May 4, 2021
Nature's beauty and adventure always fascinated me towards Himalayan regions. This time I planned for north-south Himalayan ridge named as ‘Singalila ridge’ which is commonly famous as Sandakphu trek which is highest peak point in West Bengal.
This trek is quite famous as it falls in India-Nepal border, in-fact 2 of the higher camps located in Nepal region. As difficulty level is moderate for this trek even beginners with good physical fitness can opt for this trek. The highest peak point ‘Sandakphu’ is at height of 3,636 m (11,929 ft) whereas ‘Phalut’ is at 3,600 m (11,800 ft). So this trek is together named Sandakphu- Phalut.
I have to reach Darjeeling before starting the actual trek. To reach Darjeeling, railways and airways are quite convenient. Bagdogra is nearest airport whereas Siliguri or New Jaipalguri Junction (NJP) are the nearest railway stations. Bus facility is not available here may be due to hilly regions. Travellers have to depend on local transportation with small vehicles. You can hire your own vehicle or take a vehicle on sharing basis.
In Darjeeling people can visit various places like Japanese temple- Pagoda, Steam engine trains, Himalayan zoo park, Ghum Monastery etc, but what attracts trekkers more is Himalayan Mountaineering institute. It is one of the best schools for Mountaineering training which was established to commemorate the first successful ascent of Mount Everest by late Tenzing Norgay Sherpa & Sir Edmund Hillary. To encourage and promote mountaineering amongst youths of the country is the main objective of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. Tourists can visit this institute at minimal fees.
After orientation at Darjeeling hostel, our group was transported by Jeep to Dhotrey village. Dhotrey is situated at 8550 ft. from where our trekking journey started. This trail goes through Singalila National park. This park is very rich in its flora and fauna but unfortunately could not see any animals like red panda. Rhododendron and Magnolia are very common flowers which blossomed throughout the ridge. These colourful flowers are very attractive. As weather is very much suitable so one can see wide varieties of flowers in the villages which falls in trail. Local people makes wine from Rhododendron flowers which is sold at local hotels and restaurant either in water bottles or empty old wine bottles.
First day of trekking we halted at Tumbling where apart from trekkers many tourists were also seen. Next day we started for Kala pokari where we were greeted by Nepal authority board. Kala means dark and pokari means lake in Nepali. This village is named Kala Pokari due to this lake. This lake is surrounded by prayer flags which makes it more attractive. After a night halt at Kala Pokari next day we headed towards our peak point Sandakphu. Even though on some days trail was quite long like 21 km, trek was not tiring. Off course your back starts complaining due to back pack weight, but again colourful flowers and bird chirping makes you forget your pain.
From Sandakphu one can witness Kanchenjunga mountain trails towards right side which are commonly known as Sleeping Buddha. Local people believe that it looks like so. It is third highest mountain in the world. Luckily, we could witness sleeping Buddha but were unfortunate to see Mt. Everest ranges which falls on the left side. Here weather changes very drastically so trekkers have to be always ready with rain coat, wind sheet etc.
Our batch was really luck that we did not face any rain. At day time temperature was quite pleasant but at night use to fall around 5 degree, which was quite challenging for person like me from costal Karnataka.
After covering the first summit point at Sandakphu we headed towards another peak point called Phalut which is the second highest peak in West Bengal. On the way to Phalut we could witness many yaks. After covering Phalut we started back towards our base camp. On the way we halted at Gorkhey which falls in Sikkim. Definitely any one will love this place where beauty is abundant. All area is surrounded by pine trees and a small river called Gorkhey. This village has very small population which mainly depends on agriculture and tourism of course most of trekkers. Last day we headed towards Rimbick a steep descent which was our base camp before saying bye-bye to Singalila ridge with a plan of another trek in mind.