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Old 30th March 2016, 14:59   #1
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Default East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar

Once you are bitten by the bug called 'Himalaya' you get addicted to it & we are bitten by this bug! So this time its 'Old silk route' in east Sikkim.

This place was in our bucket list for a long time but due to some constraints the trip got delayed but finally we did it.

Few Bhpian's who helped us in planning the trip with there valuable inputs- Gearhead_mait, Blackpearl, Uprasenjit, Crank4shaft, Himadrimondal & Sheel.

A quick introduction to the team-

Team Swift
Mr.Souradeep Chaudhuri with his wife and kid. ( Team Bhp Handle- SouraC)

Team Punto
Mr Rana Adhikary & his friend Mr Sourav Chakraborty

Team Zest
Mr.Arindam Bandyopadhyay with his wife and kids ( Team Bhp Handle- Arindamxeta)

Team Etios
Mr.Samba Sengupta & his friend Mr Arghya Pan ( Team Bhp Handle-Samba)

Team Thar
Mr.Avrendu Majumdar with his wife and kid. ( Team Bhp Handle- avrendu)

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0567.jpg

From Left to Right- Mr.Souradeep Chaudhuri, Mr.Samba Sengupta, Mr.Arghya Pan, Mr.Avrendu Majumdar, Mr.Rana Adhikary, Mr Arindam Bandyopadhyay, Mrs.Sutapa Bandyapadhyay, Mrs.Urmi Bhattacharjee, Mrs.Keya Chaudhuri , Mr Sourav Chakraborty. Kids from left to right- Babula owner of Tata Zest, Oly, owner of Maruti Swift, Hridhi, owner of Mahindra Thar & Mithi co-owner of the Tata Zest!

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0570.jpg

The trip itinerary for the team-

22.03.2016 - Kolkata - Siliguri
23.03.2016 - Siliguri - Zuluk
24.03.2016 - Zuluk - Thambi view point- Gnathang valley - Kupup lake - Zuluk.
25.03.2016- Zuluk - Lava
26.03.2016- Lava - Malda
27.03.2016- Malda - Kolkata.
(Mr.Rana Adhikary did Lava - Kolkata in one go with out stopping over at Malda.)

For me due to some personal reason i & Mr.Arghya Pan had to cut short the trip by a day so we skipped Lava and returned back to Kolkata on 26th March. Bhpian's from our team will add up the Lava part to this travelogue.

My itinerary went like this-

22.03.2016 - Kolkata - Siliguri
23.03.2016 - Siliguri - Zuluk
24.03.2016 - Zuluk - Thambi view point- Gnathang valley - Kupup lake - Zuluk - Rongpo
25.03.2016 - Rongpo - Malda
26.03.2016- Malda- Kolkata

A teaser pic from the trip-
East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0578.jpg

And a teaser video-




Last edited by Samba : 31st March 2016 at 02:46.
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Old 30th March 2016, 17:48   #2
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Day 1 Kolkata - Siliguri (550kms in 14 hrs)

12 am we met at Dankuni toll booth. Himadri Da (TeamBhp handle- Himadri Mondal) was heading for a road trip to North Sikkim with his family the same day in his new black Scorpio s10 4wd, so he joined our convoy till Siliguri. 6 cars left Dankuni around 12am.

The drive was smooth. Himadri da knew Sh7 very well so he was the lead car and we followed him. The route we took was. Dankuni- Palshit- Ullash- Burdwan- Futisako- Khargram- Moregram - Dhulain - Farakkha - Malda - Raigaunge- Botolbari- Dhantola - Islampur- Bagdogra - Siliguri.

In 4 hours we crossed Moregram and by 5am in the morning we crossed Farakkha. But as soon as we crossed Farakkha there was a huge truck traffic which was almost stand still. But locals helped the small cars to squeeze out and take the detour to bypass Kaliachowk. Soon we crossed Kaliachowck and by 7-30am we were at hotel Golden park Malda for break fast. Himadri da didnt stop for the break fast so he went ahead and the rest of us had an hour break. By 9am we left Malda and reached the botol bari junction around 10-45am. Took a 15 mins tea break and reached Dhantola by 12-30pm. From there we connect to Nh31 at Islampur and the rest of the drive till Siliguri was a breeze. We reached our hotel by 1-30pm. Even by driving at a leisurely pace it took us 14 hours to do Kolkata - Siliguri with the odometer hovering around 550kms for the day.

