After years of postponing, I had finally visited Sikkim, a beautiful hill state in India's North-East in the month of April 2012. Being my first trip to the State, I confined my four days to Gangtok, the capital city, and the surrounding tourist attractions like monasteries (Rumtek and others), Namchi (Char Dham and Timi Tea Garden), etc. Though I had planned to visit Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir and Nathula Pass, the trip did not happen because of bad weather. But one thing this short trip did was to help me decide on another trip to Sikkim and particularly to North Sikkim - Lachen, Thangu, Gurudongmar Lake, Lachung, Yumthang Valley, and Zero Point (Yumesamdong). This was perhaps the shortest possible trip plan for North Sikkim to be completed in a 2 night / 3 day "all-inclusive" tour conducted by one of the many travel agents in Gangtok. Though I was to travel solo, I decided against taking a "shared" tour, which would mean sharing the vehicle with 10-11 other unknown tourists. The price quoted by one agent for such a shared trip was enticing - Rs 2500/- per person for Gangtok to Gangtok travel, vegetarian food (all meals), sight seeing, 2 night accomodation in "good hotels". He mentioned that the hotels would not have water heaters in the bathroom but hot water would be provided. From my experience I know that when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. (Read more below...)
Also Read: Travelling From Bagdogra To Gangtok (Link opens in new window)
|Zero Point (Yumesamdong) North Sikkim|
I arrived in Gangtok in the evening of May 28, 2012 and called Tibet Travel's local number. They agreed to see me in my hotel - Hotel Sonam Delek on Tibet Road and arrived early as promised. I paid the balance 50% money, 2 passport size photos, a copy of my passport (I had sent these documents earlier by post and they had confirmed receipt but for some reason they wanted everything again. Luckily I had extras). I was told that permits for the trip would be managed by the taxi driver and I would be picked up from my hotel next morning at around 10.00 am. I spent the rest of the evening at Casino Sikkim at Hotel Royal Plaza, came back to the hotel at around midnight and did manage to get some sleep before the big day.
North Sikkim Trip Begins
|North Sikkim Taxi Stand Gangtok|
|Lunch Stop On The Way To Mangan North Sikkim|
Barely one and a half hours into the journey, at 12.30 pm, the driver suddenly stopped at a house sort of building named "Hotel Kunglho" (pic above) and announced "Lunch". Mangan was still far away. I tried to protest saying it was too early for lunch. Driver said it was the only place where lunch would be available. This Hotel Kunglho was "Pure Veg". There was another similar building on the opposite side where a small sign read "Non-Veg". Hotel Kunglho's Stafff took some time to digest that a solo traveller was going to North Sikkim. I asked for directions to the wash room and was pointed towards the back side. There was no other guest and my arrival had disturbed them while they were enjoying a Bollywood movie on television. Someone finally got up from in front of the TV and my lunch arrived.
|Hotel Kunglho On The Way To Mangan North Sikkim|
|Vegetarian Lunch at Hotel Kunglho On The Way To Mangan North Sikkim|
The feast included potatoes done in Aloo Jeera style without much Jeera, a watery daal, cauliflower and beans, mixed salad, and papad apart from a few chapatis. I was grateful that they had not served noodles. Knowing that it would be the only meal before dinner, I managed to eat some of it. Someone offered Curd which I refused. I bought a bottle of water, quickly finished my meal, and was back in the Bolero at 1.00 pm.
Landslide Before Mangan
|Landslide On The Way To Mangan North Sikkim|
|Diesel Stop On The Way To Lachen North Sikkim|
Tea Break at Chungthang
|Hotel And Restaurant At Chungthang North Sikkim|
|Tea Break At Chungthang North Sikkim|
Chungthang has a few shops and at least one hotel named "Hotel Pema Gartsel" with a restaurant on the ground floor. One can have tea/coffee, cool drinks, alcohol, snacks (read noodles), etc. here. I had a coffee (Rs. 20) while my driver's friend went to a neighbouring shop for a beer. My driver claimed that he did not drink and I believed him.
Gurudwara Guru Nanak Lama, Chungthang
|Gurudwara Guru Nanak Lama Chungthang North Sikkim|
Arriving in Lachen
|Room At Hotel Lachen View Point Lachen North Sikkim|
The rest of the trip from Chungthang was smooth. The road was empty, lit only by the head lights of our vehicle. It was getting cold but was still pleasant. We arrived at Hotel Lachen View Point at around 8.30 pm. The room was not so bad. Two single beds with thick blankets, a carpet on the floor, and a small TV. The room and the bathroom were clean, the water heater seemed to work. Only the plastic toilet seat was broken, and one of the taps on the sink did not work. It was not all so disappointing.
Read Hotel Lachen View Point Review
Due to our late arrival, no tea would be served by the hotel but dinner would be ready soon. My driver's friend had talked me into taking a walk in the village after dinner. That would be nice.
Dinner at Hotel Lachen View Point
|Vegetarian Dinner At Hotel Lachen View Point North Sikkim|
I needed to call home but was told that only BSNL mobile phones work in Lachen. The chef at the hotel was kind enough to lend me his mobile phone. After about a dozen attempts, I got the network and completed my calls. I paid for the calls and went to bed. My driver wanted me to be ready at 4.00 am next morning for our visit to Gurudongmar Lake. I told him 5.00 am. I knew he was not going to listen to me. Must Read: North Sikkim Trip Report 2012 - Lachen to Thangu Valley and Gurudongmar Lake
|Posted by Narinder Singh|