The sad news of the recent earthquake in Sikkim reminded me of my trip there a couple of years back. We had seen first-hand the daily struggle of the local people with landslides. When you travel to any place beyond Gangtok, you would inevitably confront a number of breath-taking waterfalls along the road, dense forests with huge bunches of primeval ferns and the landslides.
The local administration has developed a unique specialization in reaching equipment at the site of road-blocks and restoring traffic within a very short period. The hardy people of the region take such hurdles in their stride, and the tourist like me is too awe struck by them to crib. In fact some of my best snaps were taken at these forced breaks.
We had taken a two day trip from Gangtok to the breath-taking Yumthang valley. The small town of Lachun is 126 kms from Gangtok, at about 8,610 feet. On this route, the journey is more important than the destination. I felt I was in an Indiana Jones movie, trying to reach a hidden temple of treasure. You would indeed find the treasure in form of a flower-laden Yumthang Valley – but only if you travel during the brief period of the year when the wild flowers bloom.
Even Gangtok and the nearby excursions – Tshango Lake, Nathu La Pass and Rumtek Monastery are some of the best tourist places I have been to. The haunting beauty of the lake, the hostile environs of the Nathu La and the sheer peace of the Rumtek leaves a permanent mark on the heart. The small market and the energy park, developed in recent years, make you wonder why we cannot have such developments in other parts of the North-East.
The dense foliage and the beautiful people are however the highlights of the place. It’s a must visit destination – before it gets too crowded and loses its charm.