by Clinical Crossroads
Not as well known or acclaimed as its Northern Counterpart, The Eastern Part of Sikkim still is a place worth fitting into every traveler’s bucket list. It is no short of natural beauty that will have you in awe. The place doesn’t see overwhelming tourists and hence preserves the vibes of raw nature. 
The most significant part of East Sikkim is formed by the Silk Route, a remnant of the long forgotten trade route that connected China to India and the rest of the world… Not many hotels have developed in this region, but the area is flooded with home-stays, run by the locals, which are never the less cozy and address your basic needs quite comfortably.
I have made detailed travelogues on the Silk Route, which I hope will be able to help you out as well!
Zigzag Road Old Silk Route
The famous zig-zag road of the Old Silk Route
Season of choice

A real versatile place this is. Good Season spans from September to May. East Sikkim presents itself vividly and differently each time of the year… Clear skies in autumn, cold & icy in winter, flowered with rhododendrons in late spring.  

How to reach

You invariably have to start from Siliguri, located in the Chicken Neck region of Northern part of the state of West Bengal. Siliguri is well connected to cities like Kolkata, Patna and Guwahati by railway and bus service. It also has an airport (Bagdogra) for flights from all over India. Airline operators like GoAir and Air Vistara operate regular flights. You can also check MakeMyTrip.

Book through a Travel Agent or not

Depends on your choice. I booked the trip myself. But if you don’t want to take that trouble, you may approach a travel agent to get the necessary things done.
Travel agents can arrange customised tours, apart from group tours that happen frequently. 
Aritar Lake, Sikkim
The Aritar Lake at sunset
Route and halts (itinerary)
The circuit is a closed one. Important places being Sillerygaon, Reshi, Aritar, Padamchen, Zuluk, Lungthung and Gnathang valley
Tourists usually travel up to Gnathang through the famous zigzag roads, surrounded by the picturesque blue and white mountains all around. From Gnathang, they make a return via the same road, back to where they started in Siliguri.
The itinerary looks like this:
D1: Siliguri to Aritar
D2: Aritar to Zuluk
D3: Zuluk to Gnathang Valley
D4: Gnathang Valley to Zuluk/Aritar
D5: Back to Siliguri
However there’s a better alternative as well, which I always recommend.
Instead of returning back by the same old route, you may prefer continuing further from Gnathang Valley, to ultimately reach Gangtok. There is a distinct advantage to this, as you get an opportunity to visit the Old Baba Mandir, Kupup Lake, New Baba Mandir and the Tsomgo Lake on the way, without having to plan for them separately. Plus there is an added chance to get to the Nathula Pass, if a permit can be arranged.
In that case, the itinerary looks like this:
D1: Siliguri to Aritar
D2: Aritar to Zuluk
D3: Zuluk to Gnathang Valley
D4: Gnathang Valley to Gangtok (via Old Baba Mandir, Kupup Lake, New Baba Mandir and the Tsomgo Lake)
D5: Stay at Gangtok for local sight seeing.
D6: Gangtok to Siliguri.
Booking place of stay

As I already mentioned, there are hardly any hotels in the Silk Route Circuit. However, there is no shortage of homestays. These are run by the locals and usually come at fixed rate packages including fooding and lodging. Travel websites like Agoda, Expedia, GoIbibo and MakeMyTrip have many of these listed. Some homestays like the Kanchanjunga Mirror Home Stay (where we stayed and had an awesome experience) have their own websites. Most homestays would require you to transfer the booking amount to their account in advance through NEFT.   

Gnathang Valley
Gnathang valley... the pcituresque hamlet

Booking your vehicle and Travel Permit

The homestays you choose to stay can make arrangements for your vehicle. Otherwise, you can always go ahead to book your preferred vehicle and driver separately. However, do ensure that the vehicle has legitimate permit for the circuit. 

The driver arranges for the permits of the tourists, which are done from Permit Authorities at Rongli Bazaar (in between Aritar and Padamchen), as Silk Route Circuit is a restricted area.  

Weather and Clothings

Aritar and Zuluk have a comfortable cool weather, but as you go up, Lungthung and Gnathang can get uncomfortably cold. So, be prepared with your jackets, wooly cots, monkey caps, gloves and socks. Don’t forget  your shoes. 


Though East Sikkim shouldn’t be a problem to majority of tourists, some may face problems due to altitude sickness and the biting cold.

The elderly and those with morbidities like Cardiovascular diseases should refrain from this tour, specially the part above Zuluk. Pregnant ladies, babies and very young children might face difficulties and hence should avoid. 


Depends on your preferences. 
If you choose shared accommodations and shared vehicle, the budget can be cut down to around Rs. 2000/day. However, if you opt for a more comfortable way to travel, your expenses would certainly rise. 
This is it for now.. Hope I was comprehensive enough, and could address your concerns.
Now buck up.. Get ready for your next trip to India’s own Silk Route and make it memorable!
For more such guides and travelogues, click here!
Bengali English