India is home to many beaten tracks. From the Nanda Devi trek to the Roopkund trek, these snow-clad swathes of luscious greenery are familiar to avid trekkers! However, India hides her best gems deep in her pocket. On the edge of Northeasten India, Sikkim is a state that is flanked by Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal. It is part of the Himalayas and has incredibly vast lanscapes of crystal clear water, forests and animals. Sikkim houses many off-beaten trails for those who want break away from the over commercialization of many other trails. One of the best trails to venture on is the Barsey trek. The final destination will be the Barsey, atop the sanctuary!
Where is the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary?
The sanctuary is located in western Sikkim in the Singalila Range! It is a wildlife sanctuary perched at a height of 10000 ft and can only be accessed on foot. Hence, the Barsey trek. Tackling the track is a relatively easy task and it is suited for novice climbers who want to spend their day immersed in nature. The trek is slow and inches its way upwards, erupting into a lavish diplay of colours as you trudge along.
It starts off at Hilley where there is a check post and an entrance into the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary. From there, grab your tickets and make your way up on the well-marked path towards Barsey. The route is skirted with dense forests of oak, ferns, moss and pine. However, the appeal of the trek stems from the route set ablaze by innumerable rhododendrons and their exquisite colours. Rhododendron trees are found at every step of the way and a variety of colours. Hues of pink, red and blue (extremely rare!) bring the promise of spring to life. The sanctuary is also home to exquisite species of animals who are endangered. These include the Red Panda and the Himalayan Brown Bear.
When you do reach the top, you will be left in awe of the Kangchenjunga that towers over Sikkim and watch as the clouds dance around it in misty swirls. It is sprawled over a large landscape and is one of the tallest mountains in the world.
While the season of spring sets the rhododendron trees ablaze with colour, autumn and winter do not hold that promise. Instead, the allure comes from the Kangchenjunga and other mountains in the region. The snow-capped range can be seen in all its glory when winter brings with it thick blankets of snow.
Getting there and accomodation
Getting to Sikkim is slightly tricky as it does not have its own airport or major railway stations. The nearest airport and railway stations are in West Bengal, a distance of 160km and 150km away from Hilley respectively. State transport buses and jeeps can be taken to Jorethang and from there, shared jeeps are used to access the starting point at Hilley.
While Barsey is a day’s hike, there are accomodation options for trekkers who want to catch the sunrise over Kangchenjunga! These are the two options- the trekkers hut or Guras Kunj (found atop the trek). Within the region, there is a small Sherpa village 9km from Hilley. There is also a small village called Okhrey which has a wider variety of homestay options.