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Old 11th April 2022, 02:51   #1
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Default Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

Introduction



This happens to be my first travelogue in TBHP after being inspired by fellow BHPians over a recent breakfast meet in Kolkata. While I was writing and sorting the photos it felt good to relive the journey from the last week of March that took me and my family to the height of 18,000 ft to witness the grandeur of nature in North Sikkim. We made this journey in our beloved BoomBoom aka Tata Hexa 4X2 2019 model, a rare breed that once used to come out of the Tata stable during the BS4 era.

Planning



Original plan was made for Kalimpong for a leisurely stay of three days in the beautiful Yuru resort. This place ranks high among the BHPians for its location, view, property, food and cleanliness. Directly contacted the owner and made the booking. North Sikkim was not in the list at this point of time. But as the travel date approached the urge to explore more kicked in. And a day before the travel I thought of Gurudongmar Lake as it ticked the right boxes - tough roads, high altitude, chance to test BoomBoom's mettle and a sense of adventure in all these. Called Sikkim Tourism to find out if route has opened for Gurudongmar but was not given a clear answer and told to call a day before I travel to Gurudongmar. I then found and called up the manager of Hotel Tamarind in Mangan. Mangan is the district headquarter of North Sikkim and tourist permits are issued from here for places like Gurudongmar, Kalapathar, Yumthang which falls under protected area of North Sikkim. Again no positive answer but was told that route to Yumthang has opened. So thought of taking my chances and booked Hotel Tamarind in Mangan for a night to get my permits done and if allowed then travel to Gurudongmar or else go to Yumthang. With this in mind we packed our bags and carried camphor & an oxygen can as a precaution for AMS.

Day 0 - Day 1



Unlike other states, average speed on highway in West Bengal during day time is quite low due to numerous barricades being put up almost at every junction to allow locals to cross. Hence many prefer to drive at night when the interruptions are few. I did the same and started at 8 PM from home. Took the Dankuni, Old Delhi Road, STKK, NH 12, newly opened Dalkhola Bypass to reach the outskirts of Siliguri around 9 AM. The view of tea garden took away the tiredness from the overnight journey.

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Very soon reached our breakfast stop at Barsana Resort and spent more than an hour resting and reenergize. Although this place is pure veg but suited my need after an overnight journey.

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With our tummies full we resumed our journey. But before that filled up the tank and checked the tyre pressure (N2) at IOCL COCO Pump at Matigara. This was BoomBoom's first ever hill station visit and I was eager to find out how RWD behaves on the curves and steep inclines. And it kept climbing with swag.

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Reached our stay at Yuru Resort around 2:30 PM. The place is indeed beautiful. We spent rest of our day exploring the property which has wonderful step gardens, cobbled walk ways and landing. The rooms are cozy, clean with large windows. A new building is also coming up which will have rooms with balconies and is due to start from May onwards.

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Day 2



As is the norm in hills, sleep early and get up early, we got up early and went for a walk in the nearby hill top. Although I am not in birding, but I do like to capture their beauties. But please excuse the picture quality as I do not have appropriate lens to get a crystal clear shot.

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Post our breakfast we booked a local cab for sightseeing. Started with pineview nursery, which is famous for its cactus collection and is a must visit.

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Next was Durpin monastery. We were lucky to participate in the prayer that started very soon after we reached the monastery.

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Morgan House, which is famous as being haunted but actually is a West Bengal Tourism hotel was our next stop. It is just next to the beautiful golf course. The gate was closed and there was no security guard available nearby. Hence took photo from outside and left.

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Dr Graham's Homes - a century old boarding school in Kalimpong was our next stop and I very much liked this place. Reminded me of my own hostel days.

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Our last stop for the day was the science museum. The science museum has similar setup as that of Kolkata Science city. The hill beside the building is extremely beautiful with garden, swing, a Jurassic park setup and what I heard from local is that it is a famous picnic spot.

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On the way we also visited a Buddha Park and Hanuman-Ji Mandir.

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Sometime during the day we had our lunch at a famous Bhutanese restaurant Za Khang. Highly recommended and would suggest to go for the buffet.

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The whole sight seeing took around 6 hours. It was almost evening when we came back. Retired to the comfort of our room and rested.
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Old 11th April 2022, 04:00   #2
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Default Re: Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

Day 3



Day 3 was quiet. The Yuru Retreat resort is situated on the Delo hill and the famous Delo park is just next to it. Few hours was spent at Delo park.

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Day 4



Day 4 was to take our chance. We started at 6 am from Kalimpong, took the Bhalu Marg and very soon crossed Rangpo checkpost which is one of the entry point for Sikkim. After crossing Rangpo we stopped and had our breakfast which was sandwiches packed by Yuru Retreat. We went by Dikchu route to reach Mangan around 10:30 am. The road was of mixed condition. At some places sinking and some places broken and road work, stone cutting is going on. Nevertheless, we kept stopping for photos as we liked and enjoyed the scenary.

