A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim

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Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim 1/2 by Madhuree
Gurudongmar Lake

Snowy mountains, curvy roads, valley of flowers, highest lakes of India, lush green valley with countless waterfalls, pristine white water gushing in rivers and people always willing to serve and help you with a smile; what else can you ask for your dream destination.

Sikkim is a small state surrounded by high peaks of the Himalaya; sharing its international border with Nepal, Bhutan and China. With 40% of the total area surrounded by forests, it offers a surreal escape into the wilderness, much like a dream than to reality.

North Sikkim is a district of Sikkim known for the exotic locations, mountains, waterfalls, rivers and home to highest Lakes of India.

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim 2/2 by Madhuree
North Sikkim-Yumthang Valley

How to Go

Unlike rest of India, reaching North Sikkim requires a proper planning, permission and physical strength.

To reach North Sikkim, first you have to reach capital city, Gangtok.

How to reach Gangtok

By Bus

Buses ply till Siliguri (West Bengal), 115 Kms from Gangtok. From here, you have to share a cab/Jeep (Rs. 300/person) or you can hire your own cab at Rs. 2,500/, which will take another 4 hrs to reach Gangtok in normal traffic.

By Train

Trains will also stop at New Jalpaiguri, near to Siliguri. From here again, you have to take car/ Jeep.

By Air

The nearest airport is Bagdogra which is around 15 Kms from Siliguri. Either you can hire a direct cab from Bagdogra to Gangtok (2500-3000/) or you can go to Siliguri Tenzing bus stand for shared taxis.

Meandering Teesta 'Lifeline of Sikkim'

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by Madhuree

Permits

Because of close proximity to China and Tibet Border, Inner Line Permits are required to visit North Sikkim. Indians are allowed to visit Gurudongmar Lake while foreigners are restricted till Chopta Valley and Yumthang Valley.

You need to obtain the permit only in Gangtok, before a day of starting the journey. Plan your journey in advance as permits are specific to the traveller, number of days and vehicle.

For obtaining permit, you need to submit copies of your photo ID and two recent photographs in tourism office. This, you can submit in any authorized tour agency and they will get your work done.

Barren Mountains in North Sikkim

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

North Sikkim Tour Package

Tours generally operate in packages in North Sikkim. It is very difficult to explore this with your own vehicle because of rugged terrain and permit issues.

Two types of tours are operated from Gangtok to North Sikkim. You can opt for hiring an entire SUV (Rs. 30,000- 35,000/ per vehicle for two nights) or you can share an SUV with another nine fellow travellers (Rs. 4000-4500/ per person for two night). This cost also includes your accommodation and basic food.

Tour and travel agency generally operates two kinds of tours in shared SUVs:

1. Two days one night

Day 1

Gangtok- Chungthang- Lachung (Stay overnight at Lachung)

Day 2

Lachung- Yumthang Valley – Gangtok

If you want to visit Zero point, you need to pay extra to the driver

(Rs. -300/person).

Lachung-North Sikkim

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

2. Three days two nights

Day 1

Gangtok- Chungthang- Lachen (Stay overnight at Lachen)

Day 2

Lachen- Chopta Valley- Gurudongmar Lake-Lachung (Stay overnight at Lachung)

Day 3

Lachung- Yumthang Valley – Zero point - Gangtok

If you are hiring an SUV for your own, you can customize it according to your plans and number of days.

What to Eat and Drink

Chicken Momos, Noodles, Thukpas, Maggie, Masala Tea

Best Time to Visit

February-June (For experiencing multi hued beauty of nature),

October- January (For experiencing white beauty of nature)

Things you should know before the start of the journey

• The most important thing you should take care of is permit. Reach at least one-two days prior to your actual journey date so that you could arrange permits easily.

• Come here with heavy woollens. Even in May –June, you will require heavy woollen to enjoy North Sikkim. It can be rented also in Yumthang Valley and Lachen.

• The information available on Google map and GPS may not be correct completely for hotel location and travel time.

• This place is prone to landslides in rainy season.

• Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is common at such high altitude, so acclimatize yourself well and take medicines with you.

• Keep GINGER AND CAMPHOR with you to avoid high altitude sickness.

• Sudden rainfalls are quite common, so be prepared.

• If you are going to hire the whole SUV, be prepared to burn a hole in your pocket.

• If you are going to share a taxi, be ready to understand and adjust with 9 other people. Initially, it looks like a tedious task, but after knowing all of them, it will be more fun than adjustment.

Day 1

Day 1

We started by 1 pm because of some delay in obtaining permits by our tour operator. The road from Gangtok to Lachen is rugged yet beautiful. We encountered ‘n’ number of waterfalls. In every 500m or so, we became the witness of pristine water coming from the mountains and crossing the roads in thundering speed. As we reached nearer to Lachen, number and height of waterfall, both increased. En route, we witnessed Seven Sister Waterfall and Naga Waterfall, but we cannot overshadow the beauty of numerous unnamed waterfalls.

Seven Sisters Waterfall

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by Madhuree

The tour was nothing but a visual retreat to our eyes, where we did not even wish to blink the eyes.

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

Lachen

We reached Lachen by 7.30 in evening. In between, we had lunch in Mangan, capital of North Sikkim. Lachen is a small, remote village in North Sikkim, serving as a base camp for upcoming journey to the Gurudongmer Lake and Chopta Valley.

