Zero Point – Yumthang Valley , Sikkim
Yumthang Valley is a beautiful valley situated in north Sikkim. It sits at an elevation of 3,500 metres above sea-level( 150 kms from Gangtok ), so naturally home to many beautiful Himalayan flowers. It is rightfully called a valley of flowers, although that name is associated with the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand. Yumthang Valley is extremely picturesque, with green slopes covered with trees, yaks grazing in the flower-spangled grassy plains below, and a river flowing right through the valley. The serene and tranquil air of the Valley cannot be described in words. A single visit there can leave the visitor in an enchanted state for weeks.
It also happens to be situated at what is called “the tree-line”, the altitude above which there are no trees. This makes the Yumthang Valley unique in that it has trees and Rhododendrons, and yet abounds in tiny, low-growing Himalayan flowers. The Valley has an astounding, over 24 species of Rhododendrons which paint the Valley red in spring. Rhododendrons are shrubs or trees, and different species of Rhododendron cover different large stretches of the Valley. In spring, the Valley looks like a collage of little forests of different colors. The flowering of Rhododendrons is over by May end. During monsoons, starting in June, the Valley blooms with all kinds of tiny Himalayan flowers, like the Primroses, Cinquefoils, Louseworts and Cobra-lilies. This is a much more enchanting scenario, but takes a keen viewer, with an eye for detail, to truly appreciate.
A hot spring situated on the right side of Yumthang River is a very well-known tourist hotspot. Apart from a cosmic green meadow, plush green forest abundant in Pine and silver fir trees fill the area. On your way towards the valley, you can see gushing waterfalls and streams. It also offers a spectacular sight of a splendid row of peaks with Pauhunri and Shundu Tsenpa. A few more kms away further north is Shiv Mandir and a trek to this temple is a very refreshing experience. Lying further north at a distance of 16 kms is Yumesamdong where the rocky vegetation- free mountains present a beautiful view.
How to Reach
By Road : There is no direct way of going to Yumthang Valley – one has to first go to the capital, Gangtok, and get permission to go to the Valley. Yes, everybody needs permission to go to the Valley because of its proximity with the Indo-China border. But first one has to reach Gangtok.
By Rail : If you are travelling by rail, the nearest railways station is New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. All major trains going towards Guwahati, pass through New Jalpaiguri. Coming from Bihar side, you reach New Jalpaiguri just after passing through the “Chicken’s Neck” that connects NE India, with the rest of India. Gangtok is 148 km by road from New Jalpaiguri.
By Air: If you are travelling by air, which is getting cheaper now-a-days, you should take a flight to Bagdogra in West Bengal, a town which mostly serves as a connecting point to Sikkim and Darjeeling. From inside the Bagdogra airport, one can get a prepaid taxi to Gangtok for around Rs. 2000. Gangtok is 124 km from Bagdogra, and by road it takes about 4 hours to reach there.
Where to Stay
There is no accommodation at the valley. Tourists stay at Lachung from where the valley is about an hour_Ñés drive. There are several hotels and resorts in Lachung. Yarlam Resort, Modern Residency, Le Cozy Resort, Fortuna Resort, Cliff View Residency, Season House and Golden Valley are some of the best accommodation in Lachung which one can choose according to their choice. The services are clean and descent. Your accommodation and food can be arranged as part of a package tour to Yumthang.
Activities in Yumthang
Lachung has a few adventure sports. It is the base camp for the trek to rhododendron sanctuary (a trek that starts from the Yumthang valley and ends at Lachen valley). At Lachen valley, you can go for skiing activities.4