As I sit here to write about North Sikkim,my mind is transported to the lush green valley and the blue colored water of Teesta floating down the snow-covered mountains and the sun rays peeking from the mountain atop,and suddenly I was an Alice in a wonderland.
But it took Alice seven hours to reach there.Phew!
Day 4: Gangtok to lachung
Let the fun(and occasional back aches) begin! For the next few days you will spending hours in your rental car and travelling down the road’s which are not worthy of calling a road.So,make sure you pack up your bag of snacks,some music and optimism.
We started from Gangtok around 9:45 am in the morning and it took approximately seven hours to reach the stunning village rested on the lap of Himalayas.The drive to Lachung is graced with nature’s marvels-the unknown falls gushing in a symphony and the backdrop of mountains is a cheery on the top.Whatever tension or anxiety one is going through in life,once you are in mountains,everything is at peace.
The moment we entered Lachung,we felt less like a tourist and more like a traveler,there is something very authentic about Lachung and it’s dissimilarity from other hill stations.I felt closer to mountains in this place and this sleepy green hamlet is a site to behold.
After taking rest,we put on our best winter jackets and covered our whole body except the face and went along the uneven road of lachung to explore the local market.There are Tibetan,Chinese and our almighty saver maggi is available.A small market with winter essentials and food shops are found in lachung.We got back to our guest house with hands that no longer felt attached to the body and nose that turned red due to the cold,crispy air.Finishing our dinner,our body gave way to the warm blankets.
Day 5:Yumthang valley and Zero point
The clouds in this part of the world is in love with hide-and-seek,one moment it is passing through the tangles of your hair and the next moments it is farthest from you. As the clouds move away a little,the snow covered mountain came into our view,and what can be more exhilarating and a wonderful way to begin the day.
We started our journey around 6:15 in the morning,and the sun was not up yet in the sky.As our car moved on the bumpy and stony roads,we saw through the glassed window the sun rising behind the mountains and how the rays sprinkled over the whole valley,making it picturesque.It took three hours for us to reach’ Yumthang Valley’.We decided to go to Zero point first and it took one hour more to reach there.
Zero point or Yumesamdong is situated at an altitude of 15,300 ft above the sea level,it is very close to china border and it can be rightly called a land of perennial snow.The time we went was the beginning of May and snow was still there, though mixed with a little mud.Once you fix your gaze at the scenery around you,and see mountains as high as the sky and the Teesta flowing far away,it appears like a painting of the clouds hanging like flowers from the mountains.Our eyes were ablaze and we stood in silence with a steaming coffee,seeping the chilly air and framing it into our mind.
Yumthang valley is situated at an elevation of 3,500 meters above the sea level and a home to Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary.’Yumthang’ in local language is translated to ‘the valley of flowers.’Yumthang valley should be rightly should be called a hidden jewel of India,showcasing a wonderful amalgamation of flora,fauna and various natural spectacles.It is said that in every season,you will witness contrasting geographical character in this region.If you are able to visit in summer, rolling meadows,grazing yaks and a river running through the valley,blooming rhododendrons will take your breath away.
Day 6:Lachung to Lachen
Early in the morning after completing our breakfast,we headed out for lachen,a scenic mountain village located at the height of 8,500 ft and a home to Lachenpas,a Sikkimese-Bhutanese community of people.After freshening up, we went out to take a stroll around the market and grabbed hot vegetarian momo in that chilly weather. One thing that attracted me in Lachen is their way of including the traditional architecture in the hotels that we were staying,so that the tourists get a taste of the authentic culture.
Day 7:Lachen to Gangtok
The village appeals to every traveler as it is far from the maddening crowd and Lachen is the starting point for some of the most interesting treks in North Sikkim as well as the gateway to the holy Gurudongmar Lake and Tso Lhamu Lakes.We were unable to go to Gurudongmar because of horrible weather conditions.We set out for Gangtok after finishing the morning breakfast accompanied by steaming tea and delicious jam and bread.