Lepchajagat, Sandakfu, Falut, Tumling.
This year I could not go out for a long time and was feeling suffocated with the situation of Covid-19. Like a pleasant breeze I came across a post on Facebook where two retired Himalaya lovers were organizing a short trip to the above mentioned places with few enthusiastic but novice travelers. So I decided to join them. It was risky for me to arrange this trip solo as I was afraid to encounter strangers in public transport. Sandakfu is in West Bengal, and is the highest point of Singalila National Park and the whole Kanchenjunga range is visible from there. It was one of my dream destinations since childhood. I only became capable of making this trip a reality this December.
I reached Sealdah Station and met the two organizers for the first time. They were amiable. We started our journey on Padatik Express (a Covid special train). After reaching New Jalpaiguri they arranged vehicles for us with the help of their local representative. We had a pretty late breakfast at Rohini. There were traffic jam in multiple places. We reached Lepchajagat at 3:30 PM and had our lunch there. Food was good and everyone was hungry. Lepchajagat felt very cold to me. Later I came to know that during winter Lepchajagat gets very less sunlight as it is surrounded by huge pine forest. It is only few kilometers away from Darjiling town.
Next day after viewing sunrise and having breakfast we started for Sandakfu. After reaching Manebhanjan at around 10 AM we changed our vehicles and boarded four old land-rovers. It was quite difficult for us to sit properly due to the zigzag turns. We had breaks for tea and photography at Tonglu, Kalipokhari, Chitre and Gairibus. From Gairibus it was almost impossible to sit still even for a moment as the road was too uneven and made of stones, it was not a paved road. We reached Sandakfu in the afternoon and had our lunch. Few of our co-travelers got sick due to high altitude and cold weather. They had stomach problem, lack of appetite and headache. But the beauty of sunset and sunrise of Sandakfu was indescribable, only those who have witnessed it can understand, it was a heavenly experience for me. The whole range of Kanchanjunga, sleeping Buddha and other peaks like Everest, Makalu, Lhotse were clearly visible. Sky was very clear by the grace of God.
Next day after breakfast we started for Falut. We were late because there were some young guys in the group, and few of them kept on having excess alcohol every night. So every day they woke up late. It is one of the disadvantages of a group tour that one can not get every member to be like minded. We witnessed Himalayas from some view points on the road. After a particular point our organizers decided to return as we were getting late. The road was also very hazardous. This was the most hectic day of the trip. We came down to Tumling in the afternoon and had our lunch. After lunch I had to take a bath to clean myself as I felt very dirty and dusty. I changed my clothes too. Then I went to see sunset at Tumling. Tumling is a small beautiful hamlet. There were some trekkers and travelers came for Sandakfu summit. Next morning I witnessed my third sunrise of this trip. Then after breakfast we started for Manebhanjan. Kanchenjunga accompanied us till Manebhanjan. From Manebhanjan we changed our vehicles and went for Shiliguri.