On day-3 we all woke up early in the morning and we were so much eager to leave for the silk route but on the other hand we felt really bad that we had to leave a place like Limtang. We had our luggage packed, had our breakfast and pushed ourselves in the van. We just moved a few miles when our driver stopped at a hamlet where he stays with his family. We all got down and interacted with the people around us. They were looking at us in such a way that I think we appeared as aliens to them. They were so friendly, though we didn’t have a common language but we interacted without a word being spoken. People there were so beautiful, lovely, simple and innocent.
We said bye to them and left because we had limited time in our hand. We had to reach Gangtok before sunset because it is hard to drive on those hilly roads as nothing can be seen at a few feet away because it usually becomes very foggy and the road condition was so bad because of the earth quake that brought in disaster to Sikkim. Finally we were passing by the silk route and we all were just looking out of the car to see the beauty that our nature has gifted to us. Our car passed through the clouds that usually we see overhead. I was so excited to see the lightning below and we were over it. It seemed that there were two skies – one below and one above. The silk route has its own beauty. At a point of time we noticed that there was a blanket of clouds coming towards us but at the next turn on the road it seemed that we were moving away from that unknown body of nature. It was like we were playing hide and seek with the clouds. The peaks were covered with snow and the weather was so chilled that we were severing inside the car.
We passed across Zuluk valley, Thambi view point, Gnathang valley, Memencho lake, Kupup lake(Elephant lake), BhulBhulaiya(Zig-zag road), China market at Sorethang , Old Baba Mandir, Tookla valley, New Baba Mandir, Tsomgo lake(Changu lake), Mandakini falls and finally reached Gangtok at 9.00pm. We couldn’t made it to the Nathula pass because the road was closed after the earth quake, only army vehicles could pass by it.
The silk route was just amazing, covered with snow and had an awesome view of the mountains all around it. When it turned dark, our driver was doing 10-15kms/hr because we could see nothing in front but suddenly another vehicle arrived which leaded us up to Gangtok city. Our car had fog lights but those were not powerful enough. The other car driver was a neighbor of our driver and he really helped us to reach our destination. Had he not there, we would have had to stranded there. It was raining too and some of us were really scared. I felt the journey to be one of my best adventurous journeys on hills.
Places of interest in Silk route(From Limtang to Gangtok)
Zuluk valley: It is a wonderful valley in east Sikkim. Perched on the rugged terrain of the lower Himalayas, Zuluk is a hamlet close to The Indo China border. A few families stays there and the people at Zuluk are so simple and innocent. There is no property but one can move into home-stays. I would suggest to stay at Limtang which is a few hour drive from Zuluk. If one stays at Limtang, he can visit Zuluk en-route to Gangtok.
Thambi View Point: It is a point which gives you a perfect view of the sun rise in the hills. One can visit Thambi view point very early in the morning and then come back to Limtang but we had permission to pass through silk route, so we moved towards Gangtok. We didn’t opt for the sunrise view from Thambi because had we gone for the sunrise view, we would have had missed so many beautiful spots and the scenic view of the mountains because if you stop at the spots, you would miss the sunrise. We stopped at the Thambi view point and had a very beautiful view of the hills from the top.
Gnathang valley: It is another beautiful valley with small houses of the village people. The population here is not much and the valley is really different with its beauty. We stooped here for minutes, had some snaps and moved on.
Memencho lake: You can’t go close to the Memencho lake with your car because the road is not motorable. You are required to trek down to the lake to touch the water. We just had a aerial view of the lake.
Kupup lake: It’s another beautiful lake and the other name of it is Elephant lake because it is in the shape of an elephant. We saw the lake half frozen and the hills around the lake were covered with snow.
Bhulbhulaiya(zig-zag road): A point comes from where you can see more than 50 turns of the road at a time and the view is just amazing.
China market at Sorethang: On the way we found a market comprising of not more than 10 shops which had huge collection of clothing and show-pieces from China. Prices of jackets and woolen cloths are really low and you can easily get the best out of the stock. In fact I purchased 4 jackets and my mates wished to bring a whole shop to Kolkata. You can also get fine wine and beers from China.
Old Baba Mandir: Old Baba Mandir in silk route is a must visit tourist destination. This tourist spot is dedicated to Baba Harbhajan Singh who was an Indian army soldier, died near the Nathula Pass in eastern Sikkim, India. The Indian Army soldiers have built a shrine in his honour. Tourist are offered tea, coffee and “prasad” by the Indian Army. Tourists who come from Gangtok does not get permission to visit this old Baba Mandir. They can come up to Tookla valley if allowed by the Army.
Tookla Valley: The valley was covered with snow when we visited in the month of December,2011. If one does not get snow in Tsomgo lake(Changu lake), he can come up to Tookla valley to enjoy the snow. The roads get covered with snow and view of the mountains around is just magnificent.
New Baba Mandir: The new Baba Mandir is accessible from Gangtok and it lies in the sight-seeing around Gangtok. It is really amazing that there is an ATM counter at such a high altitude made by the State Bank of India.
Tsomgo Lake (Changu Lake): This lake is one of the most visited and attracting tourist destinations in Sikkim. The lake is surrounded by peaks and you can get to see a huge number of Yaks here. You can have a yak ride here. The lake is very beautiful and it remains covered in the month of December, January and February. When we visited the lake, it was covered with snow. It is a few hour drive from Gangtok, situated at an altitude of 12,000 ft. The lake is in the restricted area, an inner line permit is required by Indians to visit this place. Foreign nationals are not permitted to visit this lake without a special permission. One gets fascinated by the picturesque beauty around the lake.
Mandakini Falls: The falls ads to the beauty of Sikkim in the eastern part. Water falls from a height and creates rainbow around the water. There are stalls around the who sell warm clothes, show pieces and food. I didn’t like the idea of placing the stalls near the water fall because the natural beauty is lost. The water fall is really beautiful and a must visit tourist spot.
Informations for travelers:
If you want to visit these all places I have mentioned in my post, you are supposed to leave Limtang early in the morning just after the breakfast or you can take the breakfast along with you in the car. You must have acquired the permission or permit well before you leave for Silk route. This can be done by the manager of the property where you would stay at Limtang. I am sharing the phone number of the property owner at Limtang. I am referring the direct contact because I hate travelling with agents.
Property at Limtang: Silk route Resort
Contact: Mrs. Mahamaya Khan, Ph.no. 8013702602, Binay Dey(Tito), Ph.no. 9733195461
We travelled to Gangtok through the silk route. We had a Mahindra Max van, the fare was Rs.3,500 The accommodation capacity is 10 heads excluding the driver but it would be better if 8-9 heads travel, just for comfort because the journey is so long. We didn’t visited the Nathula Pass on this trip because we didn’t get permission as the road was closed for the earth quake that hit Sikkim before we left for the place. A Mahindra Max van takes Rs.7,000 if you visit Nathula on this trip including all permissions. If you reach Gangtok before 8.00pm, this car would drop you at Taxi stand because they are not allowed in the city roads before 8 in the clock in evening. You have to take Maruti vans to go to your hotel. A Maruti van can accommodate 4persons at a time. The rate is Rs.50-60 per car depending on the distance you travel. If you reach Gangtok after 8.00pm, you can request your driver to drop you at hotel. He would charge a little extra.