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Spectacular Sandakphu


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

Sandakphu Phalut “Sleeping Buddha” Trek Journy

DAY 1:- Reaching Darjeeling

For Sandakphu Phalut Trek, Waking up at 3 am is a tough task, especially when you have slept late to wish a good friend (Shivam). Kisses, on my 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 the airport, talking about a lot of things during the 10Km journey. Reached the airport at 4, before going inside the 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, who told me many things about the Indian Navy, he also told me that, in the 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 was the army shoes, which cost half my shoes but are more durable and comfortable. Seeing Mr Jayant at 6:30 am at the Mumbai airport, I met Bharat’s uncle who joined the trekking expedition. Despite 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 Bagdogra airport(Siliguri) from Mumbai, when we reached Papa had been waiting for us for an hour, he reached there earlier as he had some work in Shillong, Meghalaya. We all took a cab to Darjeeling as it was our base camp.


Sandakphu Phalut

When we think of Darjeeling, we always think that it’s the prettiest HILL STATION in India. 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, in one day I went from 20*c to 5*c.

DAY 2:- Acclimatization Walk and Orientation

Sandakphu Phalut - Acclimatization Walk and Orientation

Waking up at 5:30 was the daily rule. For the first time, we had a clear view of Mighty KANCHENJUNGA 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 acclimatisation 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 the Japanese temple (7400 ft), situated on the higher side of Darjeeling. The Japanese temple had a beautiful carving and 3D effect of Lord Buddha, making the temple more special than other ones. Also there was a mind-blowing view from there.

Japanese temple sandakphu phalut

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

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

sandakphu trek map

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

Sandakphu height - View from Darjeeling Campsite of Mt.Kanchanjunga and Kurseong Village
(View from Darjeeling Campsite of Mt.Kanchenjunga 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 lots of scenic beauties (from GHOOM to DHOTREY). At Manebhanjan, 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, which had to be carried by us during the trek but due to some misunderstanding I forgot them at Home. At the forest department office, I collected information about the flora and fauna found in the forests of Sikkim.

View from Maney Bhanjang
(View from Maney Bhanjang)

After the clearance 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 through the dense forests of Pine and Bamboos from Dhotrey to Tonglu, this forest had the maximum number of red pandas in the whole of India. Tonglu was a high-altitude place in Nepal and was amazing. We all had our hot lunch together with the first seen snowfall of the day. We had to climb 2 mountains, cross 1 mountain side by side and descend a mountain from Tonglu to Tumbling which was a tough task for many of us. It was a nearly 11 km ascend and a kilometre walk.

Two furry dogs in Tonglu
(Two furry dogs in Tonglu)
Tonglu altitude

Reached Tumbling and welcomed 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 6 pm, when I needed to call my mum and went to the fence but just talked for about 2 mins as it was freezing -1*c out there. Near Tumbling there was a small and nice temple uphill. I also went there for just 5 mins, again for the same reason….but I wanted to sit there more seeing more different views but the temperature didn’t support me. We had a hot dinner while tumbling. After dinner, outside it reached -4*c but even the temperature could not stop some of us from going outside the warm tent and seeing many Stars and many Constellations, thanks to the clear sky. Umesh’s uncle was an 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
(Sitting on the India-Nepal Border)
Buddha Temple

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

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

Tumbling(9450 ft) to Kalipokhri(10500 ft)
Sunset Kangchenjunga

Then we had our breakfast at Tumbling and were given a packed lunch for that day. This was a magical day for me as The peaks 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 proceeded from 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 the 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 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 borderstone there.


We took a break at Kaiyakatta, which was nearly 2 km away and the trail to reach there included a steep climb of 1.5 km from Gairibas. 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 saw freezing streams of water.

Army camp in Kaiyakatta village
(Army camp in Kaiyakatta village)
Frozen streams due to –ve temperatures
(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 to 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 was a small Buddhist temple at the opposite end of the lake. At that particular time, we were standing on the border between India and Nepal. A 10-minute walk from the pond leads us to the campsite. There was also a motor road from Kalipokhri to Sandakphu but it was too risky…… the road was in Nepal. Bharat’s uncle got the best room for the three of us, which became much more comfortable.

