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The name Green Lake Trek springs up an image of a beautiful lake surrounded by crystal white snowy peaks in our minds, but in reality is nothing like that image. This unexplored part of north eastern India is beautiful beyond our imagination. There is a water body, a shallow pond sheltered by yes, pearl white snowy mountains and the third highest peak in the world, the Kachenjunga itself. Adding to this splendid view is a luscious spread of green landscape, clear spotless blue skies, tall standing alpines and meadows, and a wide variety of rhododendrons, blue poppies, primulas, rich flora and the dense forests sure do compliment this beauty.
A glimpse of Kanchenjunga and the Zemu glacier
Being the third highest mountain in the world, it lies between Sikkim and Nepal with 3 peaks located at the border and the other two located in nepal. There are four routes to reach this devious mountain, the southwest, northwest, northeast and northeast in Sikkim from India. Being accessible by only one route in India, the Northeast Sikkim trail has been permitted to be open for adventure seekers recently. It is not the snow or frost bites that paralyses oneself or the high altitude that makes us short of breath, but it is the view of this gigantic girth of the mountain that mesmerises us and leaves us in awe forever.
At the base of this mountain is the largest glacier of Eastern Himalayas, the Zemu glacier. It is the melting of this glacier that gave birth to the Teesta river, which is the lifeline of Sikkim and Nepal. Since the trek to this region has been recently permitted by the government, most of the region is unexplored by trekkers and has retained its pristine hidden beauty.
Witness the view of Mount Siniolchu
Bearing the title of the tallest mountain in the Indian state of Sikkim, Mount Siniolchu is an absolute delight to the eyes. It is located near the Green lake, at the base of Kanchenjunga. The snow covered peaks with clouds as icing on top of a cake, the white panoramic view, and beauty of the surrounding attracts thousands of tourists to this place.
This mountain is described to be the most beautiful snow mountain in the world for its aesthetic builds. The triumph of nature’s architecture, and the beautiful snow makes it look like something straight out of a painting book, which would definitely make an instagram worthy picture.
Sightseeing of famous monasteries in Gangtok
The largest monastery in Sikkim, it is situated 25 kms from Gangtok. The monastery is built in an auspicious site with flowing streams, mountains in the backdrop, snow that welcomes us in the front range and being situated at an altitude of 1500 mts, a river flows below it. It is a place where a community of monks perform rituals and practices, and educate their heirs.
This is a Stupa in the Indian state of Sikkim. Stupa is a mound-like structure used as a place for meditation. It houses the complete set of Dorjee Phurba, their holy books and other sacred religious objects.Around the monastery are 108 prayer wheels which are believed to accumulate wisdom, merit, to purify negativeness and means to realise enlightenment.
Orchid sanctuary and Enchey monastery
If you are a flower enthusiast and wish to see 200 species of orchids out of 454 species that are believed to exist in the world, this Deorali Orchid sanctuary is a must to visit. The Enchey monastery is a small monastery built on the ridge of a hill, which overlooks the entire Gangtok. Located about 3 kms away from the main market place of Gangtok, the route to this monastery passes through the famous mount Siniolchu lodge and coniferous trees. If your trip to this place is planned somewhere in the months of January and February, you can witness their very colorful Cham festival in all its glory.
Khangchendzonga National Park
Also known as the Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve, it is a National park recognised as a world heritage site by UNESCO, and listed as the very first ‘Mixed Heritage’ of India.It is one of the few High-Altitude National parks of India at an elevation of about 1800 mts - 8850 mts. The park houses Tholung monastery, one of the most sacred monasteries in Sikkim.
The sanctuary is home to vegetation that includes oaks, birch, maple, willow, alpine shrubs and a wide variety of medicinal plants at high altitudes. The park contains Himalayan black bears, Himalayan tahr, sloth bears, red panda, Tibetan wild ass to name a few, and avifauna like snow pigeon, Himalayan griffon, tibetan snowcock, etc. This park is also the starting point for various treks including the Goechala trek and Dzongri trek.
