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Sandakphu or Sandakfu

Sandakphu or Sandakfu is situated at an elevation of 3636 meters / 11941 feet) is the highest peak in the state of West Bengal, India. It is the only place in West Bengal which experiences snowfall each year. This is the highest point in Singalila range hence the trek route to Sandakphu is called the Singalila trek. From here the five highest peaks of the world like Mount Everest, Makalu, Kanchenjunga, and Lhotse and many other peaks of Nepal, Sikkim, Tibet and Bhutan in one single stretch of snow. It is situated at the edge of the Singalila National Park in Darjeeling district on the West Bengal - Sikkim - Nepal border. It is the highest point of the Singalila Range or Ridge. Sandakphu is a small village and exist only due to tourists. On the peak, there are trekkers hut and few local home which have arrangements for guests to stay. Four of the five highest peaks of the Himalayan Range like Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu can be clearly seen from here. Varieties of rhododendrons with plants like Streptous simplex, Trilidium govanianum, Primula rotundifolia, Fritillaria cirrhosa, Llydia and flora like Iris, Anemone, etc is found in this region.  The whole length of the Himalayan Range with the peaks of Kanchendzonga and Everest can be seen from its summit. Sunrise and sunset are brilliant. So is the snowfall and the scenic beauty around the place. 

Sandakphu can be reached by trekking from Maney Bhanjan via Tonglu, Gauribaas, Kalipokhri or motor able only via the legendary Land-Rover rather the legendary monster 4 x 4. The weather is pleasant and the temperature ranges from - 20 C in winter to 15 C in summer. Snowfalls in winters are a treat to watch. Phalut is nearly 21 kilometres through the forest, meadows (Bugials) from Sandakphu and is worth visiting. There is no settlement in this route and the road is scenic with brilliant scenery. It is a tricky route as any left turn will take you to Nepal. Phalut is always the most brilliant part of the trek, of course, if guest does not travel to Gurdung, which is also a unique place. It is a pleasant walk with more or less a level ground and with not many ups and downs and the scenery of the purple hills was almost magical and dreamy. Water and ready food is all that you need during the trek. Phalut has only a single guest house but the house has space for many.

Trek- The trek along the Singalila Ridge to Sandakphu and Phalut is one of the most popular ones in the Eastern Himalayas. Treks begin at Manebhanjan which is 28 kilometres from Darjeeling. The trekking routes inside the Singalila National Park have four stages. Manebhanjan to Meghma (2600 meters) is a 04-hour trek via Chitre. Lamaydhura is a hamlet inhabited by five odd Tibetan families and is nearly 01½ hours trek from Maneybhanjan. The trail from Lamaydhura gradually ascends as you walk further up towards Meghma, one will pass through forests. There is another shorter route via Dhotre. The trekking route takes one directly to Tonglu or Tumling 05 kilometres. Next Meghma moves towards Gairibas (2621 meters). There are two alternative trekking routes. Both passes via Tonglu (3070 meters) and Tumling (2900 meters). From Tumling, a shorter trail cuts through Nepal and Jaubari (2750 meters). Gairibas / Gauribas to Sandakphu 3636 meters is a steep 04-hour climb halfway up the climb is the village of Kala Pokhri (3186 meters). Sandakphu to Phalut (3600 meters) - This is the most pristine stretch of the trek and is a one-day trek via Sabarkum (3536 meters) covering 21 kilometres. But the main problem of this Sandakphu-Phalut route is that there is no water source in between, so trekkers have to carry enough water to reach Phalut since 2009. The problem has been solved as there is water source at Sandakphu yet the tradition of carrying drinking water goes on. Two standard routes are Siliguri to Manebhanjan by car - Manenybhanjan - Garibas -Sandakphu - Sandakphu - Phalut - Rammam - Rimbik - Siliguri by car or Siliguri - Dhotrey by car - Gairibas Trek - Sandakphu Trek - Phalut - Gorkhey – Srikhola.  Trekkers generally reach Manbhanjan on the previous day and stay. Hotel or homestay is available and for better hotels, guests try to be in Mirik and proceed early next morning. Singalila National Park entry permit is available from the office of Forest Department by the roadside just before the steep uphill route starts from Manebhanjan.  Being on the border of Nepal Trekkers and tourists are subject to identity checks hence it is advisable to carry Photo IDs, foreigners must carry passport and visa.

