An exciting trek of the untouched trail of the Himalayan range leads to the beautiful and serene Mulkarkha Lake
Sitting on the moist dew laden grass and staring at the reflection of Kanchenjunga on the tranquil water of a remote lake, mind constantly slips between the majestic appearance in front of the eyes and the twitching ephemeral image on the water. The magnanimity of this moment is hard to explain. At an altitude of 7,500 ft, one can experience something mystical in the august company of tall fig trees and mighty deodars.
The lake known as Mulkarkha is considered sacred by the locals and is given the name of Manokamna (Wishing) Lake. There is a small dilapidated temple at the corner of that lake which basks in the glory of the imposing goddess of the mountains. The trek to this awe inspiring lake goes through small villages of Jhusing, Tagathan, Mularkha and finally Aritar.
THE FIRST STEPS
Rhenock is a small town about 50 kms from Rangpo, the gateway of Sikkim. Rangpo is about 80 kms from New Jalpaiguri, the nearest rail head for this trek. The ideal time to visit Mulkarkha Lake is from the month of October to December. It is at this time of the year that the serenity of the lake is at its magnificent best. The month of March brings all the villagers to this lake to celebrate Ram Navami culminating in worshipping the lake and praying in earnest for the water of this lake to never dry up.
The trek route starts from Rhenock town on a motorable road of 2 kms to Lingzey village. The Himalayan village has the second largest temple in Darjeeling district. Several festivals are held in the temple courtyard. The Sanskrit Vidyalaya opposite to the temple stocks rare books in Hinduism. The road from the back of the temple in Lingzey village goes towards another village known as Pitamchin. A diversion in the road to the right leads to Jhusing, the next stop for the trekkers.
BEAUTY OF NATURE
The cozy atmosphere of Jhusing with the silhouette of Kanchenjunga at the back provides a wonderful stay after a tiring day. The Jhusing view point offers a spectacular sight of the sunrise over the Himalayan ranges. A route through the forest from the village of Jhusing goes to the hidden Servang falls.
Take a stroll along the sunflowers, marigolds and tulips lining the boundaries of every house in this village. A U-turn at the end of a gravel path leads to the interiors of this thickly forested region of deciduous trees and walking along the narrow trail, one gets a glimpse of the huge canyon that lies at an arm’s length. Soon in an hour, the roaring sound of the water signals the proximity of the waterfall gushing nearby. A small clearing of the bush and the mighty spectacle of white cascading sheets of water begin to pound heavily in front of the eyes. The Servang waterfall ultimately meets the river which flows through the canyon.
The chirping of the early morning bird calls in the forest lend a musical jingle to the atmosphere and the narrow trail through the forest finally leads to a wider road entering into Tagathan Village, close to 3kms from Jhusing. The trail turns a bit steeper going towards Mulkarkha village at the top. A small number of houses rise from the bylanes in between the journey and provides glimpses of the rural landscape and culture of this region. There is a school before the Mulkarkha village which serves as a resting point for the tired travellers. Thick verdant bushes and shrubs dot the trail on both sides as nature beckons one to walk the coveted path. After the glimpse of the bounty of nature, the destination seems to be near as one reaches the Mulkarkha village. The serene Mulkarkha Lake is perched at the top of this village and takes around an hour to reach.
THE ENCHANTING LAKE
An early morning sunrise enhances the glory of the lake by inundating the placid waters 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 periphery of the lake and a small temple serves as a guardian deity with Kanchenjunga rising from the back of this temple. One can spend hours around this lake marvelling the grandiose of this view.
Savour a good hearty breakfast of sel roti and potato curry at Mulkarkha village and take the downward trail to Aritar, the nearest motorable road head. There are few houses which do peek a boo from the thick undergrowth of vegetation once in a while and after a good 1-2 hours, the town of Aritar begins to look up on the horizon.
An artificial S shaped lake in Aritar known as Lampokhri Lake and the tastefully decorated houses with flower pots on the terraces leading to the lake tell a picturesque tale of the place and its denizens. After spending the night at Aritar one can move down to Rhenock. The enchanting affluence of this place lies in its simplicity and the gratifying wishes at the top are enriching to the nature lovers.
Text & Photos: Sushobhan Roy