NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective 

Tripoto
18th Oct 2018
Photo of NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective by Tanay Das

The Plan : I am an amateur but enthusiastic photographer, who just bought his first camera and the excitement was at cloud 9. Added to that a trip to the Himalayas was due for quite sometime. After months of planning and preparation I along with my family members finally sorted out the time and planned the trip for October 2018. We planned to start our trip from Kolkata followed by Siliguri-Gangtok-Lachen-Lachung-Siliguri and finally back to Kolkata. The time was very limited and I had to come up with what ever knowledge that I have accumulated in the mean time.

"Good bye City of Joy" : We started our journey from Shealdah station via Darjeeling mail at 10:05pm on 18th October. Their was a mixed feeling of sadness and joy, not because we were leaving our city but because it was the last day of Durga Puja. The streets were glowing bright with lights as we departed from the station. We had our dinner and then the night was good. I mean the sleep was pretty nice.

Day 1 : Siliguri to Gangtok - We reached Siliguri around 8am. Our car was booked and our hotel was at Mangan(around 4km downhill from Gangtok). We had our breakfast on the way and reached Gangtok around 2pm. We started feeling a certain chillness in the temperature which we gladly accepted. We spent the whole day roaming around and did some shopping.

Day 2 : Gangtok to Lachen - We started our journey at around 9 am after having our breakfast. Our driver told us that it will take at around 6hrs to reach there(including the meal that we were about to have on our way). The main spots on the way are Seven-sister falls, Naga Falls & Chungthang. Though I had seen few images of these places before on google, flickr and 500px but those image were enough to give a clear idea about the place. So I had no idea how long will it take for me to find at-least some good images and more over how much time will it take. After travelling for around 32km from Gangtok we reach the first spot that is Seven sister falls.

Seven sister falls : It is a multi tier waterfalls, where three distinct steps can be seen easily. A small footbridge is constructed above the waterfall, so that the visitors get the best view. If one is willing to trek a bit more than he can be rewarded with the view of the fourth drop of the fall.

Photo of North Sikkim Highway, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Our Driver gave us just around 15 min hardly since we had a long way to go and time is crucial. To get the best of the composition of this waterfall one had to get wet and go down the plunge-pool. But since it was way too time consuming I decided not to and settled myself with a simple long exposure shot.

The roads were not exceptionally good but not so bad either. We reached Mangan when it was 1pm. We had our lunch. It cost 200/head for a non-veg thali.

Unknown waterfalls on the way to Naga Falls Sikkim.

Photo of NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective by Tanay Das

We had no idea that the next waterfalls that we were about to witness will be so huge. Naga falls is also a multi tier waterfall but whats more amazing is the plungpool that it creates. Its just amazing. The grandest view is enough to take anyone's concentration. We spent nearly 30 mints over there and composing the Falls is really tough owing to its high and multi layers.

The NAGA Falls : It has a better landscape and surrounding than the other waterfalls. You can go up close and trek to get better compositions.

Photo of Naga Falls, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Naga Falls : This image is not enough to give the idea about the size of the falls. This image was shot at 11mm to capture all of it. Hence it also becomes tough as there are lots of elements in the frame that has to be considered.

Photo of Naga Falls, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Next stop Chungthnag. We traveled around 15km from naga falls and at around 4pm we reached Chungthnag which was already under clouds and the temperature was dropping. For Chungthnag it is famous for two reasons, the first one is that it lies at the confluence of lachen chu and lachung chu the two tributaries of Teesta. The second reason is the construction the hydel power project that is under process.

Chungthang : River Teesta flowing downhill from the confluence point.

Photo of Chungthang, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

No plastic water bottles are allowed after this point. You have to buy water bottle for the local shops for Rs.80. You can return the bottles while returning and will refund you Rs.50 per bottle. Rates can vary from shop to shop. After this we finally headed for our hotel at lachen.

Lachen Chu : Cataract channel captured from the top of a bridge while going to Lachen.