Places of interest around Sandakphu are Falut, Gorkey, Sukhiapokhori, Gurdung, Palmazua, Okhrey, Rammam and Rimbik. Maneybhanjyang is situated at an elevation of 2150 meters is a transit town in the Darjeeling subdivision, Darjeeling district in the state of West Bengal in India and is nearly 30 kilometres from Darjeeling Town. It also acts as the gateway of the Singalila National Park. Local residents are inclined toward tourism as that is the main source of income especially foreign tourist. Maney Bhanjyang is the base camp for Sandakphu trek.

Places of Interest

  • Sandakphu
  • Phalut / Falut
  • Tonglu
  • Lamaydhura (Tibetian Family) 
  • Meghma or Megma 
  • Tumling 
  • Juabari 
  • Gauribas
  • Kalopokhori
  • Bikheybhanjang 
  • Singalila National Park
  • Palmazua
  • Okhrey
  • Gurdung
  • Ramam
  • Rimbik
  • Srikhola
  • Sukhiapokhori
  • Mirik
  • Gorkhey

Connectivity / Communication

Airways - The nearest airport from Maneybhanjan is Bagdogra Airport (IXB). It is approximately 90 kilometers and is 03½ - 04 hours drive by scenic road.  The other airport from Maneybhanjan is Pakyong Airport (PYG). It is approximately 95 kilometers and is 03½ - 04 hours drive by scenic road. Both the airport is well connected with rest of India and has regular flights. From Manebhanjan, the distance to Sandakphu is about 35 kilometers and takes about 04½ - 05 hours by Jeep or Land Rover. Road is treacherous and the journey on Land Rover is not quite smooth. One cannot reach Sandakphu on the same day if one reaches after 11 AM. The jeeps do not run on Sandakphu route at night as it is quite risky. Both the Airport has scheduled flights made available from cities such as New Delhi, Guwahati, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.

Railways - New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP) is the nearest major Railway Station. It is approximately 90 kilometres and is 03½ - 04 hours drive by scenic road. From Manebhanjan, the distance to Sandakphu is about 35 kilometres and takes about 05 - 06 hours by Jeep or Land Rover. The road is treacherous and the journey on Land Rover is not quite smooth. NJP is well connected to the major cities such as Trivandrum, Delhi, Mumbai, Ajmer, Bangalore, Secunderabad, Guwahati and Chennai, Cochin, Kolkata, etc. It is approximately 50 kilometres from Darjeeling and nearly 56 kilometres from Siliguri Town. Kurseong is one of the major Junction of the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Station (DHR). Hence one can avail the Joyride of DHR from Kurseong to New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP). 

Roadways - Sandakphu can be reached in two different ways, either by car or by trekking. The trekking starts from Maneybhanjan via Chitire, Meghma, Tonglu, Tumling, Gairibas, Kalapokhri, Bekhe to Sandakphu. From Manebhanjang one can hire 1950's made Land Rovers which climbs up to Sandakphu and Phalut. From Manebhanjan, the distance to Sandakphu is about 32 kilometres and takes about 04½ - 05 hours by Land Rover with tea breaks in between. One can also drive to Dhotrey nearly 100 kilometres from Bagdogra Airport (IXB) / New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP) and trek starts from there. Maneybhanjan is well connected to Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Gangtok, Pelling and other places of the region with a network of roads. It is approximately 85 kilometres from Bagdogra Airport (IXB) and New Jalpaiguri Railway Station. It is approximately 50 kilometres from Darjeeling. The drive to Mirik is also a scenic route touching Nepal Border at Pashupati.

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