Overcome challenges to answer the call of North Sikkim How do you find God? You can’t see him or her but can feel the divine presence. At some places you imagine God looking at the deity residing inside a temple. At other pilgrimage sites, you try to imagine the presence of God exploring the sites that speak different mythological stories. And at Sikkim, you find God in Mother Nature. Located in the North-Eastern part of India, Sikkim is a state where God truly resides in the form of Mother Nature and people who have the vision, see her in the form of snow-capped mountain ranges, picturesque lakes, green valleys, landscapes hidden under blankets of clouds, serpentine rivers, cascading waterfalls and hill slopes offering indescribable color riot in the form of Rhododendrons. Sikkim is simply stunning. Every part of the hilly state is heavily blessed by God in the form of scenic beauty. But to feel the presence of God most prominently, you should head for the northern part of Sikkim. It is said that one has to put a lot of effort and overcome many challenges to finally reach the abode of God. You will agree to it once you car approaches towards North Sikkim, leaving Gangtok, the state capital. The condition of roads in the northern part of Sikkim is ‘terrible’ in compared to what it is in Gangtok and other parts of the state. A major reason behind poor road conditions in this part of Sikkim is frequent landslides. Besides, it is an earthquake prone area. However, Nature lovers seldom see the negative side of North Sikkim since they get carried away by the beauty of Nature. As you car starts going up, you see gorges covered with forests of pine and other Himalayan trees. At times when you car takes the edge of the road, you might panic but you must overcome it because lot more is waiting for you here. On the way, you will go across a host of breathtaking sites like Kabi Lungtsok, Phodong, Mangan, Singhik Chungthang, Singhba Rhododendron Sanctuary, Kanchandzonga National Park and will finally get down at Lachung, ending a four-hour journey through risky terrains.
Lachung: Lachung is a very small village on the Yumthang Valley, where absolute silence actually speaks in the form of freezing wind. Located at an altitude of around 9,600 feet, Lachung is one of the prime attractions in North Sikkim. This is the only place in North Sikkim where you can find night accommodation. Yes there are hotels but to enjoy the real charm of North Sikkim, opt for a home stay. It might not be as cozy as a hotel room but you will get basic amenities and the room tariff would include home-cooked dinner and breakfast. After taking rest overnight, you can start your next day for exploring the other gems on the crown of North Sikkim.Lachung is the starting point for North Sikkim package tours. From here you can go to Yumthang, Lachung Gompa, Lachen, Zero Point, Yumesamdong and Gurudongmar Lake.
Zero Point: As the name indicates, Zero Point is a spot where you will find the last mark of civilization. Absolute tranquility prevails here in the valley but you can clearly hear the sound of wind. You will find yourself on a zone covered with ice and surrounded by snow capped mountains. For a moment you might feel standing at a place ‘out of the world’.
Katao: located at a distance of 28 kilometers from Lachung, Katao or Mount Katao is another popular spot in North Sikkim. This is also a zone covered with ice but there are signs of human settlement all around. No the small huts that you see are not owned by civilians but their protectors-the Indian Army. Being located very close to the India-China border, tourism is very much restricted in Katau and to reach here you need to get a special permit from the Army.
Yumesamdong: At an altitude of 15,300 feet, Yumesamdong is a white land as it is completely covered with thick layers of snow. Yumesamdong is even closer to the border of China. The road to Yumesamdong is very rough but what will make you feel good is a sweet fragrance of Azalea. Azalea is an aromatic plant which is used by local people as incense. Yumesamdong too is called a Zero Point since there is no motorable road beyond the spot.
Gurudongmar Lake: At around 16,000 feet, Gurudongmar is the ultimate destination in North Sikkim, in terms of scenic beauty. It is a unbelievably flat land where you will witness chilled waterfalls, frozen lakes and of course a stunning lake. You will reach the lake after climbing 17100 feet and will fall in love with it at first sight. If you were trying to feel the presence of God throughout your trip, your search will surely end here. Simply surrender yourself in front of Mother Nature and you will fill a divine presence. You have overcome all challenges and made all efforts to reach the Abode of God and the crystal clear lake you are witnessing is one of most amazing creations of God. To go for a North Sikkim tour, you need to get a special travel permit and it has to be collected from Gangtok. Being a high altitude district, North Sikkim is extremely cold almost throughout the year and hence you should carry enough woolens. Since the road condition is poor, try to book a car which is in good condition and try to form a big group to share the expense.