Showing posts with label Lachung. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lachung. Show all posts

Friday, 18 April 2014

Sikkim and Darjeeling Trip

As summer vacations are here, we decided to visit the hills of Sikkim. It is currently not possible to take self driven vehicles to Sikkim, we decided to rent vehicles and go around Sikkim.
The plan was to reach Gangtok and then continue our road trip in Sikkim finally terminating it in Darjeeling. Following was the itinerary that we decided to follow.

  1. 05-April-2014 Reach Gangtok, rest for the day -- Day #1
  2. 06-April-2014 Local sightseeing Gangtok -- Day #2
  3. 07-April-2014 Leave for the Lachen, Arrive in Lachen -- Day #3
  4. 08-April-2014 Trip to Gurudongmar Lake, Lunch and leave for Lachung -- Day #4
  5. 09-April-2014 Trip to Yumthang Valley, Zero Point, Lunch and Leave for Gangtok -- Day #5
  6. 10-April-2014 Local sightseeing in Gangtok, Natu La, Baba ka Mandir, Tsomgo Lake -- Day #6
  7. 11-April-2014 Leave for Pelling vial Namchi -- Day #7
  8. 12-April-2014 Local sightseeing in Pelling and leave for Darjeeling -- Day #8
  9. 13-April-2014 Local sightseeing in Darjeeling -- Day #9

Sikkim and Darjeeling, Summer 2014, Day 5 of 9, Road Trip to Yumthang Valley, Zero Point, Back to Gangtok

Lachung is the base to visit Yumthang valley and Zero point. Our plan for the day was to visit both Yumthang Valley and Zero Point and travel back to Sikkim.
8:00 AM We leave towards Yumthang Valley and Zero Point. The quality of roads is again mixture of good road and bad roads. But roads here are definitely better than Lachen to Gurudongmar Lake section. One very quickly notices that Lachung region has more flat surfaces compared to lachen area.
9:00 AM We reach Yumthang valley. This is where one needs to rent snow shoes and can have some refreshment if needed. The climb after this place is again very steep and very quickly one gains altitude.
Unlike Gurudongmar Lake, this area seems more crowded with many vehicles parked on the side of the road as one reaches the Zero Point.

10:10 AM We reach Zero Point. This place is full of people. This is also at an altitude of almost 15,000 ft. so one needs to be careful not to over-exert himself. We stay at this place for around 45 minutes and leave.

11:55 AM We reach back to Yumthang Valley. We return the rented snow gear and have a tea/coffee. Normally one could spend some time here because this also known as Valley of Flowers, but to our disappointment, we realize that flowers have not started blooming yet.
We wait here for 10 minutes and leave for the hotel.
1:00 PM We reach the hotel, have a quick dinner and checkout from the hotel. We have a long journey ahead of us. Our night stay is planned at Gangtok.
2:00 PM We leave the hotel and start our journey back to Gangtok. Chungtang is the last place where one sees cellular connectivity when one drives towards north sikkim.
3:20 PM We cross Chungtang.
4:35 PM We cross Manul
5:35 PM We cross Mangan, We stop for a tea and car needs refueling here.
We had booked different hotels in Gangtok on our return trip, hence we needed to go to our old hotel to pick up luggage that we had left there. In hindsight, it is just more convenient if one has same hotel in both the journeys.
7:30 PM We reach our hotel and check-in. This time we had planned on staying in Hotel Tamarind. My review of the hotel is here.

Sikkim and Darjeeling, Summer 2014, Day 4 of 9, Road Trip to Gurudongmar Lake

Hills have very different character and it takes a while for one to understand the hills. Day 4 into our trip and we realized that we need to adjust our clocks. The best weather in Hills is what you see between 7AM to 12 PM. Just after 12 PM, the places become windy, cloudy and rainy.
Day 4 was for visiting the Gurudongmar Lake. Since the drive to Gurudongmar lake takes atleast 5 hours from Apple Orchard Resort and the best time to reach there is before 9, we had to leave the place at 3:30 AM. I belive we left the place sometime around 3:45 AM. Generally the resort packs the breakfast as a take away that one can eat on the way.
7:15 AM We cross Thangu Valley. Somewhere around this place one needs to cross the final army checkpost. They inquire about the health of everybody in the car specifically respiratory health.
 If you or any of the co-passengers are not feeling well, this is the place to stay back. There is no medical facility available once you cross this point.
We crossed the check post and stopped for a while when one generous Subedar Lakhveer Singh offered us tea. At almost zero degree temperature, we had no options but to accept the invite. We stopped for around 15 minutes there.

There is a small settlement in the Thangu Valley where most vehicle stop for tea, maggi and bio break. People here are extra nice and without their help and generosity this trip would be almost impossible.
7:40 AM We leave this place for onward journey. The whole areas from here onwards is under Army control. There is no other civilization. The only company you would get is from fellow tourists and Army convoys.
9:25 AM We finally pull into the parking for Gurudongmar Lake. The first sight of the place tells you that it is one of a kind, out of the world place. The place is really cold. The lake itself was frozen. but the view is phenomenal.

It is very hard to stick around this place for more than 1 hour. Most people would leave the place within half an hour but one hour is just about outer limit. There is gentleman that provides you with hot water for drinking, tea is also available. As expected, the place is not really crowded.
10:10 AM We start back for our journey back.
11:20 AM We are back at the Thangu Valley, another round of the tea at the place.
3:20 PM We are back at the Apple Orchard Resort in Lachen. We just about have enough time to have lunch and depart for Lachung.
In hindsight, we felt that between Lachen and Lachung, we should have added another day to make the journey less tiresome.
5:10 PM We are back at Chungtang.
7:15 PM We reach Lachung. We had booked Yarlam. This is one of the better places in North Sikkim. Here is my review of the place. 
A good night sleep is what we all needed and after a quick dinner we just opted for that.