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

It started raining at around 5pm while we were still on the car. Darkness and temperature started to fall and finally when we reached Lachen it was 6:30pm and the temperature was 8 degrees Celsius. We went on to check our hotel rooms and to dress up and have our dinner. They serves dinner at 8 pm since every tourist along with us were about to leave the hotel next day at 3-4 am in the morning for the best view.

Day 3 : When I woke up from the sleep it was 3 am. I got dressed by 3:30 am took my camera and went outside the hotel. It was pitch dark. Believe me or not the first thing that I saw was a meteor falling. It was 20th October, the peak hours of Orion meteor shower.

Orion Meteor shower from Lachen.

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

The whole north Sikkim comes under the darkest of the night sky reserves in the whole north eastern India. So the best thing I could do was to set my camera on a tripod and enjoy the view, since there was not enough time go for complex compositions. I shoot for nearly 1 hr and captured numerous meteors in the process. And then we finally went for the Gurudongmar Lake. For the note, Gurudongmar lake is the second highest fresh water lake in India at an altitude of 17,500mts. It takes nearly 6/7hrs to reach there. Only Indians are allowed at these lake with special permission. We witnessed one of the best sunrise on the way.

Sunrise on the way to Gurudongmar Lake.

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

The road from Lachen to gurudongmar is extremely beautiful and equally risky. We reached Thangu around 7am and had our breakfast there. Thangu is actually a military checkpost where they verify the documents. Photography in this region is strictly prohibited. Once going ahead you get a full view of the grand valley which is exquisitely beautiful.

Thangu Valley : Lachen Chu flowing in the valley creating a beautiful leading line towards the distant mountain.

Photo of Thangu Valley, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Wild cow: Thangu Valley

Photo of Thangu Valley, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

As we traveled further uphill, the scene changes completely and the cold dessert starts with barren land and no vegetation. The temperature went sub zero and streams were frozen.

Gurudongmar Road

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Gurudongmar Road.

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

The Landscape represents a part of Ladakh and no picture is enough to describe how beautiful it is. We traveled for another 2 hours and finally reached The Gurudongmar lake at 9am. The oxygen level was low as we readily felt it. Most of family members were back at the car and I went towards the lake to capture atleast some of it.

Stairs leading to Gurudongmar lake

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by Tanay Das

The lake is not small. The radius is quite big and can take atleast 1hr to fully encirle it. Photographing the details was out of question as my family members started to feel the high altitude sickness and I couldn't even completed quarter of the lake. So I just captured a simple postcard image of the lake. One thing I forgot to mention is to see every picture in full screen since the website shows a different aspect ration.

Gurudongmar Lake

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by Tanay Das

I was a bit disappointed since I couldn't capture much of the image but soon I overcame it once the car started to roll. The view is just so mesmerizing that you will forget everything.

The Giants of Gurudongmar

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by Tanay Das

Cold Dessert : Gurudongmar region.

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by Tanay Das

Next we headed to "KALA PATTHAR". This region lies after the Thangu valley and before the Gurudongmar lake. After around 1hour drive we reached there and the cold that was barren turned into snow covered region with atleast 2feet of snow everwhere.

The Land of unicorn : Kala patthar

Photo of Kalapatthar, Unnamed Road, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

The roads were extremely narrow and it was not possible to photograph everything. I don't think there is anyone who doesn't loves snow so we were actually on hurry to reach the main spot.

Chopta valley : A dissected valley where locals generally stay during the summer season. During winter it is fully covered with snow.

Photo of Chopta Valley, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Snow at kala patthat

Photo of Kalapatthar, Unnamed Road, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

This is not me of course.

Photo of Kalapatthar, Unnamed Road, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Groufie at kalapatthar

Photo of Kalapatthar, Unnamed Road, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

After spending an hour there and having some tea since we were frozen we started to head back and deep in our heart we knew this memories are going to stay forever.

