Goecha la Singali la 14 day long trek in Sikkim and Nepal Himalaya. Singalila in the Himalaya


Behind this snow capped mountains and crystal
clear lakes lies a magical land. A world guarded by ancient prayers and sacred
rituals. Kept secret by the mountain gods in the arms
of nature. Indeed a world so hidden and well isolated,
that very few have ever seen it. Over the next two weeks; we follow these ancient
trails to explore this paradise on earth; trekking along the border of India and Nepal
to see the high mountains of our planet. Look for the last generation of nomadic yak
herders, who live in this paradise and call their home land Singalila. Mountains of the Wild Alder Tree. Sikkim is a state in the Indian Himalayas
bordered by Nepal to the west, Bhutan to the east and Tibet to the North. From a little town in Sikkim called Yuksam,
we trek north to reach Goecha La one of the high mountain passes. Then head west crossing several mountain passes
and encircling a quarter of Mt Kangchenjunga to reach the border of India. Finally trek south in India and Nepal, along
the Singalila ridge to meet a nomadic yak herder, who lives alone in his super remote
house standing right at the border of India and Nepal. Growing up, near the hills of South India,
my relation with the mountains began during my childhood as I grew reading stories about
the magnificence of these snow capped mountains. It gave me a kind of love bond to the mountains
and induced dreams to travel and explore. When I was 16, I was affected by a rare eye
disorder called Keratoconus which decreased the thickness of my cornea. I was blind: the world looked blurred and
distorted to me. And it was like a full stop, with no hopes
about life. I was confused! I realized that the best medicine for my eyes
would be to show them the most beautiful places on this planet. With no second thought, I pack my bags and
rush to this little town in Sikkim. Yuksam, a place well known for many Himalayan
expeditions. The first capital of the Kingdom of Sikkim
and home to its first Buddhist Monastery. Monks perform their daily rituals worshiping
Mother Nature, while we prepare and pack the materials and food for our expedition. We start through the broadleaf forests at
the fringes of Kangchenjunga National Park. The park gets its name from the Mount Kanchenjunga,
the third-highest peak in the world: the highest in India. My guide for this expedition is Beky. After his formal education and informal experience
in the mountains, he works as a guide, leading expedition teams. Our team has two Sherpas to carry food and
provisions up the mountain trail. Sherpas are highly regarded as top mountaineers
and experts. They possess immense strength to carry heavy
load up the mountains. After six hours of trek uphill, we reach a
wayside tea shop, which cater the needs of trekkers to Goecha La. They call it, the world�s best tea shop,
for its complimentary view with the high tea. By evening we reached our first camp. Tshoka. Remnant of an old Tibetan settlement, which
shifted down to the valley, when this village became a part of Kangchenjunga National Park. As we trek higher and higher the broadleaf
forests give way to tall coniferous trees. With needle like leaves, these trees are well
adapted to withstand snow and strong wind. At times a break always helps let off the
knee pain and be in the moment and just dissolve into nature. By late evening we reach our streamside camp,
surrounded by rhododendron flowers. Dzongri. Although known as the meeting place of man
and mountain gods, the heavy number of trekking groups has made this a township in the High
Himalayas. Its 4 AM and we trek up to a nearby hill and
wait for the sun. We never miss making the mountain gods happy. The mountain seen behind the black rocky peak
is Mount Kabru and the one behind it,The last snow peak on the right is Mount Khangchendzonga. Its day three, we head north following Prekchu
River. Most river names end with chu, a Tibetan word
meaning water. We spend our night in the Chokhidaar house,
the forest watchman who lives here alone all round the year. Known as Onglathang, this vast open valley
is a realm of alpine plants and animals endemic to the Himalayas: a haven in the high altitude. Mystical landscape carved out of rock by wind
and slow moving glacier. This is truly the land of gods, the gates
to the forbidden land, locked by earth and water. We trek up the sandy slope to reach Goecha
La, the northernmost point of our trek, Further north is Talung Glazier, which leads
to the south east face of Mount Khangchendzonga. Back at Dzongri more sherpas join our team
with more food and provisions. My eyes are beginning to find solace in the
beauty of the mountainous valley. No medicines can come close to healing my
eyes like the charm of the Himalayas. Just above the mountain is the Base camp of
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute founded by Tensing Sherpa, one of the pioneers to
reach the summit of Mt Everest. The chance of finding a human during the rest
of our expedition is absolute zero, until we reach the camps of nomadic yak herders. Centuries ago, this trail was used for illegal
salt trade from Tibet to Nepal, to avoid the duty imposed by the Nepalese Government. For now we climb up the hanging valley and
wait for the clouds to clear up. On the left is Mount Everest and on the right
is Mount Kangchenjunga. As against our wishes, the morning sky is
cloudy enough, to hide the high peaks from our sight. A little rain during the night gives new life
to the plants and rivers. Landslides. With no mercy, they swallow anything and everything
which stands on their way. These mountains trails are usually covered
with thick snow and remain closed for most of the year. Only very lucky people get a chance to come
here. Finally, we reach the last high pass of our
expedition Danphe Bhir. As we trek down leaving the snow peaks behind,
we reach Lam Phokhari lake, another holy lake in the high Himalayas. We cross the Singalila Ridge to reach Panchthar
district of Nepal. To my right is Nepal and to my left is India. Known for the many species of Rhododendrons,
Singali La Ridge was first studied by Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, one of the greatest
British botanists. He spent several years studying the plants
and flowers of this region. Yaks: perfect sign of the nomadic yak herders. Finally after six days, we meet one of our
kind. A yak herder who lives here alone, making
yak cheese in this traditional method. He lives in his very special house, a truly
international house with one half in Nepal and the other half in India. Twice a year he visits the local market at
Kalopani in Nepal, a trek three days down the mountain, to sell his produce and visit
his family. My journey gave a feel of the moods and rhythm
of mountains and the mountain people. It has left me with a deeply felt sense of
satisfaction and achievement. I wish to continue my journey through the
Himalayas, explore more and taste the adventure.

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