Sunday, August 2, 2009

Day 5: Breathtaking ride to Lachung, Yumthang Valley and the extreme Zero Point!

Route: Mangan - Chungtang - Lachung - Yumthang Valley - Zero Point - Lachung (160 KM approx.)
Road Condition: Road between Mangan and Chungtang has real bad stretches with slush. Chungtang-Lachung & Lachung-Yumthang were good roads. Yumthang-Zero point was again a very rough stretch. This was understandable due to the remoteness and high altitude.
Max. Altitude: 15748 ft(Zero Point)

Got up early morning at 5:30, got ready and went to the petrol pump. This was the last petrol pump on our way to north Sikkim.

Parag at Mangan Petrol Pump

It was a very clear morning. Scenery started getting better and better as we started for Chungtang.

Mangan-Chungtang Road

Mangan-Chungtang Road

Once we crossed a bridge after Mangan, the roads turned very bad again with no tarmac but just stretches of muddy wet roads with lots of slush. It was risky at times but we somehow managed those stretches quite well. Now this was something like an expedition!

Mangan-Chungtang Road

Exciting roads, Mangan-Chungtang Road

At 8:30 we reached Chungtang. we had to show permits at various check points on the way.
The area is restricted but we have had our permits after struggling for 2 days at Gangtok! So no worries!!

You see such boards anywhere in Sikkim, You got to stop for permits here.

Information chart at Chungtang

The road never know when'll you see a cross mark at all the places...

Road Status Board

We submitted one copy of our letter at Chungtang. After Chungtang there is a fork on the road. One road takes you to Lachen and Gurudongmar and other goes to Lachung and Yumthang Valley. We had decided to visit Lachung so took that road. It was very scenic road with waterfalls all around. The road condition between Chungtang and Lachung is good.

Chungtang-Lachung Road

Chungtang-Lachung Road

We reached Lachung at around 10:30 am. We settled for a hotel named Alpine resort which had a very lovely view.
Nice restaurant at Alpine Resort, lachung.. we stayed here..

Nice restaurant at Alpine Resort, Lachung.. we stayed here..

Although there was no electricity in that hotel due to some problem, we decided to stay there as it provided very lovely views and there was no one else. So the entire hotel belonged to us. Lachung is the last major town/village there. The caretakers somehow never expected anybody to come so they were all very happy to serve us.
We fixed the room at 500 with extra food charges. After having a quick drink we decided to head to Yumthang valley and Zero point if possible.

Massta garam pakkode!

We decided to travel on two bikes and left one at the hotel. We left for Yumthang Valley at noon. The road was getting steeper as we started gaining altitude. Yumthang is 12000 ft and Lachung is around 8000 ft. So the road was quite steep. Slowly the terrain started changing and we had Alpine trees all around. As we entered the Rhodendron Sanctuary, it was getting really beautiful and a bit chilly as well. We reached Yumthang Valley in an hour.

Yumthang Valley

My bike at Yumthang

It was a stunning place. My bike gave me a scare when it was refusing to start!
That was because of fuel overflow.

Well you do get excited after a few rounds of old monk & this stunning scenery!

We had a quick bite at one the local shacks which were surprisingly run by local Bhutia women who came there daily from Lachung.

These pretty girls run all the shacks at Yumthang..not a single man there!

It was all very chilly there. We had a drink and a plate of momos. We then decided to have a go at Zero Point. Zero point is some 15500 ft so we knew the road would get more steeper. There was heavy army presence all along the road.

The roads to Zero Point

Now, the road also started getting really bad. With narrow, foggy, slushy, roads they were ideal to be fit into the Adventure definition of mine.

Way to Zero point.. thick fog..rain..slushy n slippery road..chilly weather..perfect!!

One should visit this place to get the feel. Given that we were on bikes in such a remote place, gave me so much of high. On our way, we saw patches of snow. It was the first sight of snow I saw in all my life. Me and Parag were very excited on seeing snow and we played for some time there.

Our first glimpse of ice!

Prayer flags on the way to Zero Point

Flowering Season at Yumthang Valley
The way we passed a broken bridge where the road was really bad. We actually had to ride through the rocky river bed.

The broken bridge near Zero point

The tree line disappeared pretty quickly giving way to snow capped mountains. It was some sight I tell you!

Riding near the snow line

Up there we had our first sight of Yaks.

Yak on the run!

We finally reached Zero Point. This is where the road ends and from here the China Border is not very far.

End of the road at Zero Point!

We clicked snaps as we savored the moment

Zero Point, 15748 ft

The weather was getting bad so we decided to head back to Lachung. I was riding alone and Parag was riding the other bike with Manas as pillion. We started climbing down. I went a bit faster than Parag while going down. After some time I decided to wait for these guys to join. I waited for quite a while. There was no sign of them. I sensed something was wrong. So I decided to go back to see what had happened. When I went back some distance, to my horror I saw both of them at a road bend standing stunned. When I went closer, I realized that they had skidded on a turn and had fallen. I asked Manas, who seemed alright. Parag had a broken helmet glass. The Front part of the Pulsar head light was damaged too. It was relieving to see that both of them were not hurt much. Manas had a minor cut on one of his hand but fortunately nothing was serious. I then took Manas as pillion and we slowly rode to Lachung. we reached Lachung at 6:30 pm. We were then treated to very nice candle lit dinner at Alpine resort. Parag was bit stiff by now. After the lovely dinner, we went to sleep.


  1. Like your posts very much! Photographs are really nice! Planning to visit North Sikkim, East Sikkim and Pelling in mid May 2013. However, your posts and pictures made me feel like I am already there.Thanks a lot!

  2. Thanx for the very detailed information and the supporting pix! I will be doing the same run on 1st Nov 2014!

  3. Hello...Very exited about this Trip..Need ur Mobile number for more information.
    Omkar Girdhar

  4. Wonderful road trip and beautiful photos, hope more people get inspire by your trip and visit north Sikkim.

    From: Surojit (Lachung)

  5. What are the required documents for permit nd pass? For zero point, nd can we stay in yamthang valley??

  6. can u plz guide me to how to get the permit n wat are the documents required

  7. if i full my tank do I need to carry extra fuel ...???