Yumthang valley – A walk in rhododendrons
The Spring festival with flower blossoms are very welcoming and refreshing after you complete another cold winter. “Winter is coming” is a scary line in Game of thrones, you can’t say “Spring is coming” to scare anyone. Spring season and flowers blooming are welcome all over the world in all cultures. While many would have known about Japan cherry blossoms, tulip festival, daffodil bloom very few only know about Rhododendron blooms.
Rhododendrons are mainly found in Asia and also in Appalachian mountains of North America,Europe.They are found from sea level to 19,000 ft in elevation and they occur in variety of habitats. Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary located in Yumthang valley near Lachung at an altitude of 11,693 ft is home for around 40 species of Rhododendrons. Yumthang valley is closed during winter season. We visited Yumthang valley in May and it was a real feast for our eyes with colorful blooms everywhere. I have seen Rhododendrons in Kodaikanal, Himachal Pradesh,Dhela and in North America, but nowhere I have seen these many colors of Rhododendrons. We asked the driver to stop for every few minutes when we saw a new species of Rhododendron. The forest bed is covered with Globe primroses.
Finally the driver lost his patience and took us to a colorful patch of Rhododendrons. He was a funny young guy wearing colorful dresses in unique combo. He asked us to give our earphones and told us to go out, enjoy till we had enough. We just went inside the rhododendrons,surprisingly there was a well laid trail. White,Orange,Pink,Red,Violet,Yellow patches of rhododendrons. The purest bubbling cold water was meandering across the trail. Suddenly there was a “chit chit” sound and when we were searching for the source of the sound, we saw the “Fire-Tailed Sunbird”. The bird looked apt to its name.
The bird was hopping on the different rhododendron flowers and drank nectar, what a feast to have an abundant supply of food. Thats why spring is so special, it makes everyone happy and refreshing. In the most populated country, there are very few places left out with unspoiled raw beauty of nature. Those places mostly can be reached only after hard trek, but this place was reachable in jeep and just a easy casual walk.The tourists just enjoy the roadside rhododendrons and visit Zero point. So the trails were not visited by tourists and we enjoyed the solitude admiring the majestic mountains surrounding us.
As we went deeper into the woods more species appeared. Different colors and shapes of flowers immersed us in the moment. Because of the constant drizzle, some of the flowers had wilted but the majority were fresh and very pleasing.
When we finished seeing all the species of rhododendrons in bloom we came out of the trail to see a Pine Martin running towards us. It suddenly realized what it was doing and returned back to the bushes. One of the best colorful days in our life to remember forever!