Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Yumthang Valley, Zero Point – Its snow time!!


Today was another beautiful day. The first thing that I do these days when I get up in the morning is to peep out of the window. The view is spectacular.  I could see the snow capped mountains and River Teesta flowing nearby.

Zero Point Sikkim
Zero Point
Today the plan is to see Yumthang Valley and Zero Point. We all were very excited to play in the snow at Zero Point. When you book a North Sikkim Package, Zero Point is normally not included and you have to pay extra to the driver for covering Zero Point.

Teesta River Lachung
Teesta River from our room

Lachung snow capped mountains
First view of Snowcapped Mountains
Zero Point

We first drove to Zero Point – Yumesamdong which is around 15,500 ft above sea level. The drive to Zero Point is through the Yumthang Valley also known as the Valley of flowers.  In April, this whole valley is supposed to be carpeted with flowers especially rhododendrons. In November, the valley was bare but it had its own beauty.

Zero Point enroute
En route Zero Point
Zero point is covered with snow throughout the year. Our car cuts through the chilling winds, climbing higher and higher through the curvy roads where snow was scattered here and there. The road to Yumthang Valley and Zero Point is good and therefore preferred over Gurudongmar Lake by people who are running short on time.

The road took a sharp turn and then all of a sudden there is a change in panorama – high mountains covered with pristine white snow under the ivory blue sky. The view from here is simply breathtaking. If there is heaven on Earth, then this is very close to it.

Zero Point, Sikkim
View - Drive to Zero Point

Zero Point, Sikkim
En route Zero Point
On reaching this point, we felt that this was the last outpost of civilization. This is where the road ends. There was no road beyond this point. Sher Khan (Our driver) told us that the government is planning to make a road from here connecting Gurudongmar Lake.

There was snow everywhere and cold wind was breezing past our ears. Calm and quiet, time seems to stand still here, like nothing ever changes. Absorbed by the aura of its sheer beauty we walked, slipped and threw snow balls at each other. We played and took loads of pictures in the snow. These are the pictures that will be remembered forever.  

Zero Point Snow
Playing in the snow
We crossed the tributary of the River Teesta to reach the snow covered mountains. We climbed the mountain, could feel our hands freezing, our weight making the snow sink beneath our feet. It was an out of the world experience.

You can rent out gum boots at nominal rates at Zero Point. We wished to spend more time here but soon realized that everyone was feeling very cold in the snow and the chilly winds has started causing headaches to few.

Zero Point
At Zero Point
Once back from the mountains, we were hungry and had a bowl of hot maggi each. What a joy it is to have hot maggi in freezing cold weather.

Zero Point with locals
With Locals at Zero Point
Zero Point is a must visit – it is more beautiful than the valley. We spend a little more than two hours here and then we drove back to Yumthang Valley. While heading back we gave a lift to a lady who had a stall at Zero Point till Lachung. She told us that by afternoon it becomes unbearably cold at Zero Point and thus everyone comes back to the village.

Yumthang Valley

We could see the Teesta River flowing down. This was the Yumthang Valley. We have to climb down to see the river from close by. Here you can walk by the river bed, talk to the river that has been running with you everywhere, whether it is in Gantok or Lachen or Lachung. It is your constant companion.  

Himalayan Mountain Colours
Shades of colour

At Yumthang Valley
At Yumthang Valley
But except me, no one was in the spirit to trek down to the valley. Preeti was shivering with cold and Nikhil was having a severe headache. Both told me (very sternly) that they are not stepping out of the car. Pramod was also not high in health and spirit but looking at my enthusiasm, he stepped out of the car. We started walking a little but then he said that he was feeling short of breath.

Yumthang Valley
Yumthang Valley

Teesta at Yumthang Valley
Teesta at Yumthang Valley
So instead of going to the river I walked towards a gompa nearby, which was at a picturesque location. There were thick pine trees on either side, surrounded by snow capped mountains.  Really amazing sight. Post that, taking in the beauty of Sikkim, I headed back to the car.

Yumthang Valley Gompa
Gompa near Yumthang Valley
There are hot springs at Yumthang Valley. None of us were interested in that and therefore, did not stop for it.

Our drive back to the car was silent. Nikhil, Pramod and Preeti were not feeling well. They were looking forward to a short nap. I was busy looking out of the window and admiring the natural beauty here.

We reached our hotel and had our lunch. We had an option of going to Mt. Katao but no one was up for it. After a while I noticed that the weather was becoming bad. There was fog everywhere and nothing was visible outside our window. We decided to rest as tomorrow again we will be spending hours in the car heading back to Gangtok.

Points to remember:
  • As the sun sets early here start your day early.
  • There is no accommodation at Yumthang Valley or Zero Point. The nearest village where you can find accommodation is Lachung.
  • Only SUVs are allowed for excursion to Zero Point, Yumthang Valley.
  • Book an Innova, bolero or a Xylo for a comfortable travel. 
  • To visit Zero Point you have to pay extra to the driver. Zero Point is a must visit – it is more beautiful than the valley.
  • You can also see Mt. Katao for which you have to pay extra to the driver.
  • Please carry warm clothes including sweater, jacket, cap, mufflers, socks and gloves. Wear shoes and not sandals or chappals. It is very windy so don’t forget a warm cap for covering your head and ears.
  • There is snow at Zero point so dress accordingly. You can rent gum boots at Zero Point at very nominal rates.
  • Be easy on steps and avoid brisk walk or running at high altitudes as the oxygen level is low.
  • If you are feeling mountain sickness have chocolate of popcorn. It helps.
  • Sikkim is plastic free zone. Please don’t litter and maintain the beauty of nature.
  • Trivia: One maggi at Zero Point cost Rs 50 and 30 ml Old Monk cost Rs 30.
  • Expense of the day:

For 4 ppl
Per Person
Excursion to Zero Point

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