Unpredictable Sikkim

Tripoto
19th Apr 2018
Photo of Unpredictable Sikkim by A Walking Wanderer
Day 1

A group of around 8 people had planned for a week off in Sikkim. So we booked our tickets 3 months before the beginning of the trip. On this day i.e 19/04/2018 we boarded 12377 Sealdah- New Alipurduar Padatik Express at 2300hrs. Since the train was diverted that day via Bandel-Katwa-Azimganj section, it departed 10mins late for the journey. Night spent in train.

Day 2

Due to numerous diversions of trains to North Bengal was done on that day the train reached New Jalpaiguri Jn. around 1pm almost 4hrs behind schedule. Since our trip was managed by one of our groupmate's brother, we didn't bargained with the numerous drivers present there because our car was waiting outside the station to pick us up. Since we were hungry we asked the driver to stop somewhere so that we could fed our hungry stomach. The driver asked us to wait for sometime and after crossing the Mahananda wild life sanctuary the driver stopped at a newly opened restaurant just on the getaway to the mountains we headed for. I particularly don't remember the name of the restaurant but the food was great and was cheap too. After being fed we left for Gangtok. On the way we stopped at Coronation bridge (see photos). After that we continued our journey towards Gangtok enjoying the Teesta Valley. We reached Gangtok in the evening around 7pm that day. We stayed at Mayfair hotel which is just a stone's throw away from MG Marg in Gangtok (photo). Since it was raining heavily, we were unable to explore local eateries that day and had dinner at hotel..

Coronation Bridge landmark under cloud cover..

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

The Coronation Bridge from sideways..

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

River Teesta exiting the mountains beneath the bridge...

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

River Teesta entering the North Bengal plains ahead...

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

This is how MG Marg looked on that rainy evening..

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Day 3

Day long tour to Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple, Lake Tsomgo and back to Gangtok..
Early morning, Mr. Pema was assigned to take us to Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple. You can learn about Baba Harbhajan Singh by clicking on the following link or copying this URL into your browser.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_Harbhajan_Singh
Mr. Pema took us to a local meeting point where all the tourists gather together for breakfast meanwhile the drivers did the paperwork for us. Here is a travel tip for everyone, when you visit Sikkim make sure each and every tourist carry around 10-15 copies of their passport size photos as they have to be pasted on all the permits..
After breakfast we left for Baba Mandir. 2 Kms ahead we were stopped by army personnel again as we were required to show our permits to the places.
Tip no. 2- if you have motion sickness buy popcorn and chewing gum as it'll help you dealing with your sickness.
After permission we moved ahead and got stuck for an hour in traffic jam as an army truck got stuck while ascending towards Nathu La. We were stuck for around an hour and cars were queued on the serpentine road which was an amusing scene for every tourist stuck there.  I found a stream metres away from where we stuck. I tasted the water and it was like heaven. The water was so clean that many people started filling their bottles from the stream.
Later the jam moved over and we resumed our journey. It took us around 2 hours to reach Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple. We also stopped at a local village south of Lake Tsomgo for hiring boots and jackets as it was snowing ahead. It was surpring for us, down south we were reeling under extreme heat and here it was snowing in the same month. This is why the blog is titled as Unpredictable Sikkim. Here the weather changes significantly faster than anything. We were stopped by the new Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple as the weather got too bad for tourists and eventually Nathu La got closed due to heavy snowing. It was snow all around the temple and the scene was so beautiful that I can't mention in words. We took part in the National Anthem at around 12000ft and it was another awesome experience. Later we moved south to Lake Tsomgo where we're welcomed with a breathtaking scenery of snowclad mountains reflecting in the clean waters of the lake. We enjoyed Yak Riding along the lake, and later left for Gangtok. We reached Gangtok around 4pm and again we just wandered around Mg Marg. In the evening when we were just about to step out looking for delicacies rain barred us again and we had to take dinner in the hotel again..

Scene from where our permits were checked

Photo of Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Scene from the point of traffic jam

Photo of Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Tourists at Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple

Photo of Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Stream and Shiva temple together near Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple..

Photo of Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Fresh snowfall around the temple

Photo of Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Tsomgo lake

Photo of Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Day 4

Visit to Lachung..
Mr. Robin was assigned to our 3 day tour to North Sikkim. We met him at the Sikkim Taxi stand and readily left for Lachung. On the way I felt a bit dizzy so we had to stop at a medical store where I took a Calpol and continued my journey. We had to reach Lachung by evening while enjoying Butterfly Falls, Naga Falls and Bhewma Falls on the way. We had lunch at a designated buffet restaurant near Chungthang. I loved the dam at Chungthang. But the falls were mesmeeizing as well. Last but not the least when we reached Lachung we were awed by the landscape we found. The breathtaking view of Lachung valley was so amazing that it can't be wordified. There we had momos at a local home. One thing I should notify that people living in such remote places have dignity and a large heart for sure. To know why you should reach these places and experience yourself.

