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Kangchenjunga, Gangtok Overview

The third highest peak in the world, the majestic Kanchenjunga, also spelt Kangchenjunga, is one of the most stunning mountains. Surrounded by Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet, Mt Kanchenjunga was first scaled in 1955 but since then has been declared sacred. Kanchenjunga' is a Tibetan name which means 'The Five Treasures of the High Snow'. The treasures represent the five repositories of God, namely gold, silver, gems, grain and holy books. There are a lot of trekking routes in and around Kanchenjunga which will take you through woody forests and serene countryside.

Kangchenjunga Mountain near Darjeeling is the third highest peak in the world, with a peak elevation of 8,586 m. In the Kirat religion of Sikkim, the mountain is regarded very sacred and in the local Limbu language, it is also called Sewa Lungma. Out of the five peaks of Kanchenjunga, four can be viewed from many points in Darjeeling and Gangtok. Out of the many points in Darjeeling from where you can have a spectacular view of the peak, Tiger Hill is one of the best. If you're in Gangtok, the Goecha La trek in Sikkim is the standard base camp for trekking up the range.

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Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek

Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is the most exciting trek as it is the world’s highest peak at an elevation of 8586 metres spread in the boundaries of India, Tibet and Nepal. It offers stunning views of valleys and landscapes where you will find nature at its best. The trail starts from Darjeeling from where you will walk through Yukhsang, Bakkhim, Phedang, Dzongri, Bikhbari to Chaurikhang and Rathong Glacier. The trek is a real adventure waiting for you to witness panoramic views of mountain ranges and pass through lush dense forests, varied flora and fauna, tribal villages and grazing yaks.

Kanchenjunga National Park

Located in Sikkim and encompassing the Kanchenjunga Peak and the Zemu glacier, this National Park and biosphere reserve are the latest addition to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in India. Spread over an area of 850 sq km, it is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna with 550 species of birds alone. Some of the important animals found are the snow leopard, Himalayan tahr, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, Tibetan wild ass, wild dog, Himalayan blue sheep, civet, serow, sloth bear, goral, red panda, takin and snakes like Russell's viper.

Best Time to Visit

December to January is the best time to visit the Kunchenjenga peak.

Kangchenjunga Demon

The area around Kangchenjunga is believed to be home of mountain deity called Dzo-Nga or Kangchenjunga Demon, a type of yeti or rakshasa. In 1925, a British Geological expedition spotted a bipedal creature and when they asked locals about it, they referred to is as the "Kangchenjunga Demon".

Different Names of Kanchenjunga

There are many alternative spellings including Kangchendzönga, Khangchendzonga, and Kanchenjunga. However, Kangchenjunga is the officially adopted spelling. The local name Kanchinjínga means the ‘five treasures of the high snow’ referring to its five peaks. In Limbu language, its name is Senjelungma or Seseylungma as it is believed to be an abode of goddess Yuma Sammang. In Tibet, it is known as Gangchhendzonga.

Protected Areas

Kanchenjunga complex comprises of three distinct ecoregions- the eastern Himalayan broad-leaved and coniferous forests, the Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows and the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands. The Kanchenjunga landscape boundary is shared by Bhutan, China, India and Nepal and comprises of 14 protected areas with a total of 6032 km square. Many significant plant species such as rhododendrons, orchids and other endangered species like snow leopard, Asian black bear, red panda etc.

Geography

Kanchenjunga is the third highest mountain peak in the world and lies between Nepal and Sikkim with three of the five main peaks directly on the border and the remaining two in Nepal’s Taplejung district. The five peaks are- Kangchenjunga Main, Kangchenjunga West, Kangchenjunga Central, Kangchenjunga South and Kangbachen. Kangchenjunga Main is the highest elevation of the Brahmaputra River basin, which is amongst the largest basin globally. The Kangchenjunga Himal section of the Himalayas lies both in Nepal and India, consisting of sixteen peaks over 7000 metres. This section has 120 glaciers of which four main glaciers- Zemu, Talung, Yalung and Kangchen originate from the peak, draining into different rivers like Teesta, Arun and Kosi. Though the peak is ranked 29th by topographic prominence, it is the 4th most prominent peak after Everest, Nanga Parbat and Namcha Barwa.

History of Kunchenjenga

The history of Kunchenjenga reads that until the year of 1852 Kanchenjunga was considered as the highest peak of the world. After the Great Trigonometric Survey of India in 1849, Mt. Everest was declared the highest mountain based on various readings and measurements. Kanchenjunga was officially moved to the third place in 1856. The locals consider the mountain a sacred place, an abode of Gods and even believe that a yeti (Himalayan demon), called Nee-gued still roams its slopes. The mountain is off limits to climbers since 2000.

How to reach Kanchenjunga

  • Rail: New Jalpaiguri serves as the nearest railways station to Yuksom situated about 150 km away.

  • Road: Yuksom, the base camp for Goecha La is easily accessible via road from several major cities including Siliguri. It is about 140 km away and serves as an entry point for Sikkim as well as its capital city Gangtok.

