YUMTHANG VALLEY OF FLOWERS
A valley at a high altitude of 3564m/12000 ft, Yumthang is a paradise for those who need a visual and experiential break from the typical sights and sounds of an everyday life in a city. Yumthang is the antidote to the concrete jungles and virtual deserts.
Climate And Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit is the flowering season, when nature spreads out its infinite carpet of flowers of all colors and shades. March-June is the flowering season, before which it is too cold and there is a white snow cover everywhere. Nights are usually cool in Yumthang, so visitors are advised to carry light to heavy woollens depending on the time of the year. Autumn is also pleasant in the valley, though the floral paradise is not in bloom yet. Monsoon is the time when landslides can temporarily damage roads and stop incoming traffic, apart from posing a danger to the travellers. Winters witness heavy snowfall.
Getting There & Getting Around
Popular for its wide variety of flowers, the best way to reach Yumthang is via Lachung. Taxis and cars can be booked from Gangtok to Lachung, which is the best option for overnight stay. Yumthang itself has a forest guest house which could be crowded in the peak season.
Sightseeing & Activities
Yumthang is home to the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, which is a natural reserve for more than 21 varieties of Rhododendrons – which are not found that commonly elsewhere in India due to their climatic requirements. Though above the “treeline,” Yumthang also has tree cover along with one of the highest number of flower species, including primulas, poppies, iris, poppies, geraniums and many other flora as per the seasonal changes. There are many species of Himalayan flowering plants which take over after the peak flowering season of Rhododendrons starts receding. Spread over 34 square km, the valley is the second such valley in India, after the “Valley of Flowers” in Uttarakhand. Apart from flowers, one can also find a special variety of apples called the Sikkim Crabapple, and strawberries growing along slopes.
Yaks and cattle grazing in the pastures is a common sight in the peak season in the valley, completing the artistic picture of a laidback countryside. Compared with landscapes in Switzerland, Yumthang is a refreshing break for tourists from India as well as abroad to revel in the natural beauty of the country. Anyone who thinks that India is a “dirty country” will be in for a pleasant surprise when they visit Yumthang!
As is true for most such natural wonders, Yumthang faces the challenge of being damaged by irresponsible tourists due to an increasingly high influx of tourists every season. Though extremely well maintained, every traveller to Yumthang is advised to take extra care to not pollute the area with plastics or other types of trash.
The Yumthang area falls into Army control due to close proximity to Indo-China border. This means that any tourist requires the official permits to travel to this area. It is best to enquire and procure the permits ahead of time. As Yumthang is a very small town, travellers should carry all necessary items like medicines, cash and other essentials with them.