A Journey to the Old Silk Route - Gnathan, Zuluk ; Sikkim, India

India's flag
Asia » India » Sikkim » East Sikkim » Gnathan
January 9th 2012
Published: January 9th 2012
Edit Blog Post

Over the years several trade routes, which played a major role for the rise of international trades round the globe that we see now, are closed, un-used. They are never used any more for the exchange of commodities and culture. One such route was known as “Silk Road” which has got tremendous historic reference.

For 1500 years, until the opening of the world sea lanes in 16th – 17th centuries this route was used for the trade of various commodities like porcelain, tea, paper, medicinal herbs and spices that wended their way from Asia to Europe, returning with gold, silver, wool, horses, colored glass and wine. This route used to join Europe and China running through the heartland of Asia.

My interest this time was to travel along this route which exists in India located in the Sikkim District along the China border. This road is popularly known as “Old Silk Route” and has got some breath taking views of Mt Kanchandzongha and picturesque landscapes especially during rough winters. An avid traveler like me always loves to travel down to such places and couldn’t resist myself from planning a weeks’ trip on this route.

In addition to this

View from Zuluk Road side
route I also went to a small village lesser known, named Kolakham and stayed for 3 days. A rundown of my tour is for you below which will help you to plan a visit there.

Kolakham – My journey started with the first halt at Kolakham a small village near Lava. This is located in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal and showcases beautiful views of the Mt Kanchandzongha range. I have read about this village earlier also in various articles growing as one of tourist destinations and hill station in North East. The small village is growing up on a self dependent economy mainly on tourism and farming. The people staying in village are from the Rai caste and I found them exceptionally honest and soft spoken. This place has got another attraction apart from the splendid view of Mt. Kanchandzongha which is its sheer location near Neora Valley National Park. Even a nature lover can chose to stay in this place to have guided treks and safaris to the forest area. Local guided tours can be another option a day trek inside the forest. Neora Valley National Park is famous for the existence of snakes and such
Zuluk ValleyZuluk ValleyZuluk Valley

Zuluk Valley
places may be avoided during rains if not trained or equipped. Besides Neora valley forest one can enjoy the nearby waterfalls known as Chengi Falls. It is indeed a beautiful place for a days’ picnic. In short for me Kolakham is a place for rest with the Mighty peak Mt. Kanchandzongha always in front of your eyes.

Sight Seeing in Kolakham - Chengi Falls, Trek in the Neora Valley forest, visit to Lava and Loleygaon can also be a great idea.

Zuluk – is my next destination in this tour. This place is located at a height of around 10,000 ft above located in the state of Sikkim. One needs to get the inner line permit to visit this place. The driver of the car I hired took all the trouble of permits and I just enjoyed my stay with my family and friends. It took around 4 – 5 hours to reach this mystery place. The permit was taken at Rangoli and thereafter few miles at a right turn is the beginning of the Old Silk Route which is a common motorable road now for the rest of the world. Zuluk is the name of the valley

Gnathan Road side view of the peak
with a small hilly village and famous for the zig-zag roads which is definitely an eye-catchy landscape. Needless to say Mt Kanchandzongha is always following me throughout from the top but much near now. The view of the snow capped peak seems to have become just more prominent along with the changing colours in the valley during the sunset. The landscape views are truly breathtaking especially during the sunset. The sunrise in Zuluk is a must see in your tour plan and the sunrise point is an hour’s drive known as Thambi View Point.