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About Kangchenjunga

Base Camp : Yuksom

Difficulty : Difficult Gradient

Nearest Airport : Bagdogra

Nearest Railhead : 150 km

Region : Sikkim Himalaya, Sikkim

Snow : During the winter months, the park receives heavy snowfall making everything around full of mystery and magic. Heavy showers of rain also commences from May and continue on and off till mid October.

Starting point of trek : Yuksom

Itinerary

Day 1 : Gangtok to Yuksam

Distance: 1780 m , Duration: 6 hours

The drive from Gangtok to Yuksam consists of 6 long tiring hours. However, the ever change of scenery is extremely refreshing and luring. With tea garden, river and bridge comprising the journey, you will reach your final destination of Yuksam with relaxed mind where the trek begins.

Day 2 : Yuksam to Tshoka

Distance: 3050 m , Duration: 7 hours

From Yuksam, begin your trek uphill towards the Rathong River gorge passing through dense forest. You will be accompanied by magnolia, rhododendron, and several varieties of orchids, ferns, bright exotic birds, and monkey peeking around the corner. After a hike of about an hour, you will cross the Paha Khola Bridge (1,733 m). Another two hours of trek and there is a spot for swimming near a waterfall and a stream beneath a bridge, where you can stop for lunch break. After crossing the Prek Chu River, there will be steep ascend for two to three hours which will lead to Bakhim. A Tibetan refugee settlement of Tshoka is just a little above from there where you can settle for the day after a long trek.

Day 3 : Tshoka to Phedang

Distance: 3760 m , Duration: 4 hours

From Tshoka, a steep climb above will lead you to a splendid rhododendron forest. Contnue walking alongside a well defined trail till Phedang. Owing to the rarefied air, the trek on third day comprise of short distance hike of about 4 hours.

Day 4 : Phedang to Dzongri

Distance: 4320 m , Duration: 3 hours

This is yet another day of trekking when you will be covering a short distance as you tread above the 4,000 m mark. Try and set the camp by lunch time and spend the rest of the afternoon getting used to the area and climate. A short climb will take you to beautiful meadows where you are suggested to pitch your tents. The campsite offers some marvelous views of Koktang, Rathong, Kabru, Khangchendzonga, Simvo and Pandim. However, you may choose your campsite according to the availability of water.

Day 5 : Rest and overnight camping

On your fifth day either you can continue with your excursion or explore the raw beauty of the area by climbing the nearby small peaks offering bewitching views. The morning and evening view are the highlight of the panoramic scenic beauty it offers.

Day 6 : Dzongri to Bikhbari

After a full day rest and exploration of Dzongri, itÕs time to continue to the next destination, Bikhbari. Begin with hiking for half an hour through the climbing trails followed by a climb down the hill. Aftre descending for a while, the trail opens up to flat and smooth valleys until you reach Bikhbari. Enjoy the lush green surroundings as you arrive at your destination and rest for the day. This is also your campsite, so pitch your tents.

Day 7 : Bikhbari to Doodh Pokhari, Chaurikhang, Rathong Glacier

Make sure you begin your day early in the morning. Today you will be heading towards the Kangchendzonga Base Camp. The trek in the beginning is slow but steady in pace. As you keep trudging along the trail, you will come across plethora of scenic views but the sight of mystic Frey's peak, Koktang, Kabur and Rathong is awe inspiring. You will be returning back to Bikhbari by the advent of the evening. Every year, some advanced courses in mountaineering are conducted at this campsite by the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling.

Day 8 : Bikhbari to Dzongri

After you are done with your breakfast, itÕs time to depart the campsite for the next stop of Dzongri. The trail will pass through the Dzongri-La Pass, the place exhibiting the sight of pure beauty. You will begin the trek with a climb up the hill to Dzongri-La, perched at an altitude of 4,500 m. However, for the remaining of the trek, you will be descending down towards Dzongri. As you arrive at the destination, check-in at the trekkerÕs camp and rest for the day while enjoying the wonders of nature all around.

Day 9 : Dzongri to Bakhim

From Dzongri, start with an ascent for about half an hour and then climb down the hill until reached a crossroad. Here, the road to left leads to Zamlingang while the right one comprising of a flat walk throughout will take you to Bakhim. Upon arrival, rest for a while and spend rest of the day at leisure at the campsite.

Day 10 : Bakhim to Yuksom

Have breakfast at the campsite and depart Bakhim for Yuksom. The trail will descend downwards till you reach the Prekchu Lake Bridge, after which you will continue to climb upwards until arrived at Yuksom. This marks the end of this exceptional trek comprising of the myriad of surprise elements.

Day 11 : Departure

It's finally time to depart the town.

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Abhinav Prakash 1 year ago
there are few certainly incorrect facts about Kanchenjunga in this article. 1. Kenchanjunga is not a Tibetian name- it's sanskrit/hindi name that means Golden Thighs. This name is given as mountain side shines like gold at sunrise and sunset 2. The best time to visit is from April to October. it will be impossible to visit this in Winter months

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