Mother Nature has designed Sikkim like a crown with gems placed at different parts, making the state one of the most picturesque in the entire planet. The Northern part of Sikkim is certainly the most shining since the biggest gems are placed here. At an elevation of over 9,600 feet, Lachung is one such gem that mesmerizes visitors with its stunning beauty. Located on the lap of a rugged mountain at the confluence of two tributaries of the Teesta, Lachung is a small village with low population but is picturesque hamlet which remains covered with snow till early March. After a hectic journey through rough roads, Lachung provides the ultimate relief to its visitors with its snow-clad look. Conducted tours to North Sikkim sites generally start from Lachung and hence cars coming from Gangtok stops here and visitors stay here for the night.
To explore Lachung to the fullest, you should wake up the next morning very early and go for a walk. If it is winter you will find yourself in a white paradise where branches and leaves of pine and furs appear like a valley of choco-vanilla ice cream. Even if it is spring, the stunning view of snow-capped mountain tops, cascading waterfalls and apple orchards will mesmerize you. Lachung is a part of the Yumthang Valley, one of the biggest attractions in North Sikkim and is gateway to a number of other spots that attract people with their scenic beauty.
Yumthang: Your first destination from Lachung has to be the Yumthang Valley, which is located at a height of 3,500 meters. .Yumthang is a complete ice land in winter and you can see white spread across the valley but in spring it is a paradise of a different kind. Yumthang is referred to as the ‘Valley of Flowers’ of North Sikkim and to find out whether it is a justified or overstatement, you have to be there at the spring and go for the Rhododendron Valley Trek through a long stretch that starts from Yumthang and ends at Lachen. Yumthang is the home countless varieties of Himalayan flowers. During the spring, the fresh petals open up to spread a color riot across the valley and its beauty is hard to express in words. People get awestruck when they see Yumthang Valley for the first time. You will find yourself at a flat land surrounded by huge walls of mountains and there would be lush greeneries all around you. You will see yaks grazing in the plains and will see a river steering through the valley. March to May is the season for Rhododendron and from June the valley turns into a forest of Himalayan flowers. Another exciting point in the Yumthang Valley region is the Hot Spring, which takes close to one and half hours to reach. At an altitude of 11,800 feet, the spring is quite a spectacle.
Lachung Gompa: Another site worth visiting in Lachung is the Lachung Gompa or Lachung Monastery. The monastery dates back to 1880 and its location is simply indescribable. You will find the holy site in the midst of apple orchards close to the Lachung Chu or Lachung river.
Katao: At a distance of 28 kms from Lachung, lies Mount Katao or Katau, another stunning spot. Located very close to the India-China border, Katao is an Army base but it’s beautiful, especially during winter when it’s snow all around. But, to include Katao in your package, you need to get a special permission from the Army.
Zero Point: This is a point where all roads end and signs of human civilization vanish. Its literally zero as you find yourself at a completely barren land covered with snow where the only noise is made by the freezing wind. Snow-capped peaks stand here like guards and you experience absolute tranquility. Though it is a base of the Indian Army, the civilians of Lachung are known for their warm hospitality. Importance of Lachung in North Sikkim’s tourism map is a big support for the village’s economy. Some hotels have come up at Lachung but to enjoy the thrill of Lachung, one should opt for a home stay offered by the civilians. The hospitality charge is very low and it includes home-made breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lachung is home to Lepchas and Tibetans and you will also find some Nepalese.
How to reach: To reach Lachung, you need to get a special permit from Gangtok. You may reserve a car or may opt for sharing it with others. Lachung is around 116 kms from Gangtok and it takes close to 4 hours to reach there.