BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF TONGLU PHALUT| SANDAKPHU
Earlier in the 17th century, Tonglu, presently situated in the Sandakphu region was called Mount. Tonglo and was a part of Sikkim. Tonglu/ local name Tumling is 3070ft. high & is one of the highest peaks of the Singalila range that falls on the West of Darjeeling town. Phalut is the 2cnd highest peak in West Bengal, India. The trek to Tonglu & Phalut in Sandakphu is the only trek in the whole of India where travellers can see 4 of the highest mountains in the world, including Mt. Everest.
How To Reach
•Daily flights &trains are available to Bagdogra & Siliguri from where tourists can easily avail a cab to reach Maneybhanjan (26Kms from Darjeeling). •Starting the trek from Maneybhanjan, reach Chitrey Village (4kms) & after resting for a night here, head towards Tonglu. For those who do not want to trek, there are land rovers from Tumling that takes tourists to Sandakphu through Phalut Rd. but the road is mostly uncarpeted.
•After exploring Tonglu, start off en route Phalut (34.5Kms). It will take almost 2hrs to reach Phalut but the road is extremely steep & unsafe during monsoon season. Trekking will take almost 7hrs.
Where To Stay
- Book from Gorkha Bhawan at Salt Lake (if you visit from Kolkata).
- Tonglu Trekker’s Hut situated at Tonglu Hill Top is one of the few accommodations available here (GTA lodge).
- Visitors who want to relish the view in Phalut can stay at The Lost Valley at Samaden. Trekkers often stay at Phalut, at the DI Bungalow, the Trekkers’ Hut of DCHC or the Bunkers, 12 in number offered by the Youth Hostel of Phalut. Also, there is another Tourist Lodge called Didi’s Trekker Hut available on the route from Sandakphu to Phalut.
Temperature of Tonglu
- The ideal time to visit Tonglu is from Mar to May/ late Sep. to mid-Oct.
- The altitude of Tonglu is above 11,000ft so it is extremely cold after Oct. (Avg -5° to 10°C)
- In Phalut & Tonglu, everything turns silvery white with snow in this season. During summer it is still moderately cold & the temp. ranges between 10°-13°C.
Tonglu, Phalut Sightseeing
- The trek to Tonglu(Sandakphu) from Maneybhanjan takes an unusual amount of time and the trail is quite steep, though the next point Tumling, 2km away from Tonglu is a quick descend. But during this trek, one can get a clear view of the Mt. Everest.
- During Mar-May Tonglu brims up with beautiful Rhododendrons and during winter it is mostly snow-capped.
- View of Kanchenjunga & eastern Himalayas from here is breathtaking.
- Koshi river can be traced on looking down the hilltop & at night lights of Darjeeling & Kurseong is visible.
- Tumling from Tonglu is a must-visit. Buddhist & native flags flutter on the road to Tumling. At the center of Tumling, an extravagant viewpoint is situated & it gives a stunning view of Kanchenjunga & Sandakphu peaks. Tumling is situated at 9,500ft & it is a part of Nepal although there is no restriction for Indian tourists to visit this place.
- Singalila National Park which starts soon after Tumling and known for amazing high altitude small animals like Red Panda, Pangolin etc. is a must-visit.
- At Phalut tourists will come across a primitive tribe that surrounds this place called the Falutians who worship the mountain peaks since almost 300yrs as they feel the presence of omniscient in the peak.
- Colorful flowers bloom here like Primula, Anemone, Blue Himalayan flower, Narilathaor & of course Rhododendron.
- The dense forest covers Phalut. This place thrives particularly with Oaks, Chestnuts, Magnolias, Silver, Fir, and coniferous forests.
- Phalut lies on one of the loftiest eminences of the Singalila range & is perfect for a trek lover. There is an exquisite view of the snow peaks and glaciers throughout the trek to Phalut.
- Experience moments of exhilaration & thrill throughout the climb to Phalut. One such moment will be during sunrise at Phalut as the rocky terrains and the far away snow-covered peaks turn into fiery red & orange, to a child, it might look like as if it is on fire.
Expenses of Tonglu, Phalut
- NJP/Bagdogra to Maneybhanjan: Rs. 3,500/- for a reserved small car.
- Darjeeling to Maneybhanjan: Shared Jeep fare- Rs. 50/- per person; Reserved small car fare – Rs. 1,200/-
- Land Rover Fare Maneybhanjan to Tumling (round trip): Rs. 2,500 + Night Halt Charge
- Land Rover Fare Maneybhanjan to Sandakphu (round trip): Rs. 5,500 + Night Halt Charge
- Land Rover Fare Maneybhanjan to Phalut (round trip): Rs. 9,000 + Night Halt Charge
- Night Halt Charge for Land Rover: Rs. 1,500 per night (applicable for night stays)
- Park entry fee: Rs. 100/- per person per day of stay inside the park (Rs. 200 per day for foreigners), Digital Camera: Rs. 100/-; Video Camera: Rs. 400/-
- Vehicle Entry Charge: Rs. 100/-
“It is said that trekking to the Himalayas is incomplete without Sandakphu-Phalut Trek. Tonglu, Phalut is a paradise away from the maddening city-crowd and a dream come true for those having limited time in the disposal”.
Written by : Riddhi Bhattacharya | Travelofina Travel Stories