Saturday, 24 January 2015

Memorable Trip to Yumthang Valley: The valley of flowers and Zero Point Part- II

In the last post, you read about the unforgettable night, we spent in the scenic and picturesque Lachung village with torrential rains accompanying us and without electricity entire night. As our hotel was near to Lachung river, the gushing sound of the river was complementing the thunderous sound of rains, thus making our night at Lachung a special one. Though, we were inside a hotel room, we were sleeping literally in the lap of nature. Finally the long winter night gave way to a pleasant sunny morning and we were greeted by morning sunshine having energizing effect on us. Now was the time to get ready for our adventurous day in Yumthang valley and zero point. As i mentioned that it was raining whole night, the electricity had still not turned up and we were not courageous enough to take a bath in near-zero temperature without geyser's help :-).

Getting freshened ourselves, we came out from our rooms, only to find a magnificent view of mountain peaks glowing in the sunshine. That was really refreshing for us and i was thinking, what effect it may have on local fellows, who see it daily. Mornings in Mountains are a visual treat, especially when you are at altitude of around 10000 ft from sea level. We had completely forgotten by seeing the crystal clear sky of that glorious morning that it was heavy downpour since last evening.

Morning View from Lachung
By 7:00 AM, we started our journey for Yumthang valley, hoping to see the wide varieties of primula and rhododendrons. However, the journey seemed to be inviting us along the way to catch hold of some breath-taking and mind blowing scenery along the road and we could not resist the temptation to capture those eye candies in our camera frames. The experience of being there amid milky peaks, fast flowing river and lush greenery was so overwhelming and out-worldly that it can't be described exactly through words and images. I can say that for a person living in cacophony of a bustling city, spending few days in such far-away places in nature's lap will have some medicinal value. These are the places, where the most powerful person on the planet will feel himself a mere mortal in front of nature. 

We halted at a place before Yumthang valley to feast on the beauty of natural landscapes and there were plenty. We had tea at a small shop and luckily gum boots used for walking on snow were available in the tea shop itself and we took it on rent of Rs. 50/- per pair. The weather of valley was at it's best that day, thus offering magnificent  and scenic views along the way. During entire journey of North Sikkim, we found many small but beautifully designed small bridges on Lachung and Lachen rivers, which were accentuating the natural beauty of the place.

Snow caped mountains and a lively river : What else one would require to get entranced

Serpentine Roads leading to Yumthang Valley
                                                 Primula at Yumthang Valley                        Image Courtesy :
By 9:00 AM, we had reached Yumthang valley, however, we could not see the wide range of flowers specially Rhododendrons, for which it is famous for. Though, we could see four to five varieties of Rhododendrons along the road near Yumthang. 

The valley surrounded by Himalayan Mountains is situated at the altitude of approx. 11000 feet and around 150 km away from Gangtok. It is popularly known as Valley of flowers, as the region blooms with over 24 varieties of rhododendrons, primula, poppies and other floral species during spring season.

We proceeded to Zero point from there by 9:30 AM and planned to spend more time discovering flowers in Yumthang while returning from zero point, as the weather gets worsened at high altitudes after noon. Zero Point, also known as Yumesamdong, is a beautiful place located at the height of around 15800 feet near Indo-china international border. The place remains covered in snow whole year, however it has been relatively less trodden and unexplored territory. After crossing Yumthang valley, our vehicle started moving on an upward road with numerous hairpin bends, as we had to go up by around 5000 feet with in an hour. Snow caped mountain peaks and trees were visible now. 

Road to The Ice Kingdom
We had seen those peaks and snow on the way to Gurudongmar lake, but they were maintaining a safe distance from us. However, at zero point, our proximity with the snow had increased exponentially. As we were moving forward, everything from roads and trees to mountain ranges were looking whiter and brighter. Our poor eyes had really tough time adjusting to the reflection of sun rays in the snow. But, that didn't us stop us to have our share of enjoyment sliding and gliding in the snow. In fact, we like many other enthusiastic tourists were fascinated by the scenery unfolded before our eyes and started playing in the snow with a child's enthusiasm. The little bit of apprehension and reluctance was soon replaced by the jest and adventure of youth, once we started walking in the snow. Here are some glimpses of wonderful zero point for you to visualize the lifelong experience, one can have by unraveling such gem of a place.

Black patches on everything white

Only the object in motion will have it's way

Our fun moment in the snow
After spending fun-filled time at zero point, we were feeling tired physically and weather was also changing it's colours, so we decided to return. It was 12 PM when we reached near Yumthang, while returning and we had still some time to have a look on the flowers of North Sikkim. There were many trees of Rhododendron on both sides of the road and this tree had a magnificent background.
Rhododendron tree with mountains in the backdrop
After seeing many trees of red rhododendrons, we saw some pink ones too.

Rhododendron in full blossom
In a three day's trip from Gangtok, we had managed to explore Lachen, Lachung, Gurudongmar Lake, Yumthang valley and Zero point. We started our return journey from Yumthang at 2:00 PM and by 9:00 PM, we reached Gangtok. Till date, it is the most fulfilling and memorable voyage of my life. I am sure that in the days to come, i will be able to witness more vibrant colours and hues of  natural beauty.

Here is some useful information for fellow travelers, who would like to explore North Sikkim.

How To Reach Yumthang Valley and Zero Point

By Air – The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport. Take taxi to Gangtok nearly 120 kilometers via national highway 31 A. Chopper service is also available for Gangtok from Bagdogra. From Gangtok, one has to hire a taxi to Lachung to visit the valley of flowers and zero point. Gangtok to Lachung is 5 - 6 hours journey. For travelling to Lachung and some other regions of North Sikkim, one needs to obtain Inner Line Permit.
By Rail – The nearest major railway Station is New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP), around 120 km away from Gangtok. From New Jalpaiguri Railway Station one has to hire a taxi to Gangtok. Shared taxis are also available at NJP or Siliguri Bus Stand.
By Road – Roads till Gangtok is national highway 31 A. From Gangtok, vehicle with army permit has to be booked for visiting Lachung. Yumthang valley is 25 km away from Lachung and zero point is another 25 km from the valley.

Itinerary for those, planning to visit Gurudongmar Lake and Yumthang Valley :

Day 1 - Reach Gangtok. Night stay at Gangtok.
Day 2 - Travel Gangtok to Lachen; overnight stay at Lachen
Day 3 - Lachen to Gurudongmar and Chopta Valley and Back. Continue travel to Lachung; overnight stay at Lachung
Day 4 - Visit to Yumthang valley and Zero Point. Back to Gangtok

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  1. Interesting reading & beautiful photographs..

  2. Thanks Sir! Glad that you liked it.

  3. Yumthang valley, which one must not miss during the Sikkim rhododendron trekking tour, is one of the most picturesque places in the entire world with swathes of Himalaya flowers like blue poppy, several species of rhododendrons, rhubarb and others canvassing the earth. In short, no nature lover can afford to give this place amiss!