When you think of a land where the ambience creates magic in silence, the mountains touch the eternal blues, and landscapes are embedded with elements of nature’s bounty, you cannot help but picturize the former kingdom of the Chogyals- Sikkim. This is a divine abode of the mighty Himalayas, where one tends to travel beyond the vista, the soul finds its peace, and the frenzied wanderer finds its solitude on earth. A journey to Sikkim is an experience full of adventure and unique experiences that start from Gangtok, its eclectic capital city.
The crown of the seven sisters of North East, Sikkim is a treasury of small and dainty hamlets that are untouched and undiscovered by many. The hamlets are enriched with offerings that brings the traveler closer to nature and help them find their desired peace amid a robust environment. Lachen is one such village sprawling at an elevation of 2,750 meters in the northern district of Sikkim. Lachen literally means ‘The Big Pass’. It is a beautiful hill station- picture-perfect for the beholding eyes. Its quaint monasteries alpine meadows, gushing streams and meandering rivers make the village more enthralling. Journey to Lachen begins at Gangtok. Gangtok to Lachen is a 4-hour drive by road via Gangtok-Chungthang Road.
As the winding roads lead to the trails of a paradise that touch the heaven along the foothills of the young Himalayas, Lachen welcomes you with everything that a traveler could wish for: effluent foliage, festivals and fairs, rich treasury of wildflowers, scintillating mountains embossed with layers of season’s snow, fluttering Tibetan flags, and widespread valleys dotted with mossy trees and Himalayan blossoms- all huddled up against the crispy blue skies that looks nothing less than that of a nature lover’s dream come true. Away from the noise of the city life, a trip to North Sikkim and its undiscovered hamlets coiled up in the lap of the enormous Himalayas, would be a rejuvenating escape and a perfect retreat at the distant top.
THINGS TO DO & IN LACHEN
The village takes pride in its abode of the sacred Gurudongmar Lake, perched at an unbelievable altitude of 17,800 ft enclosed by snow-capped mountain masses, that is revered as one of the world’s highest lakes. The lake glistens with the gleaming rays of the sun and the graceful reflections of the towering massifs. Lachen to Gurudongmar is a three-hour drive. One can make a combined tour along the Tibetan plateau to Gurudongmar and Cho Lhamu which is the highest lake in India at an altitude of 17,490 ft, originating from the lifeline of Sikkim, the Teesta.
A preferred tour along the mountainous path would let you soak in every bit of this Himalayan beauty. Chopta Valley and Thangu Valley, situated close to Lachen, are places that are drenched in alluring, unexplored and unspoiled beauty and charm. Chopta, located to the north of Lachen is rich in historical and religious importance which is reflected through its dainty monasteries and monuments. A visit to Lachen Monastery is a must for the religious buffs who would like to dip in its sacredness and take insights into the culture and religion of Buddhists.
The valleys are enthralling and dotted with alpine firs, prolific vegetation, an enormous array of rhododendrons, gushing streams and lakes- absolutely the shutterbug’s heaven! Besides the breathtaking beauty, Thangu also attracts throngs of tourists during its yak race that is organized every year.
Women’s Handicrafts Center in Lachen is also a tourist hotspot for its vast display and sale of local handicrafts, souvenirs, carpets, and woolens. Once you are done exploring the local regions of Lachen, head towards a tiny hillock called Lachung, an enticing gateway offering a pleasant weather and number of tourist hotspots. Lachen to Lachung is a 47 km journey by road/vehicle. Adrenaline junkies also prefer a trek on foot to this picturesque hamlet as the journey offers some of the most spectacular sights to witness on the way.
25 km from Lachung, is Yumthang Valley or the ‘Valley of Flowers’, a place beyond the tree line which is enriched with a variety of rhododendron species and other Himalayan blossoms. Lachen to Yumthang is a three-hour drive and is approximately 73 km apart. One usually covers Lachen-Lachung tour with Yumthang as a combined tour that comes with Lachung & Lachen packages.
Lachen is truly a wanderer’s paradise where one can spend its day by simply staring the mighty mountains, or by going on a wildlife trek to witness some of the rare species of Himalayan animals and birds or even hop on for some adventurous rides like river rafting and mountain trekking. It is an absolute delight for the wandering hearts!