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The twists and turns in gmap.

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From Hotel balcony overseeing the road to Chungthang

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After reaching Mangan, I heard that vehicles are now allowed for Gurudongmar. I got my permit done by 3 PM. And then I really started thinking of my next step. I had two choices. One to move to Lachen (9000 ft) , stay and then go to Gurudongmar (17,800 ft). This will give better acclimatization and is the preferred choice for all. The other option is to attempt Gurudongmar directly from Mangan. This is risky. First of all Mangan is at a much lower height (3136 ft) so chances of AMS hit was more. Secondly one has to cross the Thangu checkpost enroute Gurudongmar between 7:30 am to 10:30 am to be allowed. From Mangan to Lachen itself was showing 2 hrs in GMAP and in the hilly area one can never be sure. The hotel manager insisted that I can start at 7 am. I decided to directly attempt Gurudongmar from Mangan and to start at the first light of the day which was 5 am. I hardly slept that night due to excitement.

Day 5



Started at sharp 5 am and proceeded towards Lachen. The first checkpost of North Sikkim came up after an hour at Toong. Showed our permit , submitted a copy and got it stamped. Went through the Theng tunnel, stopping for photos at every opportunity and finally crossed Lachen at around 7:30 am.

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Post Lachen the landscape started changing. We reached the second checkpost at Thangu around 9 am. The highest Dosa shop is found here and we had it with hot tea. Thangu is at a height of 13000 ft. And I started to feel the effect of low oxygen with every step.

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We carried on. The next and the last military check post came at 10:15 am at Gaigaon. Took 75 mins to cover around 20 km from Thangu, says much about road condition. This last checkpost has oxygen station and from here Gurudongmar is only around 17 - 20 kms. The permit is kept here by the guard and one is given a serial number. Must remember this number as while returning one has to tell this number to get the permit back. But not to worry, I forgot and the guards have a register where they note down the serial number against the vehicle number plate. So it was easily recovered. But worry now was for AMS. We witnessed a woman losing consciousness and being carried away by army personnel. My head was like something was pressing. While walking I was feeling like I was floating. Wife and daughter also complained of dizziness. However, excitement was at high in anticipation of reaching our final goal. We started smelling the camphor and moved on. Road condition went from bad to worse but then came the superb highway.

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Old 11th April 2022, 10:09   #3
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Default Re: Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

At around 11:15 am, travelling for 6 hours straight, we reached that famous right turn marked by the sign board of Gurudongmar Lake. Here the road ends and one has to climb the hill to reach the lake. This last climb is literally a free way. There is no proper road or even path. Number of tracks are made by the cars going up and down over the stones, mud and slushes. One must be very careful and always keep a watch for any sharp stone that may damage the tyre. Avoid using clutch and avoid losing momentum.

Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake-60_guru.jpg

BoomBoom's 400 NM torque came handy here and soon we made it to the top. And finally , there we were, destiny reached.

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Lack of oxygen started hitting us here. Wife and daughter complained of dizziness. Oxygen can came in handy and after spending around fifteen minutes we decided to turn back.

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We reached Lachen around 2:30 PM and I decided to halt there. I had no prior booking but was lucky to get room in Hotel Klifton Crown which had a big parking. Evening was spent with momos and watching the photos from the morning again and again.

Day 6



We left Lachen at 7:30 am after our breakfast and moved towards Lachung. Hotel at Lachung was booked in advance through the manager of Hotel Tamarind, Mangan. Enjoying the scenic route and watching the red, pink rhododendrons in abundance we reached Lachung by 9:30 am. Briefly stopped at our hotel and ordered our lunch and proceeded towards Yumthang valley.

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The surroundings was surreal and it felt like some dark beast is hiding somewhere. My feelings was reciprocated by GMAP. Notice the name of the road.

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Finally reached Yumthang at 11 AM. Many tourists proceed towards Zero Point to play with the snow but we decided to relax and enjoy our time at Yumthang.

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Stone stack made by daughter

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By 3 PM we returned to our hotel Lachung Continental and took our lunch.

Day 7 - Day 8



Our last morning in the hills and it did greet us well.

Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake-75_yum.jpg

We left at 8 AM for Siliguri. For all these days the sky was overcast and we could not see Kanchendzonga. But on our last day, we got a peek while we were passing the Mangan view point.

Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake-76_kanchen.jpg

We had our lunch at Sikkim Tourism Oasis Cafe at Rangpo which has a beautiful location and finally reached our hotel The Loft at Siliguri around 5:30 PM.

On Day 8 , post our breakfast we started at 8 AM from Siliguri, stopped for lunch at Malda Golden Park and for dinner at somewhere near Delhi Road, finally reaching home around midnight.

