Drive to North Sikkim to relive the golden pages of my diary

Point Zero

Well-Known Member
:cop: Caution !!! To many pictures.

This travelogue could appear more of a comparative type because I could not stop myself from pondering over the past times when we have visited the same place around the same time of the year in 2013. Thanks to Sandip (my companion in the bike trip) for sharing some beautiful pictures for the travelogue.


North Sikkim, the terrain is said to be the toughest one in Sikkim. The area is prone to landslides and heavy snowfall at some places. Some most wonderful points are there and the place itself has a lot to offer.


April - 2016


April - 2013

Day 0 and Day 1 (Kolkata -> Siliguri -> Mangan):

The trip was pre-planned way ahead of time as I was accompanied by my Uncle, Aunt and Mom. Certain essentials were required to be carried with us as elderly people may have acute breathing problems at higher altitude. (NB – Carry some camphor to comfort the difficulty of breathing due to lack of oxygen).


2016 - Starting from Kolkata

On Saturday at around 3:30 pm the AC of the car was on full and we set off. During the travelogue I will try to make you live some of the important moments from the diary of my previous trip. In 2013 we had made a bike trip to North Sikkim and at that time we started at late night at around 10:00 PM. The only reason being to do away with the local traffic on NH-3. This time my fellow friends have updated a piece of information that the Botolbari road has now been improved and is an ideal one to bypass the truck jam towards Dalkhola.

Time and energy both were intact enough to go beyond Siliguri till Mangan. The day we reached Mangan was a Sunday and the District Administrative Center was closed. The formalities for permit was kept pending for the next day.

In 2013 also we had come to Mangan on a Sunday. We were completely drenched when we reached Mangan because it was raining heavily at that time. We took shelter below a rock when a local warned us that there can be sliding rocks there. We had put up at Guddu lodge then which was considered to be a home of bikers traveling to North Sikkim. This time but the place has become worse so I stayed at another hotel just nearby. Finding a hotel was not very difficult there. In the evening we peeped into the local market for a while.



2013 - Somewhere at NH34


2013 - Near Bagdogra


2013 - Near Bagdogra






2013 - few KM before Mangan


2013 - From Mangan

To be continued ...

Point Zero

Well-Known Member
Day 2 (Mangan –> Singhik –> Mangan -> Singhik):


2016 - District administrative center for permit

In the previous trip, it took us only 30 mins to complete with the formalities of the permit, this time situation has changed. The office has open at 09:30, however the officers have not come. I and my wife alone have come to the office. We kept on walking in and out of the office when at 10:00 a clerk entered the office. Since we were traveling in our own car, we had to have a permit from the DM or ADM who came at around 11:00 am. It took another hour to convince him that I can drive on such terrains and make it to Gurudangmor. I showed him the past permit and shared the stories of my trip to Arunachal in my car. At last he kept our request and granted the permit to Gurudangmar and Yumthang valley. For Katao he said that it can be obtained by making on the spot request if possible.


2016 - Permit



2013 - Permit

Meanwhile a police officer received message that the roads are blocked in two places due to land slide. Being worried we looked at each other but we were desperate to move ahead to whatever location we can. After getting the permit we moved back to the hotel to pick-up my mom, uncle and aunt. Wasting no more time we started off but just beyond Singhik we encountered a long queue of vehicle. I parked the car in the queue and walked to the damage point. Few huge chunks of rocks have hindered the road. This is the only road which is used to transport food and essentials to other places of north Sikkim. Not only that the military support to the border areas is also transited through this route. The landslide which had occurred last night due to heavy rainfall has been a reason of concern for both Sikkim Police, BRO and Army. This time Sikkim police took up the responsibility to clear the roads and did not take any help of the army. As there was another landslide from Chungthang slide, so supporting help could not be received from other side.



2016 - Landslide

A crane and some people with drilling machine were deployed to break the large rocks into bits and pieces so that the crane can lift and through it. There were a number of blasts but the job could not be completed that day. Soon rainfall started and by afternoon the job was stopped for the next day. Meanwhile we went to Mangan to use the waiting time to have lunch. As there were so many vehicles blocked there, we knew that the hotels will be packed up in Mangan. I called up my hotel and they also confirmed the same. The next place to looks for a hotel now was Singhik. In my earlier trip I have learned that there is a guest house in Singhik which is famous for the view of Kanchenjunga.