Mist and clouds started to roll over as we came down and it again started raining at around 1pm.

Photo of NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective by Tanay Das

Autumn colors : Gurudongmat to lachen road.

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Cataracts of Lachen chu

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

The things that I will advise my fellow photographers is that to for compositions while you are on the road. We often sleep while coming back but that's not how it should be. The roads are actually exceptionally photogenic. But since it was raining heavily I could capture more. One more suggestion is that if you are with a oung group stay at Thangu. It is extremely picturesque and home-stay's are easily available. We reached our hotel at 4pm had our lunch and headed for Lachung. It was raining cats and dogs and nothing was visible. at around 7pm we reached there. The coulds were partially capturing the sky and a part of milkyway was visible. Hence I tried to capture it. But I realized that the sky is not completely clear and the humidity is affecting the quality of the image. And after 20 min the clouds came back and again the rainfall started. So I decided to have the dinner and believe me after 18hrs of continuous travelling I was dead.

Day 3

Milkyway from Lachung.

Photo of Lachung, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das
Day 4

Day 4

Lachung to Yumthang Valley :

Yumthang is know as the valley of flowers as it is Rhododendron sanctuary. But since it was autumn, it was not possible to see that beauty. It takes usually 2 hrs to reach Yumthang. So started at around 8 am. The roads are not good to be fair. Construction is going on as landslide often occurs.

Earthquake that occurred at 2011 resulted in the following landslide.

Photo of Yumthang, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Rhododendron tree : Autumn colors at its best.

Photo of Yumthang, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Yes it is India. You just have to look for it.

Photo of Yumthang Valley Natural Reserve, Lake Cho Lhamu Road, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Yumthang valley is actually a vista created by Lachung chu river and is very big. We spent nearly 3hrs there. And I am happy that I have atleast few good images that I can be happy with.

Lachung chu at Yumthnag Valley.

Photo of Yumthang Valley Yumthang, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Yumthnag is one of such places where you are literally standing just below the mighty peaks and the feeling is just amazing.

Photo of Valley of Flowers, Yumthang, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

An unnamed peak of Zero point captured from Yumthang Valley.

Photo of Zero Point Yumthang Valley, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

Small stream of Yumthnag Valley

Photo of Zero Point Yumthang Valley, Sikkim, India by Tanay Das

I was fully satisfied with What I have captured and we decided to not go to Zero point as will take more time and extra Rs. 3000. We headed back to our hotel. And just after that it started raining again. Glad we took that decision to head back.

Woodlands of the Yumthang valley.

Photo of NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective by Tanay Das

Cabin Goals : I would love to spent my entire life here.

Photo of NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective by Tanay Das

Fairy tail ail road isn't it !!

Photo of NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective by Tanay Das

We reached our hotel at 5pm and had our lunch. Spent some time together and at around 7pm we went outside just to see that it is still raining. So we had our dinner.

Day 5

The D day :

Except the sad part that we were about to leave for Siliguri I was happy that the trip was successful with ease. I clicked few images of the Lachung for one final time.

Lachung at 4am

Photo of NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective by Tanay Das

Peaks of Lachung

Photo of NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective by Tanay Das

The Panoramic view of entire Lachung

Photo of NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective by Tanay Das

Sunrise and goodbye

Photo of NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective by Tanay Das

As we went towards Siliguri the last waterfall that we saw on the way Bhimnala waterfalls. I must say the waterfall is not huge but has a unique character to it which make it beautiful.

Rainbow at Bhimnala falls

Photo of NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective by Tanay Das

Bhimnala waterfalls

Photo of NORTH SIKKIM : from a photographers perspective by Tanay Das

Day 6 : We spent the whole day at Siliguri and had our train at 2pm and headed back to the city of joy.

The entire trip cost 12500 per head. You can follow me up on Instagram : Tanay_das93

Thank you. This is the first time I am writing a blog. So Your suggestions are very much welcome. Love you all.

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