The Silk Route is a historic trade network that linked Central Asia and the Mediterranean Sea for centuries. A part of this 10000 kilometers long route is situated in East Sikkim. It has shaped the civilizations of the past by facilitating the exchange of goods and cultures.
This route is regarded as the world’s first information superhighway and offers some of the most spectacular landscapes.
From the part of the Silk Route situated in Sikkim, you can get mesmerizing views of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga along with the marvelous horizon. Here you will also learn about the rich cultural and historical heritage of the place, where different civilizations met and exchanged goods and ideas.
The route is a paradise for tourists and travelers who are drawn to its beauty, tranquility, and heritage.
In this article, you will get to know the following points about the Silk Route in Sikkim,
Let’s see each of these points in detail.
History of the Silk Route
The Silk Route in Sikkim is a part of the ancient trade route that was used by traders for more than 1500 years. The route originates from Central Asia and connected India, China, Persia, Arabia, Greece, and Italy before reaching the Mediterranean. This route is said to have been established during the Han Dynasty. They opened trading in 130 BCE. Business in these parts was still on when the Ottoman Empire closed off any kind of trade with the Western world.
The term ‘Silk Route/road’ was first used by German Traveller and Geographer Ferdinand Von Richthofen in 1877 CE. The words particularly mean a well-traveled pathway of trading silk between Europe and East Asia. The route crossed some of the most challenging terrains in the world, such as the Pamir mountains and Gobi Desert. Merchants carried silk from China to Europe, where it was transformed into luxurious clothing. They also brought porcelain, tea, jade, spices, and other valuable items with them from Asia. In return, they took back glassware, textiles, horses, and other manufactured goods.
The famous traveler Marco Polo also traversed along the silk route between 1254 CE to 1324 CE. This route has had a profound influence on the history of Europe and Asia. It was a conduit for the spread of ideas and religions among different countries. It also fostered the growth of towns and cities with diverse cultures along the way. It stimulated innovations and new technologies through the sharing of information and knowledge. This historic pathway has witnessed so much of the past and now some of its sections are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
You can know more about the history of the route on various books available online.
3 Days 2 Nights Itinerary of Silk Route (Sikkim) Trip
Here, I will be sharing our experience of how we explored the stunning Silk Route and what was our feeling regarding the same.
You can start your journey by traversing the routes of Zuluk, either directly from NJP, from Gangtok, or anywhere near Rongli.
We, as in our group of 5 people, had explored the west and north of the state. Now we wanted to see the east as well. We spent a night in Rangpo, where we arranged a car for our journey along the silk route. We also enjoyed some sightseeing and shopping in the town before we set off.
You can also stay at Gangtok and book a cab from there. If you directly want to start with Silk Route, on this day, reach your hotel, rest, and explore the local attractions. Then, get ready to explore the next day.
Our adventure began when the car we had booked the previous day arrived at 6:00 AM to take us to Rongli, where we had to get our permits. We made it to Rongli in around 40 minutes and went inside the office where the PAP (Protected Area Permits) is made.
Rongli is a charming town and is quite important because from here you can get permits such as PAP and the Inner Line Permit (ILP) from the SDPO office. ILP is mainly for Foreigners and is required if you want to go beyond this place to Zuluk and Nathang Valley. Bliss surrounds the place and is worth looking around.
We couldn’t due to the lack of time and headed straight to the silk route. The journey through the silk route was mind-boggling. The smooth road, nature’s lap, clear blue skies, and clouds covering the path all add to the experience along the way. We felt like we were in a dream.
As we drove past Rongli, the road climbed higher and higher until we reached the charming village of Lingtam. We took a break to stretch our legs and admire the scenic views.
There were some homestays available for travelers who wanted to stay overnight. We wished we had more time to explore, but we had to move on.
Padamchen was our next stop along the silk route, at an elevation of 8000 feet. We took a halt again to have a warm meal and soak in the stunning sights of the towering peaks and green valleys. We lingered there for a while before continuing our journey.
The next destination in our journey was Zuluk. The path leading up there brings the actual thrill. Here come the hairpin bends and the stimulation that the silk route is so famed for.
