Mulkarkha Lake trek in Sikkim is slowly becoming a popular “family trek”. It is a rare Himalayan trek where you can take your family with you and enjoy each moment just like a proper family vacation.
The lake known as “Mulkarkhais” considered sacred by the locals and is called a wishing Lake. It is believed that anyone who makes a wish in that lake will definitely find the wish coming true. The power of the lake is believed to be very storng and powerful. At that moment, I felt as if my wishes have gained a spiritual recognition in conjunction with the surroundings. The hospitality of the people here is amazing to say the least. They make sure that their guests are treated in the best possible way such that there is no discomfort. The authentic traditional food could just make your crave for it again and again.
The trek to Mulkarkha lake goes through small villages of Jhusing, Tagathan, Mularkha and Aritar on the borders with Sikkim-West Bengal. The home-stays in Jhusing and Mulkarkha is something to watch out for.
The ideal time to visit Mulkarkha Lake is from the month of October to December. To witness a cultural event, April is another good time to visit. The villagers celebrate Ram Navami worshiping the lake with celebration furore. This time of the year, the lake is believed to come to life and its sanctity is worshipped by the locals and the villagers.
Day 1 : Rhenock to Lingzey Village to Jhusing Village
Rhenock is a small town, 50 kms from Rangpo. Rangpo is the gateway to Sikkim. It is close to 80 kms from NJP (New Jalpaiguri), the nearest rail head for this trek. From Rangpo, one can hire a shared sumo to Rhenock. The ideal time to visit Mulkarkha Lake is from the month of October to December. To witness a cultural event, April is another good time to visit. The villagers celebrate Ram Navami worshiping the lake with celebration furore. The trek route starting from Rhenock town is a motorable road of two kms to Lingzey Village. There is a temple in the village which is considered to be the second largest in Darjeeling. There is a Sanskrit School opposite to the temple where trekkers can rest before moving on to Jhusing. Jhusing is approximately four kms from Lingzey. The road from the back of the temple in Lingzey village goes towards Pitamchin. There is a diversion in the road to the right which goes to Jhusing. The diversion is visible after walking close to three kms on the road from Lingzey. There is a homestay in Jhusing where one can stay and spend on the night and proceed onwards the next day. The homestay is very aesthetically maintained with a splendid garden in the front leading to the house. The total cost of the food and lodging in the homestay is Rs. 700 per night.
Day 2 : Jhusing Village to Tagathan Village to Mulkarkha
After a night in the cozy homestay in Jhusing with the silhouette of Kanchenjunga at the back, the route passes through a forest to Tagathan. There is an amazing hidden waterfall known as Servang falls. The owner of the homestay knows the location well. He guided us to a short trek to the base of a beautiful waterfall. A U-turn at the end of a gravel path leads to the interiors of this thickly forested region. Walking along the narrow trail, one begins to get a glimpse of the huge canyon that lies at an arm’s length. Soon in an hour, the roaring sound of the water gives a sound proximity of the waterfall nearby. A small clearing of the bush beholds the mighty spectacle in front of the eyes. The Servang waterfall ultimately meets the river which creates this canyon. The melodies of the early morning bird calls are a pleasure to listen to. The narrow trail through the forest finally leads to a wider road entering into Tagathan village, close to 2 kms from Jhusing. The trail turns a bit steeper going towards Mulkarkha. A few houses rise from the by lanes providing glimpses of the rural landscape and culture of this region. There is a school before the Mulkarkha village which serves as a resting point. Thick bushes and shrubs dot the trail on both sides as nature beckons one to walk the coveted path. Finally one reaches Mulkarkha village by two in the afternoon. Where another homestay waits for a stay in this village of close to 10-15 families. The total cost of the food and lodging is Rs. 850 per night. The hospitality is a joy to behold. The food is refreshing and delicious to taste. One can spend the rest of the day exploring around the village. Mulkarkha Lake is situated at the top of this village and takes around an hour from the village.
