Friday, November 11, 2011

Sikkim Sojourn Part 7 - To Thangu and Beyond.....

After a gap of a month and a half I am returning to my series 'Sikkim Sojourn'. The unfortunate earthquake in Sikkim was a prominent factor for the gap but now I have decided to bring the series to a culmination. I clicked quite a few pictures which I feel you and the world might want to take a look at. I am sure some of them will leave you pleasantly surprised. The places I found on my journey to Thangu and beyond is something you will rarely find on a map or anywhere else. This was the inspiration for me to name my blog as the 'Path Rarely Taken' because very few people know about these places and even fewer visit them. 

During my journey to Guru Dongmar Lake we had a stopover in Lachen (2750mts/9022 ft). We had to start early morning around 7 am in order to get to the Guru Dongmar Lake. We needed to do so because after 1 pm the Tibetan Plateau ( a part of North Sikkim) witnesses extreme windy conditions and also because it is a condition imposed by the Army. According to my guide the gales of wind are strong enough to make dust and fist sized rocks fly in the air and therefore it is not safe to move at that point of time. The pictures follow - 

Prayer flags dot the landscape of Sikkim (Notice the settlement on the side of the hill)

Green Green Green everywhere....

Observe another settlement between the rolling hills

 From Lachen to Thangu(4267mts/14000ft) on our way to Guru Dongmat Lake lie 2 Army Posts where our permits are checked before allowing us to travel further. One check point is before Thangu and one after it. The check point after Thangu is also an Army run cafe. 
Perched at approximately 4572 meters or 15000 ft it has been certified as the highest cafe in the world. The army men re check your permit, ask you to sit for 10 minutes in the cafe(it is compulsory) while you are served coffee and chocolates (you pay for them of course ! ) and observe you for any symptoms of altitude sickness in which case they ask you to turn back. 
And yes, please do not expect hospitality over here. Naam kya hain tera ?(Your name ?) and Idhar khadaa ho ja ! (Stand at a side) are the common verbiages used gruffly in the cafe... Refer to them as 'Sirji'(Hindi for Respected Sir) as I did and chances are that they will ignore you. Photography is glared upon and as I did not want to take a chance I did not take any pictures. But that said the Army men do a good job and they have tremendous goodwill amongst locals in Sikkim. Some more pictures -

One of the first snow-capped crags I set my eyes upon

 Sneak peak of the first army check post (Our guide is in the picture)

Clouds settle on the peaks which overlook the Army Post


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(to be continued..... Glimpses from Thangu)



A nice narration..... Thoroughly enjoyed.... I have missed the Sikkim trip few times.... Gone there once tough.... But the beauty of Sikkim cannot be savored by one visit....