The forgotten Silk Route – Jelep La

This is the fifth post in this batch of Guest-post series on this site. The contributions are from people like you and me but not necessarily from the blogging world. We see, observe and experience many mundane things in our daily life. The flavours are different but the interest is common in these posts … and that is Travel.
Over to Korak Basu.
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East Sikkim is a place of virgin beauty. Most of us are unaware of the rich flora and fauna and wildlife of this region. So there we were- a group of enthusiastic travel-men ready to trace the forgotten silk route of east Sikkim. Before the Chinese aggression, Jelep La used to be the main trade route between India and Tibet.

We took an evening train from Kolkata and landed up in New Jalpaiguri Station the next morning. It was a Friday- Good Friday to be more specific. We had already hired a van (courtesy- Sebastian Pradhan of Rishi Eco Tourism Resort) and in no time were on our way to Rishikhola. We reached there around 1 pm after witnessing a Good Friday mass in Pedang.

Jelep la @lemonicks.com

The resort was just beside the Rishi river and the facilities were basic and excellent. One can sit beside the river and enjoy the sound of silence. We took bath in the crystal clear water of the river. This is however not recommended during the monsoons- the current is quite strong and there are boulders in the river bed. If you find time, you can try your hand at angling; Sabestian is always ready to accompany you!

Jelep la @lemonicks.com

When did you last look up at the sky at night? Here we were star gazing beside the river in the evening. It was dark and the twinkling stars up above the world so high reminded us how tiny we are in this enormous universe. The dinner was simple and tasty home made food of chapattis, home grown cabbages and chicken curry. We were quick to pounce on this sumptuous meal and retired early to bed; exited about what was in store for us the next day.

Jelep la @lemonicks.com

The next morning we moved out from there and reached Zuluk (approx 9000 ft) by midday. This place is beautiful with mountain ranges on all sides. Zuluk provides home stay opportunities only, Sabestian helped us in getting the necessary arrangements done. We woke up at 3.30 am next morning, ready to see the sunrise and the first view of Kanchenjunga.

Jelep la @lemonicks.com

Our vehicle was running full steam on the zig zag road when we chanced upon a yak on the mountain sloe gazing itself to glory.
Jelep la @lemonicks.com

Finally we reached the viewing point and there it was- a majestic view of the mighty mountain as the sun painted the horizon with the choicest colours!

Jelep la @lemonicks.com

Then we look the van onthe route to Baba Mandir- built in memory of a brave soldier of the Indian army Harbhajan Singh.
Jelep la @lemonicks.com

It was snow all around us- and in the month of May! We were greeted by army men with a hot cup of tea (extremely essential, I must say). The road then took us to Kupup village and we saw the elephant lake on the way.

Jelep la @lemonicks.com
One is not allowed to go beyond this point. In fact, necessary permits are required to be obtained from the Military for visiting Jelep La- also carry your voter ID card.
Finally it was time to bid adieu to Jelep La and Kupup. That day only, we came down to New Jalpaiguri station after a short lunch halt in Rangpo- on the border of Sikkim and West Bengal.

Korak Basu is an MBA; works as a corporate PR, maintains a family but still has the nomad left in him. You can connect with him on Facebook and Orkut.

If you want to travel with me on my journeys, I suggest you to join me on my Facebook travel page and check out my Twitter account.

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