North Sikkim is one of those places on earth that redefine our definition of beauty in several ways. While a number of us prefer rugged terrains, a majority folk prefers lush green hills then there are some that marvel at the mesmerizing flowers blooming within the wild. North Sikkim is an amalgamation of these and more.
Considering the very fact that it spreads out over varying altitudes, a visit to North Sikkim will make sure that you experience a touch of everything that Nature bestows upon us, humans.
While all the aforementioned information caters to the poet in us, there’s a calculative accountant within that raises eyebrows at the likelihood of an overstretched budget.
Well, here’s good news! North Sikkim is far cheaper as compared to other hilly areas like Mussoorie, Nainital, Manali, Jammu & Kashmir, Dharamshala etc. If you select the proper time to go to , you would possibly even experience fresh snowfall which will remain etched in your heart forever.
North Sikkim is additionally a photographer’s delight. There are numerous vivid colors, textures, and ranging landscapes to capture that your camera is going to be your best travel companion on the trip!
North Sikkim: Most Attractive
Among all the wonderful places in North Sikkim, the main point of attraction is Gurudongmar Lake. once you book a package of North Sikkim, tour planners will invariably highlight the name of this lake. If you’re wondering why to imagine a partially frozen lake at an altitude of 17,800 feet that’s surrounded by snow-covered mountain ranges all around.
The lake is placid and therefore the surroundings are nothing but overwhelming. it might not be an exaggeration to call it a paradise within the middle of nowhere.
However, reaching Gurudongmar Lake, at once, isn’t possible or permissible. this is often because a majority of North Sikkim lies on sensitive border areas and there’s an inventory of permits that require to be taken before and through the journey, at significant spots. there’s also a scientific reason to require halts and make the trip a three-day-long process.
The lake is situated at a really high altitude and other people travelling from plains will naturally find it difficult to regulate to the varying levels of oxygen as they are going above .
Hence, most trips to North Sikkim have halted in order that the body is acclimatized to the changes as gradually as possible.
This is where places like Lachen, Lachung, and Yumthang Valley inherit play. They function a way to an end. Lachen and Lachung are small villages where tourists are generally put abreast of their high to Gurudongmar Lake or on their way right down to Gangtok, Sikkim.
However, it’ll be a sin to not mention how these means spell divinity by themselves. Lachen and Lachung are breathtakingly beautiful villages. they’re idyllic and dream-like and therefore the folks that live there are a number of the foremost industrious citizenry you’ll Across.
Best Time to go to
There is no denying the very fact that North Sikkim is, majorly, a difficult terrain. it’s essential that you simply prepare yourself for the frequent changes in oxygen levels, landslides, unannounced halts, unfavorable road, and weather.
You can prefer to visit within the months of March and April and from September to November for the right weather but if you’re more adventurous, you’ll also plan trips within the winter months of December to March. However, you’re more likely to experience very rough roads, heavy snowfall, and extreme temperatures.
North Sikkim in Winters
All said and done, words cannot begin to explain the joys of the journey. Despite the altitude issues, the landslides, the rough roads, and freezing temperatures, it’s nothing but an experience of a lifetime.
How to Get There
Assuming that you simply will begin your journey from Gangtok, the sole way for tourists to succeed in Gurudongmar Lake and therefore the places on the way is via car. If you book a package, you’ll tend the option of hiring the car exclusively for yourself or follow with a few other groups.
The maximum number of individuals traveling in 1 taxi is around 10. you’ll or might not get the choice of selecting your seats, depending upon the seasonal rush.
You will be required to succeed in the taxi stand of Gangtok by 9 A.M. and you’ll be accommodated within the car as per your package.
Main meals are generally included within the package but if you purchase anything from the shops on your way that’s your own expense. there’ll be several halts on the way, for bathroom breaks and meals.
The distance from Gangtok and Lachen is around 121 Km and therefore the cars take the North Sikkim Highway to succeed in there.
Lachen and Lachung are situated at a distance of two hours from one another and since there’s no proper accommodation facility beyond Lachen, tourists got to spend the night within the hotels or homestays of Lachen.
The journey to Gurudongmar Lake begins the subsequent morning and will be as early as 5 A.M.The weather of and round the lake are most favorable within the half of the day and worsen because the day passes. this is often why it’s recommended to succeed in early and depart before the winds get rough.
The first halt on your thanks to the Lake is Thangu that takes around 2 hours from Lachen. Gurudongmar Lake is around 40 Km from Thangu and thanks to the rough terrain, it takes on the brink of 4 hours to reach in .
