Article published in Deccan Herald on 24th April 2015.

Link: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/473412/a-stairway-heaven.html

To quote Ruskin Bonds: “It is always the same with mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape.”
It was always my dream to trek the Himalayas, to be amongst the mighty and majestic mountains and to be lost in their magnificence. I am elated that I got an opportunity to do so and I have fallen in love with the Himalayas.

Thansing Base Camp, Kanchenjunga National Park (Mt. Kanchenjunga can be seen in the centre)
Thansing base camp

 

GOECHA LA or GOECHA PASS is a Himalayan mountain pass in the state of Sikkim. At an elevation of 16,200 ft, Goecha La serves as the gateway to Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world.

We were a group of 11 (experienced and novice) trekkers who started off the 9-day trek to Goecha La. We reached Yuksom, a small village in West Sikkim at an elevation of 6000ft with few houses, monasteries, hotels and restaurants. The nearest airport to Yuksom is at Bagdogra in West Bengal and Yuksom can be reached via Siliguri(WB) by road.

The start of the Goecha La trek is a walk through the village of Yuksom and then the trail passes around the mountain. Later we reached the Kanchendzonga National Park which is the gateway to Goechala and then the trail runs through lush mountains and bridges and is a gradual climb through the oak forests. We reached Sachen and rested for the night. The next day we took on another steep climb to reach Tshoka, the next base camp.

The trail from Tshoka-Dzongri is one of the most beautiful trails as it is a log trail and from April to May, the trail is filled with rhododendrons. On nearing Dzongri, we could see many mountain ranges and they were breath-taking. From the Dzongri Mountain Top, the sunrise was beautiful and all the mountain ranges along with Kanchenjunga can be viewed.

Snow-kissed : Goechala Pass
Snow-kissed : Goechala Pass

Later the trail runs through lush meadows where Mt. Pandim seems up close and looks majestic. We then came to Kokchurang where the Prek Chu river flows along and it is such a beautiful sight that we were enchanted by the place. We finally reached Thansing, the next base camp, where on one side there are snow-clad mountains and on the other a black stony mountain where you can catch a glimpse of Mt.Kanchenjunga. The view in the night is mesmerising-it is filled with zillions of stars and Mt. Pandim is brightly lit by the moon. Further ahead the mountains get closer and the terrain became rocky as we reached the next base camp, Lamuney.

On the last day of the trek to Goechala pass, we had to wake up very early as we had to reach the first view point before sunrise. I woke up to the most marvelous and memorable sight: a star-studded sky, zillions of stars just so close to you and the snow clad mountains were brightly shining in the moonlight. I was just mesmerized by the beauty of it. And the weather was extremely cold. The path goes right next to the Samiti Lake which is a glacial lake which is turquoise in color. We were just in time on one of the mountains(first view point) to catch the beauty of the Kanchenjunga as it had turned golden(literally) by the first rays of the sun. The experience-inexplicable.

Samiti Lake at 14700 ft
Samiti Lake at 14700 ft

We were all elated on our achievement and enjoyed the final trek back to Yuksom. I just rejoiced every single moment as it was going to be the last day amongst the mighty Himalayas.

Those were the most amazing days of my life. When I recall the entire journey, it just feels like I have lived a Life! The beauty, the tranquility, the rolling hills, cool streams, bridges, the star-studded sky, lush landscapes, feeling of being one with nature and yourself- what more can one ask !

Shwetha Krish

 

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