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Amidst Marvellous Massifs – Treks Around Darjeeling

Darjeeling, the Queen of Hill Stations, is set amidst incomparable beauty. A panoramic view of Kanchenjunga massif, the highest point of the peak at 8595 metres (third highest in the world) is the major charm of this hill town, founded by the British. It is surrounded by tea gardens and forests of fern and bamboo and many coniferous trees. The toy train brings tourists from Siliguri to Darjeeling. The Mall is Darjeeling’s popular commercial street. It is lined with Tibetans selling handknitted sweaters and other souveniers.

The area in and around is indeed a treasure chest of interesting destinations. It has much to offer for trekkers and adventure lovers. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is training the budding mountaineers.

The summer months April to June, and October and November in autumn are the best months for trekking. Spring time has the added advantage of a wide variety of rhododendrons. Autumn has spectacularly l clear views. After December, expect cold and occasional snowfalls. A raincoat is a must as rain is a common occurrence.

Itineraries of treks around Darjeeling can be planned according to the number of days available but circular treks, commencing from and ending at Darjeeling are the most popular ones. Any route may be selected but Sandakphoo is the most common destination. Manaybhanjan, 26 kilometres from Darjeeling can be walked to or reached by bus or taxi.

The first day’s walk to Gonglu, 11 kilometres, is fairly steep. It zig zags all the way with a bungalow for a night halt and a water point. Second day’s trek of 26 kilometres initially passes through bamboo thickets with many ascents and descents. The steep climb begins from Nalpokhri which would take at least three hours. The mountain views en route are excellent.

All though the trek the Kanchenjunga massif plays hide and seek. At an altitude of 3636 metres Sandakphoo affords some remarkable view of Mount Everest as well. There are two tourist bungalows although many trekkers prefer to bring their own tents. A small dhaba serves simples vegetarian meals, much relished at such a height. Walks around Sandakphoo ae very refreshing and rewarding as far as the views are concerned.

On a clear day the Everest is visible along with Lhotse and Makalu. The Kanchenjunga has a cluster of high peaks in is periphery and the following peaks can be distinguished. Kumbhakarna, Rathong, Fork, Frey, Kabru group, Pandim, Nansingh and Siniolchu.