Gorkhey Travel Guide: Attractions, Things To Do, Homestays & Tips

Gorkhey is a little-known village and a hidden gem for nature lovers in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. Situated at at altitude of 7,700 ft., it is a part of extended Sandakphu trek. Other than trekking, there’s no motorable road to reach this quaint village nested amidst thick pine forests. So, if you are a trekking enthusiast and love adventure, you will surely feel the adrenaline rush while finding your trails through those dense pine forests.

There’s a small river, Gorkhey Khola snaking through the valley surrounded by lofty mountains of the Himalayas. This river defines the border between the states of West Bengal and Sikkim. If you are a trekker or a nature lover, Gorkhey is a visual wonder for you to explore!

On the fifth day of my Sandakphu trek, I trekked through the mystic pine and bamboo forests of Singalila National Park for eight hours all the way from Sabargram (7 km from Phalut) to reach the blissful village of Gorkhey. The valley has a GTA homestay, while a few private accommodations lay scattered around the forest. This was where we got a dormitory room for five of us.

Gorkhey Travel Guide
Gorkhey, PC: Ritban Bose

Gorkhey At A glance

  • Altitude: 7700 feet (2346 meters)
  • Latitude And Longitude: 27.1875° N, 88.0724° E
  • Distance From Darjeeling: 65 Km
  • Best Time To Visit: March to May
  • Nearest ATM: Sukhiapokhri
  • Mobile Network: Jio, BSNL, Airtel
  • Cost Of Accommodation: ₹400-₹1500 per head per day depending on the season
  • Cost Of Food: ₹300-₹600 per head per day (including breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • Nearby Places To Visit: Sandakphu, Phalut, Sabargram, Srikhola, Varsey, Hilley, Okhre

Map Of Gorkhey

Attractions And Things To Do At Gorkhey

Explore The Picturesque Valley

The village of Gorkhey has around 30 families residing in it, who thrive primarily on agriculture and seasonally on tourism. The crops they grow include potatoes, maize, turnip, and peas. Some villagers also run homestays in Gorkhey.

Among the visitors, most are trekkers descending the Sandakphu trek from Phalut who stay at Gorkhey before taking on the Srikhola trek. Other places to visit from Gorkhey include Hilley, Varsey, and Okhre.

Gorkhey landscape with mountains, forests and village
Gorkhey Village, PC: Ritban Bose

Trekking And Hiking

If you love trekking and hiking, Gorkhey is your ideal tourist destination. Since trekking is the only way to get to Gorkhey, you would be walking miles through the thickets. If you love nature, you will cherish this mystic essence somewhere deep inside your heart. I liked the stretch between Sandakphu and Gorkhey the most during my trek.

While the up-trek journey to Sandakphu gives you a superficial view of the forests, the down trek from Phalut and Bhareng takes you through the core forest areas of the Singalila Range. The following day, we left for our Srikhola trek. However, depending on your itinerary, you also have several trek routes radiating from Gorkhey, including Phalut, Hilley, Varsey, Okhre, and Photkey Dara.

Trekking through the thick pine forest of Gorkhey
Myself Rishi, PC: Ritban Bose

Engage In Photography

The tall pine forests you would pass through while trekking from Phalut or Molley to Gorkhey bring you the best opportunity to click nature photos. I stopped on the trail several times to capture the beautiful sunbeams streaming through the pine forests.

Besides, you can wait till dusk and get a time-lapse of the night descending into the little valley. The villagers’ cottages nested on the slopes of the hills at varying heights light up one by one. After all, it’s a blissful experience to cherish. The GTA homestay itself is a visually appealing structure to capture on your camera. If you love travel photography and stargazing, take your time exploring this little valley between West Bengal and Sikkim.

Forest trail at Gorkhey
Way to Gorkhey, PC: Ritban Bose

How Can You Reach Gorkhey?

There are no motorable roads in Gorkhey. Ribdi, Rammam, and Srikhola are the closest villages to Gorkhey, which cars and jeeps can access. If you decide to trek from Srikhola, it will take one day to reach Gorkhey via Rammam.

On the other hand, Gorkhey lies between Phalut and Srikhola, so trekkers descending after completing their Sandakphu trek need to trek for seven to eight hours to reach this little village. The distance between Rammam and Gorkhey is 7 Km, after which you can take a jeep to Srikhola or other villages in Darjeeling. New Jalpaiguri is located 150 Km away from Gorkhey, while Bagdogra Airport is 170 Km away.

The Places To Visit Near Gorkhey

1. Sandakphu

If you start your trek from Srikhola, have a rest at Gorkhey at night and proceed to Sandakphu after crossing the Phalut Range. Experienced trekkers take this reverse route to enjoy the stiff uphill ascend. Once on top, you would love the captivating views of Mount Everest, Lhotse, Kanchenjunga, Makalu, the Three Sisters, as well as other peaks of Tibet, Sikkim, Nepal, and Bhutan.

2. Phalut

Although Sandakphu is the highest peak of West Bengal, you can get a much closer view of the Himalayan ranges in India, Nepal, and Tibet from Phalut. It takes a day for trekkers to reach Phalut from Gorkhey. On the other hand, trekkers often climb the other side of the mountain and descent from Phalut to Gorkhey before going for other trek routes.

3. Varsey And Hilley

If you love to capture blooming rhododendrons in the valley, reserve a couple of days for Varsey and Hilley. These are easy-to-moderate trek routes, ideal for beginners. You would appreciate the colours blasting throughout the valley during March and April. You have bushes, rhododendron trees, magnolia, silver fir, and hemlocks among the flora. It takes 1.5 hours to cross the 4 Km. distance between Varsey and Hilley.

4. Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary

Trekkers can reach the Barsey (Varsey) Rhododendron Sanctuary from Gorkhey through three access points. These include Soreng, Dentam, and Hilley. This sanctuary is nested on 104 square kilometres in the Singalila Forest. To the north of the sanctuary lies Nepal, while West Bengal lies to the south.

5. Srikhola

The Srikhola Trek from Gorkhey starts from the Samadeen Valley. It is a day’s trek through the majestic tall pines. Trekkers from Sandakphu and Phalut often end their down trek to Srikhola after staying at Gorkhey valley.

6. Okhre

Okhre is actually the base from where you can reach Varsey and Hilley. At 7,200 feet, it lies in Sikkim but is accessible from Gorkhey. If you want to extend your Sandakphu trek for a few more days, you can include Okhre and a few other treks in your itinerary. This village has a few cottages for the Bhutias and the Sherpas. You can also visit the Ugen Thon Meon Ling Monastery located close to this place.

7. Phoktey Dara

People who love jungle treks should include the Photkey Dara Trek in their itinerary. It is accessible from Gorkhey, and you would cherish the panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges in Sikkim and Nepal. For beginners, the Photkey Dara Trek would be perfect.

When Should You Visit Gorkhey?

You can visit Gorkhey any time during the year. However, plan your Gorkhey valley trek between March and May to catch a glimpse of the beautiful rhododendrons. The sky remains sunny during these months, and the monsoon won’t make the forest trails slippery. Besides, the wild blossoms of the lali guras (red rhododendron) also look alluring.

For photographers and nature lovers, the summer months are the best to visit Gorkhey. In winter, the temperature can fall below zero degree Celsius and you can experience snowfall. During our trip in January, we experienced pretty chilly nights. However, you will experience a moderate climate with pleasant weather conditions from March to May.

Taking rest during our trip to Gorkhey
Our Group On Gorkhey Trek, PC: Ritban Bose

The Best Homestays at Gorkhey

1. GTA Trekkers Hut

Among the few cottages and homestays that await visitors in the thinly populated Gorkhey valley, the GTA trekkers hut stands out with its captivating architecture. The cottage-themed structure stands in the middle of the clearing amid tall pine trees.

Sitting over a cup of hot beverage at one of the windows in the attic, you can gaze into the layers of pine forests at different heights all along the sides of the mountains. Scattered around the valley lie a few other cottages belonging to West Bengal and Sikkim dwellers.

Like any other GTA lodge, the Trekker’s Hut at Gorkhey offers accommodation and food. On the ground floor of the GTA Trekker’s hut, you have dining tables as well as the cash office. An elegant wooden staircase takes you to the attic, where most of the dormitories are available.

Since electricity has reached this village, you need not depend only on solar power. The cost of accommodation is ₹400 a day per person which is pretty reasonable for the facilities. In addition to this, you need to budget for your food which would be available at the lodge itself.

After you leave Samadeen Valley, you will come across a gravel path leading the way downhill to the valley. From the top, the view of Gorkhey valley looks hypnotic through the thick pine trunks.

Standing in front of Gorkhey GTA trekkers hut
Gorkhey Trekkers Hut, PC: Ritban Bose

2. Paradise Homestay

This homestay is located close to Samadeen. If you are trekking down from Phalut, you will find a cluster of colourful collages in the picturesque Samadeen Valley just after descending down the pine-clad hill slopes. This is where Paradise Homestay is located. There’s a large clearing at the front that makes the deafening silence of the hills more pronounced.

Well, although I stayed at the GTA Trekker’s Hut, I couldn’t help stopping by this place to feast my eyes upon the blissful sceneries. At some point, I got the vibes of Swiss meadows while gazing at the far-flung cottages. Amidst this mystic charm of the pine forests lies the Paradise Homestay.

There are four rooms along with a dormitory at this homestay in Gorkhey. Like most homestays along the Sandakphu and Phalut trek routes, the staffs here are homely and hospitable. After trekking the whole day, you can enjoy delicious food cooked by the village folk.

3. Silent Valley Homestay

Silent Valley Homestay is yet another place where you can find accommodation close to Gorkhey. It lies in the beautiful Samadeen Valley amidst the cluster of eye-catching cottages that you can spot right from the top of the trek route.

The homestay with 6 rooms lies at a distance of around 66 Km from Darjeeling. Like most other places of accommodation, this homestay has a caretaker, and you have the provisions of meals in the homestay.

The host is hospitable, and you would love to spend time interacting with the cottage owners. In front of the cottage, you have a wide opening that leads the way to Phalut on one side and Srikhola on the other.

Contact Silent Valley Homestay

Tips For Visiting Gorkhey

  • If you love astrophotography, make sure to carry your gear. The clean and pollution-free forests in the Gorkhey valley bring you the perfect opportunity to capture the stars.
  • If you descend from Phalut, try to complete the trek by 3 PM in the afternoon. This would leave you adequate time to explore the valley and the river.
  • Try out fishing in the small river. The village folks are hospitable, and they would help you out.
  • While trekking down from Phalut to Gorkhey, carry extra water as sources of drinking water on the long downhill path are limited.
  • Trekkers descending into the Gorkhey valley from Phalut may look for jeep services from Rammam on the next day. If you feel stressed or your legs are cramped after completing your Sandakphu trek, ask your lodge manager to arrange a jeep from Rammam. You need to trek the initial 7 Km before they come to your rescue!
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Rishi

Author, NatureDiary
Rishi is a travel writer from India, known for his poetic perceptions evident in his travelogues. His writings are rich in insights into tourism, and he pens down his first-hand experiences based on his interaction with the folk he meets and the gears he uses during his hikes, treks and travels.

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