Kingdom of Mountains

On ascending further, Avishek and his friends drove through the unique zigzag routes in the mountains. This 95-turn zigzag road is the most beautiful place in the Silk Route. Reminiscing the memories of his journey, Avishek says, “As we stopped at a tea shop, we saw what lay ahead of us. Emerging through the smoky haze of the wintry morning, stood the pristine mountain with its snow capped peaks draped with red velvet of the morning sun.”

By noon, Avishek reached his destination, the Gnathang (aka Nathang) valley. Located at an altitude of approx. 13,000 feet above sea level. This beautiful valley appears in different hues at different times of the year. In autumn it looks golden when the grass dries up; in rainy season it’s covered in flowers and in winter it is buried in 5 feet of snow! Avishek and his friends decided to call it a day and spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the surrounding serenity.

Finding accommodation in the village was not much of a task as the local villagers had made a few homestays with the help of government aids. Talking about the cold nights at the valley, Avishek says, “The temperature drops to -3 to -4 degree Celsius by night. Fortunately, sufficient arrangements were made to combat  the cold. The homestay where we were accommodated had a ‘chulha’ (stove) which kept us warm throughout the wintry night”.

The village where they stayed was small and tidy; its main attraction being the sunrise. “Our whole trip would have been a waste, had we missed the beauty at 5 am the next morning”, says Avishek. Gnathang valley is very close (just 20 mins away) to the best sunrise view points like Lungthung and Eagle’s Nest Bunker. The sun rises over Bhutan and parts of China and reaches Mt. Kanchenjungha, turning its peak crimson. Sikkim, the land of Himalayas, is also home to glaciers, alpine meadows and thousands of varieties of wildflowers. Its scenic beauty is a photographer’s paradise. |SP