Pune, 14th March 2021: I am a healthcare professional and a travel enthusiast living in Pune.
The Himalayas are one of the most beautiful places in the world. The mountains have some magical power that makes you feel like you’re in heaven on Earth for the trekkers and adventure seekers, delighting them with the hypnotic beauty of raw mountains, valleys, waterfalls, and forests. I want to share my travel experience and help other travel enthusiasts in planning their trip to the north-eastern state of Sikkim.
Amid the Himalayas, Sikkim is a jewel in the crown of India with its unmatched and unscathed natural beauty. The pristine view of the beautiful and white snow-covered mountains, with the liveliness of the majestic waterfalls, vivid and colourful landscapes, bustling rivers, and long-stretched orchards have a spellbinding effect on visitors. We went to Sikkim with our friends as I love to travel in a group.
Bagdogra to Gangtok: We went to Bagdogra from Pune by air and from there, we took a vehicle for our north Sikkim trip. Now, there is a direct flight from Pune to Sikkim that began in October which will reduce your travel time. The weather in the northern region of Sikkim is usually frosty in the winter season and pleasantly cold during the summer season. Most tourist places in the area are restricted to Indian citizens due to the proximity of the India-China border and require permits for a visit. One needs to obtain a restricted area permit (RAP) for exploring northern Sikkim twelve hours before the travel.
Gangtok to Tsomgo Lake to Baba Mandir: We went for a memorable excursion tour to Tsomgo lake (12,400 ft), the highest altitude Himalayan lake. This gorgeous, oval-shaped lake, is almost one-km-long and its average depth is 50 ft. It is situated in east Sikkim. During winters, the lake remains frozen solid with the area around it covered in snow. In late spring, the flowers in bloom add colours to the landscape around the lake.
The Tsomgo lake is associated with many myths and legends. The Sikkimese consider it sacred. In the olden times, Buddhist monks would study the colour of the water in the lake to predict the future. The lake is also of special significance to the Jhakris of Sikkim. They assemble at the lake annually on Guru Pournima to offer prayers.
From Tsomgo lake, we went up to Baba Mandir located between Nathula and Jelepla Pass at an altitude of 13,123 ft and about 52 km from Gangtok. The temple is also called Baba Harbhajan Singh temple
Nathula Pass: From the temple, we went to Nathula Pass. Located at an altitude of 14,140 ft and around 56 km from Gangtok, Nathula Pass was the place through which the famous Silk Route used to operate until 1962. This route used to be the silk trade route between India and Tibet.
The fenced Indo-China border is also few metres away and you can see both Indian and Chinese soldiers guarding it. The guards are friendly. A stairway leads to the border. There is no ‘no man’s land’ here. Even today, mails are delivered across the border on certain days of the week. You will find a memorial constructed in honour of the Indian soldiers who lost their lives in battles.
Gangtok to Lachung: On the third day, we progressed towards Lachung after breakfast. Do not miss out on Lachung if you visit ever visit Gangtok because you may never such stunning views of snow mountains and rivers anywhere else. Lachung is also known as mini Switzerland.
Along the way, the river Teesta will be by your side and you can see a large number of waterfalls and mountain springs. The best among these waterfalls is Bhim Nala and we enjoyed the lovely view of the fall roaring down from high above and splashing onto the ground. On the way, we took a few memorable photographs wearing cultural attire.
One of the nicest places to visit there is the Lachung Monastery (gompa). It has wonderful murals and several ancient statues. It is open on weekdays between 8 am to 4 pm.
Lachung-Yumthang-Zero Point: After early breakfast, we drove up for the Yumthang valley also known as the valley of flowers as wild alpine flowers carpet the land during spring. Yumthang is also known for its hot springs which have healing medicinal properties.
Zero Point: Zero Point, which is located about 23 km from Yumthang, is located at an altitude of above 15,000ft. The place is also known as Yume Samdong and it takes around a one-and-a-half-hour drive to reach there from Yumthang. The place is called Zero Point because the civilian road ends there and no civilians are not allowed to drive further. You can get the view of Yaks roaming in the snow and grazing in the small stretch of snow-clad grassy land.
Gangtok to Darjeeling: On our way to Darjeeling from Gangtok, we saw numerous sprawling tea estates that produce the world’s best tea, as well as the amazing narrow gauge ‘Toy Train’ which is an engineering marvel of the 1880s that could overcome the steep gradients and curves of the mountains and provided scenic railway transportation in the hills.
Waking up at 4 am is not an easy task in cold weather, however, we did so to go to Tiger Hill to see the fascinating sunrise at Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-largest mountain peak.
At sunrise, the peaks of Kangchenjunga are illuminated by the sun before anywhere else in the city which is an amazing thing to experience.
There are countless tourist places in Darjeeling including the great viewpoints offering magnificent views of the Kanchenjunga, Buddhist monasteries, historical churches, temples, rolling tea estates on mountain slopes, museums, art galleries, parks and gardens, waterfalls, cable car ride offering you stunning views of the mountain landscapes and tea gardens below, and so much more.
Return to Pune: We left for Pune the very next day from Darjeeling with great memories and heart-filled moments.
To experience complete rejuvenation, Sikkim is a perfect place to visit. See you guys soon on the next adventurous trip!!!!
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