We had nothing to do for the rest of the day. So it was almost a rest day for us.

Day 2 Siliguri - Zuluk (145kms in 7 hours)

The target for the day was to reach Zuluk. But for that we need to obtain permits from Rongli police station or SDPO office. So to be on the safer side we started from Siliguri by 9am. On the very same day Blackpearl was on his way to Sandakphu. The time we were leaving our hotel he just reached Siliguri. So we had a small meet before we left for our respective destinations.

All the cars lined up in front of our hotel in Siliguri. The white Thar belongs to Blackpearl (Though it do not require any introduction in Team Bhp)!

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_5940.jpg

Around 11am we crossed Rongpo and by 12pm we reached Rongli.

Our cars parked at Rongli.

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_5941.jpg

For the permit we had to submit-
A photocopy of all the car documents with the driving license of the driver.
1 passport size photograph.
1 Id proof xerox with the original as a stand by. (They do not accept Adhar card or pan card).
We collected a form from there office and filled it up with our details and got a xerox copy of it and submitted with the id proofs and cars document xerox.

The person in charge asked us to come after 45 minutes. We were there. They verified all the original documents and voila! The permits were issued! We got six xerox copies of the permits to submit them in the respective check posts.

By 3pm we left Rongli for Zuluk.

Between Rongli & Padamchen.

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0468.jpg

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At Padamchen.

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0475.jpg

The foggy drive from Padamche to Zuluk


Around 5-30pm we reached Zuluk. Till now all were good. But with poor cell phone connectivity and no proper indication of the home stay it was hard to find the place where we booked our stay. In the beginning we got misguided and had to drive through a very bad road with boulders and slush for the home stay. Later thankfully we got to know that was not the road for our home stay, so we turned back.

A video for reference.


By 6pm with the help of a local person we managed to locate our stay.

At Zuluk

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_5943.jpg

My car parked in front of our home stay at Zuluk!

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0479.jpg

The evening was chilling and we had not much to do, so tried my hand in some night photography.

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Post photography session we had some chit chats, had our dinner and called it a day.

Last edited by Samba : 31st March 2016 at 02:39.
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Old 30th March 2016, 21:08   #3
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Day 3 Zuluk- Thambi view point - Gnathang Valley - Kupup Lake - Zuluk - Rongpo (120kms in 9 hours)

After a chilling night at 10,000 feet in Zuluk we couldn't gather the courage to wake up early in the morning to view the sunrise from the sunrise point. We all slept lazily till 7am. It was cold but sunny out side. 8am we crank our cars and were on the way to Gnathang valley. Here i do not have much to write so straight away sharing the pics.

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Spotted this Monal on the way. At first glance i thought it to be a peacock. Was driving and my dslr was not handy at that time so took a screen shot from the video.
East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-m.jpg

The video of the same. Watch out at 1.22 secs.


Soon we reached Thambi view point. View from Thambi view point.

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0519.jpg

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Ice sickles
East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0536.jpg

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0530.jpg

The next place to visit was Gnathang valley at an altitude of over 14,000 feet. The snow capped mountains which we were seeing from a distance were getting closer to us. The happiness of driving into snow capped mountains is what words cant express, one has to feel it.

Pics around Gnathang valley.

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0539.jpg

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Old 30th March 2016, 22:14   #4
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On the way to Kupup lake from Gnathang valley.

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0552.jpg

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0556.jpg

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At Kupup Lake.

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0559.jpg

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From Kupup lake the road goes straight to Gangtok via Nathula but we had our permits till Kupup lake. Our plan was to return back to Zuluk. We had ample time in our hand. So took plenty of time to enjoy the snow between Kupup lake to Gnathang valley. Specially the kids enjoyed the snow.