Day - 01: Reach Gangtok. And travel Gangtok to Lachen, which is a 7 hours journey by road, and visit monasteries on the way.
Day - 02: Journey from Lachen to Jakthang via Zemu Chu at Sema. An approximately 23 kms trek, consuming 10 - 11 hours of the day depending on the pace of the group.
Day - 03: Trek from Jakthang to Yabuk via Zemu glacier. A steady walk in the forest might take 3 - 4 hours to reach Yabuk.
Day - 04: Yabuk to the Rest camps via Mount Siniolchu and Mount Simvo. An elevation of 4500 mts, 8 kms, and takes 7 - 8 hours of trekking.
Day - 05: Rest camp to Green lakes. Witness Nepal peaks, Twins peak, Kanchenjunga with an elevation of 5080 mts, it takes 5 - 6 hours to reach the campsite.
Day - 06: Leisure and rest day at Green lake to soak up the beauty and explore the forests, watching the sunset, and an overnight stay in the tents alongside the green grassland.
Day - 07: Retracing our steps back to Yabuk. An overnight stay at the rest camp under the gleaming night sky.
Day - 08: Yabuk to Jakthang. Overnight stay in tents.
Day - 09: Jakthang to Lachen.
Day - 10: Lachen to Gangtok.
Day - 01:
Travel distance - 120 km.
On reaching Gangtok, we start the journey to Lachen in a jeep for about 6 - 7 hours, on the North Sikkim highway. For people who want to explore this soul city, they can visit the Rumtek monastery, the largest one in Sikkim. With time constraints being noted, one can explore Do-drul Chorten, Phodong monastery, Kabi longstok a small buddhist monastery, Mangan the capital of the district of North Sikkim, Chungthang a small town at the confluence of Lachen which forms the Teesta river. The Indian army has its medical base set up in Chungthang. After lunch and rest one can also visit the Ta
Day - 02: Lachen to Jakthang via Zemu Chu and Shobuk
Gradient : Gradual to steep
Humidity : Normal
Temperature : 3 – 7 degree celsius
Waking up with the confidence to surmount the highest of the elevations, today is going to be an elevation of 3300 meters in altitude.We drive from Lachen, which is a 20 mins drive through green forests and clear paths to reach Zemu. The trek from Zemu to Talen is quite strenuous since the original trail was washed away by floods. At the meeting point of Zemu Chu and Thang Chu, we have to cross a bridge over their confluence that opens us up to the next part of our trail. The first 6 kms is easy as the path is wide and plain, and then we will have to cross through boulders, walk over huge fallen trees, cross over many landslides. All this tedious task while walking through a forest of Rhododendrons, magnolias and Fir, we reach Talem for lunch.
After exploring the region for a bit, we proceed towards Jakthang, which is barely a 4 - 5 hours walk. It takes us through a splendid display of exotic varieties of Rhododendrons, meadows of grass mashands and rich forests in a very steady path to reach Shobuk. After this, the trail descends down for 12 kms to reach our Jakthang campsite. We do an overnight stay in this soothing surrounding.
Day - 03: Jakthang to Yabuk crossing over the Zemu glacier
Gradient : Gradual to normal
Humidity : Normal
Temperature : -3 – 5 degree celsius
The trail continues to lead us into the forest again surrounded by meadows and rhododendrons, which is a straight and steady walk until we reach and cross over a bridge at Thombak Chu. Proceeding our journey towards Yabuk, there is a steep climb for about 40 mins, and the altitude, the path washed away by the floods and the unexplored routes makes it all the more tricky to tackle it. As you approach closer to Yabuk, you will see that it is situated on a flat meadow with huts to recognize the place.
From this point, a view of the projected snout of Zemu glacier is clearly visible and the white trail which we are going to take up stands in front of us. We can strictly say that this is the end of trails with bushes and trees accompanying us. The snowy path is so less frequently used that there will be times where we will have to walk through thorny plants and cross over logs of fallen trees. As we continue to walk alongside a stream of water we climb to the starting point of the Zemu glacier, and that is where our campsite is going to be set up for the night. Sleeping to the sound of water flowing next to us, and in the freezing temperature of the Zemu glacier, one should consider oneself lucky for this experience.
