Travel - Dhritiraj Sarma

Our journey to North Sikkim – a land full of unfamiliar experiences – started from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. On January 7, we visited the famous Chardham at Namchi before reaching Gangtok. The best part here is that the soul starts meditating unknowingly and the mind gets rejuvenated. The very next day, we started our journey to North Sikkim. Mangan is the district headquarters of North Sikkim. Tourists need special permits to go beyond Mangan. The road from Mangan goes straight to Chungthang, another major town of North Sikkim. From here the road bifurcates – to the left is Lachen, and to the right is Lachung. Lachen is the base from where tours to Gurudongmar Lake and Kalapathar (Chopta Valley) is organised. Lachung, on the other hand, is the base for tours to Yumthang Valley, Zero Point, and Katao.

We started our trip to Lachen first. Here, the landscape changes rapidly with every curve as the road winds upwards. With the wildflowers, mossy trees, streams (mainly the Teesta River’s tributaries) rushing down, mists coiling up from deep gorges, and huge snow ranges embossed in the horizon, it makes for a heavenly destination. We reached Lachen at around 7 pm. It was freezing cold.

The very next day, we started our journey to Chopta Valley and Kalapathar. We had the opportunity to experience and explore the pristine landscape wrapped in thick layers of snow. It was a dream come true and an unforgettable experience. The world’s “highest dosa point” was a relief for us as we had a chance to warm ourselves up with dosas and much-needed tea as it was very cold, and as the oxygen was low here, it was difficult to breathe. We decided to cancel our plans to go further north to the Gurudongmar Lake, one of the highest lakes in the world with an altitude of 5,430 m above sea level.

After the end of our Lachen tour, we started our journey to Lachung. Lachung is one of the most exquisite villages in the valleys of North Sikkim – with resplendent snow-capped mountains, dazzling waterfalls, and sparkling streams. The road to Yumthang from Lachung is lined with rhododendrons on both sides, especially during the months of April and May. Due to the beautiful flowers all over the valley, it is known as the “Valley of flowers”. There was snow scattered everywhere, which made it even more beautiful. Yumesamdong (Zero Point) is an hour’s drive beyond Yumthang. Heady, invigorating, and exhilarating – words still fail to explain the experience of being at Yumesamdong. Our journey to Katao had to be cancelled due to its close proximity to the Chinese border and for the ongoing conflict between the two countries.

Finally, we departed from Lachung and reached Gangtok. Wonder never ceases in North Sikkim, it is a paradise on earth – with each turn, each valley, each rivulet trying to outdo the other in the scenic beauty that it offers.