Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage

Tripoto
13th Jul 2018
Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_
Day 1

Do you have it on your bucket list? A place so breathtakingly divine that it would bring tears out of joy at the very first glimpse?

THE VOYAGE

I usually travel solo or with my friends but I was on holiday back at home (Guwahati, Assam) when my parents & relatives expressed their ardent desire to visit Gurudongmar Lake (in North Sikkim), the second highest lake in the country & 17th in the world. Never did I imagine I would be checking this off my bucket list with my family & cousins. Besides my cousins were worried sick of the more aged members who hadn't even heard of acclimatization & yet were about to venture into extremely high altitudes.

We began the journey from the Maligaon Railway station. It took 8 hours or so overnight to reach the New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Railway station, from where we arranged two suvs to Gangtok at 2500 Rupees per car. The weather wasn't as clear as we had hoped for but the ambience was perfect - the kind locals, the humility in their welcoming behaviour - just like we heard about the Sikkimese locals. We did nearby tour on foot in the afternoon and went for an evening walk at the mall road.

Gangtok vibe!

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

NOT your everyday sunset!

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

Fog, Mist & Clouds

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by madnomad_
Day 2

The next morning be began our ride to Lachen & enroute we witnessed countless waterfalls, some of the largest I had ever come across. Unlike the popular ones like the Seven Sisters Falls my favourite however was among those less heard of but far more aesthetic & imposing. The Angel Falls is one such captivating sight to behold. Without a doubt, the name itself is an appropriate justification as this falls has a unique appearance (thanks to the ever-present mist & the clouds) as if it originates far above the skies, beyond the clouds (from the heavens, in other words?).

Untouched

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

Naga Falls

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

The natural color lost in the downpour

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

Angel Falls

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

My favourite sister posing with my favourite waterfall:p

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

"It was too damn cold post evening, astonishing considering it was at the peak of the summer season. The younger lot went out midnight, bearing the mighty cold winds, all in hope of spotting the Milky Way galaxy."

We had to pullover for the night at Lachen. It was too damn cold post evening, astonishing considering it was at the peak of the summer season. The younger lot went out midnight, bearing the mighty cold winds, all in hope of spotting the Milky Way galaxy. But mid-July isn't the perfect time for astro in Lachen. We did see stars, too many of them as the night progressed, but even a faint sign of our beloved Milky Way wasn't there.

Day 3

THE COLD DESERT & BEYOND

I would start by saying this was the best day of the trip, certainly the most significant. It was the day we started immediately after sunrise to commence with the primary goal. Objective Gurundongmar. Oh but did I mention that the best part of the journey is to go through a cold desert, the likes of which one would see perhaps only in Spiti Valley or Ladakh. It wasn't like Ladakh but was exactly a tiny part of it. It was bliss. I put my head out the window throughout the journey letting the cold wind gently smack my face, cause the cold didn't bother. I was crying but the tears were of immense joy & of happiness unfathomable. I have seen the likes of snow & lush enchanting greenery as well, but the beauty of a cold desert is unmatched, unparalleled, unrivalled. With that, I would like to add that it was one of the highest motorable roads in the whole wide world with an elevation of 17500 feet above mean sea level. And by the time we arrived upon the second highest lake in the country, I barely had enough tears left. I had shed them all but the bewilderment at the sight of a lake so blue that even an atheist would start believing in a higher power, somehow brought the tears back. I couldn't move for a moment as I was lost in an ocean of blue. Everyone stood perplexed at a sight so rarely witnessed by so few. You might not be a religious person but you would thank God for making this journey the moment you lay eyes on the lake, considered holy by the locals, and now even I did. Yes it is holy, it is sacred, it's existence in an environment so pollution free is contradictory to the urban life of the twenty first century. But it does exist, as pure & innocent as a new born child.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bqe4Ss5hk0w/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=10lri6at4btmt

When the green starts to fade, giving way to the dry desert

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

The transition.

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

One of the highest motorable roads on the face of Earth

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

Spiti? Leh? Nah!

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

Are you in love yet, with the cold desert

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

First glimpse of Mount Khangchengyao!

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

As tears rolled down my cheeks.

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

Mount Khangchengyao stands 6889 meters tall

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

Fantasy?

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by madnomad_

THE SECOND HIGHEST LAKE IN INDIA, SEVENTEENTH IN THE WORLD

And there we stood with pride, breathing in an atmosphere with just 6 percent Oxygen, or even less. Family goals? The picture right here sets the benchmark for that, I believe.

We returned back with the gorgeous desert in full view, in all it's beauty. But it wasn't over. Enroute, we were blessed with bird's eye view of the absolutely mesmerising Yathang & Chopta Valley. I know what you're thinking. Why every place named Chopta has to steal the limelight, right? Nevertheless we continued our journey towards Kala Patthar but were unfortunately forced to return mid-journey due to excessive rain washing away a part of the road ahead. After all we had a Xylo & not a Rover (no offence, just kidding). But we weren't thinking about Kala Patthar at all. What we were really trying to grasp still, was the view of the Gurudongmar Lake. Then the Chopta Valley sight made our lives harder as we couldn't seem to get any of it out of our heads. But why would we even try? Who would really try not to think of heaven if they have witnessed it first hand?

Coming back to Gangtok without a halt in Lachen, we then decided to give ourselves & our minds & hearts some much need rest, after the emotional turmoil they had been through.

Love at first sight!

Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_

Right in the middle of a vast cold desert.

Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_

17,800 ft (5,430 m) above mean sea level

Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_

My parents made it! So proud.

Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_

Magical blue.

Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_

As blue as it could possibly get!

Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_

Panoramas cannot possibly do justice to such divinity!

Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_

Family goals? BEAT THIS

Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_

Where there's just 6 percent oxygen in the atmosphere!

Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_

Lost in contemplation?

Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_

Westworld?

Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_

Stuck!

Photo of Gurudongmar: A pilgrimage by madnomad_
Day 4

Early morning we did a bit of shopping as customary. Well not us the young lads but the elderly mostly. We somehow managed to get flight tickets really cheap at around 1500 Rupees per person from Bagdogra Airport to Guwahati. Even the shortest of flight journeys that lasted barely 40 minutes, it felt like forever because all I had in my mind was the imagery of the places I went to the previous day, as if glued to my brain. I somehow knew, I would never be able to get even a minuscule part of this journey off my head. Maybe all of us knew that too.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bm-5g9jA_6g/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1imaz3rhf4q79

In these colors of the sky I hunt for the joys of life! Until next time.

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by madnomad_
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