BEST TIME TO VISIT LACHEN
Before you embark on a trip to Lachen, note that the best time to visit Lachen is from October till the end of June.
In Summers (March, April, May, and June), the temperature in Lachen lingers between 10 degrees Celsius to 28 degrees Celsius and the weather is pleasantly warm. It is during the summers, that the annual yak race is held. If you wish to witness this peculiar parade, months between October and June are the best time to visit Lachen.
Lachen in April is the most favorable time of the year to embark on Lachen sightseeing around the hamlet and spend a heartfelt day among the locales. Lachen weather in April is not very warm and the crisp cool air blows about the environment with temperatures going below -3 degrees Celsius minimum. Lachen in May offers a quaint retreat with temperatures varying between 8 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius.
While the winter months between October and February are bitterly cold and chilly with temperatures hovering between 5 degrees Celsius and -15 degrees Celsius, many tourists set off during this time to witness the daunting snow-clad mountains and the enchanting Gurudongmar Lake veiled under layers of crystalline ice.
Lachen is a gem in the heart of Sikkim. As Lachen is gradually emerging as a popular tourist destination, a number of accommodation facilities are set open for tourists to crash into after a tiring adventurous day in the town. The place offers not only deluxe stays but also some of the best budget hotels, resorts and homestays in iconic locations that offer spectacular views and connects you with Mother Nature. Accommodations in Lachen are coupled with pleasing stays and quality services that offer basic amenities and warm hospitality- making your tour an exemplary one!
Some of the most preferred Lachen hotels are Apple Orchard Resort, which is the best resort in Lachen, Himalayan Residency, The Fortuna, Tshana Residency, etc.
Wishing to explore the nooks and crannies of Lachen? Note that Lachen is not directly accessible from NJP or Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri. Your journey begins from NJP (in Siliguri) or Bagdogra Airport (in Siliguri), wherefrom cabs and taxis are available for Gangtok- which is the base camp for Lachen. You can retire and stay at Gangtok for the night so that you can start afresh and enjoy the road journey to Lachen the day next. The base for Lachen is at Gangtok.
Taxis, cabs and jeeps are available from Gangtok. You can book them along with your tour itinerary or even share rides. Gangtok to Lachen is a 4-hour drive by road via Gangtok-Chungthang Road.
- What is the best time to visit Lachen?
The best time to visit Lachen is from October and till the end of June.
- How to reach Lachen from Gangtok?
Taxis, cabs and jeeps are available from Gangtok for Lachen. You can book them along with your Lachen tour itineraries or even share rides. Gangtok to Lachen is a 4-hour drive by road via Gangtok-Chungthang Road.
- How far is Lachen from Lachung?
Lachen is 47 km from Lachung and takes about 1 hr 48 min via Lachen Road.
- How to reach Lachen and Lachung from Gangtok?
Cabs are available from Gangtok for both Lachen and Lachung. Gangtok is the base camp for both the towns. Your journey begins from Gangtok towards Lachen and finally ends in Lachung.
- How to reach Lachen from NJP?
Lachen is not directly accessible from NJP. Cabs and taxis are available from NJP for Gangtok. Gangtok is the base camp for Lachen. It takes about 4 hour to reach Gangtok from NJP. From Gangtok, cabs and taxis are available for Lachen.
- Which is the best- Lachen or Lachung?
Both Lachen and Lachung are small and isolated villages situated in the heart of North Sikkim. The hamlets are equally beautiful and worth visiting. Travelers who seek soulful trips and want to bask in nature’s lap, a trip to Lachen and Lachung is the most ideal combined tour in Sikkim. Tourists usually cover both Lachen and Lachung together.
- How far is Lachen from Gangtok?
Lachen is 114 km from Gangtok and takes about 4 h 30 min to reach via Gangtok-Chungthang Road.
- Can I visit Lachen in April-May?
Yes, you can visit Lachen in April-May as the weather is pleasant and the temperature is not very extreme. You can also witness the spring blossoms during this time. Lachen is drenched in vibrant hues of Himalayan charm during April-May!