Sunday, November 04, 2018

Sikkim Trip : Lachung, Yumthang Valley and Zero Point

Just like the famous Machu Picchu peak in South America, I thought! Though it was 5 am, it was already bright outside. From the balcony of my room, I was staring at three giant peaks! In comparison, the village below seemed tiny! After a moment, I could also hear the sound of a water fall from a far distance. I could spot a stream on the mountain. But wait, not one but many such streams. As I turned to my left, I saw a sparkling spectacle! Peaks of snow capped mountains glowing like gold in the sunlight!  Wow, I felt like I was being welcomed to Lachung in North Sikkim.

Three Giant Peaks, Lachung, North Sikkim
Three Giant Peaks, Lachung, North Sikkim (Can you spot the deer in the clouds?)
Streams in the Peaks, Lachung, North Sikkim
Streams in the Peaks, Lachung, North Sikkim
Moonlit Morning, Snow capped mountains, Lachung, North Sikkim
Moonlit Morning, Snow capped mountains, Lachung, North Sikkim
Golden Peaks, Lachung, North Sikkim
Golden Peaks, Lachung, North Sikkim

As I was contemplating, I remembered what my guide said,  "It was just the beginning!". But what could be a greater sight than this? Well, after an hour, we were on our way to find out. We felt blessed as we crossed a bridge decorated with Tibetan prayer flags of blue, white, red, green and yellow.
After the bridge, few local women were waiting for a drop. They sold tea, pop corn and noodles at the high altitude destination. Every day, they would wait in the hope of a drop. We allowed them to board and continued our journey. As we were leaving Lachung, we witnessed some vivacious vistas. Mountain slopes formed contours of green and blue. Sun rays emerged through the mountain ridges and clouds to form nature’s laser show.
Vivacious Vistas at Lachung, North Sikkim
Vivacious Vistas at Lachung, North Sikkim

Soon, we reached a human settlement – Yumthang Valley. Shops on either side of the road in the valley rented – winter jackets, gloves and gum boots. The shop keepers had a simple math for renting. Whether you take on rent a jacket or a small item like a glove, the price was the same – Rs. 50/- and there was no advance to be paid. Moving ahead, we saw on either side of the valley – misty mountains and coniferous trees powdered with snow. A river ran through the plain land appearing green. Yaks grazed near its banks. River banks were decorated with blooming pink Rhododendron flowers. It was an exquisite imagery.
Yumthang Valley, North Sikkim
Yumthang Valley, North Sikkim
Rugged Serpentine Path, Enroute Zero Point, North Sikkim
Rugged Serpentine Path, Enroute Zero Point, North Sikkim

Further, as the uphill roads took us nearer to our destination, I looked back. The rugged roads, we took  formed a serpentine path. Finally, we reached a point after which we could not move ahead. Why – because there was no road. What laid beyond was - heavenly white mountain peaks merging into the horizon. Rightly called Zero Point, our destination. Perennially covered in snow, Zero point is surrounded by mountains on all sides. A stream was slicing its way through the icy ground. The water was sparkling, the sun was shining and the people were frolicking! Watching that, my enthusiasm knew no bounds. I jumped and ran around the place. Soon, I realized that snow glowing in the bright sunlight was unbearable to the eyes. I ran to the vehicle and got the goggles. In my excitement, I had forgotten that I was at a height of 15000 feet, which is half the altitude of Mount Everest. But nature had its own way to tell. I was breathing frantically under low oxygen conditions. It was even difficult to walk and I started craving for some food.
On our way to Zero Point, North Sikkim
On our way to Zero Point, North Sikkim
Zero Point, North Sikkim
Zero Point, North Sikkim
My Excitement at Zero Point, North Sikkim
My Excitement at Zero Point, North Sikkim
A stream slicing its way through the icy ground, Zero Point, North Sikkim
A stream slicing its way through the icy ground, Zero Point, North Sikkim

I hobbled towards the vehicle. On reaching, I unwrapped the silver foil of toasted bread. As I was munching the toast, a thought came across my mind. Why our yogis who meditated in the Himalayas, stressed on the control of Prana or breath? In the Himalayas, water is abundant, food is scarce and air even scarcer. Air, the vital life force, is thin there. 2500 km's away from home, at an altitude 15000 feet, I had this realization. Sometimes, you need to go very far to find answers within!

April 23, 2016
Raveesh Kumar
Lachung, North Sikkim

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