Day3 : Mulkarka to Mulkarkha Lake to Aritar
An early morning sunrise presents the glory of this lake coupled with the reflection of Mount Kanchenjunga. The hike to the lake goes through a narrow trail upwards to the right of the village. There are Buddhist prayer flags dotting the lake. A small temple serves as a guardian deity with Kanchenjunga peeking from the back of this temple. One can spend hours around this lake feeling so much in sync with nature. After returning back to Mulkarkha village, the trail goes downwards to Aritar. This is the nearest motorable road head. There is a diversion to the left after a good 30 minutes. This is the easiest part of the trek. There are few houses which do a peek a boo once in a while. After a good one to two hours, the town of Aritar begins to look up. A further three kms down the motorable road leads one to a cluster of hotels in Aritar. There is an artificial “S” shaped lake in Aritar known as Lampokhri. The tastefully decorated houses with flower pots on the terraces tells a picturesque tale of the place and its denizens. After spending the night at Aritar one can move down to Rhenock. There are regular taxis and cabs available from Aritar to Rhenock. Going downhill by foot takes an hour to reach Rhenock.
The secret to ascending any trail lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to jog 4 km in 20 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too. Strength This is another area you should work on. You will need to build strength in your muscles and in your core body. You can do some squats to strengthen your leg muscles. Do around 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek. Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
No, stuffing it all in isn’t the right way to do it Packing a backpack correctly saves precious time that you might waste trying to find your things later. It is wise to spend some time on learning what really goes into packing a backpack.
What should I pack? On a trek, you only get what you take. Something as simple as a forgotten matchbox can cripple your cooking plans throughout the trek. So, it’s essential to prepare early and prepare well. To begin with, make a checklist. While shopping, remember this thumb rule – keep it light. “Every item needs to be light. This ensures that your backpack, on the whole, stays light,” says Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes. Balancing out heavy items with light ones isn’t going to have the same effect as having all light items. “Always opt for good quality, light items,” says Sandhya.
How much should my bag weigh?
“Your backpack for a weekend trek should weigh between 8 and 10 kg,” explains Arjun Majumdar, co-founder of Indiahikes, “To break it down, your tent should weigh around 2.5 kg, your sleeping bag, around 1.5 kg, and the ration, stove and clothes should constitute the other 5 kg.” The best way to plan is by concentrating on the basic necessities – food, shelter and clothes. Gather only those things that you’ll need to survive. Do not pack for ‘if’ situations. “That’s one of the common mistakes that people make – packing for ‘if situations’. It only adds to the baggage that you can do without on a trek,” says Sandhya.
One good way to go about it is to prepare a list of absolute essentials. Start with the most essential and end with the least essential. That way, when you feel you are overshooting the limit, you can start eliminating from the bottom. Another tip is to be smart while packing clothes. Invest in light. wash and wear fabrics. “Replace a sweater with two t-shirts,” adds Sandhya. Layering is the mantra when it comes to trekking. Refer to Sandhya’s clothes list to pack smart.
How to pack The thumb rule for this one is to eliminate air spaces. Make sure that everything is packed tightly, especially clothes and jackets, as they tend to take up maximum air space. Put in all the large items first. Then squeeze in the smaller ones in the gaps. This ensures minimum air space. A good way to pack clothes is by using the Ranger Roll method.
Where to pack Bottom Sleeping bag: Make this your base layer. Sleeping bags tend to be voluminous, but do not weigh much. They’re perfect for the bottom of the bag. Tent: Just like the sleeping bag, even tents are voluminous and light. Keep the tent poles separately and place the fabric at the bottom of the backpack. Middle Heavy jacket: Roll up the jacket in a tight ball and place it in the middle of the backpack, close to your back. The middle region of the backpack should always have the heaviest items. You can store other things like ration or mini stoves in the middle. Other clothes: Roll other clothes and place them in the remaining space, to fill air gaps.
Top Water: Water, although heavy, needs to be easily accessible. So put it in the top most region of your backpack. Medicine box: This is another component that you wouldn’t want to be scavenging for when in need. Poncho: It could rain at any time in the mountains. So, ponchos should be accessible easily. Also, having a waterproof poncho at the top of the backpack provides additional waterproofing to items in the bag.