A visit to Sikkim is incomplete without heading to the 3 destinations of Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir, and Nathu La.
Falling on the same circuit in east Sikkim, each one surpasses the other in altitude, coldness, and beauty. First off is Tsomgo Lake (also known as Changu), which is 1.5 hours from the capital city of Gangtok. Most tourist cabs halt halfway up for 2 reasons: breakfast and also acclimatisation to the gain in altitude. The drive up takes you on a long winding road with safety message signposts of the BRO zipping past you every now and then. You also notice tiny hamlets hugging the hillside, shaggy dogs sitting by the roadside, maybe a herd of cows being escorted by their owner, and horses plodding along the road carrying heavy sacks filled with goods or fodder. You pass several army transit camps too, reminding you that China is close by.
The landscape is of course the most riveting. The vegetation becomes sparse as you climb higher up and takes on different hues during different seasons. The best time to visit Tsomgo Lake is either autumn, in the month of October, or winter, between November and March. In autumn, the foliage is painted in warm tones of reds, oranges, browns, and deep purples. As for winters, the green changes to frosty white, and frost can be seen bordering the roadside and clinging to branches. Roofs are heavy with snow, with icicles dotting the trim of the tin roofs. You might also spot a yak perched on one of the boulders nearby.