That was it. A total trip of 1979 KM and memories to last for ever. And all this made possible by our dear BoomBoom. A small token of appreciation bought from Yumthang.

Until next, thanks for reading through our journey.

Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake-20220403_122605.jpg
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Old 11th April 2022, 11:37   #4
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Default Re: Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

Wonderful travelogue. Really nice pictures. I think, a few more pictures would have been better.
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Old 11th April 2022, 13:38   #5
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Default Re: Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

Gorgeous pictures and what a brilliant adventure! All these years, I have tried multiple times to visit Gurudongmar Lake but have always fallen short for reasons beyond. Your story rekindles the urge. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11th April 2022, 13:48   #6
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Default Re: Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

Wonderful travelogue and I could completely relate to the Delo part since I did that right after you returned - thanks a lot for your suggestions too which really helped. You have a lot of courage to do Gurudongmar in such an impromptu way. Your Hexa really showed its mettle and it is a real pity that Tata discontinued one of their best products. Loved the eloquent narration and the photos of the trip, and hopefully your TL will inspire me to go next year if all goes well.
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Old 12th April 2022, 01:36   #7
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Default Re: Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

Fantastic travelogue Mile_Breaker ! Your amazing Hexa has managed to conquer some of the most breathtakingly beautiful landscapes in Sikkim. The sudden plan to visit Gurudongmar from Kalimpong was brilliant and it has definitely showered you with an experience of a lifetime! I also noticed that you have captured two of my favourite birds from that region - Blue Fronted Redstart and Rufous breasted Accentor. Great job !

Thanks for sharing these wonderful set of pictures and a very crisp narrative. Hereís hoping to read more of your expeditions with the blue Hexa ! Keep on revving !
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Old 12th April 2022, 04:25   #8
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Default Re: Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

First of all thanks to the Bhpians from the morning breakfast meet for inspiring you to write this beautiful travelogue! This travelogue came out fantastic. Loved reading it. I could visualise what you wrote and the pictures you shared aptly compliment your writing. Rated 5*

This was the first picture I clicked after reaching Gurudongmar lake! Not always your car’s rear camera show such an ecstatic view!

Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake-6e9f4f39a1964476aa1feba9d3f92fc8.jpeg

Last edited by Samba : 12th April 2022 at 04:36.
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Old 12th April 2022, 08:48   #9
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Default Re: Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

What a beautiful travelogue. Must say thanks to the TBHP meet which encouraged this memoir. I last visited Sikkim with my parents in 2009-10, After seeing this travelogue, I think I must plan one with my friends or my parents again!
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Old 12th April 2022, 11:38   #10
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Default Re: Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

Congratulations on a trip well done. Plans made on the go mostly turn out to be the best ones and your Gurudongmer trip reaffirms the same. Beautiful pictures and some concise writing Mile_Breaker, thanks for sharing the journey with your near and dear ones and that includes the blue workhorse as well. I know how much you travel and now that you have made a start, please keep sharing.

Regards.
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Old 12th April 2022, 14:31   #11
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Default Re: Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

Very neat travelogue Mile Breaker...enjoyed thoroughly.

I too own a 2018 Hexa XM+ and have taken her to the mountains a few times and she has fared very well so far. Great to know that your Hexa performed flawlessly.

Last edited by suhaas307 : 12th April 2022 at 14:40. Reason: spacing
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Old 12th April 2022, 16:57   #12
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Default Re: Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

Wonderful TLog Mile_breaker. The pictures are awesome. It felt like I was a part of the trip thanks to the wonderful pictures and the crisp description
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Old 12th April 2022, 17:20   #13
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Default Re: Kolkata to Kalimpong to Gurudongmar Lake

Had a Gurudongmar travelogue after a long long time on Team-BHP. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

Can you please clarify a bit on how you procured the permit? Did you apply for it yourself or did you hire someone else to do it for you? Do the authorities have any rules prohibiting non-4WD vehicles on these roads?
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Old 12th April 2022, 19:41   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edunata View Post
Wonderful travelogue. Really nice pictures. I think, a few more pictures would have been better.
Thank you so much edunata ! The place and setup is awesome. Pictures only capture partial frame. But to tell you the truth I thought I have uploaded more photos than what was required and was bit apprehensive of the count at first, but your comment gives me relief !

