Feb. 23, 2023
As Henry David Thoreau said, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads,” Sandakphu of Darjeeling, West Bengal is what makes it accurate. You may have some ideas of how Heaven looks and what kind of beauty it conceives, but some fantastic places on earth will give you the experience of what Heaven is.
Situated at an altitude of 11,930 feet, Sandakphu, also known as Sandakpur, is the highest point of Singalila Ridge and the highest peak of West Bengal. Sandakphu is a place where one can enjoy heavenly peace. However, peace is not the only feeling you will get here; many beautiful sights are there to explore and things to do. Moreover, tourists from around the globe come here to enjoy the thrill of trekking. Besides, many nature lovers visit Sandakphu for relaxation leaving all the hazards of life behind.
In this blog, you will read about Sandakphu and many amazing things related to it. Keep scrolling to explore a short journey. And if you are interested, please contact Darjeeling Trips.
Sandakphu Trek: An Exciting Adventure
Trek Difficulty: Moderate
Trek Altitude: 11,930 ft.
Trek Distance: 32 Km
Trek Duration: 4-5 days
Located at the West Bengal and Nepal border, Sandakphu is widely famous as a wonderland for trekkers. Indian trekkers and foreign trekkers come to this trekking spot to explore the exquisite atmosphere of Sandakphu. While trekking here, you can see the white clouds passing very close, like in Heaven. Moreover, the views of Mt. Kanchanjungha, Mt. Everest, Lhotse, and Makulu in the morning sunlight will make you bewildered by their stunning beauty.
Well, the trekking difficulty is neither too hard nor too easy. In a way, you can say it’s at a moderate level. Although, it can be a bit laborious for some newbies walking almost 32km for 4-5 days. However, if someone cannot walk further, a Land Rover will take the person to the base camp.
Many nationally reputed trek aggregators and numerous local ones as well conduct this trek in Sandakphu. They provide everything from entry permits, accommodations, guides & porters, and food and transfers to and from Siliguri. However, if you conduct a self-arranged trip, you can also manage it with a bit of effort. You need to pre-book some places and book a guide per your itinerary, mainly during rush months.
Itinerary from Trekking to Return
Day 1: Arrive at Siliguri/NJP/Bagdogra and hire a car for Manebhanjan. From Manebhajan, hire a guide and porters. If you wish to start the trek from here, stay overnight and start early the following day. Alternatively, you can hire a vehicle for Tonglu/Tumling and start trekking on Day 2.
Alternatively, you can drive another 17 km after crossing Manebhanjan to Dhotrey and stay overnight to trek from here through the Dhotrey-Tonglu forest trail.
Day 2: If starting from Manebhanjan, trek uphill till Tonglu or Tumling and stay overnight. Or if started from Tumling, then trek up to Kalipokhari.
Day 3: Start in the early morning from Kalipokhri for Sandakphu. It’s a very short distance to cover. Spend the night at Sandakphu.
Day 4: If you’ve started up from Manebhanjan, you will reach Sandakphu today. Now you can start the trek from Srikhola by Gurdum. Spend the night at Gurdum if there is an additional day.
Day 5: Take a jeep from Srikhola for Darjeeling. After that, hire a vehicle from Darjeeling to NJP/ Siliguri/ Bagdogra.
* Carry extra clothing.
* Wear proper trekking shoes, and also carry an extra pair for advantage.
* Be sure that you are fit and healthy. Do a medical checkup before going for a trek.
* Carry food and water bottles in your backpack.
* Always ask the guide if you need any help.
There are some alternate routes for trekking in Sandakphu. Among all of them, Manebhanjan to Sandakphu is the most opted one, and the whole route is 32km. Although it takes 4-5 days for beginners to cover the total distance, many experts cover it in one day. Moreover, there’s a yearly race in which trekkers take only 7-8 hours to cover the entire route.
Nestled at an elevation of 7050 ft, Manebhanjan is a small beautiful roadside hill town. This little town is a gateway to Singalila Ridge, precisely to Sandakhphu.
If you are willing to trek in Sandakphu, you have to visit Manebhanjan. It is the place where you can get the entry permit for the Singalila National Park. Moreover, to hire a guide and porters for the requirements, you must contact the ‘Highlander Guides and Porters Welfare Association,’ located here.
As Manebhanjan is the last bazaar on this journey, you should stock up on any last-minute necessities. And to spend the night, you can book some lodges and hotels here. However, you can hire a Land Rover or a car for Tumling/Tonglu if you want to start trekking from there.
