Journey from Gangtok to Yumthang in the North Sikkim is indeed very scenic, but it might not be best of the roads. Road goes along the Teesta river for most of the journey. Because of tough terrain, landslides, road widening and work on various power projects, the road condition, although not very bad, but is mostly not the desirable one. That is the reason, that although distance between Gangtok and Yumthang is just around 140 kilometres, but you can’t measure the travel time through that. It’s certainly a day long journey.
Journey on such routes can be definitely tiring. But as I said, this route is quite scenic as we pass through valley of Teesta river with overlooking Himalayan ranges. You can occasionally have a view of Pandim and Kanchenjunga peaks. But, what is more beautiful is the various waterfalls on the route. And, there are many few ordinary ones but few very beautiful ones. For a day long journey on hilly and winding roads, these waterfalls really are great reliever and make for good stop-overs as well as photo-ops. They are serene and relaxing.
The first one is just outside Gangtok on NH31A. Bakthang waterfalls is almost eight kilometres from Gangtok and it takes roughly 20 minutes to reach there. Being close to Gangtok also makes it a favourite outing spot for the locals. It is a small but beautiful waterfalls. The natural spring water of this falls originates from dense vegetation above this site. In local language ‘Bak’ means forest and ‘thang’ means a meadow. This falls is close to Tashi View point. This view point gives the first magnificent view of Kanchenjunga peak, while coming from Gangtok. This is also popular as a sunrise view point. Even at the Bakthang waterfalls spot, you can have a view of Kanchenjunga peak as well as Gangtok town. In the same region, there is Ban Jhakri Falls to the left on different road and Lhasa falls on the right side up on the Jawaharlal Nehru road.
If you goto Mangan from the Tintek road than there is a Puttali Jharna Butterfly park near Tintek, around 32 kms from Gangtok. But that’s not the route we normally take to go to Lachung. Hence, on the main road around 32 kms from Gangtok is the famous Seven Sister Waterfalls. Around 17 kms before this waterfalls, there is a bridge on Dik Chu river, which is a tributary of Teesta river. This is also a beautiful point.
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Seven Sister waterfalls is called so perhaps because it has got seven tiers of falls. Its just along the main road and there is also a foot-over bridge on the downstream of the falls. Three tiers of the falls are easily seen from the down. Once you climb a few stairs up, you can see the fourth tier as well. Rest of the tiers are hidden behind rocks and dense forests. Here too, there is a shed and cafeteria for tourists to have some time to relax. Water from Seven Sister waterfalls goes down to meet Dik Chu river and then to Teesta.
From Mangan, if you go to Dzongu valley side, then there are many majestic waterfalls like Lingzey and others. But on the Lachung road, just ahead of Meyong is another waterfalls on the Myang Chu river stream. Few kilometres ahead of it which is 82 kms from Gangtok and 34 kms before Lachung is the mighty Naga Falls before the Toong check post. This 35 metre high waterfalls is said to be biggest in Sikkim in terms of volume of water and also probably among the most beautiful. It is also multi tiered and the main falls is up and away from the road, so one has to trek to reach there, but it is visible from road. This waterfall is on Ri Chu river stream. It is indeed a nice stop-over and joy to watch this fall. No doubt that during monsoons, this falls turns into a ferocious one.
Then there is no other falls as such till Chungthang. When you from Chungthang to Lachung, then right in between, almost 13 kms before Lachung near Khedum village is the Bhim Nala waterfalls. This is one of the tallest waterfalls in Sikkim. Waterfalls is named for Bhim, second of the Pandavas. In recent years people have also started calling it as Amitabh Bachchan waterfalls because of its height. This three tier waterfall is indeed very beautiful and is recommended to spend some time here as this place has got some nice view around. There is also a tea shop nearby.
Further there is no noticeable waterfall till Lachung. But then there is another beautiful water fall on the road to Katao and it is called as Khanda waterfalls. This fall is just close to the Katao mid-point. Katao is around 25 kms from Lachung and Khanda waterfalls is 18 kms. Katao is an attraction for the tourists going to Lachung, as it is the closest snow-point to have some fun. If you go there early in the season, then you can also find snow around the waterfalls itself. But since this area is very-very close to the China border, it is all under army control. So the accessibility to this road is strictly controlled.
From Lachung when you go to Yumthang valley up to the Yumesodong, you might not find any big waterfalls on the way, but once you are in the valley, you will be able to see many big waterfalls on the opposite side of the river in the mountain ranges running parallel to the river.
Here, we have talked about just one major route cutting through Sikkim. But there are many more when you go to East Sikkim or towards west. Plenty of snow peaks, too many glaciers and streams and as a result many waterfalls. Its always so refreshing to see them.
Have you done any road journey with so many waterfalls on a single stretch? How was the experience? Share with us in the comments section below.
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