The itinerary that we follow ( listed on this webpage) is the historical and classical route for the Sandakphu Phalut Trek. It is the same one which our seniors and ancestors followed to tre ...
The itinerary that we follow ( listed on this webpage) is the historical and classical route for the Sandakphu Phalut Trek. It is the same one which our seniors and ancestors followed to trek to this wonderland. It Starts from Maneybhanjyang and completes the trek in Sepi touching all the important viewpoints on the route like Chitre, Meghma, Tonglu, Kalipokhari, Bikeybhanjyang, Sandakphu, Sabargram, Phalut, Gorkhey, etc.
While a few of the trek operators favour doing the Sandakphu Phalut Trek in the reverse order, that is starting from Sepi, doing Phalut first and then Sandakphu. This we believe is a terrible idea. It is mostly done for cost-saving measures rather than a better trek plan or experience. I explain the reasons below.
Before highlighting the differences, let me highlight the notable viewpoints on the Classical Route. It is for this reason that we still follow the classical route on our plan despite this route being an expensive one as compared to the reverse itinerary.
- Maneybhanjyang: Maneybhanjyang is a border town which is one of the beautiful and peaceful valleys closer to Darjeeling - The Queen of Hill Station. The border here is just on the other side of the road. It is a good place to shop for trekking gear and some other stuff which you might need on the trek.
- Chitre: The first viewpoint which comes after trekking for 3 kilometres on the first day. From here we get the first glimpse of the Mighty Kanchenjunga range and a beautiful birds-eye view of the city of Darjeeling. It also hosts a beautiful old Buddhist monastery right beside the Nepal border.
- Meghma: A mystical place covered under clouds and mist over 90% of the time. It has beautiful monasteries and an SSB border checkpoint. The trekking trail from Lameydhura to Tumling is mostly covered under fog. That's why the name - Meghma, meaning Through the Clouds.
- Tonglu/Tumling: This is the 2nd point on the trek which is at 3000 meters and offers a terrific view of the Sleeping Buddha. The morning view from this point is just breathtaking and heavenly. You have to witness it to believe it. On the classical route, this is just Day 2! Tonglu also helps in better acclimatization for the trek.
- Kalipokhari: A beautiful and serene lake. The lake is further beautified by furling Buddhist prayer flags and a small Chorten ( Buddhist Stupa) in the backdrop. It is situated in Nepal and right beside the homestays. YOu should not miss this beautiful lake on this trek.
- Bikeybhanjyang: Sandakphu is popular for aconite flowers. Bikeybhanjyang is a place which has it in abundance. Sandakphu itself means - 'the valley of poisonous plants ( aconites)'
- Sandakphu: Sandakphu is the highest point of West Bengal and offers a grand view of the Sleeping Buddha and the Mount Everest group of Mountains. We keep our trekkers in Alley, which is 1.5 kilometres away from Sandakphu. It offers great views of the mountains and ignores the touristic and noisy crowd of Sandakphu.
- Sabargram: Sabargram is a high point on the long route between Sandakphu and Phalut. It offers a terrific view of the Sleeping Buddha range. The campsite though is very very windy and uncomfortable as it is on a ridge top.
- Phalut: Phalut is the most beautiful and remotest place on this trek route. It offers the closest view of the mountain ranges. The sunrise view from Phalut is just mind-blowing. You have to stay for a night here to experience the sunrise view from here.
- Gorkhey: Gorkhey is a picture-perfect hamlet on this route near to Sikkim border. Here, it's a small stream which divides the Indian state of Sikkim and West Bengal.
- Samanden: Samanden is to be seen to be believed. It's a wonderland right in the middle of the Jungle.
We believe that it's a complete waste of your money and time if you are reversing the itinerary and doing Phalut - Sandakphu Trek, that too without staying in Phalut. Here's why -
- You straightaway miss out on most of the beautiful viewpoints that I mentioned above, which fall on the classical route.
- Most importantly, when trekking the reverse itinerary, your will be walking away from the mountains showing your back towards the giant mountains and not facing toward the mountains. Beware - you might have neck pain turning back again and again to see the mountains. What a waste!
- You miss out on the number of times we give ourselves to view the Sleeping Buddha and the grand panorama of over 26 mountain peaks. On the classical route that we follow, we get atleast 6 times to enjoy the view, that is from Chitre, Tonglu, Sandakphu, Aalley, Sabargram and Phalut. If by any chance you are not able to see it for bad weather on one occasion, there are chances that you will not miss the view during the entire trek. On the reverse itinerary, you miss it big time.
- On the itinerary that we follow, we camp overnight in Phalut - one of the remotest and best points on this trek - the closest to the mountains ever on this route. The sunrise and sunset views from Phalut are mind-blowing. Only sleeping for the night in Phalut and rising up early morning to witness the sunrise can offer it. It is the best part of our itinerary. On the contrary, visiting Phalut just for the same of visiting it, in the daytime does not make any sense. The views are covered by clouds 90% of the time.
- Maneybhanjyang is a bigger town than Sepi. This allows you to do last-minute purchases in case you forget something. This also allows for making the trek safer in case something goes wrong. The travel time to Maneybhanjyan is just 3.5 hours from Bagdogra / Siliguri, which gives some flexibility on the first day of the trek. It saves cost as well as you can reach Maneybhanjyang in shared jeeps which cost only about 300 Rs. from Siliguri and 100 Rs. from Darjeeling.
- In case of bad weather which may hit anytime, the Classical route is much safer and can still be completed, while the reverse route cannot be completed and you will be wandering in lower villages itself hopping from one village to another.
Finally, there is a reason our ancestors and seniors followed this classical route which we follow as well. Keeping things simple, it's easier to hold your nose straight from the front, rather than to hold it from behind your neck and say you are doing things differently. It's good to walk facing towards the mountains and get closer to those with each passing day, rather than running away from it but still roaming around in the jungle for the sake of doing things differently. Choose Wisely!