Spectacular Sandakphu

Darjeeling – Dhotrey – Tumbling – Kalipokhri – Sandakphu – Gurdum – Rimbik – Darjeeling.

Sandakphu Phalut “Sleeping Buddha” Trek Journy


Reaching Darjeeling

For Sandakphu Phalut Trek , Waking up at 3 am is really a tough task, especially when you have slept late to wish a good friend (Shivam). Kisses, on forehead and cheeks, are the most beautiful ones as they were given by mumma for waking me up. I was ready soon, mama, me and mummy left for airport, talking about a lots a things between 10Km journey. Reached airport at 4, before going inside airport got a warm hug from Mummy and thought that the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws. In, Indigo I met a navy officer Mr. Jayant, he told me many things about Indian Navy, he also told me that, in last six months he went to 11 different countries for a sailing competition and the pros and cons of joining INDIAN ARMY. Highlight in the healthy talk were the army shoes, whose cost is the half my shoes but being more durable and comfortable. Seeing of Mr. Jayant at 6:30 am on the Mumbai airport, I met Bharat uncle who joined the trekking expedition. Despite of being old and a very busy man, he just managed to come for this expedition this is what HIMALAYA CALLS! He took me to a Dosa shop at Mumbai airport , and we had a great breakfast. We flew to Bagdograairport(Siliguri) from Mumbai, when we reached Papa had been waiting for us since an hour, he reached there earlier as he had some work in Shillong, Meghlaya. We all took a cab to Darjeeling as it was our base camp.


 When we think of Darjeeling , we always think that it’s the prettiest HILL STATION in India.  Actually, that’s not true Darjeeling hasn’t been maintained properly, even Ahmedabad is more clean than it! Most noticeable and the best change was the climate, as in one day I went from 20*c to 5*c.

DAY 2:- Acclimatization Walk and Orientation

 Waking up at 5:30, was the daily rule. For the first time we had a clear view of Mighty KANCHANJUNGA from the camp as the weather was clear. We just got   ready in 20 minutes and a decent breakfast continued by forming a line for the acclimatization walk, our group started the trek with the scolding of Mr. MintuSaha our field director as many of them were late. We had a walk from the base camp (6800 ft) to Japanese temple (7400 ft), situated in the higher side of Darjeeling . The Japanese temple had a beautiful carving and 3D effect of Lord Buddha, making the temple special then other ones also there was a mind blowing view from there.

 After the hike, we returned to base camp completing  6 km climb and 7 km decend a total of 13 kms. After the lunch there was a great orientation by Mr.Mintu Saha, where the main topic was “what to do and what to not”  also everyone were given their duties…. there were 4 duties in total……{Leader(Mr.Mukharjee), Deputy Leader(Mr.Rajendra Prasad), Enviroment Leader(Mr.Hitesh Mehta) and Master of Ceremony(Ms.Shrishti)}

My dad became Enviromental Leader due to his experience in many treks!! Dad also tought me how to pack the bagpacks in difficult treks. He also told me “Take care of you foot more than your face in Mountain”.We packed our rucksacks and deposited the extra luggage.

After dinner, I slept thinking of the next day’s attempt.

(View from Darjeeling Campsite of Mt.Kanchanjunga and Kurseong Village)

DAY 3:- Darjeeling to Dhotrey(7900 ft) to Tumbling(9450 ft) via. Tonglu(10100 ft)

Trek from Dhotrey to Tumbling via Tonglu.

A fantastic Morning drive from Darjeeling to Dhotrey with a lots a scenic beauties (from GHOOM to DHOTREY). At Mane Bhanjang , we need to collect the forest admission passes and also the Camera passes. In my whole life I cannot forget the incident that , In a small village like Mane Bhanjang, I found the mugs which were made in Bangladesh, had to be carried by us during the trek but due to some misunderstanding I forgot it at Home. At the forest department office I collected the information about the flora and fauna found in the forests of sikkim.

(View from Maney Bhanjang)

After the clearence by the forest officers we were taken to Dhotrey, the point from which the trek starts, there we had a halt for 20-30 mins. Our guides were the locals from Dhotrey, Rajan bhaiya and avinash bhaiya. We started our trek throught the dense forests of Pine and Bamboos from Dhotrey to Tonglu, this forest had the maximum numbers of red pandas in whole India.Tonglu was a heigh altitude place in Nepal, and was really amazing. We all had our hot lunch togeather with a first seen snowfall of the day. We had to climb 2 mountains, cross 1 mountain by side and desend one mountain from Tonglu to Tumbling which was really a tough task for many of us. It was nearly 11 km acend and a kilometre’s walk.

(Two furry dogs in Tonglu)

Reached Tumbling and welcomed with the hot soup and soup as the therapy for all of us it was a very beautiful campsite, staying in Nepal and the other side of the fence was India. At 6pm, when I needed to call my mum and went till the fence but just talked about 2 mins as it was freezing  -1*c out there. Near Tumbling there was a small and nice temple uphill, also went there just of 5 mins, again the same reason….but I wanted to sit there more seeing more different views but tempreture didn’t supported me. We had a hot dinner in tumbing .After dinner, outside it reached -4*c but even temperature could not stop some of us going outside the warm

tent and seeing many Stars and many Constellations , thanks to the clear sky. Umesh uncle was a astrology master and told us many things about the stars. All those luckily including me saw many of the stars falling.

