Heaven is not a place you go when you die; it is that moment in life when you feel alive. And for me, my home is in Heaven and I’m just traveling through this world !!!
The gigantic peaks of the Himalayas, variegated flora and the fauna and some breathtaking views of the Mt. Kanchenjunga make Sikkim a paradise for travelers, backpackers, and researchers. This tiny yet majestic state also serves as a home to so many hidden and unexplored places. North Sikkim is one amongst them.
On route to Lachung
With district headquarters as Mangan, North Sikkim is the seventh least populous district in the country. Most of the people of the state reside near Mangan that is about 2000 feet above sea level. The high altitude makes it hard to sustain life as we move further north.
On route to Lachung
How to Reach: –
Almost all the modes of transportations are available to visit Sikkim. Airways, railways, and roadways connect Sikkim with other parts of the country.New Jalpaiguri (NJP) is the nearest railhead to Gangtok that connects the city with all the major parts of the country. There are a number of trains from cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Guwahati, Chennai, Kochi, and Bengaluru. On reaching New Jalpaiguri station, the best way to reach Gangtok is to take a shared taxi that you will get just outside the station and charges will be around 200-250.For train bookings visit IRCTC.
North Sikkim shares a sensitive border with the People’s Republic of China and Indian army heavily patrols the area. Therefore, entry is only possible on a guided tour that can be arranged in Gangtok. For more details on the permit, you can refer to Darjeeling tourism website.
Remember to bargain with 2-3 agencies before booking one. I booked one for 1500 INR for 2 days 1- night covering Lachung, Yumthang and Zero Point that included food, stay and travel.
Note: – A Xerox of any photo identity card and two photos will be required in order to obtain the permit.
I was keen to explore Zero Point Sikkim as I was fascinated by the fact that it is the last outpost of civilization. My journey to the Zero Point started when I got into a taxi early morning at Gangtok. Few tourists also joined in the same taxi, as it was a shared journey.
The road journey from Gangtok to Zero point is one of the lushest road trips I have ever traversed. Pollution!!Ohh this terminology does not exist in the dictionary of North Sikkim. I am out of words for the magical landscape you witness during this entire road trip.
On route to Yumthang Valley
The weather in the whole journey is almost unpredictable. You never know when snow can welcome you. Numerous waterfalls add on to the charm of the trip. After having few breaks in the whole ride, the taxi arrived at Lachung.
You can check the current weather on AccuWeather.
A hill station town with an elevation of about 9,600 feet, Lachung offers some astonishing views of snow cladded Himalayas with Lachung and Lachen rivers in its vicinity. Located approximately 125 km from Gangtok, it is the first night halt for the tourist as it already becomes dark until you arrive here. Most of Lachung’s inhabitants are of Lepcha, Tibetan descent and the languages spoken here are Nepali, Lepcha, and Bhutia.You can easily explore the town by foot, as it is a minuscule village filled with amazing people and serene surroundings.To read more on Lachung refer Lachung Wikipedia.
On the way to Yumthang Valley
Popularly known as “Valley of Flowers,” some towering Himalayan peaks surround Yumthang Valley standing at an elevation of 3564 meters.It takes 2 hours to reach Yumthang Valley, which is at a distance of 24 km from Lachung.With over 24 species of Rhododendron, it is home to Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary.
Yumthang Valley Route
The valley has a thermal spring, although the water can get quite dirty. A direct journey from Gangtok until Yumthang is not feasible as it becomes dark very early around 5:00 pm and roads are very foggy with almost zero visibility. Also, there is no staying option in Yumthang.To read more on Yumtahng refer Yumthang Valley Wikipedia.
Note: Yumthang remains closed between December and March due to the heavy snowfall.
River flowing across Yumthang Valley
Zero Point Sikkim:
Also known as Yumesamdong, Zero point Sikkim stands at an altitude of 15,300 feet above mean sea level (23 km’s from Yumthang Valley) and is the last outpost of civilization. The road ends here!!!The drive from Yumthang Valley to Zero point is through the curving mountainous amidst the rugged piece of land of geographic region and could be a lifetime experience.
The Zig Zag routes
Zero Point Sikkim is the place where three rivers meet with snow-clad mountains in the vicinity offering some thrilling views. There is hardly any vegetation in Zero point as it remains snow covered for the most of the year but still, you can see yaks grazing in the snow in search of vegetation. Due to the high altitude of Zero Point, oxygen in the air is low and there can be breathing problems for few.
Zero Point Sikkim (15855 feet)
Zero point Sikkim covered with snow
Note: Since the place is in a short distance to the international border between India and China, a special permission is required to go to Zero point Sikkim and the driver may charge few additional INR for the same.
After spending an hour at zero point, our taxi headed back all the way to Gangtok.
For more details on North Sikkim refer Wikitravel.
Walking Bridge at Zero Point Sikkim
Zero Point Sikkim
Best time to visit Zero point Sikkim:
The best season for visiting Yumthang Valley, Lachung and Zero Point Sikkim starts in late February and continues up to mid-June, when thousands of colorful flowers are in full bloom. However, to enjoy a clear sky and brilliant view of the mountains, the September – December season would be ideal.
Snow covered Zero Point Sikkim
I tried to make this post as short as possible but the beauty of the place did not allow it to be that way. If you are really looking for a place which resembles Heaven, it is North Sikkim!!!! So what are you waiting for???
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