Friday, 10 June 2016

A Trip to Zuluk, East Sikkim

Nature has bestowed upon us bountiful natural beauties in the form of gigantic snow caped mountains, fast flowing rivers, serene lakes and springs so on and on. Our country has been richly endowed with wide and diverse ranges of flora and fauna and other natural formations.

Several tourist places of Eastern Himalaya has been covered in my articles so far. Today, I would like to introduce before my readers and fellow travellers, Zuluk, a relatively lesser known place in Eastern Himalayas, which is slowly gaining popularity due to it’s prominent location and magnificent views.
Located at a height of around 10,100 feet on the rugged terrain of the lower Himalayas in East Sikkim, Zuluk offers excellent view of Himalayan ranges. Zuluk, located at erstwhile historical silk route between Kalimpong, India and Lhasa, Tibet used to be base for traders coming from Tibet for their night stay. After Chinese aggression in Tibet, the silk route connecting Tibet with India through Jelep-la has been closed and now the tiny village is used as a base by travellers going to Kupup, Jelep-La and Tsomgo Lake. In the last few years, Zuluk itself has risen into prominence as a scenic tourist spot due to it’s numerous hairpin bends in the road leading up to the village and spectacular views from the hilltop.
The Silk Route leading to Zuluk
On one weekend, we started from Gangtok to Zuluk via Pakyong, Rongli & Padamchen. Though there is another route from Gangtok via Bhusuk, Tsomgo Lake & Sherethang, which is shorter, we chose the other one, as we had to visit Aritar Lake too. Aritar lake is a major picnic spot for locals and tourists of neighbouring state West Bengal. 
Aritar Lake
One can spend entire day around the lake by indulging in range of fun activities like boating and trekking up to the Shiva temple at the hilltop.

Do Hanson ka Joda
Flowers around the lake
We spent some time at the lake and refreshed ourselves having tolerated travelling on patchy roads for around 2 hours, then proceeded for our destination. We had crossed Rongli by 1:00 PM and after half an hour drive from Rongli, our vehicle started moving up on a never-ending serpentine hilly road with numerous hairpin bends. There are about 32 hairpin bends on the route, which makes this road an engineering marvel. As we were inching towards Nathang Valley, Army camp was before our sight. The major chunk of land of zuluk village is under Army's control. By 02:15 PM, we had reached Zuluk, but we did nit stop there, as for the best views of the Eastern Himalayan ranges, we had to reach Thambi view point, which was another half an hour away. Though it was a sunny day, but after reaching Thambi View Point, weather had changed it's colour and we had started looking for additional warm cloths, which we were carrying anticipating the turbulent mood of weather in mountains. Snow was increasingly visible on the mountains, as we were moving ahead and after some time, our vehicle had started moving with a snail's pace on a snow-covered road.
Scenic View as seen from Thambi View Point
 After having some photographs at view point, we proceeded towards Kupup Lake. 
Snow was increasingly visible on the nearby mountains, as we were moving ahead and after some time, our vehicle had started moving with a snail's pace on a snow-covered road. The panoramic lake surrounded by snow laden hills was before our eyes with all it's magnificence and grandeur.
Kupup Lake

We had chosen another route for our return to Gangtok via sherethang and Tsomgo Lake, to which we all were familiar due to our frequent visit to Nathu-la pass. By 6:00 PM or so, we had reached back home at Gangtok.

How to reach Zuluk:
For those coming from various parts of the world, Zuluk can be reached from Siliguri, West Bengal covering a distance of around 150 Kms. Alternatively, you can also visit the place after reaching Gangtok. Inner Line Permit is required to be obtained even in case of Indian travellers for visiting Zuluk. Hotels are not available at Zuluk, however, one can stay in homestays being run by local villagers. For those preferring staying in a hotel, Padamchen, around 10 km before Zuluk offers more options.

Zuluk can be visited any time through out the year, however after rainy season, the route becomes more beautiful due to blossoming wild flowers covering entire valleys. Come, visit Zuluk. It won't disappoint you.