Lachen- The Idyllic Village
Gangtok to Lachen
Expect a Roller Coaster Ride Through the Bumpy Roads
It takes not but 6-7 hours to reach Lachen from Gangtok. On the way from Gangtok to Lachen, you’ll be ready to witness the meandering Teesta River. the colors of the river range from a sapphire blue to emerald green, depending upon the color of the sky in several patches of the journey.
Your first halt will presumably be at Tingchim. this is often where you’ll have your simple lunch of rice, lentils, and curries. it’d not be a desirable meal but it’ll fill you up sufficiently. you would possibly even witness people from the Border Road Organization repairing stretches that are damaged by landslides.
Depending upon your package, your driver may or might not stop at Naga Waterfalls.
The next brief stop are going to be at Toong Check Post. this is often where all of your documents and permits are going to be thoroughly checked and entries are going to be made in log books about the small print of the trip and therefore the car.
As the car inches towards the town of Lachen, you’ll notice that paved roads will gradually give way to typical mountain roads with curves and hairpin bends.
The air will start feeling thinner and colder as you go above . it’ll be late evening by the time you reach Lachen.
If you’re welcomed with a cup of hot tea in your hotel, confirm you drink it directly because it’ll get cold in minutes from being served.
What Does Lachen Look Like?
Lachen will instantly appear as if an area stop from the planet . Its serenity is unmatched and therefore the warm welcome of the locals is sort of a bowl of piping hot soup to comfort you within the chill that reaches your bones. you would possibly be surprised to visualize how the locals set about in single layers of clothing, especially if you visit within the summer months, while you’ll be shivering habituated to the extremities of weather.
Situated at an altitude of 9,000 feet and “Lachen” originally means, ‘Big Pass’.
It is majorly a grassy valley that’s also spotted with forests of conifer and Rhododendrons. Lachen Chu, a mountain stream, passes throughout the guts of the valley and cuts through the village, making deep gorges because it flows.
The roads of Lachen require frequent repair and maintenance work due to landslides and particularly during the monsoon months.
However, that doesn’t deter the village from looking as picturesque as ever. There are only 250 houses within the village and therefore the inhabitants migrate to the valleys in summers to avoid facing the extremities of weather.
Apart from it being visually appealing, Lachen is additionally home to the oldest Monastery in Sikkim that was inbuilt 1858. The Lachen Monastery had a little start, with less than 6 monks but it received monetary aid from the Sikkim government and was reconstructed.
If you would like to shop for local tokens of remembrance for loved ones back home, then the Handicraft Center of Lachen is going to be a pleasing surprise. The locals, originally called the Lachenpas, are skilled craftsmen and that they weave shawls, blankets, carpets, and bags from yak and sheep wool that would function perfect souvenirs.
You will also find several hard-working women spend ages weaving these pieces of beauty.
The Tourist Information Center of Lachen will assist you to buy maps of the local area and postcards also.
Nights in Lachen are cold and you’ll love the area of your hotel or homestay where you’ll expect an outsized fireplace. Most tourists are found warming themselves up ahead of the hearth and relishing an easy meal of rice, mixed vegetables, fries, and chicken curry.
The hot steam rising up from the bowls of curries laid out for dinner is that the quite warmth one seeks for while on a vacation to the hills. you’ll take a stroll out on the streets after dinner but if you can’t really brave the cold, you’ll curl under layers of quilts in your room and sleep well.
Best Time To Visit: March-April and September-November
Distance from Gangtok: 121 Km
Height: 9000 feet.
Gearing Up For Gurudongmar Lake North Sikkim
You will be asked to awaken by 3 AM subsequent morning in order that your car can depart at 4 AM to require you to Gurudongmar Lake.
Early mornings in Lachen are beyond beautiful. because it is time to depart this beautiful village, you’ll be greeted by the orange hue of the first morning sun and therefore the double gold on the snow-capped mountain ranges. Preserve your camera’s battery life because you’ll soon witness places that would partially be justified with photographs.
If you’re lucky, you would possibly even receive fresh snowfall on your thanks to the lake. you’ll encounter army barracks, uninhabited villages, frozen patches of valleys and landslide damages.
The taxi driver will stop at Thangu. This is often the last civilian settlement area where your permits are going to be checked and you’ll also receive medical facilities if you need them. you’ll get your breakfast here. It mostly comprises of buttered toast and eggs or Egg Maggi. Once you cross this check post, you’re literally on your own as there’s hardly any habitation ahead.
The last check post is Gaigaon, at 15,000 feet. Your permits and papers are going to be checked for the ultimate time at this checkpoint.
