PLACES OF INTEREST
North Sikkim - Yumthang - 11,800 ft.
In the height of spring, visitors have found it increasingly impossible to walk over the extensive valley floor and the reason being, that all across the meadows of the valley is an endless carpet of pretty alpine flowers. How can one desecrate such beauties of nature? But trample over them, one must! Yes, Yumthang, otherwise a paradise in snow during winter turns into a mountain garden in spring.
And on looking straight and above, you are confronted with some more dazzling sights. Gigantic jagged peaks still laced with remains of winter snow soar up to reach the sky and even though they may be an array of nameless lesser Himalayan peaks, they nevertheless pose a feast to the eyes. There is a lone Buddhist stupa with rows of prayer flags flapping in the breeze and also a bungalow from a bygone era. No human settlement has been allowed in the valley. Far below by the river side, a chain of prayer flags make the place feel auspicious. This too would have once been a yak herders’ trail, as there still exists the remains of an old shack with crumbling stone walls and broken timber shingles. You will find clusters of such huts further beyond Yumthang and along its road. Also wonder at the crushing sweep of a recent avalanche enroute!
As you drive to Yumthang you can observe masses of half-thawed snow and extensive forests of silver fir and other mountain vegetation. Another point not be missed enroute is the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary where rhododendrons in full bloom pose a sight that could haunt you for ever. The hot spring at Yumthang is also much visited by local bathers for its characteristic therapeutic value.
Yumthang lies about 24 km from Lachung which is the nearest settlement for food and board. It is advisable to visit Yumthang in the morning hours for the weather invariably fouls up in the afternoons. Yumthang is purely a nature zone where brisk walks about the valley are truly rewarding. Experience the burst of flowers in spring and summer and snow in the winter. You can also view the stunning peaks of Pauhunri and Shundu on a clear day. The route to Yumthang often remains closed during winters after heavy snowfall.