Lachung- Destination Heaven 

5th Jan 2017
Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by Anurag Banerjee

At first i couldn’t believe my eyes- temp 104 degree fahrenheit !! I thought there must be some problem with this thermometer.After 5 minutes it showed 106! We started to panic. Baba isn’t well. He is suffering from high fever and loss of appetite since we started our trip. We consulted a doctor in darjeeling, he assured that this is nothing serious and prescribed few medicines. Now we are in Lachung- 125 km away from gangtok city , where there is no medicine shop, but you can find off shop frequently -_- and the nearest hospital is in Mangan- 65km away from this village! Now let’s go back to prelude.

Photo of Lachung- Destination Heaven by Anurag Banerjee

One of the Himalaya’s best-kept travel secrets, Sikkim is a welcome diversion from all conventional notions of an Indian holiday. Far from Rajasthan’s royal trail, Goa’s beaches and Kerala’s backwaters, this tiny Indian hill state prides itself on pristine alpine forests, lofty snow-capped mountains, craggy landscapes dotted with quaint villages and a rich tribal culture brocaded with vibrant Tibetan Buddhist accents. As we were tired of our daily hustle-bustle , we needed a break from this monotonous life , and sikkim was the best option to get rejuvenated. We planned our tour like this- First we are gonna stay in Darjeeling for 2 nights , then Go to gangtok- stay there for that night. Next morning off to Lachung ( 2 nights) and then back to gangtok. I was really excited about Lachung specifically because i have seen a lot of pictures of that place and heard this is called the Switzerland of India, but i was also a little tensed about this trip because there were two elderly people with us- my uncle and aunt. We booked a resort Apple valley Inn which is in lachung and talked to the manager of the resort.Mr. Sengupta,He is a very friendly and helpful person. He told us to take a package tour of 2 nights and 3 days and offered us very attractive off-season discount.

Photo of Lachung- Destination Heaven by Anurag Banerjee

On a sunny winter morning we started from gangtok for lachung. The sky was vibrantly blue, no trace of clouds. The whole gangtok city was shining. On our way we saw male Scarlet minivet, verditer flycatcher , Bat throated minla. suddenly we spotted a beauty- Himalayan Monal . It appeared like a blue colour burst and before i could take a picture it vanished. We stopped for our lunch at Namok. its a little town at the bank of river Teesta. You can see the kanchenjungha from here for the last time, because from here the chuba-sagochen range starts. After lunch we started again. The road became hefty and bumpy, but then, one can forget this by seeing the beauty of snow-capped sagochen range throughout the whole journey till Chungthang. Chungtang is a small village where Lachung-chu met Lachen-chu . The confluence of these two rivers form into River Teesta. A road goes downward to lachen which ends at Gurudongmar lake (17,000ft) the highest sweet water lake in India, and another goes up towards Lachung and yumthang (11,800ft) .Our car went straight to that road. The more we were getting closer to lachung the Temperature was decreasing . When we were about to enter the village, it started to rain. We finally reached lachung after a 7 hours journey from gangtok . The resort is located in the outskirt of the village. We were the only tourist there in lachung.

Photo of Lachung- Destination Heaven by Anurag Banerjee

The caretaker of this resort was a Bengali. He made some rice , dal, paneer and sabji for us, and we completed our dinner within 8 pm! But my father wasn’t feeling well. Though he was on medication but the fever was there all the time. The rooms were made of wood and for that we didn’t feel much cold inside. We Had a sound sleep that night. Next morning we had a plan to go to yumthang. After having breakfast with hot alooparatha, I thought to check my father’s temperature. I couldn’t believe my eyes! it was 104 degree fahrenheit ! We were tensed, and started to panic. Then our driver Subba ji said there is an Army camp on our way to yumthang. We should take him there and they will take proper care of him.So, we started for yumthang. We reached the army chekpost and told them about my father’s condition. Immediately Two jawans came and took my father inside their camp. After checking Blood pressure they gave him 3 injections and some medicines. Meanwhile they told us to visit yumthang valley without my father because it will be dangerous for his health if we take him to that high altitude at that time . My uncle stayed back with my father and my mom, aunt, brother and me started towards yumthang. The sky was surprisingly clear and blue, the lachung river was flowing freely and then there was the mighty chuba-sagochen range. The tree tops were covered with thick layer of snow. Our driver said we can’t go to yumthang valley because the road from shingba to yumthang was totally closed due to heavy snow. After 30 minutes we reached shingba rhododendron sanctuary.

Photo of Lachung- Destination Heaven by Anurag Banerjee
Photo of Lachung- Destination Heaven by Anurag Banerjee

The road is going to yumthang valley through this rhododendron sanctuary. Straddling the Yumthang river, the Sanctuary which lies beyond the frontier village of Lachung in North Sikkim, is characterized by Temperate Silver Fir – Rhododendron forest at the head of the narrow Lachung Valley surrounded by towering snowy mountains.After a few minutes it started to drizzle and the drops turned into snowflakes . Just imagine you are surrounded by high snow covered peaks, no one is there in that forest except you and snowfall has started ! Truly heaven it is! After 30 minutes when we came back to the military camp, we found miracle done by the jawans , my father was feeling well as his fever was no more.Kudos to those military men who helped not only us, but helps our entire nation! From afternoon it started to snow heavily. Personally I’ve never experienced snowfall before. The entire lachung village , the trees, the roofs everything got covered in thick layer of snow.Suddenly the power went off and it was snowing heavily outside. Just imagine we are in a wooden room without electricity and fire,outside temperature is -11 degrees and still we were enjoying !! After having dinner with hot roti and dal, when the whole lachung village is in deep sleep and under thick cover of snow,I peeked out of the window and what i saw?? – “The sky was clear pitch black, millions of stars were over my head, glittering like diamonds. It was a full moon night, the moonlight was flowing over the snowy mountains, over the valley, over each and every trees and roofs and a light blue hue was everywhere”.

Photo of Lachung- Destination Heaven by Anurag Banerjee

The whole atmosphere was sooo surreal that it gave me goosebumps. It was like a fairy tale , like a wonderland. On next morning i was lucky enough to capture a few good snaps of chuba sagochen range. My father was unable to go to shingba last day, so our driver subbaji took us there one more time. This time the beauty of the road was simply breathtaking and we were more happy bacause my father was enjoying like a child. One can not simply come to this hidden place , but if one comes here once, he/she cannot forget the experience which he/ she will get. When we were returning from snow covered lachung through the dense snow covered forest, just one poem came to my mind –

” Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.”

– Robert Frost

Photo of Lachung- Destination Heaven by Anurag Banerjee