In a few miles from Thangu, you enter a desert valley of sorts. you’ll or might not experience breathing difficulties or nausea at this altitude. Staying calm helps in avoiding the condition from getting worse. there’s a uniqueness about the desert valley that leads up to Gurudongmar Lake.
It is an extended stretch of gravel and black sand, coming together in patches. it’s formidable yet spellbinding. All you’ll encounter is one herd or two of yaks and a couple of herdsmen around.
While you huff and puff inside the vehicle and wonder at the vast stretch of the desert valley ahead, your car will take a steep uphill road and reach your destination during a matter of minutes. There it lies; both breathtaking and intimidating at an equivalent time; Gurudongmar Lake may be a feast for the eyes.
You will need to get off the vehicle and walk towards the lake. Reaching the sting of the lake might be difficult unless your lungs are trained to face up to the thinness of air since you’re required to travel down a flight of stairs. However, the sweetness of the lake and therefore the surroundings are so stunning that you simply could simply stand over the cliff and take it to beat .
An Interesting Bit
Gurudongmar Lake is opened up over 290 acres and is surrounded by snow-covered mountain ranges all around. you would possibly even feel that the ranges are floating away on the lake itself. it’s nothing in need of ethereal. the foremost interesting thing about this lake is that the incontrovertible fact that it never freezes completely.
There is a spiritual belief around this lake that explains this phenomenon. The lake is that the primary source of water for the locals.
It is believed that while Guru Padmasambhava was on his way back from Tibet, the locals had pleaded for an answer to their perennial problem of water. He was moved by their pleadings and had touched a neighborhood of the lake that never freezes and is additionally considered sacred. Several locals believe the very fact that drinking this water could resolve fertility problems with women.
There is also a temple next to the lake where tourists offer prayers. you’ll notice brightly colored flags all around that are individual prayers of individuals who visit.
Gurudongmar Lake isn’t just a tourist destination but it also a marvel that you simply can only experience and words will never do justice to its beauty.
However, it’s also a really difficult journey and a majority of tourists never make it to the purpose. they’re either halted by landslides or the lower levels of oxygen make them sick way before they will reach. it’s extremely windy and you would possibly need to hold on to your partner if you’re walking around.
- Best time to visit: March-April and September- November
- Distance from Gangtok: 173.5 Km
- Height: 17,800 feet
Chopta Valley- North Sikkim
Your journey back from Gurudongmar Lake might be exhausting. All the extra work that your lungs are doing so as to stay pace with the decreasing levels of oxygen within the air, will cause you to feel sleepy and groggy. However, you’ll expect the picturesque landscape of Chopta Valley to charge your cells.
If you’re the sort that loves visiting the hills within the monsoon months, then you’ll experience the wonders of Nature opened up during this valley itself within the months of May-September.
It will be filled to the brim with rhododendrons, primula, and other flowers that bloom within the wild. If you favor the summer or the winter months, you’ll witness a totally frozen valley that features a charm of its own.
While going downhill from Chopta Valley, you’ll have your first meal of the day that sometimes comprises bread, butter/jam, boiled eggs, thick noodle soup, Egg Maggi, etc. If you experience nausea, dizziness, or headache while going uphill, this meal will assist you to calm down because your glucose levels are going to be stabilized after a short time.
Lachung – The Green Hamlet
Your journey from Lachen to Lachung will take around 2 hours and although the roads might be damaged in places, the view around is mesmerizing, nevertheless. Lachung can easily be called the green hamlet because it’s lush greenery everywhere. There are pretty wildflowers growing in bunches that are never attended but they grow out with all their might
Most Picturesque Town Of Sikkim!
Joseph Dalton Hooker had labeled Lachung because of the ‘most picturesque village of Sikkim’ in ‘The Himalayan Journal’. it’s undoubtedly a spot of indescribable beauty and thus becomes the right destination for relaxing holidays.
Lachung is a smaller amount cold as compared to Lachen and you’ll take easy strolls to experience the country vibe that hangs within the air of the village. aside from the wildflowers and therefore the greenery, Lachung is home to innumerable fruit orchards and glacial rivers that traverse the guts of the hamlet and increase its beauty.
If you’ve got been troubled by the polluted air of bustling cities then Lachung will rejuvenate your lungs with fresh, crisp, and cold mountain air. While in Lachung, if you crave quality Tibetan food, you’ll ask your car driver to means places where you’ll eat meals that aren’t a part of the package.
There are quite a few restaurants in Lachung that serve delicacies like Mixed Meat Noodle Soup, also popularly referred to as Thukpa.
