HOW TO REACH #1
Get TO SIKKIM FIRST
Dzongu is about 70 Km from the state capital, Gangtok. It is easily reachable by road. Permission from Sikkim Government is required to enter Dzongu. One can obtain permission from the Tourism office in Gangtok or one in Delhi. Tour operators can arrange the permits before reaching Sikkim.
The nearest Airport is in Bagdogra in West Bengal. From here one can either take a pre-paid Taxi (from within the Airport) or one can go to Siliguri to find a shared taxi. Indian Airlines, Jet (via Jet Konnect), Go Air have flights to this airport. One can either take a taxi upto Gangtok, which is about 4 hours drive, or one can take a direct taxi to Dzongu which can take the route via Singthem to reach Dzongu in about 5 hours.
The nearest Rail head is New Jalpaiguri Railway Station, not far from the Airport. One can take a taxi up to Gangtok or directly to Dzongu from here. Bus services from here can be availed up to Gangtok.
An exclusive taxi from the Airport/ Railway station, to Gangtok, will cost from Rs. 2,500 for a non-AC Indica (for max. 4 people) to Rs. 4000 for bigger, SUV style car.
A shared Taxi from Gangtok, directly upto Dzongu, can be had from the Vajra stand in Gangtok. However these taxis may not ply at all times of the day. Another option is to reach Mangan and get-off in the main market. From there, one can easily find an exclusive vehicle/ Shared taxi to Dzongu. Lower Dzongu is only 10 Km from Mangan, which is the capital of North Sikkim District. Inner line permits are required which can be arranged by Local Registered tour operators only.
WHERE TO VISIT #2
Get around in Dzongu
To get around in Dzongu, you will either have to hire a Taxi or go hiking. Some destinations are only a short hike away, others may require 3-4 days of backpacking. Shared Taxis ply from near the Police Check-post.
- Lingthem – A short but steep hike up from Passingdang village. Great views of Mt. Kangchenjunga and Dzongu Valley.
- Hee Gyathang – Is in Lower Dzongu. It has a small lake, considered to be sacred by the Lepchas.
- Pentong – Reachable after a trek. Quite close to snow-capped mountains.
- Tholung Monastery – 20 Km from Passingdang. Every three years, Tholung treasures are put on display. It has a cane bridge one can try to cross – excellent experience!
- Traditional Lepcha House Museum – A model of the Lepcha house built in the traditional style. Houses a museum inside it. Located in Namprikdang, near the confluence of Teesta and Rongyung Chu Rivers. Surrounding area provides great opportunities for Butterfly watching.
- Waterfalls – Dzongu is full of waterfalls. They can be seen cascading down from every second hill. Lingzya falls is the best among them. Try a bath here!
- Tingvong & Kusong – Two beautiful villages, a short hike apart.
- Keushong – Reach here after backpacking for 3-4 days. The most pristine place in Dzongu probably. This place has a very beautiful lake and hills all around it. The valley is covered with flowers in the right season.
WHAT TO EAT #3
Almost all of the vegetarian food that you get in Dzongu is grown there. We do not use any modern fertilizer or pesticide in their farming. Hence everything grown there is Organic.
Rice and Large Cardamom are the two main crops grown there. Rice is grown in contour farming at the sides of the hills while cardamom can take root on slopes as well. The weather conditions suit the growth of cardamom.
Rice is the staple food there. Wheat is not grown. We do not use much oil in their cooking and hence the food is either boiled or roasted. But it is tasty none the less!
Lepchas prepare non-vegetarian fare as well. These include dishes made of chicken, beef, fish and pork. Fish is usually caught from the nearby river.
- Chee – Traditional Lepcha drink, brewed from Millets.