SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok

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Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

DAY 3:

Day 3

So finally another cold day at Sikkim, we were at Lachen and today we were going to Gurudongmar Lake one of my wish listed destination. This lake is a sweet water lake and another what makes it special is it's location, it is at altitude of 17,200 ft making it the second highest lake in India and amid the picturesque snow capped mountains of the Himalayan range.

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by anila

So we left early in the morning as we had a long way to travel and few things to be noted about this place are:

1. You need an inner line permit to go to this place which you driver will arrange for when you start from Gangtok a day before do the paper work (have an identity card and 2 passport size photo).

2. Weather conditions are not favorable all through the year. (you have to be lucky)

3. It's located at the Indo-China border and so there a very high security.

4. Being at a high altitude the weather conditions change as the day progresses.So at the closest checkpoint the security will ask you to return by 11:30 am

5. Due to high altitude many people face breathing problem and heavy dizziness so you need to carry you medicines.

We left early without having breakfast as suggested by the driver, it was a cloudy day and we driving amid the clouds and waterfalls and there way so many streams and rivers we crosser. Again a very picturesque route.

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by anila

On way we there were many army camp as we were closing to the Indo-China border and there would be no photography board. Don't try to get any, it's very strict and even the people of Sikkim are very particular about it.

Photo of North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by anila

Half we stopped at a very small house which has a separate kitchen and a small place to sit where they would serve the travelers like us with maggi and wai-wai. Again no luxury eat out and restaurants and why would you need one when you traveling in one of such beautiful path.

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by anila

This small village is located at the river side along the ridge. It was so quiet and quaint but fields full of vegetables and flowers, few cattle grazing and the river flowing and the clouds flying. Few things cannot be actually explained in words.

Photo of North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by anila

After breakfast we moved ahead and crossed had so many awesome places to see, few I never had in my imagination. Here are few of those places.

Photo of North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of North Sikkim Highway, Chhateng, Sikkim, India by anila

Then our next stoppage was at the check point to Gurudongmar Lake, here's where they check the permits for which the driver takes care of the papers. As soon as we stopped we jumps down the car and ran to the river flowing by this check point . I must say no corner in this state is where you will not get a picturesque scene, so out with the camera jumping and posing around.

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Lachen, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Talam, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Lachen, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Lachen, Sikkim, India by anila

One thing distinct here was the soil , it was all a grassy river side with few purple flowers but his land was swampy but not muddy.We could comfortably walk around without getting our shoes dirty and if one jumps even some 5 meters away you can feel the vibration, definitely an interesting place with beautiful setting.

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Lachen, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by anila

Note: If required use the public toilets at the checkpoint as the condition of the toilets near the lake is worst.

While leaving the army said us to return by 11:30 am and we set off from there, all of a sudden we felt that the entire picture has changed.

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by anila

No habitation beyond the check point and just the natural setup, there was vast stretch of barren land no vegetation just the curved roads going uphill, it was the undulating dry land, the mountains were just black and white, the black rock and the bright glowing snow on the top. To add to it is the blue sky just setting a background for these mountains.

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Sikkim, India by anila

It was like an unending stretch of land after half an hour driving on that road we were at the parking area of the Gurudongmar Lake, peeping out of the window we were just awestruck.

Photo of Gurudongmar, Sikkim by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar, Sikkim by anila

In this high security zone is one of most picturesque scenes.

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by anila

We jumped out of the car with excitement ,as I stood there looking at the calm lake below and the snow capped mountain ahead and felt the chilled wind IT WAS LIKE A DREAM. It was so magical , so surreal and so out of the world.

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by anila

We went down close to the lake there are stairs made for that and as we reached close to the lake few could feel the dizziness due to the high altitude. WE WERE AT 17,000 ft. All i could feel was being close to that clear water lake which had the reflection of the blue sky make it feel more closer. This place is like a dream, never seen such crystal clear water, the chilling wind, surrounding the lake are the mountains so majestic covered with snow.

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by anila

We had heard about the Gurudongmar being the sweet water lake so first thing we tasted the water and note it, its the sweetest and best that I have ever tasted. It's said it has a healing power, not sure about that but we knew it would help us to counter the heaviness of the high altitude. It was so sweet I could have never imagined. We sat there feeling the calmness of that huge water body, it was so peaceful.

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by anila

Here's few from that mesmerizing place:

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by anila

We were there for an hour and we saw that weather started changing there, the sun was covered with clouds and hence it grew colder, the snow capped mountains were clearly visible there but eventually the clouds we covering those too.

Photo of Gurudongmar, Sikkim by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar, Sikkim by anila
Photo of Gurudongmar, Sikkim by anila

Now after spending an hour there we headed back as we had further plans for the day, we had to have our lunch at Lachen in the same hotel and then by evening we had to reach Lachung. Long way to go so the journey back to Lachen now was faster and by 1 o'clock we had reached the hotel.