At an altitude of slightly more than 1000 feet, it takes 6-7 hours from Manebhanjan to reach Tonglu on foot. And from here, the route is only 2 km to reach another scenic destination, Tumling. Thereby, you can easily walk this way on foot and enjoy the majestic sights around.
After 5 KMs of trekking up, here lies Meghma, the land of clouds, on the borders of India and Nepal. Surprisingly, there are neither any restrictions nor any requirements for paperwork for this route. Hence, you can gladly hop across the borders many times over.
The views from Tonglu at any time are breathtaking. The clouds gathering on the endless green mountains will mesmerize your heart. The sky above your head never becomes dull. Furthermore, on a clear day, you can see the wealthy views of Darjeeling and the Teesta meandering over the plains of North Bengal.
However, It becomes pretty windy and chilly at night in Tonglu, even during the summer months. Therefore, if you want to feel that feeling, you must stay overnight at Tonglu.
Geographically Tumling belongs to the Ilam district of Nepal, which is about a couple of kilometres away from Tonglu. It is a beautiful hamlet that offers pleasant views along with a sterile environment. However, if you are planning for a tour in Singalila Ridge, Tumling is an ideal destination for staying. Moreover, there are plenty of beautiful lodges.
Depending on the conditions, Sandakpu peak is often visible from the Tumling viewpoint, where you can sit on the park benches to enjoy the heartwarming views around. Besides, a few stores and small restaurants are there to offer you tea, Maggie, packaged water bottles, etc.
Singalila National Park
Singalila National Park is a reserved high-altitude forest situated at the altitude of 7,000 ft - 12,000 ft. There are a lot of beautiful sights to see in this National Park, including wildlife, animals, and plants. Here are a few sights to enjoy here.
Exotic and Rare Animals
Most of the animals belonging to this national park are of Himalayan origin. The Red Panda, which is a rare animal, is the major attraction of this park. However, a survey in 2015 revealed that there are only 50 red pandas left in this forest.
Besides, Red Pandas, Himalayan Black Bears, Clouded Leopards, Long Tailed Pangolins, and Himalayan Newts are some of the fascinating creatures that visitors love to watch.
In addition to the exotic animals, Singalila National Park has over 350 eye-pleasing bird species to show you like, Satyr Tragopan, Cuckoo, and Blood Pheasant. Moreover, some rare birds like Satyr Tragopan, Long Tailed Minivet, Black-Throated, Brown Parrotbill, Robins, Slender Billed Babbler, Fire-Tailed Myzornis, and many others are the major attractions here.
Excluding the plantations of the Singalila National Park from the list would be very unfair. As it is a deep mountain forest, Singaila national park has a lot of eye-catching flora, 500 orchid species, and meadows. However, if you drive or trek through the park, you will notice many blooming flowers, and orchids with their stunning colours. Above all, you should not miss the blooming Rhododendrons here.
Situated at an altitude of 10,400 feet and 13 km from Tumling, Kalipokhari is a majestic destination you will get to see on your way to Sandakphu. As the name indicates, this little place has a small lake that contains black water. However, the shocking thing is that this water never freezes, even in the snowy winter.
You will notice many Buddhist prayer flags across the lake, which appears to be the first prominent landmark here. Moreover, there are some concrete sitting benches adorning the shores so that visitors can enjoy the views properly.
The distance from Kalipokhari to Sandakphu is only 6km. Thereby, either you can stay here overnight or complete the journey to Heaven. However, there are a few good lodges where you can spend the night.
Best Time to Visit
Although Sandakphu is an all-time tour destination, October to December is ideal for trekkers because the sky is evident in these months. And for non-trekkers, March to May or October to December is the best season. Moreover, during the Spring, you will get to enjoy the exquisite views of the blooming Rhododendrons along with many other beautiful orchids, especially in Singalila National Park.
How to Reach
Bagdogra is the nearest airport to Sandakphu. You can easily access a flight from all the metro cities of India to reach Bagdogra. Once you enter Bagdogra, get a cab or hire a car for Manebhanjan. However, if you don’t get a vehicle directly to Manebhanjan, take a taxi or bus to reach Darjeeling More. From here, you can quickly get a car for Manebhanjan.
Come to the Siliguri NJP railway station, which is easily accessible from all the major stations of India. After when you are in NJP, you can get a car directly for Manebhnjan at any time.
From Bagdogra/ Siliguri/ NJP you can hire a car to reach Manebhanjan. And from the Manebhanjan jeep, cars and other vehicles are available for further transportation. However, if you have your vehicle for the trip, you can go ahead.