Sight Seeing in Zuluk – Zig-zag roads, Thambi view point for sunrise

Gnathan Valley –At 13500 ft above it is the Ladakh of the eastern part of India. Covered by snow during winters and temperatures were below zero during our stay. Lack of oxygen levels in the air makes it a bit difficult terrain, so one will have to take precautions as far as getting around this place is concerned. Indeed it is a heavenly place on this part of this earth and words will fall short describing its untouched landscapes. The valley is surrounded by snow capped mountains from all sides with a
Neora Valley ForestNeora Valley ForestNeora Valley Forest

At Neora Valley forest
small village of about 50 families and a Krishna Temple and a Monastry. Undoubtedly during Decenber it was a true resemblance of a cold desert. The place where we put up was a customs’ Bunglow built in 1920 called the “Dafter Bunglow”. During the early days this bunglow was once used form customs duty collections, but now was renovated by the department of tourism Sikkim Govt. This is perhaps the only stone made construction and a beautiful peaceful place to stay. The hospitality is exceptionally good

We stayed in Gnathan for two days and had short trips to the sunrise point, Kup-Kup Lake, Memencho Lake and the famous Harbhajan Singh Bunker (The old Baba Mandir). While on sight seeing the entire valley’s beauty was un-forgettable especially due to the virgin beauty of mountainous landscapes with glimpse of snowcapped Mt. Kanchandzongha. The peak seems to be at a stone throw distance from place to place in this valley. People who cannot visit Ladakh due to rough terrain, Gnathan can truly be the ideal option to experience this Ladakh of the Eastern India. Each bend on the road gives a wonderful landscape view which creates a chain of un-forgettable moments along
Thambi View Point ZulukThambi View Point ZulukThambi View Point Zuluk

View from Thambi
the journey on this route. The place reminds me of the pride in me for the fact that I am an Indian and lucky to be born in such a wonderful country with never ending treasures of beautiful landscapes.

Sight Seeing from Gnathan – Sunrise point, Kup-Kup Lake, Memencho Lake, Kup-Kup market, Old Baba Mandir, Tsangu Lake

Rishi Khola – Well while my journey back to the plains, from where I came, stayed overnight at Rishi Khola (Khola means River in local language) ,a camping ground just on the bank of the river Rishi. It is a beautiful tourist spot for those who would love to stay amidst nature away from the urban forests of concrete.

Everything is well if all ends well. Truly the journey to the Old Silk Route will remain as an unforgettable journey on the paths laid down 1500 years ago with some of the finest and once again breathtaking views of Mt. Kanchandzongha and mountainous landscapes.

For any queries or more pictures you may write to me at anustuplahiri@gmail.com.

Anustup Lahiri

Travel Blogger Batch

Some important details are mentioned below -
Gnathan SunriseGnathan SunriseGnathan Sunrise

Early morning view from Gnathan

Accomodations used:

Kolakham – Kolakham Retreat

Zuluk – Dil Maya Resort

Gnathan Valley – Daftar Bunglow

Rishi Khola – Eco Prakriti Resort


For Zuluk, Rishi Khola & Gnathan the rates are inclusive on all meals plan. It is around Rs. 800 per person per night.

In Kolakham the room rates were ranging between Rs. 1400 – 1800 including food.

Room Heaters & Fire Place are charged separately if used

Amenities at the resorts -

All the resorts mentioned have basic amenities with good cleanliness and nice attached toilets but no power back-up. Electricity is available in all the accommodations mentioned above. All these accommodations are mostly like home stays. Room Heaters, Hot water is available in all the accommodations.

Things to remember -

· Mobile connectivity is poor in Zuluk and Gnathan. Only BSNL mobiles will work in Gnathan.

· Internet connectivity is not present in all the locations.

· Restaurants, eateries are not available in any of the locations but will have to be consumed on fixed menu basis from the resorts.

· For altitude sickness one needs to precautions before hand
Chengi FallsChengi FallsChengi Falls

Chengi Falls in Kolakham
and if visiting during winter heavy woolen winter gears is must. If possible holofil jacket is recommended.

· Carry voter identity card and two copies of passport size photograph for permits.

· Carry medicines you require as these are remote locations.

· Persons suffering from Asthma should avoid going to Gnathan due to altitude as there will be bit lack of oxygen in air.

· Do not take photographs of Army areas as it is prohibited.

· ATMs are not available, will have to carry cash for all purchases.

