Goecha la, west Sikkim
Sikkim Is a place that will never cease to amaze you. It has everything a tourist looks for in his destination- breathtaking views, challenging treks and soulful weather. Its culture and heritage will captivate you and lure you to its stunning and heavenly sights. The treks and trails in sikkim are no joke. Every year a lot of mountaineers and climbers try their luck to take over the trails in sikkim and some even prepare for months before hand because of its level of difficulty. On such trek in west sikkim is the Goecha la trek. Goecha la is considered as one of the most difficult treks India. It’s not only famous for its laborious and challenging trails but also for its breathtaking untouched beauty and fine ecosystem. This trek is not for the faint hearted and it requires a strong physical and mental endurance to conquer it. Poised at a height of 16,207 ft. it takes about 12 days to complete the trek and return to the base camp. The changing altitudes over a short period of time makes it even more physically draining. But the mesmerizing and ever-changing color of sky is what makes this trek worth it.
Goecha la is located in the west of sikkim. it is a circular trek that returns back to its base camp Yuksom. The entire trek is approximately 87km long. To reach the trek, one has to first reach to the base camp.
How to reach-
The base camp is connected to the main junctions in Siliguri, the New Jalpaiguri railway station and Bagdogra airport; from there it takes about 5 hours to reach the base camp Yuksom. The two step journey from your location to Siliguri and then from Siliguri to Yuksom can be covered through various commutes. To reach Siliguri one can simply take a flight from any state in India or a train as well. Trains in India are very well connected to Siliguri and there are also various bus services available for people who wish to take a much cheaper commute. The distance from Siliguri to yuksom is about 150kms. One can reach yuksom by taking a bus or can also hire a cab.
Apart from the trek there are a lot of tourist places one can visit in and around goecha la.
Dubdi monastery– it is one of the oldest monasteries in sikkim. Built in around 1701, it is located in the district of yuksom and tourists have to climb up for 20-25 minutes to reach the monastery. The beautiful trails leading to the monastery are packed with soothing forest and serene environment. The preserved flora and fauna gives it a sensational view.
Coronation throne of Norbugang– The Norbugang park is located at a walking distance from the downtown yuksom. It is said that the first chogyal of sikkim, a king, was coronated at this very place in 1642. The throne is made up of stones. It holds a historical significance to the residents of sikkim. There are four thrones on the stone platform, on the back of each throne are name of their owners. There is a huge tree that grows behind the throne that looks magnificent. There is also a lake called kathok that flows near the park. It is a small lake surrounded by prayer flags; the entire place gives a memorable view to the onlookers.
Tashiding monastery– Tashiding is one of the most sacred and holiest monasteries in sikkim, founded in 1641 by KHENPO JIKME PHUNTSOK who belonged to the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Located at the top of a hill, along the rangeet river, the monastery offers unmatched beauty and calm and pious environment. The route of this monastery is packed with picturesque and perennial green foliage.
Best time to visit-
Best season to visit goecha la is spring (April-may) and autumn (October – November) seasons as in these seasons the sky is filled with different hues and shades. The elegant and artistic view of the sky is bewitching and the entire place looks other worldly. The diverse flora in spring season decorates the entire valley and in autumn the trails are submerged in the rustic tone that sets an artistic show for its audience.
The place offers a lot of small and cozy places to eat. There are a lot of camp sites and halting points for the backpackers across goecha la. Small tea stall and omelet shops will never let you go hungry. But there are some famous places where one can enjoy authentic Himalayan food-
Gupta restaurant- located in yuksom, west district, it is one of the most famous eateries in yuksom. The place offers authentic pahadi and east Indian cuisine. Opening hours- open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm every day.
Hotel Samuna- this restaurant is located in yuksom colony, and offers all kinds of Indian cuisines. Open all days.
Travelling for me has always been about exploring new places and finding myself through them. I have always loved to discover new places and take on undiscovered roads in different settings, in different environments and with different people. This inner fire within me took me to goecha la last year. It was hands down my best expedition till now, I have been to many places, climbed a lot of mountains, been on a lot of treks but nothing has ever came this close to being as beautiful and mesmerizing as this trek. I went in the April of 2019, the best time to visit if you want to witness the changing colors of the sky. It was as if the northern lights have shifted to goecha la. I tried taking as many pictures as I could but none of my pictures were doing justice to this magnificent sight I was looking at. The skies were filled with all the possible colors. It was hard to tell if it was day time or evening. It looked equally lovely. As goecha la is a circular trek I had the opportunity to witness it not just once but twice. Each time it was a different kind of euphoria. I wish I had the vocabulary to describe this painting of nature. It was indeed a piece of heaven on earth. Under all that blue, the stars became my companion in those 12 long days. The trek was undeniably unforgettable.