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.
– – – – –
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

The resort was just

Changu Lake, Sikkim

2000 feet below Nathu la Pass (India-China border), and on way to it, there is a splendid blue-green water lake called Changu Lake or Tsomgo Lake. In Bhutia language it is literally known as “source of the lake”.


Beautiful view of Changu lake. It was very cloudy that day.

Just about 40 kms. away from Gangtok, this serene lake is

Year 2010 in travel

Warning: This is a colorful post. 🙂
Before I start writing about my recent trip of Philippines and Malaysia, I thought it better to recollect how was the year 2010 for me in terms of travel.
I think I will skip some of domestic travels since a few of them happened in a jiffy and I do not remember the details now. Also, I am not counting the local exploration of lesser known places of my town such as watching Flamingos at Sewri fort.

Flamingos enjoying their meals.

The year started with a trip to

People of Sikkim

Do you like to interact with the locals ? Do you observe people and their way of doing things ?
I do.
Travel is not just visiting a place; it is about knowing that place and the local culture through a community attached to it.
Believe me, the interaction opens up a stream of conversation and does away of any inhibitions. It also helps you know them better.

I spoke at length to this lady and her family. I could make out that their language was similar to Nepalese. When I asked, they confirmed. They were of Nepalese descent. Then I requested them to translate a few sentences in Nepalese for me which they gladly did. We chatted throughout our time in Himalayan zoological park at Bulbulay, Gangtok.

people of

Sarita, shy & beautiful Nepalese descendent lady.

This old woman, lost in her thoughts, was standing

Jhankari tribe of Sikkim

At Banjhankari waterfall, we walked towards the waterfall, but to different points.

I went to a canopy which hosted some human sculptures. It was about Jhankari tribes’s healing ritual of a sick person. That was the first time I had heard about this tribe.

Healing ritual going on.

While taking pictures, I saw a Bengali family coming there and the father

Thrilling finish to a memorable trip

Contd from here ….. A trip to Sikkim

Plan for next day was local sight seeing which was to start at around 10 since we were quite late to hit the bed on first night.
I took advantage of this extra time in the morning and ventured out to a nearby village with my camera.

Whether it was a school or a house, the morning chores took importance over anything else.
I met a young girl in her school uniform rushing towards her house after borrowing two eggs from neighbours. I saw a young toddler refusing to put on his crocs. I met a boy running to his hostel with homemade hot breakfast in his hand. Apparently his house was next street and he could somehow sneak out of boys hostel. 🙂 I met many other such people.
In short, I saw life. I found people untainted, polite and somewhat reserved.