Sikkim is an absolute paradise, especially for people who love the quietness of the mountains. However, it has become greatly crowded and loud in the recent years. Places like Gangtok, Gurudongmar Lake, Tsomgo Lake, etc. have become major tourist hubs and tend to see a lot of daily hustle bustle. So, have you heard about this place called Zuluk in Sikkim?
So, if you are looking to explore some offbeat destination in Sikkim where you can enjoy peacefully, then Zuluk or Dzuluk is the perfect place to go to. In the last article, I talked about another offbeat place in Sikkim – Pelling.
A Travel Guide for Zuluk
Zuluk is one of the villages to stay in if you want to watch the Old Silk Route and the amazing view of the Kanchenjunga range close by. Trust me, when you stand at the top from Zuluk hill point and look down, you see a never-ending road with numerous pins and turns which make it even more enchanting to watch.
In the earlier days, Zuluk was known to be the transit point of trade between Tibet and India and was widely used for transportation of goods.
However, one thing to remember about this place is that since it is located very close to China, there are many parts which are actually restricted and require a permit. Also, this place is usually closed during the winter due to the snow-covered roads so if you really want to visit this place, best to head over here in November.
Zuluk, located at an altitude of 10,100 ft. is a relatively lesser known village in East Sikkim. From here, one can go to higher located destinations such as the Nathula Pass, Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir, etc.
Zuluk is at a distance of 90 KMs from Gangtok and the road to reach this village is astonishing. There are about 32 hairpin-like structures which look breathtaking from above, especially during the winter season. You will also come across various waterfalls and viewpoints when making your way from Gangtok to Zuluk. If you truly want to enjoy yourself here then monsoon would be a great time to visit these waterfalls.
Permit for Zuluk
Zuluk is a special place which offers a breathtaking view of Eastern Himalayan ranges and is close to the China border. This is why one needs to take a permit in order to reach here. The permit needs to be taken in Gangtok itself, for which you are required to provide the photocopies of your Identity Proof.
You cannot enter this place without a permit and the repercussions of traveling without one are serious. So, don’t skip out on this crucial step when heading to this part of the state.
Well, on a side note if you are planning to Sikkim for the first time, do not forget to read all the details in this comprehensive guide on making a trip to North Sikkim.
Foreign National Permits
A foreign national need to take a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to enter Sikkim. Moreover, entry for citizens of Pakistan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh becomes all the more difficult as they need to write to Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi to get the permission to enter this area.
But still, a permit doesn’t provide you with access to places like Nathula Pass and Gurudongmar Lake.
To get the permit, you need to own a valid passport and a valid visa. If you have these with you, you will get the permit easily, which is free of cost. You will just need to go to the office with the required documentation and you can then get the permit to enter Sikkim for 60 days.
Domestic National Permits
Indians don’t require a special permit to enter Sikkim but they do need permits to reach Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir, Nathula Pass, and Zuluk.
The best way to get the permit is to go to one of the tourism agencies which can be found on the Mall Road of Gangtok. Go at least a day before to get the permit, instead of getting the permit done on the date of travel itself, as the permit is made during the morning hours. This will help you in saving a day and will ensure that you don’t waste any time in Gangtok itself.
Another option could be to ask your hotel staff to get it done for you as they are aware of the changing policies and norms to obtain the permit.
You can also get a permit from Rangoli. The charge can vary from INR 100-200 to get the permit.
Sightseeing Around Zuluk
Here you will find several lakes, viewpoints, valleys, etc. to explore and enjoy. Some of these views are so breathtaking that you would be left speechless for a while.
Zuluk Loop / Silk Route
Zuluk is most popular for the Old Silk Road which can be seen from here. There are 32 hairpins on a single road, famously known as the zigzag road, which is a unique engineering feat and the view is extremely enchanting too.
Travel Tip: If you are much into offbeat places, then Lava & Aritar makes another offbeat trip in North East
You can witness this beauty from different vantage points on the mountain slopes of Zuluk or you can head to Thambi View Point to get a better view.
Old Baba Mandir
If you are interested in a bit of a history, visit this temple which was made in the memory of Sepoy Harbhajan Singh. To reach here you have to climb a few stairs where you will be able to find Baba Harbhajan Singh’s bunker. Some people also believe that his spirit still exists, guarding the Indo-China border, especially at the night time.
There is also a “Baba Mandir”, where you will find several tourists and which is located 10 KMs away from this place.
Just 4 KM away from the Baba Mandir, you will be able to see one of the most gorgeous lakes of Sikkim. This lake is surrounded by deep slopes and pine trees and said to change color in every few minutes.
The lake stays frozen from the month of January till May so, plan your travel accordingly.
Thambi View Point
Lying at an altitude of 11,200 feet, this viewpoint gives you an unobstructed view of the entire Silk Road and valley. You can see all the 32 hairpin bends from here which look like a zigzag road, stretched over a distance of 14 KMs.