(Sitting on the India-Nepal Border)

DAY 4:- Tumbling(9450 ft) to Kalipokhri(10500 ft)

Woke up at 6:00 am in Morning, despite of being cold we went out to see sunrise, suddenly when we went out we saw THE SLEEPING BUDDHA in right front of us. It was a great surprise, as when we came we could not see anything due to foggy weather.

Then we had our breakfast at Tumbling and were given packed lunch for that day. This was was the magical day for me as The peaks saw from were Kumbhakarna, Kangchenjunga and Simvo in the background. Below Kangchenjunga are Koktang, Rathong, Frey, South Kabru, North Kabru, Kabru Forked, Goecha and the ridge of Pandim just ahead of Simvo. The depression between the ridgeline of Goecha and Pandim is the Goecha La, which is a popular and beautiful trek in Sikkim. We could see them all.

As we proceededfrom Tumling to Kalipokhri, we entered the Singalila

National park. Where we could  choose between a hiking trail and a motor road. The motor road goes into Nepal and reaches Gairibas via Jaubari, both villages in Nepal. We took the hiking trail, which passed through dense forests and meadows, and was much more scenic than the motor road.

That day I got a great company of Arvind bhaiya and we were in lead this day…. From Garibus there was also a route which was from Nepal, and between the route of India and Nepal, there was a hill, as we both were in lead we climbed that point, this point had a great 360* view.Through the forest, the trail climbs to a flattish top from where we could visually trace the route all the way to Sandakphu, which stood tall before us “AB TOH, LAGA YE KAISE HOGA”.The trail then descended from this point and a 20 minute trek will land you in a beautiful meadow with majestic views of wide valleys. To our right it was India, and to our left it was Nepal. We also saw the border stone there.

We took abreak at Kaiyakatta, which was nearly 2 km away and the trail to reach there includeda steep climb of 1.5 km from gairibus. we had our packed lunch here and also we bought hot noodles from a small shop. There were steps cut into the mountain for trekkers like us. One also has the choice of trekking on the winding motor road, which gives fantastic views of the Nepal side. On the way we also the freezed streams of water.

(Army camp in Kaiyakatta village)

(Frozen streams due to –ve temperatures)

Kalipokhri, our final destination for the day, was 4 km from Kaiyakatta. The trail goes on a steep road. This was a beautiful trail on which we were able encounter many kinds of birds.

After 1.5-2 hours, we reached a bean-shaped black lake surrounded by waving Buddhist prayer flags. It was Kalipokhri, which translates to Black Lake. There were small Buddhist temple at the opposite end of the lake. That particular time we were actually standing on the border between India and Nepal. A 10 minute walk from the pond lead us the campsite. There was also a motor road from Kalipokhri to Sandakphu but was too risky…… the road was in Nepal. Bharat uncle got the best room for three of us, which became much comfortable.

(Lake Kalipokhri, when we reached at 3 pm)

(Lake Kalipokhri during Dusk)

Also, this lake froze in Night. We spent our time in Kalipokhri by playing frisbee with mates followed by Antakshari in evening, Heard very old songs.

DAY 5:- Kalipokhri(10500 ft)  to Sandakphu(12000 ft)

Took a break and had tea and coffee at Bikheybhanjang and  had a look at the peak of Sandakphu it was almost at an inclined angle of 80*, which lied ahead of us. The trail from there to Sandakphu was very steep incline of 4 km and zigzags up the hill. We could choose between two routes here – the left one which goes via Nepal and is a longer trail with a gradual ascent, or the more popular shorter route with a steep ascent.

The toughest route started from Bikheybhanjang to Sandakphu, it was fully ascend and we had  to climb a lot. On each ZIG and on every ZAG dad ate peppermints .An hour’s steep ascent on the second route followed by around 15 minutes of level walk that let us to the  place where trails from Nepal and India converge and further break up. We could see huts and tea stalls dotting the Sandakphu landscape. Reaching sandakphu, gave a great feeling of Achievement and it gave us immense pleasure and joy of satisfaction in our mind. Bharat uncle was the first one to reach Sandakphu and there also 2 best rooms were apprehended by Bharat unce.

The main attraction of the whole trek was this spot and the 180-degree panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks, one of the world’s most coveted panoramas. MAKALU, LHOTSE, EVEREST, Nuptse, Baruntse, Chamling(the wall about 7200 metres), Chomolonzo, Machapucchare, Pandim ranges, and other peaks of the Annapurna range spread out towards the west. THREE SISTER PEAKS stand tall towards the north and of course, THE SLEEPING BUDDHA lied before us. Towards the east, you see the highest ranges of Bhutan, where Chomolhari the highest peak, rises above all the others. From that point we could easily count 17 Mountains serially in same eyesight of many kilometers.

