Perched at a height of 10000 feet above the mean sea level, Zuluk (also called Dzuluk or Jhuluk or Juluk) is a dainty hamlet resting in the lap of the East Himalayas in Sikkim. The region is blessed with panoramic vistas of ice capped mountains, deep gorges, dense woods and sparkling streams.
Zuluk proudly calls itself a virgin destination as it is almost never crowded by seasonal tourists. To have a better experience of the mesmerizing locales and ultra gorgeous landscape, it is advisable to stay in homestays offered by locals rather than commercial hotels. You can also spot Army jawans, jeeps and tents while wandering on some of these trails. All in all, visiting Zuluk is definitely going to be an experience of a lifetime for you and will leave you with a lingering feeling in the heart.
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Places to Visit around Zuluk
1. Thambi View Point
Perched at an elevation of 112000 feet, Thambi View Point is one of the most important attractions around Zuluk. It is known for its 32 zig zag turns or what are called hairpin bends. It is also one of its kind which has so many turns in the entire Himalayan range. The highlight of the vantage point is that it offers surreal views of the sun rising from the peak of mighty Mountain Kanchenjunga. From here you can also try to locate the original Silk Route.
2. Kupup Lake
Kupup Lake, locally known as Bitan Cho, is a high elevation lake based at a height of 14000 feet above mean sea level. It is also called Elephant Lake as it is shaped like an elephant. There is also a Yak Golf Course nearby that is the highest golf course in the world. Yak Golf Course in collaboration with the Kupup Lake organize an annual water polo game which is a grand event in the area. The lake stay frozen from January till May.
Around 4 kms from Zuluk is Lungthung where you will find lush green tea estates, glossy green meadows and rugged mountain edges. The inhabitants here are mostly ones that escaped from Tibet. You can sit down with some of them to enjoy a cup of local tea and listen to their interesting tales of family history and culture. Or you can just carry some food and sit down for a picnic or a mid day feast.
Further 4 kms from Lungthung is Tukla which is known for its Battle of Tukla. In 1903, a special British force led by Lt. Col Francis Younghusband marched through here to attack Tibet. That began the brutal war. Several Tibetan soldiers were martyred here. A memorial has been built in the memory of those soldiers who lost their lives during the battle.
5. Nathang Valley
The trail or the road from Tukla bifurcates into- one leads to Nathang Valley and the other leads to the Old Baba Mandir. Nathang Valley is the hub of homestays and hostels at the place. Here you can find proper accommodation, good food and a little tid bits.
6. Adi Baba Mandir
Adi Baba Mandir is a popular shrine that is enshrined by saint Baba Harbhajan who died at the spot after he fell off riding a horse. It is a revered religious spot which is visited by both locals and Army personnel.
7. Menmecho Lake
Menmecho Lake is situated a little farther away from Zuluk and can be reached after a 1 hour drive. Nestled in between the mountains of Jeep la, the lake is derived from river Rongpo-Chu.
History of Zuluk
Zuluk was once known to be an important transit point in the ancient Silk Route from Tibet to India which was used by traders who came to India to sell silk goods and products. It connected Lhasa (in Tibet) to Kalimpong (in West Bengal) and was used till much later even after the invasion of Tibet by China.
Permits required to visit Zuluk
Zuluk is located in the restricted area of East Sikkim and can be visited only after obtaining proper permits from the officials. A special Line Permit is required to visit Zuluk which can wither be obtained from a place called Rangli or from Gangtok itself. You will need to carry the following documents-
Passport or Voter ID card (for adults)
Passport or Birth Certificate (for children below 18) along with one photo ID card (School ID or Aadhar Card)
Atleast 4 passport size photographs
Photocopies of all the above mentioned documents
A foreign national, one that from Pakistan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh would need to obtain a permit after writing to the Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi.
Things to Keep in Mind while visiting Zuluk
1. Carry enough woollen clothes as the temperature is really cold in Zuluk but also travel light as you may have to move around a bit. 2. Drink only bottled water which you will have to carry from Rongli, Pedong, or Siliguri as there is not even a single shop in the area. 3. In case, you want to consume alcohol, carry on your own. No shops sell foreign liquor here. 4. There are also no pharmacy shops or chemist stores so make sure to carry some basic medicines of your own like the ones for fever, headaches, stomach ache and antiseptic ointments. 5. Carry enough cash for all your transactions. There are no ATM machines and no card payments acceptable in Zuluk. 6. Data connectivity is very poor so you can carry two sim cards with different service providers to have more options. 7. Carry dry food also for difficult times.
Best Time to Visit
You can either visit Zuluk during the summer months of August to September to experience the green valley blooming with vibrant flowers. Or visit during the winter months i.e. between January and April to experience freezing temperatures and parly snowfall.
1. Do not trust locals with advice or with any kind of business transactions. 2. Beware leeches and other insects, especially in Pine forested areas. 3. Do not expect modern facilities. 4. If you have breathing issues, try and not stay in Gnathang Valley
How to Reach
Zuluk is situated around 90 kms from Gangtok. You can take the Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir route from Gangtok or the route via via Pakyong and Lingtham. It will take 4 hours in all. In case you are travelling from any other place, other than Gangtok, for example, Darjeeling, Pelling or NJP or Bagdogra, you will first need to go to Rongpo. From here, you can take the Rorathang route to reach Zuluk. If you are coming from Bengal, you can travel through Pedong, Reshi, Aritar to reach Zuluk.