It is also the point which offers the best sunrise view and the entire Kanchenjunga range can also be witnessed from here.
If you go slightly ahead of Thambi view Point, this point will come at an altitude of 13,000 feet. From here, you can get a clearer view of the Mount Kanchenjunga range and is also a good spot for witnessing the sunrise.
This valley is around 8 KMs ahead of Thambi View Point and is mostly covered in snow for the most part of the year. This is the place where Tibetan yak herders took their yaks to graze. This valley is extremely beautiful and said to change colors during different seasons.
You will also find a monastery and several streams flowing through this valley which you can visit.
If you are a fan of sunrise (well, who isn’t), go to this point early in the morning at 4 AM to see the sun rising behind the Mount Kanchenjungha.
This is the highest point in Zuluk and has the highest golf course point in the world. You can also spend some time at the Kupup lake which is a beauty in itself and is one of the sacred lakes of Sikkim.
Since it resembles the shape of an elephant, Kupup lake is also known as the Elephant lake and is surrounded by high mountains and beautiful valleys.
Itinerary for Zuluk
Gangtok – Tsongmo Lake – Nathula – Baba Mandir – Old baba mandir – Zuluk
Day 0 – Travel to Gangtok and arrange for a permit. For the permit, you need to submit a photocopy of your Identity Proof (Passport, Aadhar, Voter Id, etc.). Then, head to a tourism agency to take the package or hire a cab as private vehicles are not allowed to enter the restricted area.
Day 1 – In the morning, leave for Tsomgo Lake at 8 AM. From Tsomgo Lake, you can move on to the Nathula Pass and then drive on to reach Zuluk. On the way, you can also visit the Baba Mandir and Old Baba Mandir. You can also stop at the Memnchu Lake which comes on the way to Zuluk too.
Day 2 – Get up early in the morning to go to the sunrise point known as Ganek at 4 AM. This is the place from where you will be able to see the Mount Kanchenjunga as well.
Later in the day, you can leave from Zuluk to reach Gangtok. You should reach Gangtok by the evening and then spend some time at the mall road.
Seasons for Travelling to Zuluk
Zuluk looks beautiful across all the seasons. During winters, the entire stretch is covered in white and the hairpins are glowing in that shade. But, you might not get a permit to visit if there are chances of heavy snowfall or if the road is blocked.
In summers you will be able to see the entire green valley. And in monsoon, you will see a fresh and lush green valley. So, it ultimately depends on your preference and what shade you love the most.
Personally, I would prefer Summer or Winter season as you get to enjoy other parts of Sikkim as well.
How to Reach Zuluk
Zuluk is located 90 KMs away from Gangtok and it takes about three hours to reach this place. One can see the Baba Mandir and Tsongo Lake on the way. However, if you are coming from any other place you have to cross Rongpo first.
Rongpo is the entry point to Sikkim and from here you can get the permits to Sikkim.
There are no shared cabs or buses available on this route due to the close proximity to the China border. So, you need to hire a private taxi or go for a package in order to visit this beautiful place. You will find many tour operators and private taxis in Gangtok or Siliguri to take this path.
Accommodations in Zuluk
There are no hotels in this place. You can only opt for homestays, which you could easily book. You can also get a room after reaching there as well, so there is no need to worry.
All the homestays here are really neat and a good place to stay at and will cost you somewhere about 1500 – 2000 INR per night.
They also serve food and provide the best hospitality to their customers.
There are no ATMs available in the Zuluk region. So, it would be best to just withdraw the cash from Gangtok or Siliguri, before leaving for Zuluk.
The mobile connectivity is intermittent here so, you might not be able to call your friends and family much. It is a place where one can enjoy a perfect solace, away from the world, without any worries about social media and connections.
But if you really want a mobile network, carry a BSNL sim. However, keep in mind that even the BSNL sim is really weak in some of the places here.
Other Points to Note
Driving your own vehicle is not allowed here so if you are planning to do a road trip then think again. Only Sikkim vehicles are allowed to take you to this place so, you will need to book a package or take a private taxi.
If you are traveling from any other place than Gangtok, like Darjeeling, Pelling or NJP/ Bagdogra, then you have to first travel to Rongpo to get the permit.
Zuluk is a place not only very beautiful but is also mostly untouched, which makes this place really picturesque and serene.
This place will feel like a forgotten land to you because there is almost no one to see around here. But, that is what makes this the perfect place to visit in Sikkim because you get to experience the true Sikkimese culture and food here. So, if you want a less-crowded place in Sikkim to witness some amazing views then Zuluk is the ideal place for you!
In the end, if you have any questions for planning your trip to Zuluk, feel free to leave a comment in this article or connect with me on Instagram.