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Snow, Hills and Flourishing Flora - Zero Point & Yumthang Valley

When you are near the Himalayas, snow is what you hope for - when this is complemented by colorful flowers, it makes a deadly combination !!

A video blog takes your through Zero Point and Yumthang Valley

We had spent a perfect evening in a small countryside town of North Sikkim - Lachung. It was definitely a great layover during our trip to the region and we enjoyed the time for relaxing a bit. Next morning, on 11th of May, the special day had dawned and we were off to our next destination on the itinerary. We were off to an excursion to the Zero Point and Yumthang Valley and were up by 6:30 in the morning for another one in a series of early mornings we were having on this trip. The people at the Hotel - Hotel Park Palace - packed us some breakfast as we were going to miss the standard buffet that was part of our plan. We boarded the car and began our journey on the path very familiar to us by now - one of the curvy roads, mountains, dense greenery and clouds flying by. The car kept negotiating the arduous roads and we grasped our share of nature's gift to the extent possible.

Our first destination for the day was Zero Point and we approached our destination by about 9 AM. As we ascended higher, a slight nausea did engulf us for a couple of moments post which we followed our protocols for acclimatization and things were smoother. Zero Point or Yumesamdong as the place is locally called is an exotic splendor in itself which takes you to mother nature - up and personal. Located at an altitude of about 16,000 feet (~5300 meters) above sea level, Zero Point is located right beside the Indo-Chinese border (about 5 kilometers away). For those planning to visit here, please keep in mind that most tourist maps and guides do not include this as part of a standard package and you need to negotiate directly with the driver during your trip to Yumthang Valley. The way leading to this amazing point is a passage through natural grandeur filled with the delicate scent of Azalea flowers pervading the atmosphere.

We deboarded the vehicle with the ground covered in snow and acclimatized our bodies for a couple of minutes. A mild snowfall welcomed us to this tourist destination with soft white flakes of snow coming to us from everywhere. The view until far was nothing but mountains of snow and tourists enjoying each bit of it. It was at this moment we realized that we were grossly unequipped to enjoy the spot with our sports shoes and bare hands. Fortunately, there are vendors to help you out in such situations - you can rent out gloves and snow boots for quite reasonable prices. We walked a few hundred feet until the road disappeared from the scene and we were in heavy snow surround us on all directions. The excitement was at its peak and the experience was definitely mind blowing. We spent about half an hour taking pictures and capturing great memories. Tourists are always ready to take pictures of you - with an unsaid understanding that you would return the favor. It is these "I scratch your back and you mine" situations which act as perfect ice-breakers and conversation starters. You may not realize how soon you become buddies with someone you did know knew a few moments earlier.

Deboarded at the Zero Point - The First View
Zero Point - The Path up to the Snow Point
As we came back to the road, we could not avoid the temptation to grab some snacks - steaming countryside snacks at this place seemed heavenly. We were surprised to find so many vendors up there given that there is no civilian habitation at this altitude. On interaction with them, we were amazed to know that all these vendors stay downhill - in Lachung or around Yumthang - and come up here on taxis every morning. We had a spicy snack of grams (locally called chana zor garam) and a couple of slices of bread spread with butter. Once we were done with that, we boarded the car and proceeded towards next stop for the day. The driver informed us that it is better to spend the early part of the day and leave by afternoon from Zero Point as weather usually takes an unwanted turn towards the later part of the day.

By about 10:45 AM, we left Zero Point and proceeded towards Yumthang Valley or Valley of Flowers that was the second spot of attraction for the day. It took us about an hour to reach there. The valley is extremely picturesque, with green slopes covered with trees. These plains are a major grazing grounds for yaks who are spread throughout the flower-spangled grassy plains below. There is a river flowing right through the valley which gives the entire scene an enhanced look. The serene and tranquil air of the Valley cannot be described in words. The entire region is donned with colorful rhododendron flowers seeming to cover the entire spectrum of colors and should be given that name of "Valley of Rhododendrons". The entire stretch of the area has been earmarked as a sanctuary -  the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary. The sanctuary spans across 34 square kilometers area here near Lachung and has over 38 different varieties of rhododendrons. A short distance away from the valley towards Lachung, there is a narrow pedestrian pathway that takes you deep into the flower plantation and leaves you at a picturesque spring that yields hot water at this altitude of over 11, 000 feet (3,200 meters). We spent about an hour exploring the area and then decided to get over the charm to begin the return journey.

Yumthang Valley - Bright Tempting Rhododendrons
Not Just one or Two - There are Trees of Them
On our way back we crossed Lachung by about half-past 1 in the afternoon and continued our journey towards Gangtok. We had planned to reach the state capital and spend a few days there exploring the beauty of the region before we return back to Delhi. We reached Gangtok by 6 in the evening and checked into our room. We were done with the tour of North Sikkim which is a gift of God to all of us and it was heartening to know that people here value this gift and have taken every step to preserve the raw natural beauty of the region.

Yumthang - A Vast Grazing Ground 

What do you feel about the article? Does this tempt you to plan a trip? Have you been here already? Do express all that you want to and we would respect both appreciation and criticism equally !! And yeah we appreciate all shares and like and comments. So please keep them coming 🙂

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