Quote:
Originally Posted by mi2n View Post
Gorgeous pictures and what a brilliant adventure! All these years, I have tried multiple times to visit Gurudongmar Lake but have always fallen short for reasons beyond. Your story rekindles the urge. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much mi2n ! I say that you don't spend long for planning but just get on with it. It is only a matter of three days to complete this circuit of Lachen - Gurudongmar - Lachung - Yumthang.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neversaygbye View Post
Wonderful travelogue and I could completely relate to the Delo part since I did that right after you returned - thanks a lot for your suggestions too which really helped. You have a lot of courage to do Gurudongmar in such an impromptu way. Your Hexa really showed its mettle and it is a real pity that Tata discontinued one of their best products. Loved the eloquent narration and the photos of the trip, and hopefully your TL will inspire me to go next year if all goes well.
Knowing the kind of travel and planning you do, I am sure it is only a matter of time that we see your travelogue on Gurudongmar on TBHP home page! Thanks a lot Neversaygbye ! Yes, it was very disappointing that Tata discontinued such a good product. I understand it was due to low sales volume. But then I wonder how much they have tried to promote it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by turboNath View Post
Fantastic travelogue Mile_Breaker ! Your amazing Hexa has managed to conquer some of the most breathtakingly beautiful landscapes in Sikkim. The sudden plan to visit Gurudongmar from Kalimpong was brilliant and it has definitely showered you with an experience of a lifetime! I also noticed that you have captured two of my favourite birds from that region - Blue Fronted Redstart and Rufous breasted Accentor. Great job !

Thanks for sharing these wonderful set of pictures and a very crisp narrative. Hereís hoping to read more of your expeditions with the blue Hexa ! Keep on revving !
Yo turboNath ! What am I to a legend like you who has done Gurudongmar so many times and again visiting in next few days ! But thanks, your recent trip to North Bengal helped me plan my overnight journey on this route. And many thanks for sharing the name of the birds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
First of all thanks to the Bhpians from the morning breakfast meet for inspiring you to write this beautiful travelogue! This travelogue came out fantastic. Loved reading it. I could visualise what you wrote and the pictures you shared aptly compliment your writing. Rated 5*

This was the first picture I clicked after reaching Gurudongmar lake! Not always your carís rear camera show such an ecstatic view!
Thank you so much Samba ! Your travelogue on Gurudongmar has been a source of inspiration to me. And I am ever grateful to you for arranging the picnic this year where I got a chance to get introduced to like minded fellows which resulted in our occasional breakfast meets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AB10 View Post
What a beautiful travelogue. Must say thanks to the TBHP meet which encouraged this memoir. I last visited Sikkim with my parents in 2009-10, After seeing this travelogue, I think I must plan one with my friends or my parents again!
Thank you so much AB10 ! Yes, you definitely need to plan one soon and please include Gurudongmar in it. But be careful of oxygen deficiency at high altitude beyond Lachen specially with aged parents and take precautions.
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Old 13th April 2022, 09:58   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ABHI_1512 View Post
Congratulations on a trip well done. Plans made on the go mostly turn out to be the best ones and your Gurudongmer trip reaffirms the same. Beautiful pictures and some concise writing Mile_Breaker, thanks for sharing the journey with your near and dear ones and that includes the blue workhorse as well. I know how much you travel and now that you have made a start, please keep sharing.

Regards.
Thank you so much ABHI_1512 ! I first came to know about Yuru Retreat from your travelogue only. So again thanks for that. Your travelogues are always a huge source of information and comes handy for trip planning. Suggestion accepted, will definitely post my future travel stories.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UD2021 View Post
Very neat travelogue Mile Breaker...enjoyed thoroughly.

I too own a 2018 Hexa XM+ and have taken her to the mountains a few times and she has fared very well so far. Great to know that your Hexa performed flawlessly.
Wow UD2021 ! In my almost 2.5 yrs of ownership of Hexa this is the first time I came across someone who also owns the same model. In my opinion XM+ was the most value for money option that was available when Hexa was in circulation. The brilliant suspension, the power of Varicor and easy handling make the Hexa a super car for the well tarred or broken roads of mountains. I am totally satisfied.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pd1108 View Post
Wonderful TLog Mile_breaker. The pictures are awesome. It felt like I was a part of the trip thanks to the wonderful pictures and the crisp description
Thank you so much pd1108 ! I am happy that you liked my travelogue. It is my first and your comment surely inspires me to write more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadAtlas View Post
Had a Gurudongmar travelogue after a long long time on Team-BHP. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

Can you please clarify a bit on how you procured the permit? Did you apply for it yourself or did you hire someone else to do it for you? Do the authorities have any rules prohibiting non-4WD vehicles on these roads?
You are welcome RoadAtlas ! You can do the permit by yourself or through agent/hotel. It can be done either from Gangtok or from Mangan. Mangan is on the route and less time consuming due to less crowd. For me the hotel manager at Mangan got it done for an extra charge. Documents are simple. Passport photos for each traveller, copies of DL for driver, Voter Id/ Aadhar, Vehicle PUC and Insurance. Many TBHP members have done the permit from Mangan on their way to Lachen. It takes few hours.
Most cars going to North Sikkim are 2WD only but they are SUV/MUVs. Permit is not given for small cars. 4WD is not required in this route but high GC is absolutely required if planning for Gurudongmar.
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