Himalayan Journal (1855).
Lachung provides the base for an
exploration of Yumthang (11,800 ft.) very close to the Tibetan
border, Yumthang is that unique place where the
treeline ends, but rhododendrons still bloom covering the
whole area in a surreal shade. It also offers the view of a
stunning array of peaks with Pauhuri and Shundu Tsenpa proving
the most majestic.
Another hour's drive beyond Yumthang takes
one to Yumesamdong (15,300 ft.), an area where the
sweet fragrance of Azellia (a plant used as incense by locals)
permeates the air. Heady, invigorating and exhilarating, but
words still fail to explain the experience of being at
sister village, Lachen is only a recent host to
tourists. Situated at an altitude of 8,838 ft. and a good six
hours drive from Gangtok along the North Sikkim Highway,
Lachen stand on a grassy and bush flat from the periphery of
which rise the pine clad mountains with there snowy peaks and
black cliffs. The village comprises of barley 150 houses
earlier inhabitant only in winters by there owner who spend
the summer on the alpine pasture along the Tibet border
tending to there flock of yaks.
30 km beyond Lachen lies Thangu at
an altitude of 13,000 ft. The months of May and June see this
valley carpeted with alpine flowers which are replaced by snow
from October through March.
Wonders never cease in North Sikkim with
each turn, each valley, each rivulet trying to out do the
other in the scenic beauty that it offers. Few places come
close to virgin of appeal of Chopta Valley ( 13,200 ft
). Just a 20 minutes drive from Thangu, this valley provides
one of the few accessible places in Sikkim where a visitor can
actually walk over the frozen river. The riot of colours
during spring belie this aspect, though.
visit to North Sikkim is complete without to visit to
Gurudongmar Lake. The blessed water of this lake is
believed to posses the miraculous power of granting children
to issueless couple. Situated at an altitude of 17,200 ft the
lake freezes over during winter except at one spot which the
devout believe has been specially blessed. Interestingly, the
myth of Gurudongmar is believed as reverentially by the Sikhs
as well as the local Buddhists.