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-img_0574.jpg

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A small video between Kupup lake to Gnathang valley.



Soon we reached Zuluk around 1-30 pm.
Rest of the team stayed back at Zuluk but due to some personal reason me and Arghya Pan had to leave for Rongpo. We reached Rongpo around 4-30pm. Spent the rest of the day in leisure. Had dinner at Domino's and called it a day.
Here we stayed at Hotel Darpad, its a nice hotel for a over night stay with very reasonable room rent & proper parking space.

Day 4 Rongpo - Malda (310kms in 6.45 hours)

After a heavy breakfast, started lazily at 10-30 am from Rongpo. Reached Sevoke in 2 hours. Was contemplating weather to take Dhantola-Botlobari route or go through Dalkhola level crossing. We checked in the gps and it showed yellow. So we took a chance through Dalkhola. It was rather empty. We had to just stop for 20 minutes at the level crossing for a train to pass by and we were good to move. From here till Malda it was a smooth drive with no unwanted surprises. Reached hotel Golden Park by 5pm & called it a day in terms of driving.

Day 5 Malda - Kolkata (320kms in 7 hours)

The start time from Malda was 10-30am. There was heavy truck traffic and gps showed it all red inside Malda. So we took the under construction Malda bypass and skipped the traffic. Just after crossing Malda the traffic jam of the infamous Kaliachowk came into picture. So we skirted Kaliachowk by the Muthabari detour and reached Farakkha around 12-30pm. Since then it was a smooth sail. The route taken further was Nh34 till Moregram, Sh7 from Moregram to Burdwan and finally Nh2 till Dankuni. By 5pm we were home.

My car odometer reads 1425kms at the end of the trip. Yet again all the cars in our group proved out to be ultra reliable for these long trips. The performance of my Etios has been jotted down in my long term ownership thread over here.
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/long-t...t-view-12.html (Toyota Etios 1.5L Petrol : An Owner's Point of View) (Ref to post no 175)
For any queries or doubts i will be more than glad to answer here. Thanks for reading.

Last edited by Samba : 31st March 2016 at 02:45.
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Old 31st March 2016, 06:51   #5
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 31st March 2016, 11:24   #6
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Default re: East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar

Once again an amazing Travelogue Samba Words are not enough to praise those majestic captures from your Camera. It is commendable how dedicatedly you invest your time in writing such beautiful travelogues right after the completion of your trips.

Would have been fantastic for me to be a part of this Team to Zuluk (as in the case of Ladakh), but unfortunately there were other important things that needed my attention during the time of your travel. Hoping that in the future we shall again be able to drive in tandem.

Take care of your health Samba !! You took a good decision of returning a day before the entire group returned. I suggest being up late in the night to bring the travelogue(s) on air is also not helping the cause and I seriously think that you need a proper vacation instead of a driving holiday. So plan the next one wisely. Get well soon !!

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 31st March 2016 at 11:29. Reason: Changes
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Old 31st March 2016, 11:35   #7
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Default re: East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar

Stunning! Those twisties are a biker's wet dream! These posts show how living close to the Himalayas gives you so many options for a getaway.

Last edited by GTO : 1st April 2016 at 10:13. Reason: Typo
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Old 31st March 2016, 11:38   #8
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Default Re: East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar

Wonderful Samba. This group has sailed over a lot of places now. That too in hatches & sedans. Waiting for more.

Your pictures as usual are spell bounding. I remember your picture at Zero point which had similar topography. Keep traveling & updating us with these wonderful travelogues.

Regards,

Pawan
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Old 31st March 2016, 12:23   #9
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Default Re: East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar

This travelogue makes me cringe. While you guys were cherishing the drive over snow with spectacular views, I was languishing lazily in south Sikkim with absolutely no views of snow clad peaks on offer. Needless to say, your driving skills and photography skills compliment each other so well. How do you find these amazing vantage points is beyond me. The cars looks spectacular in the gorgeous surroundings. Glad to know that the permit procedure is so simple. Also, SH-7 is at present the best route to take till Moregram. Infact, on my return I took a further detour from Bahrampur, via SH-11 (Kandi route) and joined SH-7 at Kuli. Even with the detour, my return leg from Siliguri to Kolkata effectively took just 10 hours 50 mins with overnight stay at Raiganj WBTDC. The pristine State Highways were a very pleasant surprise.

