05-May-2011 and 06-May-2011
I found couple of dry days forecast and didn’t want to waste time in Gangtok, called Sikkim Travels from Zuluk itself and finalized my trip. I liked them because of their professionalism and quite helpful gesture. They quoted reasonably, 12K for 2N/3D and 18K 3N/4D with an exclusive vehicle. The hotels they kept us was Lachen View Point an excellent hotel with good views of Lachen and very comfortable rooms (Room rent was 2250 per night) and in Seasons’ View in Lachung, another great hotel at highest point of Lachung with great views and excellent ambience. I mentioned I was not sure about the travel dates due to official commitments and they never pressed for advance. They arranged for me the reservations of 5th to 7th only on 4th and without any extra charge. Only issue I had with the driver Rahul, who supposed to be their best driver, no doubt he is a very safe driver but extremely slow and sometimes little stubborn to adjust with you. As I was keen on photography, I requested him to start little early, so his slow driving can be compensated and also being first car you would get less dust specially in a drive like Gurudongmer. But he always showed some excuses not to start early though I observed him boozing till 11.00 almost every night. Even if he see a car some 100 mtrs behind, he would slow down and give side which I don’t mind but then keeps tailgating the car and you would only see dust all around which was quite irritating. So even if you choose Sikkim Tours whom I recommend whole heartedly, make sure you are not driven by Rahul in his Sumo Victa. In my 15 years of Himalayan experience first time I engaged in a verbal duel with a driver in my life, it was so irritating over the 4 days period. No word can be sufficient to describe the beauty of the roads from Lachen to Gurudongmer specially after Thangu and Chopta Valley. Gurudongmer lake is awesome, I have seen many high altitude lakes in Himalaya but this is indeed a special one. You would see the roads to Chola Mu diverts just before Gurudongmer and can see a board clearly showing “Restricted Area, No entry beyond this point”, hardly another 30min drive, if you can manage permit from Ministry of Home in Sikkim and get it endorsed by Army, to reach the highest lake in Himalaya and can get a view of Tibetan plane from there. Wonderful journey back to lachen for lunch and then proceed towards lachung, Till Chungthang, Lachen Chu would be with you and it’s an amazing journey for sure. We reached lachung late in afternoon around 5.30pm but again saw the clouds engulfing the region from all around.
Good Morning sunshine:
Cafe @ 15000 FT:
Road to Gurudongmer:
Roads to Chola Mu:
We got up early again in the sound of relentless rain and found the whole Lachung Valley is invisible, it was not going to be a sunny day. We again had a spat with Rahul, who doesn’t want to leave early even though he used to do it; had it been a 2N-3D trip. These packages of North Sikkim are surely a spoilsports as they dictate the terms in many places. Until Govt makes sure the permits can be easily managed like we get in Ladakh, these practices would continue. Police, tour agencies, hotel owners, check post people, administrations, drivers all are in the nexus and force you to take the package in North Sikkim and make you go in their terms. It’s undoubtedly one of the best part of Sikkim but would be much better if this nexus can be broken and people can arrange their own trips there. The Road to Zero Point via Yumthang was much better than what we took last day from Lachen to Gurudongmer and both sides still blooming with different colors of Rhododendrons. This side of Valley is much greener and from Zero Point, one with RAP can trek through Donkinala Pass to reach Chola Mu, other side of the fork from Chungthang. Visibility turns poorer as we crossed Shivamandir (a place came to news for wrong reasons when an Army helicopter last month lost here in sky and all 4 on board were died). The flowers and greeneries of the valley would touch your soul. At zero point its all snow but very touristy and I don’t like so many people jumping, playing, eating, drinking and completely making a mess of such a nice place. It seems like a picnic and more like Rohtang, may be the place should be avoided in a peak tourist season, I am sure with lesser people and less noise it would have been a pure bliss.
Road thru clouds :
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