North Sikkim in the month of May is like a bride on her wedding day. It is a view to the eye. In this region, it is a 365-day ritual for nature to look appealing and enchanting.
As I embarked the 100 km journey from Gangtok to Lachen the weather gods showered us with their blessings by giving us trickling raindrops for company.
There were layers of green mountains, each complementing the other, almost like they were asked to stand in a descending choir group. The hills were dressed in cotton like fog that was placed sporadically to enhance the beauty of the view. From the top, every gliding stream looked like they were racing with glee.
Every nerve of nature was brought to life with the supply of these transparent droplets. Even though the sky was filled with grey clouds, almost dulling the weather, the mountainous greens and browns still stole the show.
Lachen is a tiny village consisting of 1300 people. It is under-developed and has limited access to basic facilities. The hotels here are two-star hotels operated by hosts who play the dual role of room service and chefs. For a short stay, it is manageable to book these small hotels.
After this unexpected scenic drive, we finally reached our destination at 6:00 pm.
Amidst the void invisible evening, my curiosity kept wondering what Lachen had for me the next day. At 6:00 a.m. it was time for my curiosity to unravel as I was about to witness the much awaited ‘Gurumdongar Lake’
I can never tell how much worth of travelling is required to see a spectacular view of mother earth’s creation. It could be 30 minutes or it could be 4 hours. It could be smooth or it could be filled with back breaking bumps. Gurumdongar Lake was a 4-hour bumpy ride.
I have no words to describe what it felt like being 17,800 feet above the ground in God’s land.
And I stood there, staring at the stagnant lake shadowed with massive clouds, snow-clad mountains, brown pointed peaks facing my back, the stones under my feet and the open blue sky filled with clouds- What a perfect blend.
The only drawback was that the air is too thin and one cannot stay here for more than 30 minutes. While you are up here, make sure to carry kapoor and smell it, drink ginger water or plain water just to keep your oxygen level at balance.
But all the discomfort was worth it for this spectacular view.
The streams on this route were so rich and pristine like they were the purest form of water humans could ever get. It was a transparent blue that was brushing against the rocks.
Not having much time in our hand, we had a quick lunch and then moved from Lachen to Lachung. If you are a vegetarian you’re often going to encounter tasteless food in this area. For my lunch, the only significant ingredient in the dal was turmeric. Apart from that be prepared to be overwhelmed with rice and potatoes.
In Lachung we had plans to visit Yumthang Valley (aka flower valley) and Zero Point where you can have some snow-time. Being a popular tourist spot, Lachung does have 3-4 star hotels of which Yarlam is the most premium one. But if you are on a low budget staying in an average hotel in a much viable option.
I stayed at Lachung dynasty and in spite of the hotel being mediocre we were blessed with an amazing host- Mr. Sandeep. He arranged a campfire for us (chargeable) and even cooked saag ki sabji from his kitchen garden. He was a host who was dedicated to his goal of providing the best service.
The entire journey back and forth to Yumthang Valley had dozens of blossoming flowers and gazillion pine trees (wanted to get one home for Christmas).
We halted at a spot that was unreal- flowers on the two sides, a narrow way that goes deeper into the valley and snowy mountains in the background. Almost like we were in an Indian version of Switzerland.
It was fascinating to see that these flowers have no caretakers; they grow and remain at their own stake because they trust that nature will nurture them. Of all the lovely flowers, my favourite was the purple primula flower that was clustered with such perfection that it reflected an ombre of blue and purple.
En route we spotted lovely countryside houses with yaks, horses and cows and they were all busy grazing.
After an hours’ drive from Yumthang Valley, we reached ‘Zero Point’ (What a well-thought name) where I geared up with gumboots. It felt juvenile to make snow balls and throw them around but where are we going to experience this in Mumbai’s 35 degrees. I wallowed in the snow until my feet and hands went numb. While I sat in the car to warm myself, the fog was headed in a direction that was out of our reach but it chaperoned with it the snowfall.
Both these places have no residents but instead, have a military presence. The reason for this according to me is that you simply breathe in the scenic view and never breathe it out, you capture it, and you freeze it! And you allow it to change you.