Friday, October 30, 2009

Yumthang – Valley of Flowers in North Sikkim, India

Of days gone by...this April during my solo all India motorcycle journey

It was late in the evening and extremely cold by the time we reached the town of Lachung on the eastern end of North Sikkim.

It had been an eventful day for us  as we had been through a near death experience and faced a snow storm on our way back from Gurudongmar Lake. All of us shared our respective versions of the experience with the group while our dinner was getting ready. It was only after the hot and sumptuous meal that most of us felt alive. 

After an early morning wake up call, I got ready, had breakfast and waited for the rest of the group. It was during this wait that I admired the beauty of the Lachung valley. I climbed up a small hillock to get a better view of the entire Lachung town, the Lachung Chu (river) and the Himalayan peaks in the background. Soon, the entire group was ready and we got into the jeep and made our climb towards the Yumthang valley.

Yumthang is situated 140 kms north of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. It is located at an elevation of 11,800 feet (3575 m) with a close proximity to Tibet (China) and is a unique place where the tree line ends. The Yumthang valley, dubbed as the ‘valley of flowers’ is home to the Shingba rhododendron sanctuary. Typically, in the summers, this area blooms with umpteen species of rhododendrons, primulas, poppies, iris and other flora. But, due to unforeseen snowfall over the last one month, the flowering plants were still in deep slumber.

The winding route, the snow clad plants, the Himalayan peaks in the distance and the Lachung Chu river were all a treat to the eye. Once we reached the valley, all of us were eager to explore this very pretty valley. Snow balls were hurled at folks, folks were skidding and slipping on the icy floor and most of the group were keeping their cameras busy. Such was the beauty of this place.

There was a mountaineering institute nearby that organizes treks in the summers. But, due to the bad weather, even these guys had closed shop. Finally, after spending a couple of hours at Yumthang, we made our way back to Lachung, had lunch and continued on our long drive back to Gangtok.

Enroute, we stopped at a lovely waterfall that is nicknamed Amitabh Bachchan waterfalls as Amitabh Bachchan shot a movie scene at this exquisite location. We saw more landslides and more bad roads, and finally reached Gangtok late in the evening. The last three days proved to be a phenomenal experience of North Sikkim for me and I hope that the Indian army allows motorcycles to go there someday coz if they do, I would love to tour this part of nature on my motorcycle.

To see India through the eyes of a motorcyclist’s lens, visit the album below.

my solo all-india motorcycle journey

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