Jul 3rd, 2023
Generally referred to as the “Valley of Flowers”, this beautiful riverine site, North Sikkim’s Yumthang Valley, is located in the upper Himalayan region of Northern Sikkim, nestled amidst picturesque alpine greens and rolling meadows. A swift flowing tributary of the river Teesta,; the Lachung – Chu flows right across the valley, gurgling and rushing past numerous mountain slopes and hills; making its long arduous journey from the icy glacial melt waters to the floodplains through bends and turns, before finally draining into the Bay of Bengal.
Traveling in the month of August with OurGuest, with the full monsoon in swing, we weren’t expecting to come across any flowers in the valley; but boy were we wrong ! Not only did we find numerous wild flowers of many kinds and colors, we sighted them strewn all along the way right from the village of Lachung ( which is the last permanent settlement up North) to Yumthang itself.
Even during the heavy monsoonal rains, the flowers seemed to be in full bloom “ dancing and fluttering in the breeze” much like in William Wordsworth’s poem ‘The Daffodils’. Yumthang Valley is a rare and exotic location surrounded by hills on all sides and crowned by snow capped peaks. While we didn’t encounter any snow during this time of the year, we did come across some truly mesmerizing sights to behold.
The high mountain passes and peaks are home to some of the rarest species of flora and fauna. These include the state flower - the Rhododendron , which itself has over twenty- four varieties found here in the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary. Besides them, you can come across a host of high altitude flowering plants like iris, primulas, cobra lilies, lousewort, poppies and dandelions etc.
The riverside pastures provide grazing grounds for the yaks that belong to the local populace and can be seen feeding along the banks of the charming Lachung Chu. The yaks provide valuable products like milk, cheese and meat and at times can be used for transportation in the rugged mountainous environs.
Yumthang is also well known for its hot springs which are famed for their healing properties and medicinal benefits including cure for arthritis , blood circulation, stress reduction, healing skin problems and relieving pain etc.
Having spent an entire afternoon in such an enchanting countryside, we were reluctant to turn back and head homewards and gradually descend to the village of Lachung. My experience here in this tranquil , unspoiled, immaculate surrounding made me deeply ponder about the implications and the impact that we have on nature. How can we as a civilized human race work towards preserving such untouched bastions of purity? What can we do in our daily lives to leave a smaller carbon footprint? And how we can leave the best of our beautiful planet to our future generations.