The Sandakphu Experience

Sandakphu Travel Blog

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Experiencing new things about the earth, about me and about the power within!

I knew it was going to be tough one, cold, long, arduous and testing! But nothing prepares u for the actual experience.

4.45 am: Woke up to the coldest morning of the journey so far. The window just above my head was foggy and without my glasses handy as I wiped the water off the glass to the most fabulous view ever I nearly thought it was an illusion and not the mighty mountain that we travelled so far to experience. There sat Kanchendzonga (KNZ): The Five Treasures of Snows", the treasures representing the five repositories of God, which are gold, silver, gems, grain, and holy books. Tripping on my shoes kept just under my bed, I grab a shawl and wake half the guest house on my way out to the view point.

The view was the clearest ever, we cud see the whole KNZ range and as the first light fell on the snow capped giants the view just got better n better. We were granted a whole 20 mins of these amazing views, with the sun rays changing color every few sec and painting the range in different hues as we gawked at it speechlessly in the freezing cold weather.

This image would actually be one of the most lasting images of the entire journey for me and even as I write this I can experience the feeling that I had then!

6 30 am: After hot cups of chai, we bid farewell to those left back at the guest house and commenced on the 21km trek to Phalut. The views of the KNZ had been covered by a thick fog that had been our constant companion for the past few days.  Wondering if the trek would have any better views to offer we set off on the rock laden road towards Phalut.

The landscape is as green and dense that one can wish for, and as this region forms the base of many treks towards the Himalayan lands, the flora n fauna was amazing. What was also great was the inaccessibility and loneliness of the place. With no access by a proper road, no electricity and the distance between any 2 villages being 15-20 kms, this was a hard life for the dwellers of this beautiful land. As we crossed many Shepard dwelling with their yaks and beast like dogs, we were welcomed in each home with either home brewn liquor OR hot tea made from yak milk.

As the sun rose higher the sky turned a happy blue and the fog cleared up! After 7 am as we made our way through dense foliage and wet soggy hill sides, our senses were treated to an amazing view of the Himalayan range. To my right was the KNZ range, with Kumbakarana on its left side and on its right. Towards our left, a good 270 degrees apart was the Everest range or SAGARMATHA. We watched in awe this marvel of nature and thanked our stars for the amazing view.

They say the views are more cleared and about 20 different peaks are visible from this point either in Sandakphu or from Phalut! But I was content, I had seen the 2 big giants and as we trekked the hills sides of India sometimes and sometimes Nepal, I was just content to be there and experience this view.

At 10 am: after BF of boiled eggs, cheese slices and bread, we continued towards Phalut. Enroute we encountered Military camps, yak sheds and some other treks who were either resting or moving ahead of us on the trek. Our pace was slow, with many stops for photographing the landscape, the birds or sometimes to catch a breath.

At 1 pm when we reached Sabargram village, which was nothing more than one man in a hut offering black tea or magi noodles, Phalut was 8 kms away. We finished the remaining nutrition bars and eggs and buckled up for the last leg of the trek. The trek had been mostly uphill and at many times, with visibility being low, we cud hardly see ahead.   For Anil our guide this was the first trek of the season after the Singalila National Park had opened after the monsoons and he explained how his rested legs of 3 months were rusty too. To add to this the rains started at 2 pm when we had just left the last village behind.

This last leg was a demanding one! After 7 hrs of walking, the rains were like level 2 on a challenge and all I could think of was why I had insisted n walking rather than going by jeep! We walked slow and steady and as the road became a torrent of water streams, the visibility dropped to 10 feet. As we drew closer n closer I could feel my limbs giving up and if the Phalut hut had not appeared covered in dense fog, the tears would have come!

The tears came but after we touched ground at the HUT and it was an amazing moment for me and Koki. We had experienced an amazing journey and learnt so much about our minds and our limbs. Me for one cursed the maverick inside me for taking up these crazy painful journeys and never saying NO to them. I also learnt that I was ready the next day for another arduous journey despite the hardships of the previous day!

Salutations to the Mountain Gods for allowing us to walk these lands and blessing us with clear skies (in the 1st half atleast) and for granting clear views of the mighty Himalayas. Also much gratitude to Anil for making the journey so much more enriching with his stories and to KOKI for accompanying me to yet another crazy journey.

The whole Singalila Ridge is a great trek and a land untouched!





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photo by: Fio