If want to explore the hidden beauty of India, hit the road to travel the Silk Route, Sikkim. The trip will make you breathe the natural glamour of the less wandered parts of the Himalayas. The silk is an age-old network that links central Asia to the Mediterranean Sea. Apart from trade, the silk route played an extremely crucial role in the development of civilization.
Extending over 10,000km, this route which once linked Sikkim to Bhutan and China for trade is presently a package full of wonders. The Silk Route in Sikkim is remotely settled with adorable tiny towns like the ones in poems and arts. Experience the offbeat embarking forests on foot through the towns of Pedong, Manikhm and Reshi Kola. You will furthermore explore popular places like Nathula Pass, Tsomgo lakes and much more.
Over the past decade, there have been various trade routes, which played a crucial role in the surge of worldwide trades around the globe that we observe presently, are mostly shut down and un-used. One such route was known as the "Silk Route" which has got enormous historic consideration. The Silk Route is a historical network of trade linking Central Asia to the Mediterranean Sea. Further than Trade, it was the advancement of civilization along with the exchange of culture in which this route played an extremely crucial role. This 10000 km route certainly was the initial evidence superhighway.
The historical Silk Route or Silk Road passes through several areas of east Sikkim like SilleryGaon, ReshiKhola, Rhenock, Rongli, Aritar, Mankhim, Lingtam, Zuluk, Padamchen, and Gnathang valley is a fraction of the historical network of trade routes that linked China to India. The Silk Route in Sikkim is an offshoot of the historical trade route which reached from Lhasa, crossing Chumbi Valley and passing through Nathula to ultimately enter the port of Tamluk in West Bengal.
The initial impression which strikes us after hearing the term Silk Route is that it must be a route where silk used to be imported or exported however in reality it was horses, wool and teas that were traded through the Silk Route. Presently the Silk Route is a unique journey through the slight known towns of East Sikkim. This less travelled road takes you to the most spectacular town situated far away from everyday city life, encircled by lush temperate wilderness and encountering the fascinating view of the Kanchenjunga range.
Silk Route Map
Icchey Gaon, generally recognized as Echey Gaon, is a gorgeous town situated in the Kalimpong district of West Bengal. The town is inhabited barely by 30 households. Situated at a higher altitude of 5,800 feet, this town extends astonishing perspectives of the snow-covered Himalayan mountain pinnacles including Kanchenjunga. This location is easily called a photographer’s heaven in Silk Route Sikkim because of its spectacular landscape of the town and the perspectives of the snow-covered Himalayan peaks.
With each stop admirable than the other, the next stop, Sillery Gaon, will certainly astonish you. It is likewise a beautiful town situated in the Kalimpong district of West Bengal. glorifying a height of 6000 feet, this town gives a fascinating temperature throughout the year. submerged in Lush woodlands of pine trees, the unwavering fresh air will detoxify your body and relieve your heart. The location gained its popularity in recent times that attained the name “New Darjeeling” for this town.
Kaagey, a small town is a Famous weekend getaway region for the people inhabiting the nearby cities. Placed within the Territory of Neora Valley National Park, Kaagey is one well-known place in the Silk Route Sikkim to spend some quality time on the lap of the Himalayas. Do not miss exploring the 300-year-old church, Buddhist monastery, meditation centre and the Jhakri cascade.
Situated in the Kalimpong district of West Bengal at an elevation of 4,070 feet, this town is primarily recognized for Damsang Fort that overlooks it. The fort was constructed by Lepchas which presently serves as a major tourist attraction.
The term ‘Pedong’ translates to a location full of Fir trees. For culture enthusiasts, the town has an ancient Buddhist monastery constructed in the year 1706. Pedong is an assortment of varied cultures which makes it an intriguing place to visit.
Reshi kola is one of the hidden treasures on the Silk Route. This tiny and picturesque town is beautifully located on the banks of a river flowing on the border of Silk Route Sikkim and West Bengal. Encounter the unspoiled purity of nature and endless tranquillity here. Since most travellers are uninformed of this place, you can encounter private time with your loved one here.
The natural beauty of Mankhim village can't be described in words. It is one of the most glorious locations on the Silk Route. This tiny spot has so much to give straight from the perspectives of Mount Kanchenjunga to the entertainment of paddle boating in the emerald waters of Lampokhari Lake.
Also spelt as Lingtam, Lingtum is a tiny town situated on the Silk Route with an astonishing panorama to observe. Little wooden houses, encircled by lush woodlands of pine, and constructed over velvety verdant grounds, this serene valley looks enchanted, incredibly during the sunrise.
What glamorizes the town further is the sound of the fluttering prayer flags, the rustling of the pine trees, and the scenery of the picturesque meadows of rai leaf and corn.
A small river named Bakhuter Khola also passes by this town placed at an altitude of 5,000 feet. Apart from a gompa, there is furthermore a cascade lying at a distance of roughly 5 km from the town known as Kiukhola Falls.