It was only 4-5 KM away from the affected place but then even that was also packed up. The owner was good and suggested us to stay in a spare room for the night because getting a hotel would be impossible now. He made all necessary arrangements for five of us to make our stay as much cozy as possible. A Bengali family was also walking to and fro as they have already made booking in Lachen and if they stay at Singhik they have to spend some extra bucks for the hotel as well as the car. This was pinching their pockets. After getting the information that the transit has started they left. The owner give us the good news that the big room can be given to us as they have left.



2016- Mobile snaps while roaming around the Singhik Tourist Lodge.

In the evening we had a conversation with a couple who was traveling on a bike from Siliguri. The guy was army officer who was traveling with his wife. They made me feel nostalgic and while chatting I shared my past experience with him.
We went to bed early to see the sunrise from the hotel because it had been raining the whole day so it was expected that the sky will be clear tomorrow.

The story was a little different during the bike trip. In the morning we had bought some plastic bags to pack our clothing and three pairs of gum boots. After permit we travelled the muddy terrain of Mangan towards Chungthang. My friend’s bike was sliding as the back was light where else the tail slide was less in my bike because I had a pillion. The gum boots was an ultimate utility for such roads as we could put down our feet to maintain balance without fear. By evening we had reached Lachung where some of our friends have already put up. They were travelling via packed tour. Luckily one of then was walking down the roads when we came across him. He asked us to stay at his hotel and we agreed to it.


2013 - Starting for Lachung after filling petrol in Mangan.

To be continued ...

Point Zero

Well-Known Member
Day 3 (Singhik –> Singhik Monastery -> Chungthang -> Lachen):

With the break of dawn we jumped out from the bed and peeped through the window. It was still dark and cloudy so we reluctantly went to bed again. Everyone in the room was awake but no one wanted to come out of the blankets. After some time my uncle creep out of the bed and went to the balcony. His rejoice forced everyone to have a look at nature. The Golden peaks were crouching out of the black clouds on the onset of first rays of the sun. Marvelous! This one view is the USP of Singhik guest house.



View from our Hotel at Singhik


Singhik tourist lodge

The owner had informed us that there is an old monastery at a trekking distance of 1 KM. I asked if anyone was interested to do a small trek, but only my wife and the couple traveling on bike were enthusiastic. An army officer can never miss a chance of adventure. We climbed to the 1st monastery but did not have the energy to go to the 2nd one which was about three KM trekking distance from the 1st one. Near the monastery a local who was actually from Nepal greeted us with warm welcome. After this brisk trek we came back to the hotel to get ready.

inside the old monastery


local near the old monastery. My friends(on bike) sitting on right side with red jacket


Around the monastery




Some view from the monastery

We knew that the road would not be cleared before midday so it was no point starting early morning. After a delayed breakfast we swiftly moved on but it was of no use. The rescue mission was still on but this time at a speedy pace. It was highway and the army personnel were worried about the soldiers at the border. As the traffic from this side has halted for two consecutive days, a scarcity of fuel and food has already risen in Chungthang onward.


Packing done .. ready to move






Some random pic between Singhik Tourish Lodge and The effected area

However in spite of all efforts it was evening when the roads were clear for the vehicle coming from Chungthang side. Vehicle from the Mangan side ran as if they were chased by some tyrants. On the dark road the trail of headlights were visible from far distance. The road condition was worse after Chungthang but still we had to maintain the pace as we did not wanted to be left out from the queue.


Still the work is going on.. but another JCB support came on other side

Somehow by 8:30 pm we arrived at Lachen Hotel. The owner was worried about us so he waited at the door steps. Dinner was ready and arranged and after that we went to bed early because next day was a tough one. We had to start by 3:30 AM for Gurudongmar.

Road from Mangan to Lachen.. HD View requested

To be continued ...

Point Zero

Well-Known Member
Day 3 continued ...

In the bike trip we had halted at Lachung on the 3rd and 4th day and covered the Yumthang side first. For some reason or the other, we had always been late to enter Lachen. At the time of the bike trip we had left Lachung at 7:00 am and at the hotel itself my friend’s bike had a flat rear tyre. A new garage has opened in Lachung where we got it repaired. Then just as we crossed the city again there was a 2nd puncture. The garage was nearby so we came back to the mechanic again. The owner of the garage had a shop and the lady served us with some canned chicken stir fried. This time the tyre was checked meticulously so that no more leaks occur. It was an unlucky day, in spite of all efforts a third puncture happened but this time at a greater distance from the last one. I took my bike and brought the mechanic because the spare tubes have already been used. This time my friend was banging his head with his hand as he was literally pissed off. The 4th and 5th happened while approaching Chungthang and two punctures was in two bike, my friend’s rear wheel and mine front one. At Chungthang there was a garage but it had only engine oil changing facility but did not have any puncture repairing kit. The only lucky thing was that both the bikes as well as the tyres were of the same model and the complementary tyres were puncture. Then only places to repair the tyres was either Mangan or Company. Mangan was too far away and was on another route, so the best option was Company. Company was a construction company which was constructing a tunnel in Chungthang. My bike was fitted with the front wheel of my friend’s bike and my wife sat on the bike holding the two tyres in her lap. I remember the incident of entering a under construction tunnel there which was vacated for blasts. A man saw me coming out of the watery tunnel and stared at me as if he has seen a ghost. He told me that the workers have gone for lunch and so this time was used to make blasts to extend the tunnel. After lunch we can find the mechanic. The mechanic basically repairs the flattened tyres of large crane or tractor.


