Exploring Lachung beyond our reach
Keeping all the worries and chaos of your fast pace life behind the bars, and lose yourself in the midst of cathedral high held Himalayan Mountains. This offers you a chance to experience a totally different India, and leave you with no choice but to think “how can God create such an unusual place”.
Such a place is Lachung – “small pass” remote picturesque village and a perfect serene for every nature lover. So keeping all the worries beside, I was off there to experience a remarkable journey, exploring Lachung.
The best way to experience the epic mountains, the waterfalls and the scariest roads is on the road trip.
Lachung is about 125 km away from capital Gangtok, 170 km from Pelling and at the elevation of about 9,600 ft. It is very close to the border of Tibet, so we had experienced the blend of both Tibetan culture and Sikkimese culture.
To go there, first of all I had to get “Inner Line permit” from Rangpo post or police post near Gangtok. Therefore I had shown my Photo ID proof, voter’s ID card, driving license etc to police or military.
While having this road trip, I noticed that this North-Sikkim region was one of the most unpredictable regions; the winding road to Lachung is highly prone to landslides; the road after Chungthang (see in the map) could get shut down anytime.
If you’re searching for an unforgettable adventure road trips with lots of bumps and bounces, then Lachung will not disappoint you.
When to explore Lachung
If you are traveling between October and February; first of all backpack yourself with all the considerations of experiencing heavy snowfall. Lachung usually get cut off from rest of the Sikkim. In addition to that backpack yourself with some extreme cold weather clothing like snow proof gloves Thermal sweat pants and Water Wind Snow Resistant Jacket especially for December and January. This is the most appropriate time for trekkers to go beyond their normal blood pressure and explore it.
During May to September, you will experience lush green all around the Lachung. But still the temperature remains between -5 deg C to 10 deg C giving you the feel of chill.
To go there, we hired a local taxi from Gangtok and 4 Brahmans friends from Orissa had joined us in this trip, as a result our journey became furthermore interesting. We shared our astonishing stories and experiences of Sikkim and our native places. It is always good to exchange our thoughts with fellow travelers. Lurking around every bend we had encountered some of the beautiful waterfalls.
It seems like Lachung is a vibrant and lovable village for both the locals and the tourist. While exploring Lachung there was a saying in my head, the sayings of British explorer Joseph Dalton Hooker i.e. “The most picturesque village of Sikkim” written in his amazing definitive, “The Himalayan Journal (1855)”.
Lachung impressed me so much that I didn’t want to leave it!
The morning in Lachung was very different from that of urban city’s morning. We reached Lachung at night and it was completely dark outside; we had our dinner in just few candles. The morning was completely a surprise – ice covered mountains outside my small hotel.
After really a long hunt, we finally found a family hotel. With the lot of excitement, I started asking questions about Lachung, its food and all. No restaurant at all but staying at local resident would provide you with all type of food.
If you are planning to visit this place, then just try some local cusine like momo with Sikkim tea, thupka with gundruk and macaroni soup.
This place is seriously a travel photographer’s paradise!
Driving Lachung will expose you in an absolutely packed beauty and diversity of famous apple orchards, Rhododendron and pine trees. Sparkling streams, spirituality of famous valley of flower i.e. Yumthang Valley, photography trip to Zero point and the snow capped mountains are the icing on the cake.
The photographic journey to Yumthang brings home some of the most stunning and unspoiled scenery of India. Most noteworthy I found that mostly the roads were foggy – breath-taking photography sessions.
This place will sneaks you out to think about an unimaginable aroma hidden in it. My favorite part of road trip was an impeccable drive way through the paradigm series of imposing snow capped peaks of soaring Himalayas huddled together. The presence of charming lush green Pine and Rhododendron trees are on one side and the river Teesta flowing is on the other side giving tribute to those who lost their life here in search of souls.
Probably the dual looks of Yumthang Valley
Elevated at 3500m above sea level offers an unexploited heaven in all seasons. In summer, the valley shows the home for many Himalayan’s flowers especially the Rhododendron and Yaks grazing this field besides the river. This gives grazing pasture and tranquil air of Yumthang. In winter, this place is deserted and totally covered with powdery snow.
Rather I went there in April, so what I saw is almost a different Yumthang, a foggy Yumthang.
Exploring beyond Yumthang valley – Zero point:
Beyond the flower valley, there is another nature personification, “Zero Point”. If you never been to this place, just plan your next trip to this place. Consequently it will remain at the top of my best travel list. Zero point also known as Yumesamdong at an altitude of 15748 ft. This is snow deserted place and a place for many nomadic shepherds.
First of all, Yumesamdong is the land of nirvana quiet mountains and in addition the fragrance of Ezilia plant is present all over its atmosphere. It always keeps you in search for this smell. Explaining the bliss of this place in few mere words is not possible.
I felt like I’ve been transported into an epic landscape.
If you have motion sickness then definitely put some medicines with you. I was having a rugged journey to Zero point (Yumesamdong) from Yumthang valley that too in just bread-buttered breakfast. As a result as soon as my taxi stopped I headed towards some food stalls which were selling coffee, boiled eggs, omelets, bread and maggie. I should not talk about the food cost; it was almost doubled the price.
Talking with the shopkeepers, you finally realized “how hard it is for them to earn some money to make their living”. They had to wait for their supplies for 4-5 days.
Eggs could have helped me in keeping my body warm but the “-6 deg C” temperature had never allowed it to happen. In addition of the less oxygen level, the cool breeze was whistling around my mother’s face; tingling and stinging making her uneasy.
We started to trek Gurudongmer Lake from Zero point but due to landslide happened on the way of Lake, consequently the check post had not allowed us to go beyond.
At the same point, the change in atmosphere will show you the scenic view of huge snow-capped mountains covered in the midst of thick clouds. Ironically, my heart had pumped hard in every step taken here and probably felt the smell of Himalayan breeze. Our journey had experienced another unpredictable thing; stones rolling down in our way and we had to wait till our way was not cleared.
Afterward, our driver cum guide, told us how magical and religious Lake is “Gurudongmar lake”. It is the lake is one of the highest lakes in the world, located at about 17,100 ft. It is named after Guru Nanak and the lake remain completely frozen for almost 8 months. Strangely, its water is supposed to have some magical properties. Due to extreme conditions (scarcity of oxygen) and difficulties to reach there, very less people reaches there in the whole span of year.
Above all such stories will excite you, scare you and many people had died there because of ignoring the conditions.
In fact, at that time fate must have looked upon and said “picture abhi baki hai mere dost” (the show is yet to go on), as we were completely unaware of the event which were about to happen – landslide at near Gurudongmar Lake and we missed it.
So where I took a bad bath of trip:
- Due to the landslide, our path to Gurudongmar lake was blocked and we had to cancel the trip. This was so frustrated for me, as it was going to take few days to open as said by the army personal.
- If you left Lachung early in the morning without having breakfast; you are going to suffer as there is no food stall in whole Yumthang Valley. You will directly get some food at Zero-point but that is not enough.
- Rapid increase in footprints there in recent years as a result this place is degrading.
But at the end we all knows that tourism is the only source of revenue out there.
Finally a superb day was over. A complete package of breath-taking scenery and terrific experience. Probably exploring Lachung, Yumthang valley and Zero point trip had tested best my photographic skills. Consider reading ebook on Sikkim & Northeast India and Sikkim Handbook.
That’s it for now. Though I haven’t spent much time in exploring Lachung, but I would suggest you to made up your mind this winter to visit such a lovely place and pack yourself with woolen clothes.