Trekking in the land of Lepchas - Dzongu, North Sikkim

Dzongu is a triangular region in North Sikkim. The place is an untouched heaven in the Himalayas of North Sikkim with an attractive natural beauty. The area is divided into Upper Dzongu and Lower Dzongu. The place is bounded by the River Teesta, Tholung Chu River and and also by the mighty mountains. Dzongu borders the Kangchenjunga Biosphere Reserve. It is located about 70 kms from the capital city, Gangtok. The place is popularly known as “the land of Lepchas”. The speciality of its people – the Lepchas, is that they are considered as the original inhabitants of Sikkim. [caption id="attachment_1443" align="alignnone" width="300"]dzongg Dzongu[/caption] The region sees a little tourist activity. The place is mainly an adventure spot. This has been recently opened for the visitors. Most of the forests and streams here remain untouched. As ecotourism initiative, some Lepcha families have started a few homestays here. Travellers can opt a simple comfortable accommodation in these traditional Lepcha houses. Dzongu offers its travellers small hikes as well as long treks. Most of the region is covered with dense vegetation, rice fields and Cardamom plantations. Sikkim Government has established Dzongu as an official reserve for the Lepcha people. Permission from the State Tourism Department is required to enter Dzongu. You need to obtain the entry permit from the Tourist Office in Gangtok or in Delhi. Dzongu is easily accessible by road. From Gangtok you will get shared taxis directly upto Dzongu at limited time intervals. As this is a restricted area in Sikkim, only 15 vehicles per day are permitted to this region. If not, then after reaching Mangan main market by bus, you can easily find a shared taxi to Dzongu. It will take about 42 minutes journey from Mangan to reach Upper Dzongu. After reaching Dzongu you can stay in traditional Lepcha homestays where you can experience the hospitality of the Lepcha people and also can enjoy the homely Lepcha food. [caption id="attachment_1444" align="alignnone" width="300"]TholungGonpa Tholung Monastery[/caption] You can start your adventurous trekking from Passingdong Village here. At a short steep hike from the village is the Lingthem village. The place offers great views of the majestic Mt. Kanchenjunga and the Dzongu valley. The famous Tholung Monastery is located at about 1 hour trek from Lingthem village. The speciality of the Monastery is it is for nuns. [caption id="attachment_1445" align="alignnone" width="196"]cane Cane Suspension Bridge near Tholung Gompa[/caption] To reach the monastery you need to cross a Cane bridge which is really an excellent experience. After this adventurous journey you get to enjoy the amazing beauty of the hot springs and plenty of waterfalls of Keushong. From Tholung you can trek to explore the scenic beauty of Keushong. Keushong welcomes you with its beautiful dense forests full of flowers, birds & butterflies, scenic lakes & hills. Explore the whole Keushong valley and trek back to Tholung and then to Passingdang village. The spring & autumn seasons are the best time to visit Dzongu. Enjoying local cuisine and staying in traditional Lepcha houses, walking, trekking, visiting tiny Lepcha hamlets and understanding the culture, language and customs of the Lepchas will surely make your Dzongu trip memorable.

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