Do you want to experience the homeland of Sikkim’s indigenous people? Are you interested to visit remote villages of the Lepchas, far away from the commercial spots of North Sikkim?
Tholung Valley, located in the remote North-West region of Dzongu in Sikkim, on the edge of the Kangchendzonga biosphere, is the land of Lepchas, the original inhabitants of Sikkim, now consigned to a few restricted areas with land rights. The Tholung monastery is among the most sacred monasteries in Sikkim, and has in store a treasure of some of the most precious Buddhist artifacts and relics which are taken out once every three years for display. The brass Chorten within the monastery contains the ashes of one of the highly incarnate lamas, Lama Latsun Chembo, the patron saint of Sikkim.
The trek starts from the village of Lingza, set amongst green paddy fields. A short traverse gets you on the bank of the Rimpi river which you follow all the way till Tholung. The following day yu visit the Tholung monastery and explore the surrounding holy caves. The trek takes you to a beautiful but completely untouched high altitude meadow surrounded by snow covered peaks from three sides and just the sight of it will fill your soul with happiness.
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How to reach: Tholung at an altitude of 8,000 ft lies in the sparsely Lepcha populated Dzongu area of North Sikkim and falls in the restricted area for which a inner line permit is required by Indian Nationals. To reach Tolung, one has to travel by road upto Linzey. From Linzey to Tolung is a 20-km walk and takes approximately five hours along the thundering Tolung River through dense forests and cardamom groves.
Best time to do the trek: March-June and October-November
Trek Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Maximum Altitute: 2600m
- Day 1: Gangtok to Lingza
For the Tholung Monastery trek, you will have to first arrive to Gangtok and from there you travel all the way up to Lingza, which is a six hour journey. Lingza is small village in the Dzongu region surround by green paddy fields with the Himalayas in the backdrop. This is the base camp for the trek. After reaching the village, take a stroll around the area, visit the Lepcha homes, talk to the locals and explore the place. If you are coming to Lingza on your own vehicle, you can stop by Kabi Lungchok and Phodong Monastery as well.
- Day 2: Lingza to Tholung
Early morning, after breakfast, you start your trek all the way up to Tholung. It is a moderate hike amidst the scented cardamom fields and a few Lepcha villages on the way. Once the hike commences, you will soon come across a river that will accompany you throughout your journey. This lesser known trekking route takes you on a well-developed trail through pristine forests past rock cliffs to mystical waters and hot springs. The area is home to a very large variety of bird species and is a delight to watch. After a trek of about 6 hours through the lush green forests and cardamom groves, you will finally reach Tholung, perched at an altitude of 8000 feet. You will spend the night here.
- Day 3: Tholung Monastery
It’s a free day! After a lazy breakfast, you can head out to explore the land of Lepchas and visit the sacred monastery. Once you are at the monastery, you will clearly understand why the Sikkimese chose this place to safe keep their ancient treasures. Because of its vantage location, it was also easier to guard the place. If not for the cultural significance, you will definitely fall in love with the surroundings. There is a beautiful waterfall that cascades down in the deep ravine. The Lepchas believe that the departed soul pass through the waterfalls before passing on the to the world. There are a few caves around the area which are believed to be the meditating space of Guru Rinpoche. You can also visit the Sacred rock known as Devta Dhunga.
- Day 4: Tholung – Tingvong
Today, you trek towards Tingvong in Upper Dzongu region, which will take approximately five hours for you to reach. The trail is well-made and beautiful as you pass through dense jungles. The charming village of Tingvong is located on a small hillock overlooking the yawning valleys and sun-kissed mountains of Dzongu. Crystal-clear streams flow through the village. Since the village is also known for birdwatching, you get to see a large number of exotic Himalayan birds here.
- Day 5: Tingvong – Gangtok
If you want, you can either stay back for a few days and explore the other villages in the Dzongu region, or head back to Gangtok. Tingvong itself is immensely beautiful dotted with pretty Lepcha houses amidst paddy and cardamom fields. There is also a monastery at Tingvong which you can visit. Besides that, you can also trek to Upper Dzongu and then towards Kishong, which will take 2 more days.
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