When we reached Zuluk, at 10100 feet above sea level, we could see the zigzagging route below us, with clouds wrapping us up at times. It looked like a painting from afar. The scenery was heavenly. This was the essence of the silk route that we had come to experience.
We also saw a large army camp, with trucks parked inside the fence. It reminded me of a video game I used to play as a child.
We spent the night at a homestay in Zuluk and prepared to leave for Nathang Valley the next morning. I loved Zuluk and explored it as much as I could. The tranquility rejuvenated me in every way. My friends missed out on this opportunity as they were busy resting.
The next morning, we left Zuluk and followed the winding silk route for 24 kilometers until we reached Nathang Valley, our next destination.
On the way, we stopped at Thambi viewpoint, where we had a breathtaking view of the historic road. We could see the loops of the silk route, which was an amazing sight. The magnificence was awestricken.
After 10 more kilometers, we finally got to the much-awaited valley. It was so beautiful that we understood why it is called the “Ladakh of the East.”
Kupup Lake and Baba Mandir
After the scenic beauty of the valley, we continued our journey toward Kupup Lake. It is a must to get down at this site or else you will miss out on the charm. The lake is also known as the Elephant Lake and it changes its color with the sky.
Then we drove past Tukla Valley, which was beautiful but we didn’t get out of the car. We were more interested in Baba Mandir, the next stop. This is the residence of Baba Harbhajan Singh. There is a fascinating real-life story related to it, which we learned in detail from the locals there.
We entered the Bunker and saw the belongings of Baba. It was an incredible experience that we will never forget.
One of the most scenic places in the state, this lake captivated me with its natural beauty. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the stunning views, especially at this lake, which also goes by the name Tsomgo Lake. It is often listed as one of the most beautiful lakes in Sikkim.
We were hungry after exploring the lake, so we decided to try some local cuisine at a nearby restaurant. The momos and the Chow Mein were delicious. Coffee was in our order too to sip on while looking at the remarkable lake and clouds that were coming down to touch the cool waters.
To get a better view of the lake, we took a ropeway ride that cost us ₹360. It was worth every penny. When we reached the top, it started to rain lightly, and we were surrounded by clouds. The cold breeze, the drizzles, and the temperature of 2 degrees made us feel alive. We were standing under the open sky on the rugged rock, at an elevation of 14,500 feet. It was an exhilarating and unforgettable experience.
It was already time for us to return and so all of us took to the road again. We looked back once again and started with our journey. The silk route joins the conventional road in the direction of Nathula; one goes towards the pass and another towards Gangtok. We had to end our Silk Route tour there as we turned towards Gangtok.
After about an hour and a half, we arrived at the city. We spent the night at a hotel and departed for NJP the next morning.
Permits and documents needed for Silk Route
There are two places from where you will be able to get the permits to enter all the restricted areas towards East Sikkim. These are Gangtok (MG Marg) and Rongli.
For the Indian Citizens:
If you are traveling through a travel agency or registered tour operator, then they will help you to get the PAP (Protected Area Permit). However, if you are on your own, you can ask your car driver to help you get the permit when you book the car for your trip. The fee is usually around ₹200 per person.
The documents that are needed are:
- A valid ID proof (Aadhar Card, or any other kind of Id proof, except a Pan Card, as it is not accepted).
- Two passport-size photos of yourself.
Foreigners need an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit any area in Sikkim, and they are not allowed to enter the protected areas near international borders. The ILP can be obtained from the Foreigner’s Registration Office near MG Marg at Tadong.
It is valid for 30 days and can be extended for another 30 days if needed.
You can learn more about the permit requirements from the official website of the Sikkim government.
Some other articles you might like
- WBFDC Resort Booking Portal Registration Process Online 2023
- How To Book WBFDC Resorts & Properties Online 2023
- Golden Beach, Puri (Odisha) – Timings, Entry Fee, Things To Do
- Top 8 Places to Visit in North 24 Parganas (West Bengal)
- Bangriposi (Odisha) – How To Reach, Resorts, Attractions
- Talsari Sea Beach (Odisha) – 6 Points To Know Before You Visit
Disclaimer: Some of the links provided in the article may contain affiliate links. This means when you book or buy something using these links, you help support the website at no extra cost.