuluk, perched on a hill slope at 8000 ft and covered in dense forests. Padamchen experiences a very pleasant weather throughout the year and this is one of the main reasons for its popularity. If you are not used to biting cold and snowfall but want to experience the mesmerizing sunrise, excellent views and winding roads and valleys of this Silk Route circuit, then staying at Padamchen could be a choice. Padamchen has some of the best views of the valleys and forests of this part of Sikkim and Himalayan foothills. The forests around Padamchen support a wide variety of bird population and bird watchers would love to spend a few days here. There is a heritage Forest Resthouse at Padamchen too. You can visit this forest resthouse to see the wooden floors, fireplace, verandah and wooden furniture from the forgotten days of the lonely Forest Officers and Sahibs who used to travel this way.
Zuluk is a small village beside a winding road. It was once a transit point to the historic Silk Route from Tibet to India. There is a local Nag Temple here. The temple has a cave like structure and the deity of King Cobra or Nag, famous Hindu mythical god is worshiped in the temple. The road through Zuluk makes almost 32 hairpin turns to reach Lungthung, which makes it a unique engineering. There is also an Indian Army base at Zuluk, which has been used as a transit camp for the army movement to the Chinese border, a few kilometers away.
Thambi View Point is close to Zuluk and it is best view point of 32 turn Zag ZigRoad. 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.
Gyamochen and Lungthung, The sunrise view of Gyamochen and Lungthung are presently five kms from Gnathang 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 Gnathang Valley, those sunrise points are able to be arrived at within twenty mins from Gnathang. 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.
Gnathang Valley, also known as Nathang 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. Gnathang 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. Gnathang 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. Gnathang 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 – Gnathang is as close as you can get to paradise. The sunrise points of Lungthung and Gyamochen are just 5 kms from Gnathang 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.
Tukla Valley, is one of the most scenic beauty place in this route. Where Mt. Kanchenjunga is more closer than other place. Snow clapped mountain with flat valley makes Tukla Valley more attractive for tourist. It is located 4 km away from Gnathang Valley.
Old Baba Mandir (which was the original bunker of Baba Harbhajan Singh) 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 favors 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 Gnathang 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 Gnathang 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.
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.
New Baba Mandir is new constructed shrine of Soldier 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 50km away from Gangtok, is worshiped by local people as well as army officials. This Mandir hosts all the memories of Baba Harbhajan Singh and maintained by Indian Army.
Tsomogo Lake is also known as Tsongmo Lake or Chango Lake. It is one of the most famous lake in this route. Altitude of this lake is 12,313ft and situated 40km away from Gangtok. The lake is surrounded by steep mountains which are covered with snow during winter. During summer the snow cover melts and forms the source for the lake. The lake surface reflects different colours with change of seasons and is held in great reverence by the local Sikkimese people. The lake which remains frozen in winter season, sometimes extending up to May, receives an average annual precipitation of 1,183 millimetres (46.6 in) with temperatures recorded in the range of 0–25 °C.
Rolep is situated at the bottom of Tshangu Lake and Memeantshu Lake or Menmecho Lake along with the Rangpo khola belt which is famous for Trought fishing and pure cool water. This village is surrounded by very thick forest where verities of orchids, more then 150 rare medicinal herbs,60 to 70 species of mammals, birds, butterflies and reptiles.
Yakten is situated in East Sikkim is overlooked by Himalayan Ranges, Yakten is a beautiful Hamlet. Anyone can enjoy the unforgettable jungle trail and enjoy birds & butterfly watching (many rare species of Himalayan birds) Yakten is a paradise for birds and butterfly watchers , also rare species Himalayan orchid and flowers can be experienced from Yakten village gardens.
Please note that you need Special Permits from Indian Army to enter Nimachen & above areas, which can be obtained from Rongli or Gangtok. Permit of NathuLa is not issued from Rongli Check Post. NO FOREIGN CITIZENS ARE ALLOWED PERMISSION TO FOR THIS AREAS.
Best time to visit
Though Silk Route can access throughout the year but Gnathnag is not accessible for 365 days. So you have to considered about the Gnathang accessibility for your Silk Route vacation.
In January – February
From January to February Silk Route is at its coldest; especially in the mountains, but clear skies reward those who brave the low temperatures. The valleys are warmer and sunny with clear views of the incredible Himalaya. Due to colder temperatures, visitor numbers will be lower.
High altitude area specially above the Phadamchen road mostly closed due to heavy snow. Difficulty for getting permit on this area. Night stay option may available at Phadamchen but above Phadamchen Night stay may not possible due to inaccessibility. It is ideal for those who want chilled weather and heavy snow. Night temperature may goes to negative in high altitude areas. Travelers may arrested by snow in this time in high altitude. Travelers may visit in this time with sufficient buffer day. We will not suggest night stay at Zuluk & Gnathang Valley.
On March Silk Route is at its coldest; snow melting has started. Temperature remain negative at night at high altitude area. Mountains remain covered snow clapped. The valleys are warmer and sunny with clear views of the incredible Himalaya. Due to colder temperatures, visitor numbers will be lower. You can plan at this time but you can stuck any time at high altitude due to snow falls. Better to plan sightseeing to Gnathang Valley instead of night stay. Road above Phadamchen may close and you may not get permit due to snow. We will not suggest night stay at Zuluk & Gnathang Valley.
In April – May
April and May are among the most popular times to travel as temperatures are pleasant and the valleys are abundant in nature; especially as all the flowers start to bloom. Early April witnesses the Rhododendron, so mountain slope may colorful. It is ideal for photographers and nature lovers.
In June – September
June to September is monsoon season in Sikkim. But monsoon comes in this area little late so any one can visit till mid June. Although showers can occur at night without spoiling daytime explorations, conditions aren’t ideal for trekking. Sightseeing is still possible – just be prepared with a raincoat. Views are best in the mornings following night-time downpours. It is the best time for mountain shower lover. But landslide can happen any time to spoil your trip. So plan accordingly with sufficient buffer time.
The majority of travelers (around 80%) want to visit Silk Route in October, so plan well in advance to ensure you get your preferred accommodation and good value flights. It is are ideal for hiking and enjoying stunning views and pleasant temperatures. Expect it to be around 25°C in the sun, but there will be cooler temperatures in the evenings and at higher altitudes.
It is ideal time for those traveler who want mostly clear sky for photograph. So don’t hesitate to plan in this season. This season is famous for mostly clear with blue sky, Snow Clapped mountain & less crowd so anyone can spend their memorable time with your love one.
On December Silk Route is at its coldest; especially in the mountains, but clear skies reward those who brave the low temperatures. The valleys are warmer and sunny with clear views of the incredible Himalaya. Due to colder temperatures, visitor numbers will be lower. But from 20th to 31st December Silk Route mostly overcrowded. We will not suggest night stay at Zuluk & Gnathang Valley.