Butterfly Falls

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Road to Chungthang

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Towards Lachung

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Naga Falls

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Naga Falls beneath the bridge

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Bhewma Falls

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Bhewma Falls

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Lachung valley

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Lachung river

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Where we stayed in Lachung

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Just amazing..

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Day 5

Lachung-Zero Point-Lachung-Lachen
Early morning around 6AM we left Lachung for Yumesamdong better known as Zero point. The road conditions were not good but as people say that difficult roads lead to beautiful destination we were in for a visual treat from nature. At first we stopped at Yumthang Valley for breakfast and there we hired jackets and boots for the snowy point ahead. It took almost 90mins to cover the distance between Yumthang Valley and Zero Point. The area was covered with snow all around and a stream flowing beneath the snow was just breathtaking. Due to high altitude of around 15000ft above sea level there was low amount of oxygen and it became a bit difficult to breathe. Even when I travel a lot I faced a bit of dizziness up above there, then we returned back to Yumthang Valley and enjoyed the view for around 30 mins. Later we had booked eggs and Maggi along with coffee as we were too hungry out there. We returned to Lachung around noon where we had our lunch and after lunch we left for Lachen via Chungthang. We reached Lachen around 4pm and we were asked by Mr. Robin to rest as we were scheduled to leave early morning @4:30 AM for Gurudongmar Lake.

Magnificent view of Zero Point..

Photo of Zero Point Yumthang Valley, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Heavenly

Photo of Zero Point Yumthang Valley, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Yumthang Valley of Flowers

Photo of Zero Point Yumthang Valley, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

River stream, Yumthang Valley

Photo of Zero Point Yumthang Valley, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Day 6

Lachen-GurudongmarLake-Lachen-Gangtok
Perhaps the best part of this whole tour. As it is said that the best is saved for the last. We started early around 5AM, 30mins behind schedule. It was drizzling persistently since the past night and we started our journey amidst the rain. The roads were average to poor because on such high altitudes it is a difficult thing to maintain such roads with the risk of landslides. Covering the landscape and braving the cold we went ahead and reached Thangu Valley around 6AM. At Thangu, our group experienced first snowfall. As I mentioned in the heading that Sikkim's weather is unpredictable, you won't understand when it will rain or snow or stay clear. At Thangu, the snow was just like cotton balls all around we were mesmerized by the view and I couldn't control myself when our car stopped at a local eatery for breakfast. I and one of my groupmate just went down into the valley and started clicking pictures of the landscape. Mr. Robin got angry and the remaining group members started searching for us. Then we hurriedly boarded the car and went ahead and had breakfast a few miles ahead. After breakfast we headed straight to the lake via Gurudongmar Road. That landscape was too beautiful. The lake, ranked second highest of India at an altitude of 17,800 ft above the sea level offers a spectacular view all around and due to the high altitude the oxygen levels were low and spending more time was difficult. I salute our Army for constantly keeping vigil on the borders in such extreme conditions. After spending around 30mins at the lake we left for Lachen and had a brief refreshment stoppage at Thangu. All the snow melt so fast as if Nature just rubbed the painting. These things draw people like me to travel throughout. Well it again drizzled around and after having lunch at Lachen we left for Gangtok. The drizzle got a bit heavy while we approached Chungthang. It got heavier and heavier and heavier, till that day I didn't saw such devastating rain it was like a cloudburst but Mr. Robin was so conscious that he just kept driving in the condition where there was zero visibility. Hail accompanied alongside rain which made our journey more difficult. I was on the front seat and was just surprised by his driving technique. He was phenomenal that day. He dropped us at Gangtok taxi stand where we again had to hire a taxi to the hotel where we stayed earlier. After shifting at the hotel we left for MG Marg and had dinner there.

Cars lined up at Gurudongmar Lake

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by A Walking Wanderer

Landscape around the lake

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by A Walking Wanderer

Gurudongmar Lake

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by A Walking Wanderer

Just look at the view

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by A Walking Wanderer

Thangu Valley

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by A Walking Wanderer
Day 7

Gangtok City tour..
We enjoyed the local sightseeing points and few greenhouse gardens along with Tashi view point, Ganesh Tok, Hanuman Tok, Banjhakri water falls and energy park.

Gangtok city during that untimely rain.

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Few glimpses of flowers from the gardens we visited.

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer

Another view of Gangtok from Ganesh Tok

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by A Walking Wanderer
Day 8

After breakfast we started from Gangtok towards Njp. After a five hour drive our car suffered a breakdown just a few kms before New Jalpaiguri railway station. The driver then helped us to reach the station via a local rickshaw. After reaching NJP we packed our dinner from an IRCTC outlet and waited for our train. The Kanchenjunga Express was on time that day as we started our journey back towards Kolkata concluding what turned out to be one of the most memorable trip of our lives.

Day 9

Early morning around 8AM the train slowly chugged in at Sealdah Station as everyone went to their places and that concludes the whole trip blog. Hope you liked reading. Please comment your views about this post. Thank you