Along the Old Silk Route #4: Mankhim
The small hamlet, Mankhim of Sikkim is nestled in the lap of Eastern Himalayas. It’s a hilltop of Aritar and offers a picturesque panoramic view of Mt. Kanchenjunga and Lampokhri Lake of Aritar. I always believe that the best way of exploring a place is through the eyes of the local people and observing their struggle and their lifestyle. Our Mankhim stay bestowed us that opportunity to feel the pulse of a simple hilly village beyond its natural beauty. The location still counted as the offbeat. Hence, the beauty of this scenic village and the simplicity of the villagers are not contaminated by the torture of the tourist named monster. And a traveler still can enjoy the warmth of the local people and the unmodified natural beauty.
Please read my previous blog posts of “Along the Old Silk Route” series to connect with the mesmerizing trip to Sikkim.
How to reach Mankhim?
After enjoying the serenity of Aritar, we came to Mankhim. It was only 3 km from Aritar. As we were making our old silk route trip, we came here from Rishikhola. It was only 18 km distance. As we reached here after visiting the Aritar town, it took almost 4 hours. If you plan to stay at Aritar, I’ll suggest staying at Mankhim, the hilltop of Aritar. It offers a great view of Kanchenjunga and the valley.
If you plan for a weekend gateway, you can come here from the nearby Railway Station, NewJalpaiguri (NJP) by hiring a cab. It takes 3-4 hours (approx 126km) and the cost is 3000-3500Rs for a day. The charges of the cab are almost the same if you come from the Bagdogra airport (nearby).
Another way to visit Mankhim and Aritar as well is from Gangtok. There are many travel agents in the Gangtok. You can easily make the old silk route trip by booking a cab at 2500-3500 Rs per day cost. If you look for a package tour to avoid all the hassles of travel, you can go for a recognized online travel agency for organizing the trip.
How to explore Mankhim?
When we reached Mankhim, we saw our homestay was at the uphill where we have to pass away by walk. When I looked on the other side, I saw the cloud wrapped around a beautiful green valley and the bright midday sunlight spreads a golden hue over the valley. Slowly, the cloud disappeared and the valley revealed its hidden treasure.
We walk through the distance of about more than 1 km to reach our Homestay. The road is so beautiful that we never felt exhausted to move up. The narrow road that leads to the Mankhim top where the Shiva temple is situated. Both sides of that narrow road were hidden with the colorful cosmos and Rhododendron flowers. Our Homestay was just beneath the Temple and it was a floral stay. The big house was covered with many different colorful flowers. The cool breeze and the lite mist in the sunny afternoon with the dance of the colorful cosmos flowers were creating so amazing atmosphere that increased my appetite to discover the hidden treasure within it.
A misty Afternoon:
After keeping our luggage in the room, we took our lunch with the rice, dal, potato fry, cabbage curry and Egg curry. The meal was good from the aspect of quality and quantity. The secret of exploring mountain is using the daylight as much as possible. The night is too long and passive in such villages. So, after having lunch, I travel around the village with my camera to know the people and explore the place more intensely.
I saw a primary school, where the children are playing around the campus. When they saw me, they came towards the closed gate of the school and shouted, “Didi, take our pictures, please”. I didn’t miss the chance. As the teacher saw that, she scold little to the children and ordered them to come inside. I showed a thumbs up to them and go forward to the road.
The valley was almost covered with the mist of afternoon. I found out a girl was drying her long hair on the ceiling of her home. Their house was along the hilltop. I simply watched over the stairs to gain at that roof and met that Sikkimise girl. She told me that she is a student of a school of Aritar and she walks 8 km, daily, to go to her school. I saw her Mom was coming home with her two little kids who are also holding two bags which are filled with veggies and milk bottles. I surprised to see them how they are rising up by coming after such long, narrow and slippery way with such big bags. After spending some time with them, I went for the Umbrella Point.
Here, I got a panoramic view of the valley.That time the valley was almost cleared from the mist. But the mountain range around the valley was under the shield of the cloud.
In the local language, Mankhim means Temple. A Shiva temple was placed at the top of the Mankhim. The temple is simple. Merely, the panorama from the temple was mesmerizing. The top-view of Lampokhri Lake that I posted in my earlier post was taken from this hilltop. In the mountain, the evening comes very fast and the daylight falls in a wink. I didn’t realize when the mist of the afternoon turned into the darkness of the eve. I went down from the temple and came to our Homestay, which was barely under the temple. The canteen of the Homestay arranged the crispy and crunchy chicken Pokora with the ginger tea as the evening snacks. The temperature was getting lower as the night increases. We took the dinner after some time and went to bed in the hope of watching Kanchenjunga in the morning.
The Sunshine of the Morning:
As the light of the morning came from the windowpane, I woke up and ran outside. The mist still covered the garden and the flowers were looking for the first ray of sun. We missed the sunrise as the cloud masking the whole mountain range. The part of the pick of the Mt. Kanchenjunga was glowing from the mist. That was a nice morning. As the light of the sunshine fallen on the valley, the valley came alive again. The birds were chirping, flowers were dancing and the butterflies were flying in the garden.The people of the village were getting active in their work.
Our driver, Bhutia, came and said to get ready for the Dzuluk or Zuluk. He said that he has arranged the permit for entering the old silk route ( we gave him all documents and money for the permit). I wished to stay some more days here and enjoy my floral stay.
Where to stay at Mankhim?
There was few homestay at the Mankhim. It’s not easy to find the homestay and book those by online as the Internet connection is poor here. These are some homestays, which you can book by calling over the phone.
Lalit Rai, an experienced tour operator of East Sikkim/ the Old silk route trip is the owner of this homestay. Rooms and food are good standards. We resided here for a night. The view of the Lampokhri Lake and Mt. Kanchenjunga from here is awesome. They are a bit professional. We couldn’t find the warmth of the home from here.
2.Mankhim viewpoint and homestay:
A small, but a beautiful Homestay. I met the Uncle and Aunty (owner) of the home. They are very friendly and their hospitability is amazing. They provide organic vegetables in the food from their garden. Here is also the facility of the campfire and they provide the woods for it in the free of cost.
Both the Homestays have the facility of organizing a tour or providing the cars for the old silk route trip. The cost of lodging and food are the same and that is 800-900Rs.
If you are a poet, poetry will come from your heart when you spend a bright, misty morning in this valley. The valley has its own charm. The peace and sweetness of nature make a creative person more creative. If you can come in a group, you can enjoy the coldness of a passive evening by arranging campfire with the music and songs. You can also view Rolep, Zuluk and the old silk route from here. But, traveling the old silk route in a day is too hectic for one. I believe the secret of exploring the hidden beauty of the East Sikkim is staying different village and enjoying the village life and nature more closely.
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