(Chamling, wall like mountain above 7200 met.)

[On left, LHOTSE(8516 met.)àMt.EVEREST(8848 met.)àMAKALU(8481 met.)]

From that point, we could see the TOP 5 worlds highest peaks, except K2.

{View of Mt. Pandim from Sandakphu(6700 met.)}

{THE SLEEPING BUDDHA, Mt. Kanchanjunga (8568 met.)}

That place was really magical and even spending 2 hours there was even less at that point.

We had hot soup there followed by the lunch and we washed our dishes with ice .

(Washing dish with ICE)

Even due to temperature less than freezing point, all the water tanks froze also the water were boiled from that ice.

That day was really tiring, but still the day not over yet. It was nearly a 2.5 km walk from Sandakphu to the another mountain and was nearly 1500 ft more elevated from sandakphu. By the way reaching there was an easy task and even the Kanchanjunga became Orangish from there and even the clouds were like rivers there as they are never above us, always in the valleys.

(Clouds rising from the valleys)

(It was a magical sunset never seen before)

When Kanchanjunga became orange it was a surprise package, seeing the Mighty Kanchanjunga I thought that it is just the relationship between ME and MOUNTAINS which makes my life beautiful!!After this trek am thinking to do atleast 2 treks a year!

 Returning from the sunset point was totally opposite of going as the temperature went less than -6*c and we had to return 2.5 km but even walking this much, marginal opportunity cost did not fall. I don’t like to eat khichdi in Ahmedabad but I loved it at Sandakphu. I, papa and Bharat uncle ate a big bowl of khichdi there.

Day 6:- Sandakphu(12000 ft) to Gurdum( 9514 ft )

It was a chilled morning with temperature less that -6 degrees woke up at 5 am for a beautiful sunrise. Weather was very cloudy so visiblitiy was very low, but the clouds opened up on the top of kanchanjunga, it was mesmerising but everest ranges were not visible.

Famous quote says “close your eyes and see the beauty” mine says “open your eyes and see the real beauty”.

We went to the campsite for the breakfast and packing our rucksacks again for the next climb actually, a hard decent.

We were given important instructions from our camp leader Khamsong Sherpa and Umesh uncle gave us some important tips for a decent. It was nearly 8 we started us trail, we were also told not to make noise as the area between Sandakphu to Gurdum are Bamboo forests and the chance for spotting RED PANDAS were very high in this region actually Red pandas come under category of CRITICALLY UNDANGERED species, but our luck wasn’t enough. But the part of decent was the White to Green Transformations, which was wonderful.

It was decent about roughly 21 kms. Reaching Gurdum was a fantastic moment. Despite Gurdum being  a very nice place, the experience there was really bad as YHAI’s (youth of hostel India) laws were violeted by the GROUP LEADER as well as DEPUTY GROUP LEADER and by the CAMP LEADERS  and some others. We played cards and just moved around the place, many experience were shared by Atul uncle and also Arvind bhaiya.

DAY 7:- Gurdum(9514 ft) to Rimbik(7600 ft) via Sirikhola( 3572 ft)

Weather at Gurdum was not appropriate as it was to foggy and raining, so even after waking up at 6 we could start our journey to Rimbik at 10 which was late. From our guide Rajan bhaiya we knew that at Sandakphu there was heavy snowfall. Trek to rimbik started with a decent till Sirikhola( Siri meaning river and Khola means Opening, the village was named after opening of the river),due to rain we could see waterfalls and the weather beacme much more pleasant ofcourse colder than it was!!

There was steep climb from Sirikhola, the altitude of rimbik was 4000 ft more then sirikhola. The view was really beatiful but the trail was hard. We all had our lunch beside the river, there was nothing for Jain people so, I and papa ate maggie. From there I and arvind bhaiya led our group and we were the first to reach Rimbik, Rimbik was small village but wonderful as it was full of colors.

Here we met Parmar uncle again, and we could see the market and roam in the village. At night we had Grand Buffet followed by certificate distribution. I was the youngest participant there.

 DAY 8:- Rimbik(7600 ft) to Darjeeling(6700 ft)

The morning was pleasant and it was a clear sunny day. We had a heavy breakfast, started early as scheduled for down with joy of full satisfaction and intension to reach base camp. That day it was to walk just 2 kms till the car stop. It was decending drive through lush green jungle of Sangalila forest.

We reached Darjeeling base camp successfully.


The trekking in Himalaya is most natural way of exploring wonders of himalayas. I really felt that there is nothing special in Hill Station Darjeeling except cool weather (comparing to Ahmedabad) as against Trekkink we enjoyed.

When my father asked that what you gained from trekking in addition to some tiring moments, I thought and by remembering some discussions between participants, and during the Certificate Distribution Ceremony, I replied,” Pappa, it is difficult to calculate but eventhough, I will say, Self dependency, Patience, Physical Fitness, Ability to face unforeseen circumstances created by nature, Relationship building, Sense of Responsibility, Sense of sharing, Deciding amounts of calculating risks, Self Reliance and Leadership…………

Written By-
Rajas Mehta