Day - 04: Yabuk to rest camp
Gradient : Steep
Temperature : -5 – -1 degree celsius.
Brace yourself up, for this is going to be one of the most difficult climbs in the trek. The route starting from Yabuk all the way to the rest camp passes through huge boulders and obstacles brought down by old glaciers and landslides. The high altitude, the thinning of air makes it very hard to breathe while figuring out the bends, curves and the climbs this trek is throwing at us. All struggles must be rewarded and the most surprising reward of this climb is when the valley opens up to the view of the world’s finest peaks, all standing tall and next to each other. The Kanchenjunga like the head of the pack with Twins peak, Nepal peak, Tent peak as its children stand together in a distant not very far yet impossible to surpass them.
After striving through this 8 kms walk with spectacular views surprising us, we reach our campsite for the day, which gives us a view of the most beautiful mountain in Sikkim. The campsite faces Mount Siniolchu and a one minute walk away from this area takes you to the mighty Zemu glacier. After an overnight stay, we wake up to the sun kissing the peaks of every mountain slowly beaming light towards us.
Day - 05:
This is going to be the most fascinating journey on this trek, as the trekking trail is easy with slightly tricky bends and terrains at some points. As we move on in the journey, we are walking through a glacial plain that never seems to end. Further proceeding towards the Green Lake, the peaks Kanchenjunga, Twins peak and others always remain above the horizon making us feel insignificant in comparison to its girth.
As we continue walking, the mountains seem to get closer and closer with every turn of our head giving us a different view. If we are fortunate enough we can witness the traces of mountaineers who climbed the kanchenjunga, understand why the climb is so hard because it is the third highest mountain in the world for a reason. After this 7 - 8 hours of walk, we can now rest at the rest camp at green lake, where the lake reflects the Kanchenjunga at all times of the day.
Day - 06:
Time to explore. This day is a leisure day, no trekking to peaks, no crossing over bridges, neither are we panting for air nor are we running through cold water streams all numb in our feet. We have the entire day to walk around, rejuvenate our exhausted body, explore this beautiful region, take photographs to frame our memories, and soak in the view of the magnificent peaks right in front of our eyes. We can also see the gap that links Zemu valley and Talung valley.
Day - 07:
The tracing back of our journey starts here. We travel from Green Lake back to Yabuk, which is a 6 - 7 hours journey, and is pretty easy to cover as it is downhill in most parts.
Day - 08:
After camping at the Yabuk rest camp, we trek back to Jakthang, which will consume almost the entire day considering the difficulties in the trail. As we slowly descend back, we can see the snowy trails disappearing and us entering into forests with meadows and bushes. We lay low in Jakthang for the night.
Day - 09:
Another 23 kms trek, taking 10 - 11 hours, this is going to be our last journey by foot. The Jakthang to Lachen trail is simply easy walking through rich forests, sunny paths and the mountain peaks barely seen in the umbrella of trees above us. Overnight stay in tents at Lachen.
Day - 10:
The jeeps are all ready to take us back to Gangtok this morning. With a 7 hrs journey ahead of us, we keep the reminiscence of the trek in our heads and bid goodbye to this unexplored pristine beauty.
By Road: Buses from Delhi and Kolkata are very well connected to Gangtok station. One can also reach Siliguri bus station, and take a taxi from there to reach Gangtok which is a 5 - 6 hrs journey.
By Train: The nearest station to Gangtok is New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri, which is 148 kms from Gangtok. One can catch a cab from the railway station to reach Gangtok as it is very well connected.
By Flight: The nearest airport to Gangtok is 124 kms away at Bagdogra. One can catch a taxi from there to reach Gangtok in about 2 hrs. There is also a helicopter facility from Bagdogra to reach Gangtok in 20 mins, but it is very dependent on the weather conditions.
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