My experience in Aritar – Phusrey Lake Trek in Sikkim
I visited Aritar in February 2018, almost 20 days into my Sikkim Trip. Aritar is an offbeat town located on the Silk Route in East Sikkim, amidst a lush green forest, mountains, and rivers. Apart from its peace and tranquility, it has some great trek points. Aritar is isolated from the rest of the state and that makes it a perfect destination for travelers looking for some peaceful time in nature. It is also famous for Lampokhari Lake, Dak Bungalow, and Aritar Gumpa.
How to reach Aritar?
The best way to reach Aritar from Gangtok is to take a shared jeep from the basement of Hungry Jack taxi stand.
I reached by late evening, and I already had my stay booked in the Orange Court Resort in East Sikkim which is only 3 kms away from the town. It looked like a well-constructed and well-maintained property, and the rooftop area providing wonderful views was another advantage. I liked the spacious and clean rooms, and the landscape appeared beautiful from the windows.
In addition, at the first interaction, the staff seemed pretty friendly and generous. The staff consisted of two caretakers, Champa Aunty and a guy named Tenzing. When I spent some more time with them over the dinner, I realized that both of them are very amiable and kind. As much as the travelers love to travel, I think that after a while, even they start feeling a bit homesick. That was exactly the case with me. I was feeling a bit nostalgic, but thanks to the food and their care, I was feeling a home-like warmth and coziness once again. I know this was not exactly my house, but I sure felt closer to home when I was here. The night ended with mixed feelings, me reminiscing about my home and feeling blessed because of my adventures, both at the same time. I figured, if you want something, you have to make some sacrifices. I guess every traveler feels this way.
(There is no ATM in a 3 Km radius of this resort. The nearest ATM is in the Rhenock Market)
Next morning, I set out on a trek to Phusrey Lake with Tenzing. He being an experienced trekker and a local knows almost everything about Sikkim and has an amazing stamina. He was literally running through the mountains. Compared to him, let us just say I tried to walk like a child who had just started walking. Moreover, the fact that he took me from a steep ‘short-cut’ route as he calls it did not help either, because it was straight through the mountains, except not straight at all. Ha-ha! Along the way, he taught me how to make my own trekking equipment, how to use certain shrub as an antiseptic in case of an injury, and how to smell another to avoid nausea while trekking. At times, I felt very tired and thought of giving up, and then he inspired me and distracted me by little tricks and games. He kept me engaged by telling me amusing ways to deal with a possible bear attack, and facts about Sikkim and its culture just to make sure that I keep going. It was because of him that I was able to complete the trek and reach Phusrey lake. By the time we reached, it had started drizzling. However, when I looked across, I was mesmerized by the beautiful view, the quiet, and the stillness! For a moment, I was not tired anymore. Tenzing told me that the lake is considered as sacred. It is believed that the birds clear all the leaves, waste etc. from the lake and so it always remains clean. I too, was pleasantly surprised to see such cleanliness. One can also see a proper reflection of the Mount Kanchenjunga in the lake. It is possible to reach there by a car too, but I chose to trek, because I had such an awesome company. I am glad he was there. This was my first proper trek and I realized that while trekking, team efforts play a very important role, and that the joy actually lies in the journey. Destination is also important, but the journey stays with you until long after.
The whole day went into the trekking, but it was worth the whole experience and all the efforts. We came back to the resort, and tired from all the trekking, I had my dinner at the resort itself, and slept like a baby that night. The following day, I had to leave in the afternoon for my next destination. For the first half of my day that I was there, I spent a delightful time with Champa Aunty and Tenzing. They were even insisting for me to extend my stay, and even I wanted to, but the time did not allow. Therefore, with a heavy heart, I left towards my next stop.
I stayed there for just 2 nights, and still felt so connected to them. At times, I find myself wondering how sometimes it takes years to form connections with someone, and other times, just a few moments. I had an amazing experience in the resort, and am still glad for meeting Tenzing and Champa Aunty. There forever will be a special place in my heart for these people. It is curious how we want just a little more time with some people and that desire for ‘little more’ never seems to end, because we enjoy their company so much. If traveling teaches you one thing, it is to pack your belongings in your backpack, the memories in your heart, and leave for another adventure.
If you have plans of visiting the silk route in Aritar, start from this resort, and you won’t regret your choice.