Sandakphu - Phalut Trek | Day 0 | Darjeeling

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SUNDAY | 27th DECEMBER, 2015

If you've been generous enough to let me occupy some space in your Facebook wall feed, you probably have an inkling that I went to some deserted mountains and clicked a few pictures for Instagram.

Here is an account of what else I did there presented informatively so in case you're persuaded of visiting the beautiful place yourself, it's easier to plan. It took me a while to make sure I am making no mistakes, but let my experience be a lesson here.

My journey had begun on 26th December, boarding a train to New Jalpaiguri (a.k.a. NJP) from Bhubaneswar (a.k.a. BBSR). It was difficult sleeping in the train. Some excited souls in the next compartment kept chattering late into the night. Thankfully, the train was late enough to let me make up for the time. The journey was a total of 20 hours.
  
The taxi booth for pre-paid cars outside NJP Railway Station.
Getting off at NJP station and looking for taxi to Darjeeling is fairly easy. Either get in the queue for a reserved pre-paid taxi (some Rs 2000 for a whole car to yourself), or let a driver take you to his sharing taxi (some Rs 200 for a seat). Or if you've been smart enough to go to IRCTC and book seats in the toy train, cheers for you!

Though, I must warn you, trekkers who I met later who took the toy train were left utterly dissatisfied. They hated the journey. Also, the train takes double to triple the time (7 to 8 hours) it takes to get to Darjeeling by taxi (3 hours). 

On the way from NJP/Siliguri to Darjeeling,
the driver takes a tea-break for convenience.
I had no hotel bookings. I got off when the taxi halted and roamed around checking tariffs. After a going through a few hotels, which were literally sitting in one line because the entire place is full of lodges and hotels, I got one to make mine for a day at Rs 800. The business for tourists is so booming there that private properties explicitly write PRIVATE on their doors.

Bathing was a torture in Darjeeling. There was no fan to dry my towel under. In fact, I later realized, there are no fans in Darjeeling anywhere. They don't even have the hooks in the ceilings. There is rare spotting of a thing called the sun which helps if you're a tourist, otherwise the locals are used to the cold.

Walking is also a difficult task because the roads aren't horizontal. They're always either inclined, or declined. Of course a day of walking prepares you mentally that there's no escape from this.

Chowk Bazaar market provides cheap apparels,
in case you've forgotten to bring enough warm clothes.
Another thing worth noticing is how chilled everything they serve is, unless they heat it. For example, water. The goddamned water is always, always super chilled. Not that heating it would make things okay. But, no refrigeration needed.

Oh, and the city closes really early. By 20:00, when you'd have collected enough courage to step out to have some hot soup with a plate of momos, you'd find that all the shops are closed. You'd have to kill your heart and eat something at the local Pizza Hut.

I'm writing this well into the night, covered with three kinds of blankets and still shivering. I am so worried about the trek starting tomorrow because it might be snowing. But I've come all this way to do this, and this is no time to act a pussy.

Let this be a warning to everybody out there. Think twice before you visit a hill station in winter. Tomorrow I'll have begun my trek. For those who have no idea where I'm trekking, following is an idea.

Accessible from Darjeeling is a place called Maney Bhanjang, from where a trekking route begins to a peak called Sandakphu. Sometimes trekkers also move on to a peak called Phalut from Sandakphu. Phalut and Sandakphu are so loved because these two peaks offer you the chance of looking at four of the world's five highest peaks in the world.

Among these four highest peaks in the world are Mt Everest and Kanchenjunga. Also fascinating is the fact that Kanchenjunga is only 48 km away from Phalut as a crow flies. So you can imagine the sight of the mountain is breathtaking.

The city of Darjeeling.
In the backdrop is Kanchenjunga.
Of course, to get to these two peaks, Sandakphu and Phalut, you have to either walk, or hire a four-wheel drive Landrover.  The trek is usually 100-km long if you go to Phalut and return, and this takes a total of six to seven days. It is mandatory to hire a guide from the local Guide Association (some Rs 600 per day) and this really helps.

I finished this trek in five days. My guide says I did so well because I try to keep fit by jogging and working out regularly in my mundane life. If that's the case, I'll never stop trying to keep fit.

Following is the list of my account of each of my trek day. I hope I am able to capture the emotions I experienced efficiently enough to inspire somebody else to go on this trek. If not, thanks for reading anyway. Please click on the link to proceed. (Note: Links might take a few days to get activated.)

Day 0 | Darjeeling
Day 1 | Tumling
Day 2 | Sandakphu
Day 3 | Phalut
Day 4 | Gorkhey
Day 5 | Rimbick

3 comments:

  1. I love the way u r sharing your expirience..its really enthralling and yes ofcourse excites me!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading my post, Vikas92. Please watch out for the next one and let me know if it's good. :)

      Delete
  2. I love the way u r sharing your expirience..its really enthralling and yes ofcourse excites me!!

    ReplyDelete