I've forwarded your whatsapp link to my missus. Blamed her for the missed opportunity and demanded compensation.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful travelogue and wish the travel bug hits you soon again.
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Old 31st March 2016, 13:16   #10
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Default Re: East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar

Wonderful travelogue Samba da. There is no doubt that you and your car have achieved a lot over the years. Great photos as usual.

Hope to join in with you guys on your next drives
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Old 31st March 2016, 15:01   #11
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Default Re: East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ-got-BHP View Post
Once again an amazing Travelogue Samba Words are not enough to praise those majestic captures from your Camera. It is commendable how dedicatedly you invest your time in writing such beautiful travelogues right after the completion of your trips.
I surely do support AJ, but now I should stop thanking Samba as he has made it a habit to publish this TLs in no time.

We missed Samba and his photographs in the later part of our trip, hence I am trying to add some of the Photographs we have taken.

Lava was supposed to be a relaxed last day for us in hills with a small trip to Neora Valley National Park but as usual we can only plan.


We started from Zuluk around 8:30am and reached Lava by 12:45pm with a 45min+ break at Reshi Khola.

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-dsc_5014-1800x1190.jpg

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-dsc_5022-1800x1192.jpg

After checking into Hotel Orchid and completing our Lunch we started to enquire about a trip to Neora Valley but sadly we came to know that it is closed and will be opening next day. With heavy heart we decided to have a walk through the Pine forest in Lava.

Forest Walk with Kids

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-dsc_5051-1192x1800.jpg

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-dsc_5065-1800x1196.jpg

We met Anirban Da (Babul Da) here who was also on a family trip to Lava and Darjeeling and he also joined us in our forest walk

Rana, Anirban Da and Avrendu negotiating an uphill climb

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-dsc_5036-1800x1227.jpg

The Best Place to stay at Lava. The WBFDC cottages.

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-dsc_5042-1800x1192.jpg

An odd flower !!

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-dsc_5069-1800x1175.jpg

After completing a small trekking with kids we decided to end our day with a visit to the Lava Monastery.

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-dsc_5070-1800x1143.jpg

The Lava Team

East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar-dsc_5071-1800x1165.jpg

I will be adding more photos of Zuluk trip later.
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Old 31st March 2016, 16:40   #12
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Default Re: East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar

That is one hell of a trip. I have been working on planning this trip in the month of May 2016 from Hyderabad. For some personal reason, i might have to postpone this. However, once again your trip got me hooked onto East Sikkim. Some queries that i wanted your help on.

1. Would you be able to share the homestay details of Zuluk.
2. Can we apply for a nathula permit from Rongli.
3. I want to take the following route. Siliguri - Rongli - Zuluk - Nathula Pass - Gangtok.
4. Will my base station has to be at Zuluk or are there any other homestay available after Zuluk
5) Entering from Shillong and Exiting at Gangtok, how many days should i look at blocking for this journey and is there a itinerary that you can share on this?

Once again, the photos were a delight to watch.
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Old 31st March 2016, 17:08   #13
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Default Re: East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar

Wonderful , wonderful TL. Enjoyed every bit of it. So when are the Himalayas calling again? Can I join ?
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Old 31st March 2016, 22:39   #14
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Default Re: East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar

Great travelogue. Did you have to use different winter tires to drive on the snowy roads?
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Old 31st March 2016, 23:45   #15
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Default Re: East Sikkim: Sailed through the Old Silk Route in hatchbacks, sedans and a Thar

Great travelogue Samba, rated a well deserved 5 stars. It was nice meeting all of you at Siliguri. Hopefully next time our destinations will be same as well. Sad to hear that you had to cut your vacation short. I hope it is nothing too serious.
Did anyone have any breathing problem at Gnathang? One of our friends was feeling a bit dizzy when we went there last September.
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