Lake Kalipokhri, when we reached at 3 pm
(Lake Kalipokhri, when we reached at 3 pm)
Lake Kalipokhri during Dusk
(Lake Kalipokhri during Dusk)

Also, this lake froze at Night. We spent our time in Kalipokhri playing frisbee with mates followed by Antakshari in the 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 lay ahead of us. The trail from there to Sandakphu was a 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 ascended and we had to climb a lot. On each ZIG and 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 us a great feeling of Achievement and it gave us immense pleasure and joy of satisfaction in our minds. Bharat’s uncle was the first one to reach Sandakphu and there also 2 best rooms were apprehended by Bharat uncle. 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 lies 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 the same eyesight of many kilometres.

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

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

Chamling, wall like mountain above 7200 met.
(Chamling, wall like mountain above 7200 met.)
On left, LHOTSE(8516 met.)àMt.EVEREST(8848 met.)àMAKALU(8481 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.

sandakphu phalut trek height - View of Mt. Pandim from Sandakphu(6700 met.)
{View of Mt. Pandim from Sandakphu(6700 met.)}
THE SLEEPING BUDDHA, Mt. Kanchanjunga (8568 met.)
{THE SLEEPING BUDDHA, Mt. Kanchanjunga (8568 met.)}
Sandakphu Phalut - Washing dish with ICE
(Washing dish with ICE)

Even due to the temperature being less than the freezing point, all the water tanks froze and the water was boiled from that ice. That day was tiring, but still, the day was not over yet. It was nearly a 2.5 km walk from Sandakphu to 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. Even the clouds were like rivers there as they are never above us, always in the valleys.

Clouds rising from the valleys
(Clouds rising from the valleys)
It was a magical sunset never seen before
(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 I am thinking of doing at least 2 treks a year!

MOUNTAINS Kanchanjunga
Eat khichdi in Ahmedabad

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

Sandakphu Altitude - Sandakphu(12000 ft) to Gurdum( 9514 ft )
sunset at sandakphu phalut trek
Sandakphu to Gurdum - Bamboo forests
Gurdum(9514 ft) to Rimbik(7600 ft) via Sirikhola( 3572 ft)
sandakphu altitude
sandakphu phalut treker
Sandakphu Phalut Trekking - Rimbik(7600 ft) to Darjeeling(6700 ft)

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

It was a chilled morning with a temperature of fewer than -6 degrees and I woke up at 5 am for a beautiful sunrise. The weather was very cloudy so visibility was very low, but the clouds opened up on the top of Kanchenjunga, it was mesmerising but the Everest ranges were not visible. A 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 breakfast and packed our rucksacks again for the next climb, actually, a hard descent. We were given important instructions from our camp leader Khamsong Sherpa and Umesh’s uncle gave us some important tips for a descent. It was nearly 8 we started our trail, we were also told not to make noise as the area between Sandakphu to Gurdum is Bamboo forests and the chance for spotting RED PANDAS was very high in this region Red pandas come under the category of CRITICALLY ENDANGERED species, but our luck wasn’t enough. But the part of descent was the White to Green Transformations, which was wonderful.


It was about roughly 21 km. 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 violated 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 experiences were shared by Atul’s uncle and also Arvind bhaiya.

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

The weather at Gurdum was not appropriate as it was too 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 descent till Sirikhola( Siri meaning river and Khola means Opening, the village was named after the opening of the river), due to rain we could see waterfalls and the weather became much more pleasant of course colder than it was!!

There was a steep climb from Sirikhola, the altitude of Rimbik was 4000 ft more than Siri Khola. The view was really beautiful but the trail was hard. We all had our lunch beside the river, there was nothing for Jain people so, my papa and I ate maggie. From there I and Arvind bhaiya led our group and we were the first to reach Rimbik, Rimbik was a small village but wonderful as it was full of colours.

Here we met Parmar uncle again, and we could see the market and roam in the village. At night we had a Grand Buffet followed by a 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 and started early as scheduled for down with the joy of satisfaction and the intention to reach base camp. That day it was to walk just 2 km till the car stopped. It was a descending drive through the lush green jungle of Singalila forest. We reached the Darjeeling base camp successfully.



Trekking in the Himalayas is the most natural way of exploring the wonders of the Himalayas. I felt that there is nothing special in Hill Station Darjeeling except cool weather (compared to Ahmedabad) as opposed to the Trekking we enjoyed. 

When my father asked what I 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 even though, 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