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NATHANG VALLEY

If you do not like Gnathang Valley, you would not like paradise. Located at an altitude of 13,500 feet, this lush valley was the home to traditional yak herders who came from Tibet. Few
streams crisscross the valley, and prayer flags flutter on the mountain edges on this vast plain of nothingness. Gnathang Valley appears in different colours in different times of the year. In autumn it looks golden when the grass dries up, in rainy season it’s covered in flowers and in winter it is buried in 5 feet of snow. Gnathang Valley is also visited by migratory birds just before the onset of winter. There’s a monastery, a temple and a small bridge over a small stream in the distance dotting the valley. Gnathang falls in the middle of the Silk Route circuit and is the most scenic place to stay. It is also nearest (just 20 mins) to the best sunrise viewpoints like Lungthung , Salami view point and Eagle’s Nest Bunker.

You would find a Hindu temple and a small Buddhist Monastery in the valley on the fringes of a small village. You would also find few streams snaking through the valley and makeshift bridges built on the stream. And there is nothing more except endless stretches of grassland, surrounded by high mountains. The valley is devoid of any trees and it seems out of this world. Just 5 kms away, you would find the famous Eagle’s Nest Bunker from where you can get a 360 degree view of the whole range of Mt. Kanchenjungha, West Bhutan, plains of Bengal, China, Tibet and the beautiful River Bramhaputra meandering across in the horizon. Sunrise over Mt. Kanchenjungha from Eagle’s Nest Bunker is beyond human description. Another nearby sunrise point Salami View Point is just 20 mins away from Nathang Valley. While staying at Nathang you can cover Padamchen, Genmochen, Thambi View Point, Kupup Lake, Tukla Valley, Baba Mandir and all other spots in the Silk Route circuit in day trips.

Laxman Chowk is wrongly called Luxmi Chowk by most. From Laxman Chowk, the RN Road divides into two – one goes to Old Baba Mandir and the other goes to Nathang Valley. Located at 12800 feet, Laxman Chowk was built in the fond memory of Lt. Col. Laxman Singh (Commanding Officer, 5 Mahar Borders) under whose command the unit pre-emptively secured the water shed opposite Chinese in General Area Dokala in 1965.A memorial was inaugurated by the Commander, 164 Mountain Brigade on 23 Mar 2013 here on the 65th Raising Day of the Battalion during Unit’s Second tenure in Nathang. You would get a panoramic view of Mt. Kanchenjungha from Laxman Chowk.

India Lake in the Silk Route is located very near to Laxman Chowk at around 12500 feet, the water of this lake is so dark that it has earned its name Kalpokhari. Kal means Kaala or Black and Pokhari refers to pond or lake in Sikkimese. Kalpokhari is tucked within a valley which is a yak grazing land. From an angle. this lake looks somewhat like India’s Political Map, so some prefer to call it India Lake too.It is a sacred lake, which is said to contain sacred fish within its deep waters. The surrounding valley of this lake makes a sheer drop of thousands of feet from where the clouds peep and then slowly cloak this lake.

Gnathang Valley looks beautiful in every season, so you can visit the place from June to September when the valley is veiled behind wild flowers. From September to January, the valley gains back a golden hue after the snow thaws from the grassland. From January to April the valley remains under the cover of snow, so if you are looking forward to experience snowfall in winter, this is the ideal time for you.

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