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by anila

After lunch we started our journey to Lachung our next destination. the way to Lachung was via Chungthang so we returned back to Chungthang and took the road to Lachung from there. On way we stopped at few places that we missed previously.

Photo of Lachen Road, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Lachen Road, Sikkim, India by anila
Photo of Lachen Road, Sikkim, India by anila

At Chungthang we stopped for coffee at the check point and as it would get late we soon left from there. This journey from Chungthang to Lachung was a deadly one, the clouds had covered the mountains at places it was raining as well. It grew dark and there are no street lights on the hilly roads all we could see was dense fog and the visibility was hardly 3 meters. There are no markings on the road to follow all that we could see was small red reflecting strips of hardly few inches pasted on the poles at turns of the mountain road. I was sitting beside the driver and was trying to see how is he driving through the clouds covering the mountains, it was a thrilling ride and thanks to the driver we reached Lachung safely by 7 pm.

Note: Leave from your origin point as the weather is unpredictable in the mountains and its better to reach to these destinations by 5:00 or 6:00 pm.

Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

The hotel was booked from Gangtok and it was though small but very ethnic and cozy. It had the wooden flooring and even the wooden walls , we had dinner there and feel asleep after another exciting day.

I kept thinking what a wonderful day : going to that wish listed place, a long and thrilling drive, the unpredictable weather, the scenic beauty of the place and such amazing people to enjoy all of it.

DAY 4:

Yet another wonderful cold day, the weather was little cloudy today and from the window of the hotel room it was extremely charming, this mountain village .

We got ready and went downstairs to have breakfast, as we peeped around from that corridor adjacent to the hotel we were mesmerized of the cloud covered mountains and if the peaks were peeping among the clouds there was snow at the folds of the mountains. By 9:00 am we were ready to leave from Lachung for Yumthang valley.

The scene from the magical world

Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

Breakfast at Lachung

Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

There are check point on way to Yumthang valley where they verify the papers and also beyond that you are restricted to carry plastic bottles and other plastic wrappers.

Plastic free zone

Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

All happy and amused we moved on, we reached the Shingba Rhododendron sanctuary even though the flowers were dried and only the greenery remained but the road is no less that without the flowers as well.

Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

Beyond the road and the trees were the mountains which were almost playing hide and seek with us ... once covered with clouds and next moment they would be visible. We couldn't stop taking pictures and all of us were just sticking to the windows, trying not to miss an inch.

Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

This was not it but all of a sudden what we were thinking was beautiful turned out to be unbelievable incredible there was a majestic mountain just beside us and at that moment the clouds had moved slightly and we could see that rocky mountain which was a little covered with clouds and little with snow. It was huge and enchanting. All we could do was jump down the car to capture that enthralling sight.

Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

That majestic mountain one side and the valley going down to Yumthang. What a beauty.

Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

Now this was not the place we had stayed but we enjoyed every minute at this place.

Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

Next was Yumthang valley with the all new amazing scenes on the way.So after another half an hour we reached Yumthang valley, and I really don't know the meaning of Yumthang but for me it means 'serene'. Yet another place I felt like out of this world.

Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

A valley where down below flows the white , crystal river dancing over the rocks; one side is the lush green grass covered slope full of small , wild flowers of different colors and on the other side was the mountains covered with pine forest. To add to it was a stupa, a monastery and few other small houses and the prayer flags.

Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

We went down close to the river , at every angle here you see stunning views, there are the mountain peaks such as Pauhunri and Shundu Tsenpa forming the backdrop of the river Teesta. The clouds flying gives life to the valley and we were lucky enough to enjoy this phenomena. It would be bright and clear, next moment its cloudy and would drizzle.

These pictures will explain every part of the valley.

Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila
Photo of SOULFUL SIKKIM : Part II : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake - Lachung- Yumthang Valley- Gangtok by anila

After spending almost 2 hours there we planned to return to Lachung and didn't go to zero point. We have had many snow scenes at its best in Himachal so we skipped zero point.

Day 4
Photo of Yumthang Valley Natural Reserve, Lake Cho Lhamu Road, Sikkim, India by anila

Interesting to know the valley has lot of wild strawberries growing and we did taste it, it was good though. Don't miss it.

Photo of Yumthang Valley Yumthang, Sikkim, India by anila

We were back to Lachung for lunch and then headed back to Gangtok stopping over at few places we found good view ans and incredible captures.

Photo of North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by anila

By 6:30 pm we reached Gangtok and after checking in we freshened up and went to M.G.Road for dinner.

Photo of MG Marg, Vishal Gaon, Gangtok, Sikkim, India by anila

Next day it was out day of way back home so morning we left from Gangtok and we had our flight from Bagdogra airport.

A place where I would like to come again.

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