On the way to Yumthang
The two hour journey from Lachung to Yumthang passes through a deeply forested area, known as Sikkim Valley of Flowers Sanctuary or Shingba Rhododendron Sactuary. Tall conifers and rhododendron trees were all around. This is an area over 40 sq km and has an abundance of several species of Rhdodendrons, and a rich variety of ground flowers.
Forests between Lachung and Yumthang
Best time to view the flowers is between April to July. We were traveling in the middle of May. Rhododendrons were in bloom in red and light purple. Red rhododendron (Guras in Nepali) trees were 15-20 feet high and the purple rhododendrons were in shrubs. The Rhododendron is the State Flower of Sikkim.
Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary
We were at an altitude of around 11000 ft. White snow mountains were glistening in the morning sun behind the forest.
I faintly remembered our last trip in October 1975. We, a group of youngsters walked through this forest to reach YumThang. It was drizzling and a mist enveloped the forest. Huge trees covered with moss and lichens were all around. Once we lost the track but finally managed to reach YumThang.
We crossed a stream flowing over the rocky road gradually rising towards Yumthang. Snow clad mountains peeked over the green conifers.
The usual rhododendrons were of purple white color, but the tall formation bloomed with blood red rhododendrons.
Gradually the forest cover became light and gave way to a wide Yumthang valley with Lachungchu river flowing in the middle.
Approaching Yumthang valley
Our destination, the breathtaking Yumthang valley just a little way ahead.