Additional photos below
Photos: 31, Displayed: 28


Neora Vally ForestNeora Vally Forest
Neora Vally Forest

View in Neora Valley Forest
Got inside Neora ValleyGot inside Neora Valley
Got inside Neora Valley

Got in Neora valley forest
Sunset in ZulukSunset in Zuluk
Sunset in Zuluk

Sunset in Zuluk
Zuluk VillageZuluk Village
Zuluk Village

Zuluk Village
Sillouette at GnathanSillouette at Gnathan
Sillouette at Gnathan

Sunrise in Gnathan
Zig-Zag road ZulukZig-Zag road Zuluk
Zig-Zag road Zuluk

Zig-Zag road in Zuluk
Zig-zag RoadZig-zag Road
Zig-zag Road

Zig zag road in Zuluk
Daftar BunglowDaftar Bunglow
Daftar Bunglow

Daftar Bunglow in Gnathan
Kolakham VillageKolakham Village
Kolakham Village

At Kolkakham
Gnathan ValleyGnathan Valley
Gnathan Valley

Gnathan Valley
Daftar Bunglow GnathanDaftar Bunglow Gnathan
Daftar Bunglow Gnathan

Daftar Bunglow in Gnathan
Frozen Lake in GnathanFrozen Lake in Gnathan
Frozen Lake in Gnathan

Frozen lake in Gnathan

18th January 2012

Exotic Tourist Destination: A offbeat tour
Hi, Loved your post. I had been to the silk route two times. I stayed at Limtang. Amazing place to visit. The scenic beauty is just fantastic. Aritar lake was a bit like artificial but liked it. Gnathang Valley was blessed with all natural beauty. I didn't experience the sunrise because we left late and we had to reach Gangtok through the Silk Route. Loved the "Bhul Bhulaiya"- zigzag roads. It was covered with snows.
18th January 2012

Thanks for your comment
Hi Abhijit, Thanks for your comment, Indeed it is a place blessed with all natural beauties. We have not touched Aritar but Gnathan attracted a lot. Thanks Again Regards Anustup
19th January 2012

Gnathang is really beautiful... We had a beautiful afternoon at Rishi Khola. Did you come back to your resort after experiencing the sunrise or moved to Gangtok through the silk route...?
19th January 2012

Re: Feedback
Hi Abhijit, No we stayed in Gnathan for two days and enjoyed the valley. We also had some sightseeing from Gnathan which is there in my blog. After two days stay we came down to Rishi Khola and stayed for one more day. It is indeed Beautiful and has got resemblance with Ladakh. I would prefer to call Gnathan as Ladakh of the Eastern India. Isn't it? Regards Anustup
23rd March 2012

something more about rishi khola
Hii Mr. Lahiri, I enjoyed your post... planning to go to pedong, rishi this your... is it suitable to go there by nov. or early dec. Can u give some more informatn about the tourist camp where u stayed at rishi. Also if u please give the contact number of the camp or from where to book. thanks sarthak
30th March 2012

Re: Stay in Rishi
Hi, Thanks for the compliment regarding my blog. It is good to see that this blog is helping others who would like to visit these places. I have booked the Rishi Khola Nature camp popularly known as Sebestian 's camp. I booked it throught the agent Spring vale. You can sear in the net or check out Brahman Magazine for their details. I don't have it handy buddy. Have a nice trip. Regards Anustup
3rd July 2012
Daftar Bunglow

Nice photo. I am interested to one night stay at Gnathan Daftar Bungalow.please do me a fever give me the address /phone number . My mail add senjutide123@gmail.com.
10th August 2012

OMG is this real....?? i just wanna visit there..
14th August 2012

Real :)
Yeah :) On the way from Gnathan to Nathula.
7th October 2012

Awesome Pics & Gr8 info.
Dear Gr8 one, please refer to ur mail i had send, reply asap.
28th April 2013

hello..I enjoyed ur blog..the blog is very useful to me..well written along with beautiful pics..
I am planning to visit rishi,nathang valley at the end of may..will u suggest whether we stay at rishi or zuluk..as our plan is only for 2n 3days..how will i book drafter bunglow in nathang valley??
20th May 2013

