Silk Route in Sikkim has its own charm in all seasons. In this article let me talk about the weather and temperature along Silk Route in winter. Travelers have been asking me whether they should visit or not during winter and I have been replying the same that Silk Route can be visited any season.
From October to mid-December, it doesn’t snow generally. During this time, the sky remains clear mostly but there can be fogs sometime and intense fog on some occasions. When there is no snow at all, the region get chilling breeze which is really freezing. I have faced the same weather during my visits to the region from Oct to mid-Dec. You must carry heavy woolen cloths to protect yourself and have a comfortable journey along the Silk Route. One doesn’t feel this chilling breeze until he reaches or crosses Zuluk. Till Padamchen the breeze is normal but beyond that place towards Gangtok till Tookla Valley, the breeze blows at high and makes travelers and tourist shiver from the same. If you are traveling during this season or period of time, make sure you carry proper woolen gloves, heavy jackets & wind cheaters, other cloths to cover your ears and face, etc. You must carry both upper-lower Thermocots to wear inside. Woolen socks and high shoes are good to wear.
You can carry pieces of camphor with you and smell it when you feel vomiting and suffer from high altitude sickness. One can have rum or honey to feel comfortable in that extreme temperature. I usually have rum and carry with me but my wife likes to have 3-4 tea spoons of honey as she is a teetotaler. If want to have rum or any hard drink, make sure you buy that from Rongpo or Rongli. There is only 1 liquor shop at Lingtam along Silk Route and no more liquor shops along the route. When you reach Thambi View Point after Zuluk, there is a tea/coffee stall. Tourists stop here at Thambi View Point for a beautiful view of the Mt. Kanchenjungha and the aerial view of the zig-zag roads. A cup of coffee with a couple of poached eggs is the best thing one can have in that chilling temperature. On reaching Old Baba Temple (Adi Baba Mandir) and the new Baba Temple, you will find Indian Army jawans distributing “Prasad” in the form of Sewaiyan Payesh (Simui) and hot tea which is just awesome. There are many medical camps in Army cantonments and camps. Army is always ready to provide immediate medical help to tourists in case they suffer from short of Oxygen or high altitude sickness. So there is no need to worry if you are scared of high altitudes and suffer from any issues. The trade between India and China through Nathula Pass remains open till early Nov or mid-Nov depending on weather. So if you plan to visit Silk Route in Sikkim till mid-November, do carry some extra cash. There is market place named Serathang along Silk Route where the Chinese and Tibetans arrive to do business and sale their products. Even Indian business persons staying at Sikkim bring Chinese goods to that place from the other part of the border. Woolen cloths, jackets and other Chinese goods remain available at low prices. I generally buy jackets and woolen cloths from there if I find the market open. Just to give you an idea, I must share that a jacket you find at Shoppers Stop or any reputed Mall in our cities costing Rs.2,500 or above, you will get the same thing within Rs.1000 in Serathang along Silk Route. If you are planning to trip Silk Route during this period, you can stay at Padamchen or Zuluk or Nathang valley as the last points of stay along Silk Route toward Kupup and Gangtok. Nathang Valley and Zuluk are adjacent places, so you can stay overnight at any one of these two places.
If you are traveling in the period from mid-December till early March, you will get heavy snowfall. It generally snows during this period of time. It doesn’t snow till Padamchen along Silk Route. So if you are planning to trip Silk Route during this period, you can stay at Padamchen and visit uphill toward Kupup to enjoy snow.
I do the same thing when I visit during this period of time. If it snows heavily you will have to depend of the administration (police at Padamchen check-post) and wait for their permission to be allowed to move further uphill. They allow tourist till the point they feel safe. There had been occasions that I didn’t get snow even in the second week of January. So it all depends on weather. No one can predict nature. On 3-4 occasion I have seen that when it rained the previous night of my visit or sightseeing uphill along Silk Route, it snowed from Zuluk. So if you are staying at Padamchen or any other low altitude place and get rain, it can be considered that you would get snow from Zuluk along the Silk route. This are my personal experiences.
One more important thing I have experienced or noticed is that there is no chilling and freezing breeze at high altitudes along Silk Route during this period when it snows. So from my experience I can say that you will not get freezing breeze if there snow along the route. I don’t even need gloves and that much of heavy garments when it snows. A jacket on full sleeve shirt or T-shirt with a pair of jeans was good enough though I would suggest you to carry proper heavy cloths.
As I have already said in the above paragraph, I suggest you should to stop at Thambi View point, have a breathtaking view of the hills and peaks all around along with a cup of coffee/tea and couple of poached eggs. If you are planning to trip Silk Route during this period of time, I would suggest you to stay at Padamchen as last point of spending nights along the route. You can take a drive uphill for sightseeing along Silk Route till the reachable point and come back. If it is not snowing that much, one can stay at Zuluk or Nathang Valley.
If you have a plan to visit Silk Route in Sikkim in winter, do give me a call or mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for all details and further information if needed. I can surely help you out. Stay in touch and stay tuned to Travel Dias Blog and Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TravelDias for more info on Silk Route in Sikkim.
Keep traveling, keep smiling.