When the Kolkata summer begins in right earnest and the sun is without mercy, it’s probably a good idea to spend a weekend trekking through forests of rhododendron, with a chill wind rustling through the trees and a gorgeous view of Mount Kanchenjunga in the distance.
Such is the experience of Tumling, a small settlement on the India-Nepal border on the Sandakphu trek route.
There are numerous ways of reaching Tumling. We can drive up to Maneybhanjan from New Jalpaiguri, which takes four-five hours. It is another 90 minutes to Tumling, on a road that only the 1964-built Land Rovers can negotiate. Another way is to trek the 9km from Maneybhanjan to Tumling on a metalled road till Chitre, and then on a stone-paved path via Lamaydhura and Meghma. If anyone want to trek through forest roads, he could drive up to Dhotrey, a village of 70 huts. It is situated at a height of 8,500ft, from where Tumling is a 6km trek through forests of flaming rhododendron.
The drive will fascinate us with hairpin bends on roads snaking through tea gardens. In April-May, the forests on the way from Dhotre to Tumling thrives rhododendron flowers in full bloom. On a clear day, you get to see Kanchenjunga on your right all the way to Tumling.
Near to Tumling a signpost of the West Bengal government, will welcome us to the SingalilaNational Park. A little further, there is another post on the right, which says: “Welcome to Nepal”. If we walk straight down, we actually are in Nepal.
Early next morning, we went back to the first signpost. And it was difficult to choose between the stunning sights on our left and right. We can enjoy a spectacular sunrise on our right and the view of stunning Kanchenjunga on our left. As the sun creeps up, its rays fall on the snow-clad mountains shining like molten gold which stays around 15 minutes after which it turns white again.
How to go ?
There are several trains and buses to New Jalpaiguri from Calcutta. But it is better to book a jeep in advance for the drive to Maneybhanjan or Dhotre, especially in peak tourist season.
Where to Stay ?
There are few places to stay at Tumling. It is better to go by travel agencies which arrange for advance booking at these lodges.
Note : Phone numbers given above are according to the information available with us. If you find any contact number/s given above is/are incorrect or not in use, please let us know.