Beautiful Lachen River

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

A picture perfect village surrounded by snow covered mountains, thundering waterfalls and river Lachen flowing nearby. What else to be asked for a perfect panoramic vista??

After such a tiresome journey, we had dinner and went to sleep early as next day we had to start as early as 4:00 in the morning.

Day 2

Day 2

Chopta Valley

Ideal place for adventure seekers and trekkers, this valley falls on the way to Gurudongmar Lake. Road conditions are pathetic but the view around will make you fall in love with this place.

Chopta Valley

Photo of Chopta Valley, North Sikkim, สิกขิม, อินเดีย by Madhuree

The Valley changes its colour in every few Kilometres. Meandering river in between, surrounded by pine forests, tinted with waterfalls gives this virgin valley an undefined beauty.

Curvy Roads

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

As you will move further, greenery will be overcome by vegetative pasture land which in season turns into valley of flowers.

One of the Many Waterfalls

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

Beautiful Mountains

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

As you will reach near Gurudongmar Lake, the valley will leave you mesmerized with its barren beauty.

Different Shades of Valley

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

The Barren Beauty

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

No words!!!

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

Thangu Village

We started our journey from Lachen at 4.30 in morning and reached Thangu village at 8.30.

A picturesque hamlet, Thangu is the last village on the way to Gurudongmar. Here, we had maggie and masala tea to keep us warm. After this village, you will not find any human settlement except the Army bases.

Thangu Village

Photo of Thangu Valley, Sikkim, India by Madhuree

Gurudongmar Lake

After the last Army check post, both road conditions and scenic beauty changed drastically. While the roads were so smooth for last 14 Kms, the green Sikkim has vanished turning into a mountain dessert with different shades of colours.

On the Way to Gurudongmar Lake

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Madhuree

Black and White Beauty

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Madhuree

It felt like a road leading to heaven, and at last, we reached heaven ‘the Gurudongmar Lake’.

The Road to Heaven

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

The surreal beauty of the lake is beyond any description. Crystal clear blue water surrounded by snow laden mountains at one side, and barren mountains hugging the lake from another side is one of the experiences to watch on this planet.

Heaven on the Earth

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

As oxygen level is low here, it is not recommended to exhaust yourself. Keep calm and enjoy the beauty of nature!!!

Gurudongmar Lake

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree
Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

Because of freezing temperature, low oxygen pressure and high wind velocity, it is better to leave the unparalleled beauty of nature early and not to stay here for more than 30 mins.

Teesta Coming out from Gurudongmar Lake

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

We came back to Lachen at 1.30 pm, had lunch and then proceeded further to Lachung, ‘one of the most beautiful villages in India.’

Lachung

Lachung River

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by Madhuree

Lachung is another picture perfect village of North Sikkim. Any random click here will give you a perfect snapshot.

'Beautiful'

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

With beautiful river, waterfalls, mountains, flowers and people with beautiful heart, this place is worth forgetting everything apart from nature.

Beautiful Backdrop of Lachung

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

Beautiful Village

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree
Day 3

Day 3

Yumthang Valley

Early in morning at 6 am, we started our journey to Yumthang Valley. This valley turns into ‘valley of flowers’ in April to spread the aroma of countless beautiful flowers.

Teesta on the Way to Yumthang Valley

Photo of Yumthang Valley, North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Madhuree

A Really BIG Waterfall

Photo of Yumthang Valley, North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Madhuree

En route, we also witnessed Singba Rhododendron Sanctuary, with variety of Rhododendrons covering the route as multihued rainbow.

Different Shades of Beauty

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

The road to Yumthang Valley will show you the ruminant of devastating earthquake and huge landslides as well as glimpses of paradise on earth in the form of calm blue river, very high waterfalls and gorgeous snow peaks in backdrop.

Effect of Landslides

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

Yumthang Valley

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

Yumesamdong (Zero Point)

From Yumthang, we proceded further towards Yume Samdong (Zero Point) to embrace snow laden mountains tightly. The roads are curvy and not so well maintained, but who cares of road, when the reward is so mesmerizing.

Meandering Roads towards Zero Point

Photo of Zero Point Yumesamdong, North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Madhuree

Another Click

Photo of Zero Point Yumesamdong, North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Madhuree

Zero point is all about snow capped mountains, small frozen lakes, Teesta meandering in deep gorges, carpet of bloomed flowers and silence to be heard.

Carpet of Flowers

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

A Beautiful Lake surrounded by Beautiful Landscape

Photo of A Trip to the Dreamland: Gurudongmar Lake and North Sikkim by Madhuree

Zero point is like a meeting with nature, where we get to know, how insignificant we are as compared to divine nature.

Back to Gangtok

With loads of beautiful memories and experiencing divine, we returned back to Gangtok.

Memories Always to be Cherished

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by Madhuree
2 Comment(s)
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informative do u have the nmbrs of tour operators conducting share based package?
Sun 04 08 18, 12:46 · Reply · Report
No words are enough for this beautiful nature....... Thanks for posting your experience.... Keep updating..... Girl... Wonderful
Fri 06 16 17, 21:14 · Reply (1) · Report
thanku dear
Fri 06 16 17, 21:43 · Report