It was raining slight lavishly and was dark like a dim street bulb at Lachung, when we reached at around 7 pm. Itâ€™s North Sikkim, and a gateway to two most beautiful places Yumthang Vally & Zero Point. To reach here, one needs to take permits from tourism dept. Sikkim. The approval process is carried out by the travel operators whom you book for the trip; you just need to give them an ID Proof and two passport size photographs. Buses donâ€™t travel on that road and only solutions are available in forms of SUVâ€™s. From Gangtok to Lachung and moving to Zero point and coming back to Gangtok, is a one night journey. The nights increase if one decides to go to Lachen and Gurudongmar area. Cost for this trip, inclusive of Car Fare, Stay, Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast and again Lunch, from Gangtok to Gangtok comes around Rs.800 to Rs.1000, depending upon the season.
Lachung is situated at 9,600Â ft or 3,000Â mtr from the sea level and at the confluence of theÂ Lachung Rivers, tributaries of theÂ River Teesta. The wordÂ LachungÂ means "Small Mountain" and is approximately 125Â km from the capitalÂ town of Gangtok. So it was well dark and rainy night, we parked ourselves at one of the village guest houses. It was good for a backpack traveller, but one in family trip would never stay in that kind of retreat. We were three friends who were out on a 4 day trip to clear out the fatigue from our mundane office life. Sikkim happened to be the quickest crash pad, as hills in West Bengal were in crisis.
One of my friend suggested we should definitely try Chhang, which is a kind of desi Beer, made from millets and is available in this region. Apart from Chhang, we had nice home cooked chicken curry, rice, and Dal and some local cuisine on our table. Tenzing and her music system gave us company, through out. She said â€œtry the Chhang with music, its fun!!â€ I really donâ€™t know what time we stopped dancing and went to our rooms. Chhang is served hot, millets are poured in a specially devised container made of bamboo, and the straw is also made of bamboo. To have it, one needs to refill the container with warm water, and bliss!! It has a sweet taste, much better than beer, and 3 weeks old millet in one single container was enough for three of us to get tipsy.
Lachung River rumbled throughout the night, behind our room, and woke us up at 5 AM. I have a bad habit of exploring areas alone, before other people gets to explore, within the group. Finished early morning chores, and went out with my cam. I had only 90 minutes in hand. Clicked some pictures, explored the Lachung valley a bit, the river some more, met two enthusiastic hitchhikers, spoke to BSF, and Swasastra Seema Bal members and came back while everyone was busy having Bread Toast and Tea. Soon after, we left for Zero Point, which is around 17,500 feet high, and goes through Yumthang Valley, where we stopped on our way back to Gangtok.
Wow, what a terrain. We had to get out of the vehicle quite a few times, so that it can look like a perfect Bolero advertisement. Amazingly nude mountains, drawn using the same colour palette as is Ladakh. Burnt Siennaâ€™s and Yellow broken submarines, military barracks, and clouds playing with the super shining sun. Â
The Zero point was crowded, it was visually breathtaking, but I am not so game for the places that has flocks of crowd messing up the nature. Stayed for an hour, played in snow, wrote my Ex-Girlfriendâ€™s name there, as the wound was only a few weeks old, came back to the car in wet pants. It was chilling, Oxygen was less and we were enjoying it, every bit of it. Back to the same terrain, next stop â€“ Yumthang Valley, interesting part is Rhododendron.
Well, you have seen makeshift Tea stalls, here you can see make shift liquor stalls. Actually less of tea and more of liquor stalls. Maggi stalls can also be seen. Sun and Clouds play a magnificent hide and seek with each other here. Huge grassland, roaming horses, and Rhododendron sanctuary, countless colours all makes up Yumthang valley. A small Buddhist temple and wide meadows, a river running through it, and drizzling rain made Yumthang very perfect setup for an Irish folkloric movie. Come once to experience it.
This is just a small part of the North Sikkim. One can surely explore more, to soak up every little corners of this valley state. Make sure you donâ€™t smoke and take leak in the public places; itâ€™s a serious criminal offence in Sikkim.