This high altitude town settled on the hills of the Himalayas brags an elevation of 8,000 feet and is certainly a delight for mountain fanatics. Padamchen offers wonderful perspectives of the mighty Himalayan Mountains enclosed in the veils of snow which moreover makes it an incredible choice for you if you are a photography lover.
The location has various homestays and hotels where you can unwind for a while and enjoy the ambience of pure nature. The residential region is encircled by lush Himalayan jungles, so you can take walks in the forests where you will be greeted by few bird species you may not have noticed before.
This place offers some extraordinary panoramas of the magnificent Himalayas including the Kanchenjunga peak. The curvy roads will give an adventurous road trip through the promising possession of nature.
The place is at an elevation of 11,200 feet. If you are scheduling to explore the Silk Route, this spot cannot be missed. A visit to this spot in winter will give you perspectives of fascinating snow all around.
A valley where the magnificence of nature rules, Nathang Valley is one of the most enchanting locations in Sikkim, explored by thousands of travellers. What was once the dwelling of conventional yak herders from the Tiber is a primary travellers destination now, with terrain gorgeous enough to call them heavenly. Since the altitude of this location is 13,500 feet, you can anticipate massive coverings of snow here during the winter season that are bound to captivate the soul within you. If you wish to get some rest here, there are homestays available with all essential facilities.
Old Baba Mandir
One of the most popular allures on the Silk Route Sikkim, Old Baba Mandir calls for a quick stop in your voyage. Frequently explored by people travelling to Tsomgo Lake, this temple is placed at a distance of 52 km from Gangtok.
The temple is devoted to an Indian Army martyr, Baba Harbhajan Singh, and is placed on the location of the bunker where he was posted. He had slipped and fell into a flowing river and died there. The temple, encircled by the colossal Himalayas, is more prominent among the locals than travellers and has enormous respect among the believers.
New Baba Mandir
The samadhi of the martyr Baba Harbhajan Singh was reconstructed at another location in the year 1982 for the amenity of travellers. The temple is crowded by believers and travellers every year.
This shrine, devoted to Baba Harbhajan Singh, is placed on the trail that carries to Menmecho Lake and is famous as New Baba Mandir. It is believed that baba has been watching over the Indo-China border since his death and transmits indications to army men through dreams to alert them about unfavourable circumstances. There are a ton more intriguing stories that are nothing short of miracles that you can get to hear when you explore this temple.
Nathu La Pass
A prominent landmark of Sikkim on the Silk Road, Nathu La Pass is a high-altitude pass situated at a height of 14,140 feet above the level on the Indo-the China border. “Nathu” is interpreted as “listening ears” in English and “La” implies “pass”. Due to its proximity from Gangtok and the prestige it has compiled over the past few years, the pass is explored by a volume of travellers all around the year.
Thanks to its height, you can discover an abundance of snow here during the winter season. This pass served as the primary passage between India and Tibet till the year 1962 when it was closed. Acclimatizing before stopping by this site is suggested due to low oxygen levels on this elevation.
Also recognized as Changu Lake, this is the most popular lake in Sikkim. It is a glacial lake situated at a whopping height of 12,400 feet. The sub-zero temperatures during the winter season freeze the lake, while it stays encircled by cliffs completely wrapped in white coverings of snow. If you are a photographer, you are going to have a certain good time here freezing the moments at the freezing lake in pictures.
Otherwise, even during the summer and spring seasons, the lake looks equally glamorous with flowers edging its azure waters grabbing the reflection of the incredible mountains that encircle the lake. Amplifying elegance to your visit is the picturesque road that directs to this absolutely fantastic lake.
Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim is a gorgeous place with vibrant monasteries and fascinating territory of the Himalayas on the Silk Route. Soak in the world of cultural exuberance and spirituality with abundant blessings of nature. Do not miss travelling the man-made allures such as Namgyal Institute, Ganesh Tok, Enchey Monastery, Hanuman Tok and many more.
Best Time to Visit
The Silk Route can be travelled at all times of the year except for the rainy season and the peak days of the winter season when the streets are obstructed with heavy snow. However, the considerably favourable time to fetch the maximum out of your Silk Route journey is the months of May and October when the temperature is perfectly fascinating for exploration and the roads are protected from the rain and snow. The months of April, May, and June are the peak season with the great inflow of travellers.
Obtaining Permits for East Sikkim
Until a decade ago, this area was entirely off-limits for everyone except the local citizens. Even now, Foreigners aren’t permitted at all. Just Indian travellers on giving an identity proof and a passport size picture are given with the mandatory Inner Line Permits. Keep an original ID proof handy as it might be inquired for at one of the check posts. It is better to let your homestay landlord or driver of your vehicle deal with this issue which they are very happy to do.
The Permits for the Old Silk Route are provided out of both Gangtok and Rongli. Do check formerly with your homestay owner, as sometimes they being locals, know-how to the procedures and rules are.
If you are one of those travellers who could do without the luxuries of resorts for locations that are worth it, if calmness and serenity call out to your heart, if nothing else matters over the magnificence of nature to you, the Old Silk Route is your kind of location. Relish unforgettable perspectives and natural wonders.