Excursion to North Sikkim (Lachung & Lachen)

Lachung is a town and hill station in northeast Sikkim, India. It is located in the North Sikkim district near the border with Tibet.[1] Lachung is at an elevation of about 9,600 feet (2,900 m) and at the confluence of the Lachen and Lachung Rivers, both tributaries of the River Teesta. The word Lachung means “small pass”. The town is approximately 125 kilometers (78 mi) from the capital Gangtok.

The Indian Army has a forward base in the town. Before the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950, Lachung was a trading post between Sikkim and Tibet, after which it was closed down. The town’s economy has been boosted by tourism in recent years as the region has been opened up by the Indian government. Tourists come from all over the world to visit the town between October and May, mostly on their way to the Yumthang Valley and the Lachung Monastery. Most of Lachung’s inhabitants are of Lepcha and Tibetan descent. The languages spoken here are Nepali, Lepcha, and Bhutia. During winter the town is usually covered in snow. Lachung is also the base camp for Rhododendron Valley Trek which starts from Yumthang Valley and ends at Lachen Valley.

Lachung has been described as the “most picturesque village of Sikkim” by British explorer Joseph Dalton Hooker in his definitive, The Himalayan Journal (1855). Skiing is conducted in Phuni near this town.

Lachen is a town in the North Sikkim district in the Indian state of Sikkim. Just about 129 km from Gangtok, Lachen is located at an altitude of 8838 ft . It is located at an elevation of 2,750 meters. The name Lachen means “big pass”. The town is being promoted as a tourist destination by the Sikkim government. The town forms the base to the Chopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake. An annual yak race, the Thangu is held here in summer.

Lachen valley has almost everything a traveler could wish for: a land of fairs and festivals, snow-clad mountains, lakes, valley of flora, fauna and vibrant local culture. Visits to the Lachen monastery and the women’s handicraft center to view the weaving of traditional blankets and carpets will provide insights into the local way of life or perhaps a stunning mountain drive can be taken along the Tibetan plateau to Gurudongmar and Cho Lhamu as a day tour from Lachen. The sacred Gurudongmar Lake at a height of 17,100 ft encircled by snowy massifs is something one would not dare to miss on a visit to Sikkim. One can also stay overnight at Thangu which is 30 km away from Lachen. During summer and monsoon, the entire place is dotted with flowers of all kinds.

The relatively unexplored and untouched Chopta Valley is located in the north of Lachen. Rich with alpine vegetation and rhododendrons, enthralling lakes and rivers add to the beauty of Chopta Valley. A preferred destination with nature lovers, Chopta is also famous for the several monuments of historical and religious importance. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot rare species of animals, plants, and birds in the Chopta Valley. Bird watching is a popular activity and the region is ideal for trekking and other adventure sports.

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