Along the Old Silk Route #5: Enigmatic Zuluk
Zuluk – The silent valley:
I never see a silent valley like Zuluk or Dzuluk. The calmness of this valley is so still that you can even hear your own heartbeats. The coldness dipped into the deep mist and the silence of the valley create an enigmatic ambiance that attracted me the most to explore it more intensely. The valley has its own charm that is devoid of modern civilizations like the connectivity of the internet, phone calls, and television. The only sound you can hear is the music of the cool mountain breeze complemented by dangling off the leaves, the flapping of the wings of the birds in harmony, and the melancholic tune of the afternoon mist.
This mysterious valley is the virgin destination of the old silk route of the East Sikkim. This is situated in the Eastern Himalaya at an altitude of 10,000ft from the sea level. The hamlet is surrounded by the deep green Himalayan forest enriched with varieties type of flora and fauna. Zuluk or Dzuluk or Jhuluk is the transit camp of the old silk route that connects Kalimpong of the India to Lassa of the Tibet. In the past, the people, come from the Tibet and China for trade, halted their night at Zuluk. Now, it is the transit camp of the Indian army of Indo-China border. The jarring noise of the military trucks only breaks the tranquillity of the village.
Please read my previous blog posts of “Along the Old Silk Route” series to connect with the mesmerizing trip to Sikkim.
How to reach Zuluk?
It is a small village of East Sikkim, close to the town Rangoli. It takes approx. 4 hrs (91km) from Gangtok. If you want to come from Siliguri, you can get the cabs from New Jalpaiguri (NJP) station and the Bagdogra airport as well. In such cases, you have to prebook your car at 3000-4500Rs/per day charge. It takes 6-7 hours as the road condition is seriously bad. It’s better to choose travel agency or the tour operator who can arrange the silk route trip according to your interest for the first time traveler. There are various types of packages from 1-day hurricane trip to 4 days leisure trip. Please, follow my earlier post on the Old silk route trip plan to get the contacts of the various tour operators or to arrange the cabs for the trip.
A journey from Mankhim to Zuluk :
We came to Zuluk from Mankhim. This is the 3rd destination of our old silk route trip. The journey from Mankhim to Zuluk is an amazing experience. The land around the Zuluk is still in a pristine condition and immersed with the alpine vegetations with numerous waterfalls. Kuekhola falls is the biggest waterfalls among them.
We crossed a big forest territory just before the army area of Zuluk. The zig-zag roads of the silk route pass through this forest.We started to feel the deep jerk of frequent turning of the hairpin bend from here.
As Dzuluk or Jhuluk is an army protected the area, you need to take Govt. permit to enter this valley. And the restricted zone continues throughout the silk route. You can get the permit from Rongoli town by the spending of 300Rs for two persons. Another permit you have to take by the spending of another 200 buck (Camera charges is 110Rs extra) for entering that forest territory. 4 copies of passport size photos and 2 photocopies of the Id proof (Not the PAN card) are mandatory to get the permit for the old silk route. Our driver Bhutia bhai took all the initiatives to issue the permit.
Where to stay?
You cannot find any luxurious and traditional hotels in Zuluk. The people of the village offer simple and eco-friendly Homestays, which are very close to nature. Our Homestay was very simple with the basic amenities, but the hospitability of the owners (we call her aunty) was amazing. We just felt that we were in our home and close to our mother. Aunty and her daughter-in-law always took care of our needs. Even, her daughter-in-law carried our two big trollies alone from the uphill to their home. That time, the temperature was very low and we felt very cold. Aunty always served us hot water (for washing and drinking) and warm dishes. Even she scolded my 5 years old son when he started nagging on eating foods and fed him the foods by her own hand. The dishes were awesome and very nicely cooked. I’ll never forget the warmth I got from her. I told her when I’ll come next time to see the snow in the winter, I’ll definitely stay in her Homestay. Here is the contact info for our Homestay.
Zuluk Tibetan Villa: Namgyal Bhutia, Phone- 9832043666/8391971993/9734955289
Food and lodging charge: 800-900 per head per day
P.S: If you cannot reach him over the phone, you can contact our driver, Bhutia bhai. He can arrange this homestay for your stay if you book his car. You can blindly trust in his driving skill.
Phone – 8116923004
Zuluk in my Eyes:
It around 2’Oclock of the afternoon, we arrived in Zuluk. After keeping luggage in the room of our Homestay, I just roamed around its campus. The area in front of our room was amazing. It was on the top of the hill and I found the panoramic views of the Eastern Himalayas with its green vegetations and other valleys and villages. The Zuluk Hallypad and the military transit camp was clearly visible from that area. But, rest of the places were covered with the deep mask of the cloud. Aunty came to me and told that when the clouds disappear, the places like Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Lava, Lolegaion, Gangtok can be seen clearly from this place. But, I missed it as the clouds conspired against me and never left its place during my stay.
The melancholic tune of the Afternoon:
After having lunch, I went outside and walked around the valley. The economic conditions of the people of this hamlet are not so well. The land is not good for plantation and farming. Tourism is the only source of their earning. The kids of the villages take their educations from Padamchen and stay at the school hostel as there are no transport services from the schools. Even there is no Monastery in the area around Zuluk. The population of the villages enriched with the Tibetan race and they have to go the Monasteries of Gangtok for performing their religious rituals and festivals.
I came back to our place in the evening and met other co-travelers, who were staying just beside our room. After chatting sometime we came to know that they are residing very close to our home in Kolkata. It was really great during traveling to find someone who is your native. We spent a cheerful evening with them.
A bright sunny morning:
After passing a cold night, we get up in the early morning. We had a plan to see the Sunrise on the Kanchenjunga from the Lungthung that was 4 km uphill from the Zuluk. But, my husband was not well that time. Hence, we dropped the plan for watching Sunrise at 4.30 am. But, early morning, we went for the sightseeing and reached the Thambi viewpoint of Lungthung. It was a clear morning and we saw a breathtaking beauty of the zig-zag roads ( Locally called “Bhulbhulaia) of the old silk route.
Some Important Tips:
- The car takes extra 1000Rs to show the sunrise from the Lungthung viewpoint. Hence, I think it’s better to stay at the homestays near the viewpoints of Lungthung instead of Zuluk. You can see the splendid sunrise over the Mt. Kanchenjunga from your window.
- Keep all the necessary medicines in your bag as there are no medicine shops and hospitals in the nearby area.
- You need to carry cash in your wallet because you cannot find any bank or ATM in the surrounding places.
- Don’t expect any internet connectivity and Phone calls. By any chance, if you get a signal on your phone, you are damn lucky.
- The Woollens are necessary for this trip at any time of time of the year.
- If you want to see snow, visit Zuluk from December to March.
Towards The Gangtok along the old silk route:
We came to Gangtok from the Zuluk along the old silk route. The journey was amazing and adventurous as well. I’ll write on this journey at my next post. Stay tuned and get updated with the posts.