Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Himalayan diaries-5:Dhotre,Tonglu and Tumling

On 19th Morning, we got ready similar to previous day in Darjeeling with the difference of not going to acclimatization exercises.Had to leave from base camp at 07:30.But the time we left from there it was 07:45. We had to travel from Darjelling which is at an altitude of 2134 meters into Dhotre.We had to travel in Jeeps booked by YHAI for almost 2 hours to reach Dhotre
@Singalia National Park, on the way to Sandakphu
The jeeps heading to Sukhia would take you to Dhotre. On the way you would encounter the Nepal border and Singalila National Park. We stopped at Singalila park check post around 09:10 AM as we had to take entry tickets for our batch and for the people carrying cameras. Entry ticket details are as follows

 First set of jeeps arrived in Dhotre around 10 Am and were waiting for the next ones. We met our Camp leader Vendho Tamang and he introuduced us to the Norbu Sherpa(NS) and Shiva Tamang(ST). They would be the guides for our group.As we were waiting for others, could see that There were kids selling bamboo sticks for a price of 10 Rs and houses selling tea. There was a restaurant as well and multiple shops as well. But were more interested in starting our trek than roaming around in search of some items. After the
initial filings, we headed forward in our trek around 10:40.

We had to carry our backpack , camera bags and the sticks (those who brought) and started experiencing the real weight as the jeeps were carrying them so far and we did not carry the actual weight in a mountain path in darjelling as well . Few fellows like me who had read about this trek as moderate to easy trek, did not take the sticks as we felt that its just an extra weight during the trek and we may not be walking in snow always. So, stick might not be usefull.

On our way, we could see the farmers putting on fire to burn the weeds and clear the farms ready for next harvest. Could see bamboos being piled for the transport into Siliguri where they would transform themselves into various articles and sold in the Bazars over there. Could see people carrying wood and fodder for animals in big baskets. Could see the Samadhis built in memor of the people who died there. Cameras hidden somewhere or the other started coming out and photo sessions started.
There were people walking fast and Norbhu was leading them from the front. There were people walking slowly and Shiva was there at the back to make sure that those at the back are not delayed by a long duration and nobody is missing at the end as well. Started encountering various new flora and fauna which i did not encounter before. Would try to put some details about the ones which i could get the names from the guides. There were plenty of them which could not be identified by the guides as well. Those are uploaded a well for the info of the ones going there next time.Who knows ? You might be lucky enough to get their name and post it here.

First one to encounter was Bente frit.The pic below shows Unhita holding a Bente fruit. Got to know that its seeds are edible.

During trekking, we could either carry our luggage or use the service of portars who carry our luggage.Portar service is not free, of course :-) Although in our trek, nobody used the portar service, could see some other trekking groups using portar service. Next pic shows an Donkey carrying the luggage for a portar.

After walking for an hour, we saw a chaiwala and his family selling chai and Pakodas. Although we had the breakfast,oranges, Chikkis provided by YHAI in the morning, some thought of having hot chai and Pakodas. For others, it was a pitstop for some talk , bio break and rest :-) We moved on after few group pics.

My next spotting was Nagzar ,a green creeper mainly used for decorations. Guides were informing that it would be used during Saraswati Pooja and Diwali during worships.

Next one was Bukhe phool which is one of the common plants to be seen in the Himalayan grasslands
Bukhe Phool
We were stopping here and there and group photo sessions were going on. As we ascended, due to the exercise of walking, we started feeling the heat and layers which we wore started to peel. Realized the saying "layer up" which is used for mountain trekking.

We reached near our lunch point "Tonglu" by 1:30 PM and waited for some time for the people at the back to join us. It was so windy and misty that we could not see any object or person farther than 15 meters. After waiting for some more time, we walked into our Tunglu camp.

Food was served here and we had to bring our own plates, tiffin boxes to eat the food. When i read in blogs , i thought of buying a plate and a bowl and brought it as well. But my experienced friends had suggested to bring tiffin box as they might give packed lunch and plate would be of no use for that. But as i realized during the trek, plate would have been much more helpfull than the small metal tiffin box i had brought for the trek. But eating with that small box was much enjoyable as well as i could take multiple times and washing was less difficult task as well as there were scarsity of water in the places we visited. Coming back to Tonglu, near the hotel where food was served, there was a lake which was dried up by the time we went there and they had to pump water from a distant source. So, we used water cautiously as already informed by Mr Swamy in the base camp and also as per the request of Tonglu camp leader.
Dhejas set up on the way to Tumling

After a good lunch, we got energized for next session and moved quickly.We had seen couple of Dwajas , built for the memory of the people who died and also ice formations near the roads. That was actually water flowing from the streams near the road and had frozen due to the reduced temperatures. It was quite common to see Ice during our next journeys whenever we started our day early or were still trekking till the evening. It was around 2:30. But that was evening already as per the Himalayan climate:-) We reached our
next camp of Tumling by 3:20 PM.

Tumling is at an altitude of 2900 Mt.So, we had gained the height of 766 Meters from Darjelling where we stayed for 2 days. This was the place for our night stay and from where we had to start our next day's journey.We met the camp leader Akshay when almost all the people came and rooms were allocated in the Siddhartha lodge which was our Tumling amp. There was a bigger room of 15 and smaller rooms of 6,4 etc which were allocated to friends as per their convinience. Few rooms got the people who knew each
other before. Others made room for knowing each others :-)

Eventually it is a border between India and Nepal. There are stones in many places with one side being in India and other side being in Nepal !. So, there were chances that we were walking with one step in India and other in Nepal. That is the best part of having a friendly country like Nepal.  There was no chance of seeing sunset as it was full of clouds . But the superb part was the first camp fire i enjoyed with YHAI.

camp fire:
They call it camp fire. But there is no actual fire in it !! People would be sitting in groups and playing dumcharads, Antakshari or other games. If you are lucky, you would get some hot place with fire like the one we got in Tumling. Otherwise there is no fire literally :-) But it was very good experience in all the days as it provided the chance to gell up with others in the group and enjoy. Dinner was around 8pm as usual and we people would be in bed soon except the talkative ones and creative photographers who were trying some crazy things :-) 

Coming up next: Kalaphokri and Ramya's prayers


  1. Great description on the unfolding the events "Parthasaarti". Awaiting the next article..

    1. Thanks a lot Ramya . Thanks for the reading :-)