So after all this we dragged our bikes on the same worse roads and reached Lachen at 7:30 pm. It was raining cats and dogs when at the Lachen check point the officer advised us to stay at Lachen at the last hotel and leave early morning for Gurudongmar. Even then we could not reach Thangu and even this time also we could not. Last time it was the inability of the vehicle and this time was the natural calamity.

To be continued ....

Point Zero

Well-Known Member
Day 4 (Lachen -> Gurudongmar Lake -> Lachen):

Let’s come out of the flashbacks now. No one had a good sleep at night but still everyone was ready by 3:30 AM. As the engine started, the calmness in the town was lost. All of us were packed up in warm clothes from head to toe. Last time the chilling air knocked my ears and so I had severe headache. So this time I made it a point that I cover my ears and use camphor if I feel suffocated. The curves were sharp and the roads were that of boulders. It was pitch dark and we were climbing uphill like hell. I was unable to guess the type of road ahead so missed to maintain the required momentums at certain points. At one sharp turn we got stuck and I had to ask everyone to get down.











Some snaps from 2013 bike trip..on he way Lachen to Thangu



Similar view - 2016

In 2013 the roads from Lachen to Thangu was average but now it has worsen. With the break of the day the visibility improved. The roads was steep because within few kilometers a height of 16000 feet was reached (Thangu). We halted at Thangu just beside the one we had halted in past. Nothing much has changed here, only the snow has changed their course. There was no trace of snow but there was some in 2013. We had tea and bought some popcorn there.









2013 - Thangu



2016 - Thangu

To be continued ...

Point Zero

Well-Known Member
Day 4 continued ...

Giyagaon onwards the road was mind-blowing. The dark road appeared to be a runway in the midst of serene mountain valleys. This pitch road was absent in 2013. Folk of yaks gazed beside the river. The evaporation of the snow from the mountain tops was clearly visible in the bright daylight. Only a few meters before the lake the pitch road ended. At Gurudongmar my wife was feeling suffocated so she stayed inside the car. I clicked some quick snaps.

Way to Gurudongmar (HD View requested)​






Last part to reach Gurudongmar​











2016 - At Gurudongmar Lake

To be continued ...

Point Zero

Well-Known Member
Day 4 continued ...

Gurudongmar Lake,
also known as Gurudogmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world, located at an altitude of 17,800 ft (5,430 m). It is sacred for both Buddhists and Sikhs . It is said that in 8th century Guru Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche in his visit to Tibet discovered the lake. The lake was full of ice and the local people lacked drinking water in winters. To resolve the problem he slashed the lake with his stick and that part never froze henceforth.


2013 - Way to Gurudongmar .. there was no tar at all















2013 - Way to Gurudongmar .. Random Snaps

Earlier as the story of the lake goes, only a small part of the lake was water but this time the whole lake had water and only a small part of the lake was turned into ice. We did not spend much time considering my wife health. At Giyagaon my wife gave up and had to be supplied with external oxygen in the army camp.
















2013 - The same lake was completely frozen.

To be continued ...

Point Zero

Well-Known Member
Day 4 continued ...

During the bike trip she did suffer rather she was jumping with joy having conquered a height of 17800 on bike. On the way to Gurudongmar from Lachen the view of the rainbow and the shining golden peaks rejuvenated us from the tiredness of the puncture day. The snow walls on either side of the road segregated us from the rest of the barren land. Each mountain seemed to have been painted with different mix of brown and black color. The floating snowy clouds seem to be so closed that it could be touched with our hands.













2013 - Some Random snaps while returning from Gurudongmar








2016 - returning from Gurudongmar

By afternoon we were back to Lachen. No one had proper food and rest so we extended the stay in Lachen for another day. In the evening we all walked along the road where we met my Army friend again.



On the way to Lachen

Returning from Guridongmar
To be continued ...