Lachung may be a quintessential part of the itinerary of travelers on their high to or down from Gurudongmar Lake. While you’ll invariably have a package holiday of the nearby tourist destinations, it’s knowing to have a thought of what other spots you’ll cover while at it. a number of these spots are ‘Zero Point’ or ‘Yumesamdong’.
If you’re keen on trekking, then this might be an excellent adventure. yet one more point of tourist interest is Mt. Katao that spells unending fun for tourists who are on the lookout for snow adventures. There are activities like snow-tubing, skiing also as snowboarding on Mt. Katao. However, it’s strictly paroled by Army Officials and you’ll need permits to go to the mountain.
While the winter months offer you trekking opportunities, the monsoon month of June will allow you to experience an unmatched cultural extravaganza of Lachung referred to as the Saga Dawa Festival.
It is a Buddhist festival that traces the three significant events; birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha. Lachung hosts genre functions and other ceremonies, alongside serving exotic cuisines as a part of the celebrations.
- Best Time to Visit: March-April, June, September-November.
- Distance from Gangtok: 110 Km
- Height: 8,600 feet above the sea level.
Yumthang Valley – The Valley Of Flowers
On your way down from Lachung, you’ll encounter a strikingly beautiful valley of flowers that are referred to as Yumthang Valley. If you visit the valley within the summer months, you’ll be greeted with sweet-smelling, brightly colored flowers that bloom everywhere the valley.
The scent is intoxicating, to say the least. the most point of attraction is that the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary that’s home to forty different species of Rhododendrons and other plants. you’ll also encounter stick-like flowers growing in certain places and if you’re taking a better look, they’re going to give out a fragrance.
These are wont to make incense sticks in Sikkim. it’s strictly forbidden to pluck flowers from the valley and any sort of non-conformity will cause fines.
If you visit Yumthang Valley during the summer months, you’ll witness the meandering river, Yumthang Chu that cuts across the majestic valley. It might be completely or partially frozen during winter months.
The valley offers yak rides to tourists during winter months when frozen ice forms a sheet over the valley and it’s an exciting experience to ride a yak over it. There aren’t many food options in Yumthang Valley. Whatever is out there is either quite expensive or not great, taste-wise.
If you’ve got a package, you’ll have your breakfast included in it. the straightforward options include momos, Maggi, bread and jam/butter, boiled eggs, etc.
You cannot really put up for the night at the valley. this is often because it nearly always experiences unfavorable weather during the year. you’ll cover this major tourist spot during the day time. the sole place to remain the night may be a forest resort house that needs permits to place up at. the closest hotels are in Lachung where you’ll stay the night.
- Best Time to Visit: March-April
- Distance from Gangtok: 140 Km
- Height: 11,800 feet above water level .
5 Tips to form The Journey More Memorable
North Sikkim gives you a variety of options as far as vacationing cares. There are waterfalls, lush green valleys, blooming wildflowers, stunning snow-covered mountain ranges, overwhelmingly beautiful lakes, and fresh mountain air. Listed below are 5 tips which will make your journey tons more memorable if you’re well-prepared:
- Study maps before heading bent know the place you’re visiting. it’ll not only fill you confidently but also assist you just in case your car breaks down or there’s a sudden landslide on the way.
- Carry a primary aid kit because these are all remote areas and medical attention might be difficult to access. you’ll need inhalers and anti-nausea pills if you’ve got asthma or kinetosis.
- Carry additional batteries for your camera and power banks for your phones. you’ll mostly be traveling by car and therefore the hotels you set up it won’t have charging points or electricity.
- Plan your tour so that you’ll pick your seats within the car and sit comfortably during the journey.
- Experiment with local cuisines, visit local fairs, festivals, and events, and participate in them the maximum amount as possible. the sweetness of an area is essentially included in its food and festivities.
North Sikkim is an experience that you simply are sure to remember for the remainder of your life. Visiting once will never be enough. it’s a huge stretch of unmatched beauty that’s best enjoyed while traveling through the guts of the hills. Book your trip directly for an entire rejuvenation of your mind, soul, and body.
Planning your North Sikkim Trip:
It makes tons of sense to Club North Sikkim trip. That way generally this will be covered in 3N4D short trips to larger trips like 7N8D days. the most places that this trip will cover is that the two beautiful hilly cities Lachen and Lachung alongside Gurudongmar Lake (One of the very best altitude natural lakes within the world), Chopta Valley, Yumthang valley and 0 Point. Generally, tourists cover these during a 4N5D trip.