Hi, Thanks for viewing my blog. Rishi is located at a low height in the foot hills beside Rishi river and Zuluk is located is at high altitude. For Daftar Bunglow booking you may contact http://springvaleresorts.com/ . We booked through them. Regards Anustup
1st June 2013

I would like to know what are the places which wee can visit while travelling from dzuluk to Gangtok... is jeleplaa accessible for us??? Menmecho lake and memencho lake can be visited I guess????????
18th June 2013

Good Material
Keep it up
27th July 2013

your blog was really helpful. I needed a suggestion. Actually me and my friends were planning for a tour to Sikkim for 7-8 days. We want to visit the silk route, gnathang valley, zuluk, and 1 day at darjeeling. can you please suggest the spots that we can cover within these days. One night at each spot. For example, njp-aritar-rishikhola-zuluk-gnathang- darjeeling. or njp-zuluk- gnathang- rishikhola-darjeeling. please suggest.
20th August 2013

Thanks for visiting my blog
Hi, Thanks for visiting my blog. Good to know that it helped you in planning your trip. Aritar is in bit different direction but rest of the places you can definitely plan as you have mentioned. But I would say it will become hectic and you guys won't get adequate time to enjoy the beauty of the place. Thanks again, and hope this helps. Wish you all a great journey. Best Regards Anustup
12th July 2014

old silk route
I'm planning to visit old silk route on 10th of otober, but I am not sure whether it will be a right decision. If assured then my planning will be like this. Njp-Sillery gaon(1nstay)-reshi khola (1nstay)-zuluk (3n stay)-nathula pass-gangtok(1nstay)-njp. Please give your valued opinion. I like your blog, it inspired me a lot.
30th July 2014

A Journey to the Old Silk Route
Hi, A Perfect plan ! go for it. Great place and timing is also not bad. Best Regards Anustup
17th August 2014

Suggestions about transport
Hello, this was an excellent travelogue. I'd like to plan a week-long trip along the Silk Route and would be glad if you'd kindly suggest about the transport. Is it feasible to hire locally at every spot or is it advisable to hire a car for the entire week right from NJP? We'd like to avail local communication if available. I'd be glad if you'd kindly drop in a reply here or at my inbox at dipankar.misra58@gmail.com. Thanks. Regards, Dipankar.
23rd February 2015

Well written blog
Hi Anustup, Enjoyed reading your blog. Very helpful. I am thinking of driving down to Zuluk, Gnathang, Changu lake, nathu la then to gangtok. Would be staying there for 2 days. Its giving me confidence to drive down to Zuluk. Is it easy to get permits for self driven vehicles.
20th September 2015

Nice blog
Your blog is really nice. Came here while searching for silk route travel details. I have some questions. 1. Is it possible to reach Zuluk from NJP in a day trip? 2. My plan is to cover all of Zuluk and Nathang valley in a 3D-2N trip with night stays in Zuluk and Nathang Valley. I want to reach Gangtok by 3rd day evening. Is it possible or not? 2. Is there any shared cab available? If not, what will be the approx cost of an economical SUV for picking up from NJP, covering the above route and dropping at Gangtok? We are a group of 6 people.
21st September 2015

Response to your query
Already mailed you! Thanks Regards Anustup
21st November 2016

Need contact details of drafter bunglow
Hi, I will be travelling to Sikkim next week and was looking for contact details for drafter bunglow
24th November 2017
Frozen Lake in Gnathan

Information for zulukh and nathang
Can u help me to know about zulukh and nathang vally during march 2018... My contact no 8768881241
2nd June 2018

old solk road .5n/6d
4 PERSON 5n/6d a son 14/10/2018/to/19/102018 NJP TO NJP
25th June 2019
Daftar Bunglow

Very useful details for the traveler . Thank you
23rd October 2019

Silk route tour
You have furnished the right information that will be useful to anyone at all time. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Silk Route Tour
24th October 2019

Thank You
Many Thanks for visiting my Blog Sumanta. Thanking You Anustup

Tot: 2.255s; Tpl: 0.023s; cc: 9; qc: 60; dbt: 0.0239s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb