North Sikkim Tour Plan

North Sikkim Tour Plan

North Sikkim is one of those places on earth that redefine our definition of beauty in several ways. While some of us prefer rugged terrains, a majority of us prefers lush green hills and then there are some that marvel at the mesmerizing flowers blooming in the wild. North Sikkim is an amalgamation of all these and more.

Considering the fact that it spreads out over varying altitudes, a trip to North Sikkim will ensure that you experience a bit of everything that Nature bestows upon us, humans.

 Lachen-Surrounded-by-Green-Mountains-North-Sikkim

Lachen Surrounded by Green Mountains – North Sikkim

While all the aforementioned information caters to the poet in us, there is a calculative accountant within that raises eyebrows at the possibility of an overstretched budget.

Well, here’s good news! North Sikkim is much cheaper in comparison to other hilly areas like Mussoorie, Nainital, Manali, Jammu & Kashmir, Dharamshala etc. If you choose the right time to visit, you might even experience fresh snowfall that will remain etched in your heart forever.

North Sikkim is also a photographer’s delight. There are so many vivid colours, textures and varying landscapes to capture that your camera will be your best travel companion on the trip!

North Sikkim: The Main Attraction

Among all the wonderful places in North Sikkim, the major point of attraction is Gurudongmar Lake. When you book a package of North Sikkim, tour planners will invariably highlight the name of this lake. If you are wondering why to imagine a partially frozen lake at an altitude of 17,800 feet that is surrounded by snow-covered mountain ranges all around.

The lake is placid and the surroundings are nothing less than overwhelming. It would not be an exaggeration to call it a paradise in the midst of nowhere.

Gurudongmar-Lake-in-Summer-North-Sikkim

Gurudongmar Lake in Summer

However, reaching Gurudongmar Lake, at once, is not possible or permissible. This is because a majority of North Sikkim lies on sensitive border areas and there is a list of permits that need to be taken before and during the journey, at significant spots. There is also a scientific reason to take halts and make the trip a three-day long process.

The lake is situated at a very high altitude and people travelling from plains will naturally find it difficult to adjust to the varying levels of oxygen as they go higher up.

Hence, almost all trips to North Sikkim have halts so that the body is acclimatized to the changes as gradually as possible.

This is where places like Lachen, Lachung and Yumthang Valley come into play. They serve as a means to an end. Lachen and Lachung are small villages where tourists are generally put up on their way up to Gurudongmar Lake or on their way down to Gangtok, Sikkim.

Yumthang-The-Valley-of-Flowers-North-Sikkim

Yumthang – The Valley of Flowers

However, it will be a sin to not mention how these means spell divinity by themselves. Lachen and Lachung are breathtakingly beautiful villages. They are idyllic and dream-like and the people that live there are some of the most industrious human beings you will come across.

Best Time to Visit

There is no denying the fact that North Sikkim is, majorly, a difficult terrain. It is essential that you prepare yourself for the frequent changes in oxygen levels, landslides, unannounced halts, unfavourable road and weather conditions.

You can choose to visit in the months of March and April and from September to November for the perfect weather but if you are more adventurous, you could also plan trips in the winter months of December to March. However, you are more likely to experience very rough roads, heavy snowfall and extreme temperatures.

North-Sikkim-in-Winters

North Sikkim in Winters

All said and done, words cannot begin to describe the thrill of the journey. Despite the altitude issues, the landslides, the rough roads and freezing temperatures, it is nothing less than an experience of a lifetime.

How to Get There

Assuming that you will begin your journey from Gangtok, the only way for tourists to reach Gurudongmar Lake and the places on the way is via car. If you book a package, you will be given an option of hiring the car exclusively for yourself or travel along with a couple of other groups.

The maximum number of people travelling in 1 car is around 10. You may or may not get the option of choosing your seats, depending upon the seasonal rush.

You will be required to reach the taxi stand of Gangtok by 9 A.M. and you will be accommodated in the car as per your package.

Main meals are generally included in the package but if you buy anything from the shops on your way that is your own expense. There will be several halts on the way, for toilet breaks and meals.

The distance from Gangtok and Lachen is around 121 Km and the cars take the North Sikkim Highway to reach there.

Lachen and Lachung are situated at a distance of 2 hours from each other and since there is no proper accommodation facility beyond Lachen, tourists need to spend the night in the hotels or home stays of Lachen.

n-the-way-to-Gurudongmar-North Sikkim

On the way to Gurudongmar

The journey to Gurudongmar Lake begins the next morning and could be as early as 5 A.M.

The weather conditions of and around the lake are most favourable in the first half of the day and worsen as the day passes. This is why it is recommended to reach early and depart before the winds get rough.

Thangu-Lake-North-Sikkim

Thangu Lake, North Sikkim

The first halt on your way to the Lake is Thangu that takes around 2 hours from Lachen. Gurudongmar Lake is around 40 Km from Thangu and due to the rough terrain, it takes close to 4 hours to reach.

Lachen- The Idyllic Village

Gangtok to Lachen

Expect a Roller Coaster Ride Through the Bumpy Roads

It takes not less than 6-7 hours to reach Lachen from Gangtok. On the way from Gangtok to Lachen, you will be able to witness the meandering Teesta River. The colours of the river range from a sapphire blue to emerald green, depending upon the colour of the sky in different patches of the journey.

Your first halt will most likely be at Tingchim. This is where you can have your simple lunch of rice, lentils and curries. It might not be a fascinating meal but it will fill you up sufficiently. You might even witness people from the Border Road Organization repairing stretches that have been damaged by landslides.

Depending upon your package, your driver may or may not stop at Naga Waterfalls.

The next brief stop will be at Toong Check Post. This is where all your documents and permits will be thoroughly checked and entries will be made in log books about the details of the trip and the car.

As the car inches towards the town of Lachen, you will 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 higher up. It will be late evening by the time you reach Lachen.

If you are welcomed with a cup of hot tea in your hotel, make sure you drink it right away because it will get cold in minutes from being served.

On-the-way-to-Lachen-from-Gangtok-North-Sikkim

On the way to Lachen from Gangtok

What Does Lachen Look Like?

Lachen will instantly look like a place cut off from the world. Its serenity is unmatched and the warm welcome of the locals is like a bowl of piping hot soup to comfort you in the chill that reaches your bones. You might be surprised to see how the locals go about in single layers of clothing, especially if you visit in the summer months, while you could 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 is also spotted with forests of conifer and Rhododendrons. Lachen Chu, a mountain stream, passes right through the heart of the valley and cuts through the village, making deep gorges as it flows.

The roads of Lachen require frequent repair and maintenance work because of landslides and especially during the monsoon months.

However, that does not deter the village from looking as picturesque as ever. There are only 250 houses in the village and the inhabitants migrate to the valleys in summers to avoid facing the extremities of weather.

Mask-Dance-Festival-in-Lachen-Monastery-North-Sikkim

Mask Dance Festival in Lachen Monastery

Apart from it being visually appealing, Lachen is also home to the oldest Monastery in Sikkim that was built in 1858. The Lachen Monastery had a small start, with not more than 6 monks but it received monetary aid from Sikkim government and was reconstructed.

If you wish to buy local tokens of remembrance for loved ones back home, then the Handicraft Center of Lachen will be a pleasant surprise. The locals, originally called the Lachenpas, are skilled craftsmen and they weave shawls, blankets, carpets and bags from yak and sheep wool that could serve as perfect souvenirs.

You will also find several hard-working women spend ages weaving these pieces of beauty.

The Tourist Information Center of Lachen will help you buy maps of the local area and postcards as well.

Lachen-in-clear-Summer-Night

Lachen in clear Summer Night

Nights in Lachen are cold and you will love the dining area of your hotel or homestay where you can expect a large fireplace. Most tourists are found warming themselves up in front of the fire and relishing a simple meal of rice, mixed vegetables, fries and chicken curry.

The hot steam rising up from the bowls of curries laid out for dinner is the kind of warmth one seeks for while on a vacation to the hills. You could take a stroll out on the streets after dinner but if you can’t really brave the cold, you could curl up 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.

Click on the link to know more about Lachen: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Gearing Up For Gurudongmar Lake

You will be asked to wake up by 3 AM the next morning so that your car can depart at 4 AM to take you to Gurudongmar Lake.

Early mornings in Lachen are beyond beautiful. As it is time to depart this pretty village, you will be greeted by the orange hue of the early morning sun and the golden glow on the snow-capped mountain ranges. Preserve your camera’s battery life because you will soon witness places that could partially be justified with photographs.

If you are lucky, you might even receive fresh snowfall on your way to the lake. You will come across army barracks, uninhabited villages, frozen patches of valleys and landslide damages.

The car driver will stop at Thangu. This is the last civilian settlement area where your permits will be checked and you will also receive medical facilities if you require them. You will get your breakfast here. It mostly comprises of buttered toast and eggs or Egg Maggi. Once you cross this check post, you are literally on your own as there is hardly any habitation ahead.

The last check post is Gaigaon, at 15,000 feet. Your permits and papers will be checked for the final time at this checkpoint.

Thangu-Valley-North-Sikkim

Thangu Valley North Sikkim

In a few miles from Thangu, you enter a desert valley of sorts. You may or may not experience breathing difficulties or nausea at this altitude. Staying calm helps in avoiding the condition from getting worse. There is uniqueness about the desert valley that leads up to Gurudongmar Lake.

It is a long stretch of gravel and black sand, coming together in patches. It looks formidable yet spellbinding. All you will come across is one herd or two of yaks and a handful of herdsmen around.

While you huff and puff inside the vehicle and wonder at the vast stretch if desert valley in front, your car will take a steep uphill road and reach your destination in a matter of minutes. There it lies; both breathtaking and intimidating at the same time; Gurudongmar Lake is a feast for the eyes.

You will have to get off the vehicle and walk towards the lake. Reaching the edge of the lake could be difficult unless your lungs are trained to withstand the thinness of air since you are required to go down a flight of stairs. However, the beauty of the lake and the surroundings are so stunning that you could simply stand over the cliff and take it all in.

An Interesting Bit

Gurudongmar Lake is spread out over 290 acres and is surrounded by snow-covered mountain ranges all around. You might even feel that the ranges are floating away on the lake itself. It is nothing short of ethereal. The most interesting thing about this lake is the fact that it never freezes completely.

There is a religious belief around this lake that explains this phenomenon. The lake is 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 a solution to their perennial problem of water. He was moved by their pleadings and had touched a part of the lake that never freezes and is also considered sacred. Several locals believe in the fact that drinking this water could resolve fertility issues of women.

There is also a temple next to the lake where tourists can offer prayers. You will notice brightly coloured flags all around that are individual prayers of people who visit.

Gurudongmar-Lake-North-Sikkim

Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake is not just a tourist destination but it also a marvel that you can only experience and words will never do justice to its beauty.

However, it is also a very difficult journey and a majority of tourists never make it to the point. They are either halted by landslides or the lower levels of oxygen make them sick way before they can reach. It is extremely windy and you might have to hold on to your partner if you are walking around.

Best time to visit: March-April and September- November

Distance from Gangtok: 173.5 Km

Height: 17,800 feet

Click on the link to know more about Gurudongmar Lake: Don’t Plan Before Reading These 19 ‘Must Know Before You Go’ Facts

Chopta Valley

Your journey back from Gurudongmar Lake could be exhausting. All the additional work that your lungs have been doing in order to keep pace with the decreasing levels of oxygen in the air, will make you feel sleepy and groggy. However, you can expect the picturesque landscape of Chopta Valley to charge your cells.

Chopta-Valley-North-Sikkim

Chopta Valley North Sikkim

If you are the type that loves visiting the hills in the monsoon months, then you will experience the wonders of Nature spread out in this valley itself in the months of May-September.

It will be filled to the brim with rhododendrons, primula and other flowers that bloom in the wild. If you prefer the summer or the winter months, you will witness a completely frozen valley that has a charm of its own.

While going downhill from Chopta Valley, you will have your first meal of the day that usually comprises of bread, butter/jam, boiled eggs, thick noodle soup, Egg Maggi etc. If you experience nausea, dizziness or headache while going uphill, this meal will help you settle down because your glucose levels will be stabilized after a while.

Lachung – The Green Hamlet

Your journey from Lachen to Lachung will take around 2 hours and although the roads could be damaged in places, the view around is mesmerizing, nevertheless. Lachung can easily be called the green hamlet because it has lush greenery all over. There are pretty wildflowers growing in bunches that are never tended to but they grow out with all their might.

Most Picturesque Town Of Sikkim!

Joseph Dalton Hooker had labelled Lachung as the ‘most picturesque village of Sikkim’ in ‘The Himalayan Journal. It is undoubtedly a spot of indescribable beauty and thus becomes the perfect destination for relaxing holidays.

Lachung-City-In-between-the-Mountain-Ranges-North-Sikkim

Lachung City In-between the Mountain Ranges

Rustic Vibes

Lachung is less cold in comparison to Lachen and you can take easy strolls to experience the rustic vibe that hangs in the air of the village. Apart from the wildflowers and the greenery, Lachung is home to innumerable fruit orchards and glacial rivers that cut through the heart of the hamlet and add to its beauty.

If you have 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 could ask your car driver to point out places where you could eat meals that are not part of the package.

There are quite a few restaurants in Lachung that serve delicacies like Mixed Meat Noodle Soup, also popularly known as Thukpa.

Mt.-Katao-North-Sikkim

Mt. Katao North Sikkim

Lachung is a quintessential part of the itinerary of travellers on their way up to or down from Gurudongmar Lake. While you will invariably have a package tour of the nearby tourist destinations, it is wise to have an idea of what other spots you could cover while at it. Some of these spots are ‘Zero Point’ or ‘Yumesamdong’.

If you love trekking, then this could be a great adventure. Yet another 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 as well as snowboarding on Mt. Katao. However, it is strictly paroled by Army Officials and you will need permits to visit the mountain.

While the winter months give you trekking opportunities, the monsoon month of June will let you experience an unmatched cultural extravaganza of Lachung known 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 folk art functions and other ceremonies, along with serving exotic cuisines as part of the celebrations.

Best Time to Visit: March-April, June, September-November.

Distance from Gangtok: 110 Km

Height: 8,600 feet above sea level.

Click on the link to know more about Lachung: Everything that You Ever Wanted to Know

Yumthang Valley – The Valley Of Flowers

On your way down from Lachung, you will come across a strikingly beautiful valley of flowers that are known as Yumthang Valley. If you visit the valley in the summer months, you will be greeted with sweet-smelling, brightly coloured flowers that bloom all over the valley.

The scent is intoxicating, to say the least. The main point of attraction is the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary that is home to forty different species of Rhododendrons and other plants. You will also come across stick-like flowers growing in certain places and if you take a closer look, they will give out a heady scent.

These are used to make incense sticks in Sikkim. It is strictly forbidden to pluck flowers from the valley and any form of non-conformity will lead to fines.

If you visit Yumthang Valley during the summer months, you can witness the meandering river, Yumthang Chu that cuts across the majestic valley. It could be completely or partially frozen during winter months.

The-Valley-of-Flowers-Yumthang

The Valley of Flowers – Yumthang

The valley offers yak rides to tourists during winter months when frozen ice forms a sheet over the valley and it is a thrilling experience to ride a yak over it. There are not many food options in Yumthang Valley. Whatever is available is either quite expensive or not great, taste wise.

If you have a package, you will have your breakfast included in it. The simple options include momos, Maggi, bread and jam/butter, boiled eggs etc.

You cannot really put up for the night at the valley. This is because it almost always experiences unfavourable weather conditions all through the year. You can cover this major tourist spot during the day time. The only place to stay the night is a forest resort house that requires permits to put up at. The nearest hotels are in Lachung where you could stay the night.

Best Time to Visit: March-April

Distance from Gangtok: 140 Km

Height: 11,800 feet above sea level.

Click on the link to know more about Yumthang Valley: Complete Answer to All Your Questions

 

5 Tips To Make The Journey More Memorable

North Sikkim gives you a range of options as far as vacationing is concerned. 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 that can make your journey a lot more memorable if you are well-prepared:

  • Study maps before heading out to know the place you are visiting. It will not only fill you with confidence but also help you in case your car breaks down or there is a sudden landslide on the way.

 

  • Carry a first aid kit because these are all remote areas and medical attention could be difficult to access. You will need inhalers and anti-nausea pills if you have asthma or motion sickness.

 

  • Carry additional batteries for your camera and power banks for your phones. You will mostly be travelling by car and the hotels you put up at might not have charging points or electricity.

 

  • Plan your tour in advance so that you can pick your seats in the car and sit comfortably all through the journey.

 

  • Experiment with local cuisines, visit local fairs, festivals and events and participate in them as much as possible. The beauty of a place is largely included in its food and festivities.

 

Concluding Thoughts

North Sikkim is an experience that you are bound to remember for the rest of your life. Visiting once will never be enough. It is a vast stretch of unmatched beauty that is best enjoyed while travelling through the heart of the hills. Book your trip right away for a complete rejuvenation of your mind, soul and body.

Planning your North Sikkim Trip:

It makes a lot of sense to Club  North Sikkim trip. That way generally this can be covered in 3N4D short trips to larger trips like 7N8D days. The main places that this trip will cover is the two beautiful hilly cities Lachen and Lachung along with Gurudongmar Lake (One of the highest altitude natural lakes in the world), Chopta Valley, Yumthang valley and Zero Point. Generally, tourists cover these in a 4N5D trip.

We at Nomadic specialize on trips in the North Eastern parts of India. We send thousands of people to Noth Sikkim Trp every year. You can get a quotation and free consultancy from us.

If you are interested to plan a North Sikkim trip you should also Read These.

4N5D North Sikkim Tour Plan

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Lachen: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know And Ultimate Guide

Lachen: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know And Ultimate Guide

Lachen and Lachung are two integral parts of North Sikkim Trip. Lachen and Lacnhung are two cities that work as the base for the tourists who want to travel to Gurudongmar Lake, Chopta Valley, Yumthang Valley, and Zero point.

North Sikkim is one of those places on earth that redefine our definition of beauty in several ways. While some of us prefer rugged terrains, a majority of us prefers lush green hills and then there are some that marvel at the mesmerizing flowers blooming in the wild.

North Sikkim is an amalgamation of all these and more. Considering the fact that it spreads out over varying altitudes, a trip to North Sikkim will ensure that you experience a bit of everything that Nature bestows upon us, humans.

The Hill City

While all the aforementioned information caters to the poet in us, there is a calculative accountant within that raises eyebrows at the possibility of an overstretched budget.

Well, here’s good news! North Sikkim is much cheaper in comparison to other hilly areas like Mussoorie, Nainital, Manali, Jammu & Kashmir, Dharamshala etc. If you choose the right time to visit, you might even experience fresh snowfall that will remain etched in your heart forever.

North Sikkim is also a photographer’s delight. There are so many vivid colours, textures, and varying landscapes to capture that your camera will be your best travel companion on the trip! In this article, we will take a detailed look at the two significant places of North Sikkim; Lachen and Lachung and discuss a few essential facts.

Lachen: Ultimate Travel Guide 

It is the twin sister of Lachung and both the villages form bases for tours up towards Gurudongmar Lake and Chopta Valley. Situated at a height of 8,838 feet above sea level. Following the North Sikkim Highway, it will take around 6-7 hours to drive up to this place from Gangtok.

From Gangtok:

Expect a Roller Coaster Ride Through the Bumpy Roads

The most widely available means of transport is the car. Three significant places fall on the way of driving from Gangtok to this place. These places are Phodong, Mangan, and Chunthang. From Chungthang, the road splits into two directions. The road on the left leads to the city, that is about 26 Km from Chungthang.

To the right, it goes towards Lachung. Conditions of the road from here on tend to be rough and unfavourable, depending upon weather conditions. Prepare yourself mentally for a roller coaster ride ahead.

On-the-way-to-Lachen

Snow on Roads

On the way from Gangtok, you will be able to witness the meandering Teesta River. The colours of the river range from a sapphire blue to emerald green, depending upon the colour of the sky in different patches of the journey. Your first halt will most likely be at Tingchim.

This is where you can have your simple lunch of rice, lentils, and curries. It might not be a fascinating meal but it will fill you up sufficiently. You might even witness people from the Border Road Organization repairing stretches that have been damaged by landslides.

 

From Paved Roads To Mountain Roads!

Depending upon your package, your driver may or may not stop at Naga Waterfalls. The next brief stop will be at Toong Check Post. This is where all your documents and permits will be thoroughly checked and entries will be made in logbooks about the details of the trip and the car.

As the car inches towards the town, you will 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 higher up. It will be late evening by the time you reach Lachen. If you are welcomed with a cup of hot tea in your hotel, make sure you drink it right away because it will get cold in minutes from being served.

What Does Lachen Look Like?

This heavenly place will instantly look like a place cut off from the world. Its serenity is unmatched and the warm welcome of the locals is like a bowl of piping hot soup to comfort you in the chill that reaches your bones.

You might be surprised to see how the locals go about in single layers of clothing, especially if you visit in the summer months, while you could be shivering habituated to the extremities of weather.

Lachen Is At 9,000 feet or 2,750 meters!

Village Surrounded by the Green Mountains

Situated at an altitude of 9,000 feet and “Lachen” originally means, ‘Big Pass’.

It is majorly a grassy valley that is also spotted with forests of conifer and Rhododendrons. Lachen Chu, a mountain stream, passes right through the heart of the valley and cuts through the village, making deep gorges as it flows. The valley is lined on the other side with towering pine trees and snow-capped peaks.

The roads of the city require frequent repair and maintenance work because of landslides and especially during the monsoon months. However, that does not deter the village from looking as picturesque as ever. There are only 250 houses in the village and the inhabitants migrate to the valleys in summers to avoid facing the extremities of weather.

Weather and Temperature Across Months 

Moderate Summers (March-June)

Summer months in Lachen begin from the month of March and end in the month of June. Summer months are pleasant and the temperatures are bearable. While snowfall might not be a part of your experiences, you could still cherish the fresh weather conditions.

The temperature is quite pleasing and ranges between 10 degrees Celsius to 28 degrees Celsius. Since the temperature is favourable, you will absolutely love travelling from one place to another and experience the local charms of the place. One of the main attractions of the summer season is the annual yak race that the adventure-lover in you will be thrilled to witness.

Unfavourable Monsoons (July-September)

Monsoon, in here, lasts from July to September. It is a completely unfavourable phase for travelling and we discourage our customers to travel during the monsoons. Heavy rainfall, along with landslides, tends to happen all through these months. The temperature ranges anywhere between 15 degrees Celsius to 22 degrees Celsius.

Winters

Adventurous Winters ( October – February)

Winter officially sets in by the month of October and end anywhere between February to mid-March. The place witnesses temperatures of 5 degrees Celsius to 15 degrees Celsius. December and January are the prime winter months.

It can get extremely cold in these months and you can expect heavy snowfall. However, the peak season is generally around October-November because of the stability of weather and increased visibility.

Winters could mean extremely low temperatures but the thrill of walking through the snow is an adventure of sorts.

Lachen: Best Time to Visit

The first question that a tourist generally has on the mind is the best time to visit a destination. When it comes to this place, the best time to visit is the month of November. The skies are clear, snowstorms and blizzards are at least a month away and moderate snowfall may or may not occur.

However, the time between October to June is also favourable period since there are several opportunities for sight-seeing and outdoor activities during these months.

Places Of Interest | Sightseeing Options 

There is something for everyone in the undiscovered paradise of Lachen. Whether you are a seeker of peace or a shopaholic, whether you are a thrill-seeker or a lover of Nature; you will find something or the other to interest you here. Listed below are a few places of interest in and around the city that you will absolutely love.

Trekking the hills and valleys

It is but natural to want to trek to a location which is so beautiful. The trekking trails of the place are not easy, to begin with. The mountain edges are sharp and rugged, the weather is highly unpredictable, and the terrain looms large as a challenge.

However, if you plan your innings well and do thorough research on how to go about the process, you will love the biodiversity and the irresistible views that the trekking trails of Lachen have to offer.

Greenery-at-its-best-In-Chopta-Valley-Lachen

Greenery at its best In Chopta Valley

 

The two places that trekkers love are Chopta Valley and Green Lake.

For the Peace-Seeker

If you are not too fond of adventurous treks and trails, you could visit the city Monastery. Apart from it being visually appealing, the place is also home to the oldest Monastery in Sikkim that was built in 1858.

The Lachen Monastery had a small start, with not more than 6 monks but it received monetary aid from Sikkim government and was reconstructed. The Lachen Monastery is also called the Lachen Gompa. The architectural style is typically Tibetan.

The Monastery hosts an Annual Mask Dance Celebration. It brings together the bright and wonderful colours that represent the essence of North Sikkim.
Mask-Dance-Festival-in-Lachen

Mask Dance Festival

 

For the Nature Lover

There is the famous Rhododendron Sanctuary that is in full bloom in the month of April. It is a photographer’s delight. There is a minimum of 40 different species of Rhododendrons in this sanctuary. You can find Rhododendrons abundantly in North Sikkim but the sanctuary has the best varieties.

You can cherish the view from the months of April-July. It is at a distance of 22 Km from the town center.

For Wildlife and more

The Kanchenjunga National Park is located around 107 Km from the city but is worth a visit. The Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Zemu Glacier is one of the many attractions of the Park. You can spot several species of wildlife like the snow leopard, the musk deer, the clouded leopard, red panda etc.

Among outdoor activities, you can choose from trekking, wildlife photography, camping and wildlife spotting.

For the compulsive shopper

If you love shopping wherever you go then the place will surely not disappoint you in any way. The local people are skilled at handicrafts and they sell these at affordable prices. There are exquisite handloom products like carpets, shawls, handbags and intricately designed wooden artefacts to choose from.

If you wish to buy local tokens of remembrance for loved ones back home, then the Handicraft Center of the city will be a pleasant surprise.

The locals, originally called the Lachenpas, are skilled craftsmen and they weave several gift items from yak and sheep wool that could serve as perfect souvenirs. You will also find several hard-working women spend ages weaving these pieces of beauty.

The Tourist Information Center will help you buy maps of the local area and postcards as well.

Lachen Hotels 

The city has many hotels and stay-options. But as you get in extreme hilly locations, all the options are quite basic and devoid of any luxury amenities. However, the most important thing apart from the clean bed, room and toilet is warm water here. You get warm water in all the hotels.

Our team has travelled across this place many times and we have selected the best hotels at every price category. So, with us, you will certainly not have any complaints.

Nights here are cold and you will love the dining area of your hotel or homestay where you can expect a large fireplace. Most tourists warm themselves up in front of the fire. You will relish a simple meal of rice, mixed vegetables, fries, and chicken curry.

The hot steam rising up from the bowls of curries laid out for dinner is the kind of warmth one seeks for while on a vacation to the hills. You could take a stroll out on the streets after dinner but if you can’t really brave the cold, you could curl up under layers of quilts in your room and sleep well.

We at Nomadic specialize on trips in the North-Eastern parts of India. We send thousands of people to Noth Sikkim Trp every year.

You can get a quotation and free consultancy from us.

 

 

This may be of your interest too:

Gurudongmar Lake: Do not Plan Before You Read These 19 ‘Must Know Before You Go’ Facts 

Click On The Link to Know Everything About Yumthang Valley in 8 mins 

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Lachung: Everything that You Ever Wanted to Know

Lachung: Everything that You Ever Wanted to Know

Lachung is located at a distance of 120 Km from Gangtok and its height is around 8,610 ft above sea level. The town is frequently visited by tourists who plan to go to places like Katao Valley, Zero Point and Yumthang Valley in North Sikkim.

Lachung: How To Get There

Travelling through the North Sikkim Highway, you will have to take the route that leads through Phodong, Mongan, and Chungthang in order to reach this city.

It will take you 6-8 hours to reach Lachung from Gangtok. The time taken completely depends upon the weather and road conditions.

It is a wise idea to get in touch with highly experienced travel partners like us before booking a trip to Lachung. While it is exquisitely beautiful and breathtaking, it has its limitations as far as seasons are concerned. The place becomes absolutely inaccessible in the monsoons because of heavy rainfall.

It also becomes difficult to visit in the winter months since heavy snowfall closes down significant routes.

What Does Lachung Look Like?

Your journey from Lachen to Lachung will take around 2 hours and although the roads could be damaged in places, the view around is mesmerizing, nevertheless. Lachung can easily be called the sleepy green hamlet because it has lush greenery all over and there is a surreal lull in the air. It seems like the clock has stopped ticking in this dream-like town.

It is a pretty picture to behold. There are pretty wildflowers growing in bunches that are never tended to but they grow out with all their might.

Most Picturesque Town Of Sikkim!

Joseph Dalton Hooker had labelled Lachung as the ‘most picturesque village of Sikkim’ in ‘The Himalayan Journal. It is undoubtedly a spot of indescribable beauty and thus becomes the perfect destination for relaxing holidays.

Lachung-Yumthang

Lachung City In-between the Mountain Ranges

Rustic Vibes 

Lachung is less cold in comparison to Lachen and you can take easy strolls to experience the rustic vibe that hangs in the air of the village. Apart from the wildflowers and the greenery, Lachung is home to innumerable fruit orchards and glacial rivers that cut through the heart of the hamlet and add to its beauty.

If you have 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 could ask your car driver to point out places where you could eat meals that are not part of the package.

There are quite a few restaurants in Lachung that serve delicacies like Mixed Meat Noodle Soup, also popularly known as Thukpa.

Lachung: Weather and Temperature Across Months

Bearable Summers (March – June)

Summers are the most pleasing months in Lachung. Temperatures are usually in the moderate range of 10 degrees C to 28 degrees C. Summers usually commence in the month of March and last till the month of May to mid-June. It is highly comfortable to travel in these months and to cover as many tourist spots as possible in the given schedule.

If you love the vivid canvas of Nature, then summer is the best time to visit because rhododendrons will be spilling over in bunches from plants all over Lachung. You will be captivated by the beauty of these brightly coloured flowers.

Torrential Rains In Monsoons (July – September)

Monsoon begins in July and lasts till September. The entire village witnesses torrential rainfall and a lot of areas are either shut down or inaccessible. It is an off-season for tourists. However, Lachung still manages to get footfall in the monsoon months because there are people who would brave the odds of whether to get a glimpse of the waterfalls at their fullest potential.

The waterfalls of Lachung look spectacularly beautiful in the monsoon months and so does the river, Lachung Chu. You will be able to enjoy monsoons in Lachung if you do not have plans for outdoor activities and prefer staying indoors.

Moderate And Majestic Winters (October- February)

Winters are long and cold in Lachung but not as extreme as that in Lachen. Winter officially begins in the month of October and lasts till February to mid-March. The temperature ranges between 10 degrees C to -5 degrees C. The view is idyllic in the winter months.

The air is crisp, cold and foggy and there is often fresh snowfall taking the temperature further down.

Lachung-Winters

Lachung in Winters

You can witness the majestic and intimidating snow-covered peaks from the comfort of your hotel’s balcony. The apple orchards are covered in snow and so are the lush green valleys. One need not spend millions on a foreign destination for a view like this that is nearby, affordable and incredibly beautiful.

Lachung: Best Time to Visit 

Lachung is a favourite family destination. However, it is important to plan your tour so that it does not coincide with monsoon months or the extremities of winter. The village is beautifully adorned with snow-capped peaks, reverberating waterfalls, a meandering river and lush green valleys almost all year round.

It is only in the winter months that Lachung receives a considerable amount of snowfall. Therefore, the best time to visit Lachung would be the autumnal month of October and the summer months of April to June. The weather is as pleasant as it could be during these months and you will experience clear visibility of mountain ranges.

You will also be able to experience outdoor activities with ease in the moderate summer temperature.

Lachung: Places of Interest and Sight Seeing Options 

Lachung is not just a village that looks beautiful but is also functional in terms of places of interest. Not very far away from this idyllic village are major points of tourist attraction that make the place worth a visit. Listed below are some of the significant places:

Trek to Yumthang Valley

A place that brings together innumerable species of brightly coloured flowers, must be an unmatched sight to behold. Yumthang Valley is a sight like that and more.

If trekking is on your mind, you can trek from Lachung to this valley, that takes about 25 Km. To reach the Valley, you will have to cross the wooden bridge that lies over the river, Lachung Chu and trek for about 25 Km. It is an adventurous trek and a beautiful one at that.

Yumesamdong Hot Spring lies on your way. You can enjoy a hot steam bath in the midst of this beautiful terrain.

Yumthang-Valley

Flowers in Yumthang Valley

 

Click on the link to know Everything about Yumthang Valley 

 

Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary

You will never have enough of Rhododendrons in North Sikkim. They are almost always decorating a part or two of the places that you plan to visit. If you visit Lachung in between April-July, the resplendent sight of rhododendrons will never cease to amaze you.

The Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary is one such place where the flowers are in full bloom in summers and intoxicate you with their sweet smell.

Cultural festival

The Lachung Monastery hosts a mask dance performance that is a cultural festival of Buddhist preachers. It is a beautiful sight that celebrates the culture of the local preachers and the people around.

Waterfalls in full flow

There are two major waterfalls; Bhim Nala and Naga Falls. Tourists who visit Lachung in the monsoon months often do so with the idea of viewing these waterfalls in their full glory. Bhim Nala is a cascading, 3-tier waterfall while Naga Falls descends in several layers. A trek of these waterfalls will require covering quite a few kilometres of challenging terrain to reach the source.

For the spiritual at heart

For those who travel with spiritual purposes in their heart, Lachung has something to offer for them as well. A few kilometres away from Lachung is Chungthang, where the rivers of Lachen meet. At this point of confluence, there is a sacred stone that is known as Naydo.

Legend has it that there are footprints of Guru Padmasambhava around this sacred place.

Zero Point for higher treks

It is a quintessential part of the itinerary of travellers on their way up to or down from Gurudongmar Lake. While you will invariably have a package tour of the nearby tourist destinations, it is wise to have an idea of what other spots you could cover while at it. Some of these spots are ‘Zero Point’ or ‘Yumesamdong’.  If you love trekking, then this could be a great adventure.

 

Read Gurudongmar Lake: Do not Plan Before You Read These 19 ‘Must Know Before You Go’ Facts

 

Katao for unending fun

Yet another 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 as well as snowboarding on Mt. Katao. However, it is strictly paroled by Army Officials and you will need permits to visit the mountain.

Saga Dawa Festival

Saga-dawa-Lachung

Saga Dawa Festival in Lachung

While the winter months give you trekking opportunities, the monsoon month of June will let you experience an unmatched cultural extravaganza of Lachung known as the Saga Dawa Festival. It is a Buddhist festival that traces the three significant events; birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha.

The city hosts folk art functions and other ceremonies, along with serving exotic cuisines as part of the celebrations.

Planning your Lachung Trip:

It makes a lot of sense to Club Lachung with the whole North Sikkim trip. That way generally this can be covered in 3N4D short trips to larger trips like 7N8D days.

The main places that this trip will cover is the two beautiful hilly cities Lachen and Lachung along with Gurudongmar Lake (One of the highest altitude natural lakes in the world), Chopta Valley, Yumthang valley and Zero Point. Generally, tourists cover these in a 4N5D trip.

 

 

We at Nomadic specialize on trips in the North-Eastern parts of India. We send thousands of people to Noth Sikkim Trp every year. You can get a quotation and free consultancy from us.

If you are interested to plan a North Sikkim trip you should also Read These.

 

 

Gurudongmar Lake: Do not Plan Before You Read These 19 ‘Must Know Before You Go’ Facts 

4N5D North Sikkim Tour Plan

Click On The Link to Know Everything About Lachen in 8 mins

Yumthang Valley: Everything you need to know for this magical experience!

Yumthang Valley: Everything you need to know for this magical experience!

Yumthang Valley name brings one thing in mind, Flowers. ‘Yumthang’ means “Valley of flowers’ in the local language. It is not for nothing that this Valley is labelled like that. It is nothing short of being exotic. Whether you are a Nature lover or not, you are bound to fall in love with the incredible blend of flora and fauna in this valley.

While there are several tourists who line up to visit this valley every year, a majority of them end up going somewhere else because of weather conditions.

This is primarily because they are unaware of a few things, like how to go? When to go? what to see? etc very basic knowledge about the place.

Yumthang valley is situated at an altitude of 11800 feet or 3575 meters and has almost no medical facilities available nearby. Hence, some precautions must be taken.

We have experience of sending thousands of tourists every year to Yumthang Valley and overall North Sikkim Tour. This is why we are here to hold your hand through the journey and ensure only memorable moments in this spectacular valley!

Yumthang Valley

The journey towards Yumthang Valley

How to go to Yumthang Valley?

Unfortunately, there is no direct way to reach Yumthang Valley. One has to come via  Gangtok  Lachung to reach here.

Reaching Gangtok

Gangtok has got a new airport ( Pakyong Airport Code: PYG) a few months back making it much more accessible to broader India. However, it has just started and not too many airlines have a flight coming in here. Spicejet has its operations here.

The other way or older way to reach Gangtok is to take a flight till Bagdogra Airport ( Code IXB) and then  4-5 hours drive brings you to Gangtok. Bagdogra airport is well connected with the rest of the Indian cities.

The journey from Bagdogra to Yumthang Valley via Gangtok and Lachung

Bagdogra to Gangtok distance is around 123 Kms and it takes around 4-5 hours in the car to reach Gangtok.

If you want to come by train, you got to take a train to New Jalpaiguri (station Code: NJP) and then take a car till Gangtok. You can hire both an exclusive car for yourself or you can use the shared ones.

NJP to Gangtok distance is around 120 km and it takes around 4-5 hours to reach Gangtok.

Lots of local cars available at both Bagdogra airport and NJP station. Try your hand at bargaining here, as sometimes the car drivers ask for exorbitant charges.

Gangtok to Lachung

Gangtok to Lachung is around 102 km, but due to hilly roads, it takes almost 6 hours to reach Lachung. The journey is awesome with exotic landscapes and snows will be all around you after a certain point. Lachung is a beautiful hilly town. You got to stay in Lachung overnight.

Lachung now becomes your base point for your Yumthang Valley and Zero Point trip. Generally, both are done in a day trip for Lachung.

Lachung-Yumthang

Lachung City In-between the Mountain Ranges

Lachung to Yumthang Valley

On your way down from Lachung, you will have to travel for 25 Km to reach this Valley. This distance takes about 1.5 hours to cover. You should start your journey in early the morning after the overnight stay at Lachung. Upon reaching the Yumthang Valley, you will see the miles of stretched Valley, as far as you can see, there are beds of vibrant multi-coloured flowers everywhere.

 

Where to stay in Yumthang Valley?

You cannot really put up for the night at the valley. It is majorly a tourist spot that can be covered during the day. The only place to stay the night is a forest resort house that requires permits to put up at. The nearest hotels are in Lachung where you could stay the night.

There are a number of resorts in Lachung where you could put up for the night.

Apart from one or two standard options, all hotels of Lachung are quite basic if you compare it with the standards of city hotels. However, you will get all the basic amenities like clean bed, clean water, hot water supply etc.

When Is The Best Time To Visit The Valley?

There are places that need seasons to look good but Yumthang Valley looks stunning in almost all the seasons, round the year. However, it remains inaccessible during the monsoon months because of road blockages and unfavourable weather conditions.

Yumthang-Valley

Yumthang Valley

The best time to visit Yumthang Valley is from months of September to December. You will be able to enjoy clear blue skies and the mountain ranges will float by majestically. Also, from Apr to mid-weeks of June are also good to take a tour of the valley because the flowers are in full bloom these months.

Do I Need Permits To Visit The Valley?

Yes indeed. Yumthang Valley is situated close to the Indo-China border. This is why security is very strict in the area. However, that should not be a reason to deter you from visiting the Valley. For our clients, we do all the work for you beforehand and also on the way.

You will have to fill out a form and submit two passport size photographs along with it. These will be needed for your permit that we will arrange on your behalf. As we go very frequently and we are known to the security forces here, we arrange it for you on the go towards your Journey to Yumthang Valley.

Once you receive your permit, you are good to go!

How is the Yumthang Valley Weather and Temperature?

Yumthang Valley remains very cold throughout the year. Its a valley and snowcapped mountains surround it. So, the air generally stays clod after colliding with mountain snows.

One can experience summer, monsoon, autumn, winter, and spring as seasons here.

yumthang-oct

Yumthang Valley in October

Weather and Temperature across Months:

March to June is the summer time in Yumthang Valley. During summer or these month maximum and minimum temperature varies between 18°C to 12°C respectively. A sudden shower is very common here and showers can bring down the temperature considerably. Yumthang Valley looks at its best due to blooms in these months.

Late June to September is the monsoon season here. Monsoon with heavy rain, thunderstorms, and frequent landslides should be avoided. Monsson brings down the minimum temperature to 8°C. The maximum temperature in the monsoon goes up to 15°C.

October to November is the autumn season here.  Monsoon drenched Yumthang Valley decks up again with flowers in this season. The maximum temperature and minimum temperature varies between 15°C and the minimum is 10°C in autumn.

Winter in Yumthang Valley begins in December and extends till  March. The maximum temperature during winter in Yumthang Valley doesn’t generally go up to 10°C. Winter nights are freezing and minimum temperature can even go down till 15°C. The valley gets completely covered in snow during winters.

For kids below 6 years and elderly people, it is better to avoid going to Yumthang Valley during peak winters.

What Do I Pack For The Trip?

It is essential to travel with as less luggage as possible while in the hills. This could be slightly difficult since colder climate requires layers of clothing. The best option is to carry a backpack and wear as many layers as possible while travelling. 

The best part about these places is the fact that you can rent clothes and not have to carry your own. You can rent gloves, overcoats, and even snow boots from the market in Yumthang. Carry cash since there are no ATMs around.

What to Do and See in Yumthang Valley?

Yumthang Valley is so beautiful that wherever you look at that becomes a place to see. Jokes apart its really is awesome and here are a few things that needs require special mention.

Rhododendrons, Flowers and more Flowers 

Yumthang should be labelled the Valley of Rhododendrons because of the abundance of these flowers in various hues all over the place. As soon as the tree line comes to an end, the long stretch of the valley gets denser with beds of rhododendrons that spread out for miles.

There are over 24 species of Rhododendrons in the Valley and they paint the place in colours of red, yellow, pink and purple. Rhododendrons are quintessentially small shrubs and plants that grow in small forests and bear brightly coloured flowers.

It has got a faint sweet smell. These flowers are in full bloom in the months of April and May and by the end of May, the plants stop flowering.

Yumthang-Valley

Flowers in Yumthang Valley

Rhododendrons Give Way to Pretty Himalayan Flowers in Monsson. Monsoons commence in the month of June and although Rhododendrons are not found in this season, there is an abundance of Himalayan flowers like Louseworts, Primroses, Cobra-Lilies, and Cinquefoils.

 

A Hot Spring In The Middle Of Nowhere!

Before you enter the Yumthang Valley, you will have to cross a small wooden bridge that leads you to the Yumthang Hot Spring. It is a thousand yards away or so. You will be greeted with soothing warm water if you choose to step inside this hot spring.

It will be a huge relief to your frozen limbs and stiff body after having travelled for long stretched in the car. The water of this hot spring is said to have medicinal properties and is rich in sulfur.

Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary

A lot of tourists wonder if there are other places in and around Yumthang Valley apart from the valley of flowers. You will be mighty pleased to know that there are plenty of sightseeing options around and they are not far off at all. Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary deserves special mention here. 

Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary is situated just near Yumthang Chu river. It attracts a majority of tourists every year. There are 24 different varieties of Rhododendron shrubs in this sanctuary and it makes for a beautiful spectacle in the spring and summer months.

Cultural Shows and Local Celebrations

Yumthang Valley receives a good amount of footfall in the months of February to March because that happens to be the peak holiday season and also because the Valley hosts the Losar Festival. If you want to experience the real essence of the festival, you could join in the celebration, put on their traditional attire, eat, drink and be merry with the locals.

There are a number of cultural shows that also accompany this festival.

Go Fish in a River

Yumthang Valley adorns a few small rivers, that adds up to both the beauty and fertility of the landscape. You will be amazed to know that you can even go on a fishing spree in the rivers of Yumthang Chu and Puniya Chu.

If you can plan to stay for three days and two nights in Lachung, you could accomplish your dream of fishing in the rivers of the hills.

Yumthang-River

Yumthang Chu River in Yumthang Valley

After these few attractions, you must plan to add Zero Point to your tour plan. It doesn’t make any sense not to see Zero Point when you have already come so far.

 

Zero Point: A Quintessential Part Of Your Yumthang Tour

You might wonder what the hype is all about. You will realize the beauty of the place when you experience it all by yourself. Zero Point is located at an altitude of 15,000 feet and is at a distance of 23 Km from Yumthang Valley.

It will take you around one and a half hours from Yumthang Valley and three and a half hours from Lachung.

Why Is It Called Zero Point?

The Place is called Zero Point because it is the endpoint of all civilian roads. A few kilometres ahead lay the Indo-China border and thus, you cannot go beyond this point until and unless you are in the Army.

What To Expect At Zero Point?

Yumthang-valley-zero-point

Zero Point After Yumthang Valley

While the roads leading up to Zero Point are nothing less than challenging, the rewards you reap after crossing these roads are worth the troubles. Zero Point is the place that forms the confluence of three rivers and the view is absolutely stunning.

The snow-covered backdrop, the majestic mountain ranges, the mighty rivers and the wild yaks grazing away come together to give you a scene out of the movies. There is absolutely no vegetation around the place.

Since snow covers most of the areas, the scarce grassy lands that grow in patches are hardly ever visible.

Some of you might experience dizzy spells and breathing troubles. The oxygen levels drop significantly at this altitude and the air becomes thinner and difficult to breathe in.

When Should I Plan A Trip To Zero Point?

Zero Point does not have a very friendly environment almost all year round. The best time to plan a trip to Zero Point would be the summer months of April to June and the autumnal months of September to November.

That’s is why you should always club Zero point with Yumthang Valley tour package. You will still witness a lot of snowfall during these months.

Is Food Available At Zero Point?

There are not many options as far as food is concerned. However, if you prefer a quick fix then you have options like boiled eggs, Maggi, tea, coffee and biscuits that are available at temporary food stalls. You might even find a bottle or two of local brands of rum and brandy at a couple of stalls.

Zero-point

End of Indian Roads at Zero Point Sikkim

Planning your Yumthang Valley Trip:

It makes a lot of sense to Club Yumthang Valley trip with the whole North Sikkim trip. That way generally this can be covered in 3N4D short trips to larger trips like 7N8D days.

The main places that this trip will cover is the two beautiful hilly cities Lachen and Lachung along with Gurudongmar Lake ( One of the highest altitude natural lakes in the world), Chopta Valley, Yumthang valley and Zero Point. Generally, tourists cover these in a 4N5D trip.

We at Nomadic specialize on trips in the North Eastern parts of India. We send thousands of people to Noth Sikkim Trp every year. You can get a quotation and free consultancy from us.

If you are interested to plan a North Sikkim trip you should also Read These.

 

Gurudongmar Lake: Do not Plan Before You Read These 19 ‘Must Know Before You Go’ Facts 

4N5D North Sikkim Tour Plan

 

 

 

Gurudongmar Lake: 19 ‘Must Know Before You Go’ Facts

Gurudongmar Lake: 19 ‘Must Know Before You Go’ Facts

Gurudongmar Lake is probably the highlight among all the wonderful places in Sikkim. This Lake is one of the highest altitude natural lakes in the world. It is the pinnacle point of the North Sikkim tour and probably the most beautiful one too. The lake is placid and the surroundings are nothing less than overwhelming.

It would not be an exaggeration to call it a paradise in the midst of nowhere.

The Lake is spread out over 290 acres and is surrounded by snow-covered mountain ranges all around. You might even feel that the ranges are floating away on the lake itself. It is nothing short of ethereal.

Gurudongmar Lake; ‘Must-Know Before You Go’ Facts 

Given the height of the lake and weather conditions, it is easy for everyone to understand that there will be many facts that one needs to know before venturing into a tip to Gurudongmar. We will bring them out one by one here along with all the associated stories and info nuggets that will help you to plan your trip better.

The facts can be broadly distributed in 2 areas. We believe it important to know both the sides for someone who is planning to travel to Gurudongmar valley.

  1. Facts on Weather, Temperature, and legends of the place
  2. Facts on How to reach and places of Interest around the Lake

 

Gurudongmar Lake: Facts on Weather, Temperature, and legend 

Fact 1: The water never freezes; even when the temperature goes down to -20-degree celsius

The most interesting thing about this lake is the fact that it never freezes completely. The lake is the primary source of water for the locals. There is a religious belief around this lake that explains this phenomenon. Hindu’s and Buddhists and Sikhs come together to consider this lake to be a sacred place.

It is believed that while Guru Padmasambhava was on his way back from Tibet, the locals had pleaded for a solution to their perennial problem of water. He was moved by their pleadings and had touched a part of the lake that never freezes and is also considered sacred.

Gurudongmar-Lake

Lake Half Frozen

Fact 2: Locals belief about the magical power of lakes water

Several locals believe in the fact that drinking this water could resolve fertility issues of women. This is not a scientifically proven fact and hence it makes sense not to drink the water without knowing much. There is also a temple next to the lake where tourists can offer prayers. You will notice brightly coloured flags all around that are individual prayers of people who visit.

The colourful flags add up to the mystic stories about the lake and making it a “Wish Lake” for thousands of visitors.

Lake-Gurudongmar

The majestic Lake

Fact 3: Actual originator of Teesta River

The lake is primarily fed by glaciers and is a source stream for the Tso Lahmu Lake that later forms the source of the Teesta River. The lake appears smaller when you visit it because the majority of the lake is obscured by the hilly topography and glaciers. You might come across blue sheep, yaks and other wildlife common to higher altitudes if you wish to go around the lake.

Teesta-River

Flowing Teesta River

Fact 4: Extreme height of the Lake causes breathing and other problems

The Lake is situated at a height of 17,800 feet. from sea levels and is one of the highest altitude lakes in the world.

However, due to the altitude, it is also a very difficult journey and a majority of tourists never make it to the point. They are either halted by landslides or the lower levels of oxygen make them sick from breathing issues, way before they can reach.

When you reach the spot, you will be required to take slow and deep breaths to acclimatize.

Do not smoke or drink the day before you go there and obviously while going. You will fall sick.

Snow-Capped-Mountain-view-from-North-Sikkim

Snow Capped Mountain view from North Sikkim

Fact 5: Wind can lift stones!

Imagine a negative temperature along with a wind speed of 15kms per hour. It is extremely windy and that makes the place feel a lot more freezing than the temperature itself. Wind speed keeps going up as the day passes by. It is believed that afternoon wind in near the Lake can even lift stones.

The place remains windy for the whole year and wind speed tends to go up more during the winters.

So, be ready with your best of winter clothes that not only save you from extreme cold, but also from heavy chilling winds.

Gurudongmar Facts:  Weather and Temperature across months

Lake-Gurudongmar

The  Lake in summer

Fact 6: Apr-May is the flowering season and the places get a surreal view at this time

If you are fond of colourful flowers and have been longing to see wildflowers in bloom, then the best time to visit the Lake and the surrounding areas is from April – May.

This is springtime in the area and is a feast for your eyes. Rhododendrons are in full bloom during this period and your camera will be mighty pleased to capture the colours of spring.

You can expect sub-zero temperatures that range anywhere between -2 degrees to 0 degrees during this season.

However, you could face snowstorms that tend to happen in the month of April. So, go prepared for that.

 

Click On The Link to Know Everything About Yumthang Valley in 8 mins 

 

Yumthang-Valley

Yumthang Valley

Fact 7: The Lake stays unreachable through most of the time in winters

If you are more adventurous and long to see the lake along with the surroundings beautifully frozen, then the early weeks of December are ideal for you to visit.

The temperature can go down to -8 degrees to -10 degrees in the day. If you are lucky then you will not face road blockages on your way.

Later on, the road towards Gurudongmar remains mostly closed due to heavy snowfall.

So the lake remains un-accessible during this time. It is strictly advisable to avoid end half of December and Jan Feb if you are planning a trip. The temperature during winters goes down till -20 degree Celsius.

 

Gurudongmar-Lake-in-Winter

The-Lake-in-Winter

 

Fact 8: Oct, Nov, and end April and early May is the best time to visit Gurudongmar Lake

For an average tourist who plans to see the Lake in all its splendour, November is the ideal time to visit.

Snowfall begins in the month of November and blizzards and snowstorms are still a month away. The lake is partially frozen, the skies are clear and the temperature is bearable. The temperature in this month hovers around -2 degrees in the day.

Thangu-Valley

Thangu Valley

Facts on How to go to Gurudongmar Lake?

Fact 9: Reaching theLake, at once, is not possible or permissible

This is because a majority of North Sikkim lies on sensitive Indo-Chinese border areas. There is a list of permits that need to be taken before and during the journey, at significant spots.

There is also a scientific reason to take halts and make the trip a two or three-day long process.

The lake is situated at a very high altitude and people travelling from plains will naturally find it difficult to adjust to the varying levels of oxygen as they go higher up.

Hence, almost all trips to North Sikkim have halts so that the body is acclimatized to the changes as gradually as possible.

Vistas-at-Chopta-Valley

Vistas at Chopta Valley

Fact 10: You got to identify places you want to stay to access the Lake

This is where places like Lachen, Lachung and Yumthang Valley of North Sikkim come into play. They serve as a means to an end.

Lachen and Lachung are small towns where tourists are generally put up on their way up to the Lake or on their way down to Gangtok, Sikkim. However, it will be a sin to not mention how these means spell divinity by themselves. Lachen and Lachung are breathtakingly beautiful villages.

They are idyllic and dream-like and the people that live there are some of the most industrious human beings you will come across.

Lachung-City-In-between-the-Mountain-Ranges-North-Sikkim

Lachung City In-between the Mountain Ranges

You will be required to reach the taxi stand of Gangtok by 9 A.M. and you will be accommodated in the car as per your package.

Main meals are generally included in the package but if you buy anything from the shops on your way that is your own expense. There will be several halts on the way, for toilet breaks and meals.

The distance from Gangtok and Lachen is around 121 Km and the cars take the North Sikkim Highway to reach there. Lachen and Lachung are situated at a distance of 2 hours from each other and since there is no proper accommodation facility beyond Lachen, on the way to Gurudongmar Lake.

You need to spend the night in the hotels or homestays of Lachen.

Travellers generally choose Lachen as a base stay to access Gurudongmar valley.

 

Click On The Link to Know Everything About Lachen in 8 mins 

Click On The Link to Know Everything About Lachung in 9 mins 

 

Thangu-Village-in-early-winters

Thangu Village in early winters

Fact 11: Very limited choice available for transport

Assuming that you will begin your journey from Gangtok, the only way for tourists to reach theLake and the places on the way is via car. If you book a package, you will be given an option of hiring the car exclusively for yourself or travel along with a couple of other groups.

The maximum allowed number of people travelling in 1 car is 8 people. You may or may not get the option of choosing your seats or car types, depending upon the seasonal rush.

Bolero cars rule the roost over this terrain. Other cars are barely visible. Though recently few Innova cars are taking travellers too.

Army-Check-Post-on-the-way-to-Gurudongmar.

Army Check Post on the way to Gurudongmar

Fact 12: You got to leave as early as possible for Gurudongmar from Lachen

You will be asked to wake up by 2-3 AM the next morning so that your car can depart at 4 AM to take you to the Lake

The journey to Gurudongmar begins next morning and could be as early as 4 A.M. The weather conditions of and around the lake are most favourable in the first half of the day and worsens as the day passes.

This is why it is recommended to reach early and depart before the winds and temperature get rough.

Way-to-Gurudongmar-from-Lachen

Way to Gurudongmar from Lachen

Fact 13: Thangu is the last place with shops on your way to Gurudongmar. Prepare to last without a shop for the next 10 hours.

The first halt on your way to the Lake is Thangu that takes around 2 hours from Lachen. The Lake is around 40 Km from Thangu and due to the rough terrain, it takes close to 4 hours to reach.

You will almost find no shop during this journey to Gurudongmar and back. So, stuff yourself with enough water and other essential things. You will need to last on these stuff for next 10 hours ( 4 hours to the Lake, 2 hours at the lake and 4 hours to come back to Thangu)

Preserve your camera’s battery life because you will soon witness places that could partially be justified with photographs.

If you are lucky, you might even receive fresh snowfall on your way to the lake. You will come across army barracks, uninhabited villages, frozen patches of valleys and landslide damages.

Thangu Valley Sikkim

Fact 14: Your permits will be checked by the Indian army twice before you reach Gurudongmar

Thangu is the last civilian settlement area where your permits will be checked and you will also receive medical facilities if you require them.

Your breakfast will be served here. It mostly comprises of buttered toast and eggs or Egg Maggi.

Once you cross this check post, you are literally on your own as there is hardly any habitation ahead.

The last check post is Gaigaon, at 15,000 feet. Your permits and papers will be checked for the final time at this check post.

Snow Capped Mountain view from North Sikkim

Check-Posts-on-the-way-to-Gurudongmar

Check Posts on the way to Gurudongmar

Fact 15: Do not miss the spectacular view of Gurudongmar Valley

In a few miles from Thangu, you enter a desert valley of sorts. This is called the Gurudongmar Valley.

There is uniqueness about the desert valley that leads up to the great Lake. It is a long stretch of gravel and black sand, coming together in patches. It looks formidable yet spellbinding. All you will come across is one herd or two of yaks and a handful of herdsmen around.

Gurudongmar Valley

Fact 16: Gurudongmar Valley is beautiful but do not get carried away and stay calm.

You may or may not experience breathing difficulties or nausea at this altitude. However, this is the point where breathing difficulties start. Many times, a tourist gets carried away with the beauty of the place and get involved in lots of physical activities like playing with the snows, going for small hikes for better selfies etc.

With a lot of physical activity and less oxygen, it is quite common for tourists to feel sick and decide to call it a day.

Staying calm helps in avoiding the condition from getting worse.

Meditating-Monk-near-Gurudongmar-Lake

Meditating Monk near the Lake

Fact 17: Once you reach the Lake. Stay calm and savour the beauty.

While you huff and puff inside the vehicle and wonder at the vast stretch of a desert valley in front, your car will take a steep uphill road and reach your destination in a matter of minutes. There it lies; both breathtaking and intimidating at the same time.

The Lake is a feast for the eyes. You will have to get off the vehicle and walk towards the lake. Reaching the edge of the lake could be difficult unless your lungs are trained to withstand the thinness of air since you are required to go down a flight of stairs.

However, the beauty of the lake and the surroundings are so stunning that you could simply stand over the cliff and take it all in.

Buddhist-Praying-Flag-Surrounding-Gurudongmar-Lake

Buddhist Praying Flag Surrounding the Lake

Fact 18: Do not miss Mini Switzerland ( Chopta Valley) on your way down from the Lake

Your journey downhill from Gurudongmar could be exhausting. All the additional work that your lungs have been doing in order to keep pace with the decreasing levels of oxygen in the air, will make you feel sleepy and groggy.

However, you can expect the picturesque landscape of Chopta Valley to charge your cells.

If you are the type that loves visiting the hills in the monsoon months, then you will experience the wonders of Nature spread out in this valley itself in the months of May-September. It will be filled to the brim with rhododendrons, primula and other flowers that bloom in the wild.

Chopta-Valley-Lachen

Snow Covered Chopta Valley Lachen

If you prefer the summer or the winter months, you will witness a completely frozen valley that has a charm of its own.

It is for a reason that Chopta Valley is popularly known as ‘Mini Switzerland’ of India. It is located at a height of 8,790 feet above sea level and experiences heavy snowfall in the winter months of November to March.

However, this is also the time when it looks picturesque because of the frozen valleys. The best time to visit is from October to November and again from April to May. Adventure sports like snow skiing, snow trekking, rock climbing etc can be thoroughly enjoyed in Chopta Valley.

Fact 19: Your lunch in Chopta Valley will stabilize your health conditions.

While going downhill from Chopta Valley, you will have your first meal of the day that usually comprises of bread, butter/jam, boiled eggs, thick noodle soup, Egg Maggi etc. If you experience nausea, dizziness or headache while going uphill, this meal will help you settle down because your glucose levels will get stabilized after a while.

On-the-way-to-Gurudongmar-lake-during-Summer

On the way to the Lake during Summer

So, until now we have outlined all the facts that you got to know before planning a trip to Gurudongmar Lake. Here again, posting a summary pic of all the facts for you to keep it handy and share with your friends and relative who are interested. Hope you will find this helpful.

Must-know-facts-Gurudongmar-lake

19 ‘Must Know Before You Go’ facts about Gurudongmar Lake

We at Nomadic striving to be the best in the world when it comes to travelling to North-Eastern India. We have already sent more than 10000 customers to this tricky terrain. With every new customer, we customize the trip keeping in mind their budget, preferences and obviously safety.

If are planning for a trip to Gurudongmar, we suggest you get a free customized quotation and travel consultancy by clicking here 

 

If you are interested in some other Awesome Hill Stations, you may want to explore this.

7 Places to Visit, If you are an avid Birdwatcher

7 Places to Visit, If you are an avid Birdwatcher

7 places to go if you are an avid birdwatcher, a great checklist for nature enthusiasts Bird watching is more than a simple hobby, it is a way of life. It does not require expensive equipment or hard-core training but demands discipline, passion along with innate curiosity with a chance of getting outdoor from urban […]

 

7 places to go if you are an avid birdwatcher, a great checklist for nature enthusiasts

Bird watching is more than a simple hobby, it is a way of life. It does not require expensive equipment or hard-core training but demands discipline, passion along with innate curiosity with a chance of getting outdoor from urban life and close to nature. One may calmly wait by a water body with a pair of binoculars to get close to the beaks searching for food, or run to catch a glimpse of the fleeting wings and capture the moment in the camera in hand, but the action is rewarded with magnificent colorful feathers and the beautiful songs of the avian world which is a marvel of Mother Nature herself. With a collection of diverse forest eco-systems, Bengal and her neighbors present a chance for the birdwatchers to experience a plethora of unique species of birds and other wildlife from up close in these following amazing places.

01 – Lolaygaon

Lolaygaon-Valley-Retreat-weekend-at-north-bengalLolaygaon Valley Retreat

A peaceful Lepcha Village near the famous Neora Valley forest are, Lolaygaon enchants visitors not only with a 180 degree panoramic Kanchenjunga view but also with the beautiful canopy of Cyprus and Oak trees which surrounds the village. Lolaygaon Valley Retreat is the perfect place to stay with fresh organic meals and to take a hike in search for birds like Mountain Hawk-eagle, Himalayan cuckoo, or a nightjar.

02 – Tarkhola

Lolaygaon-Valley-Retreat-weekend-at-north-bengalTarkhola Village Home Stay

A small mountain hamlet tucked near Kalimpong, amazing view of River Teesta and the Kanchenjunga, this place is perfect for a break from the daily life and relax with a chance of an encounter with birds like Blue-whistling thrush, Himalayan Bulbul or an Ashy Drongo. Tarkhola Village Homestay offers a great garden view and the chance of birding. Also, paragliding at nearby Delo can be a great experience too.

03 –Tinchuley

Tinchuley-Pine-View-Farm-Stay-weekend-at-north-bengal

Tinchuley Pine View Farm House

Surrounded by foggy Pine forests, this sleepy hamlet near Lamahatta offers amazing Mountain View and chance to see birds around the forests and tea gardens. Collared and spotted owlets, Coppersmith Barbet, Small Minivet and Scarlet Minivets are the major species sighted near this place. Pine View Resort Tinchuley is a great place to stay during a weekend here.

04 –Takdah

Takdah-Heritage-Bungalow-weekend-at-north-bengal

Takdah Heritage Bungalow

A quiet and romantic place, with a touch of British Indian history and heritage homes with classic architecture, Takdah is a serene and less explored option at a height of 4000 feet. With misty roads and trails passing through dense forests, great orchid centers, and tea gardens, this place is amazing for birding too. Staying in Takdah heritage home is a great option, as in the surrounding gardens and forest along the mountain ridges, you may come across Himalayan shrike-babblers, fantails, Shrikes and Fire-breasted flowerpeckers.

05 –Borong

Wild-Flower-Retreat-Borong-weekend-at-west-sikkim

Birder Farmstay – Borong

Sikkim has an amazing local and migratory avifauna density too, and Borong, a picture perfect charming village in South Sikkim is a great place to come across the winged beauties. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, historical monasteries, and emerald forests, Birders Farm stay, Borong gives the chance to experience life in an ethnic Sikkim village staying close to nature which results in frequent sightings of Cormorants, Green-tailed sunbirds, Fairy Bluebirds, and Pied hornbills.

06 – Daranda

Weekend-destination-near-kolkata-one-night-stay

Daranda Farm House – Shantiniketan

This small village is near Bolpur gives you a chance to visit Shantiniketan, the place related to the great bard of Bengal. Also, the surrounding paddy fields, Choupahari forest and banks of Ajoy River are amazing places to relax and watch various birds relaxing or searching for food. Daranda farm stay with its open courtyard provides a perfect opportunity to relax and watch the nature. Purple Swamphen, various types of Robins, Grebes and Barbets, Quails, Collared Doves can be seen here frequently.

07 –Tajpur

tajpur-eco-huts-weekend-destination-near-kolkata

Tajpur Eco Resort

Amidst Casuarina forests and green fields, near the virgin beaches on which the elusive red crabs play hide and seek, Tajpur is a gem of a place to see the sea-birds as this place is not frequented by the huge crowd like the nearby sea beaches. Tajpur Eco Resort, with beautifully curated garden and lawns with a lake, is a great place to relax in the cottages and go for a walk in the surrounding area where birds like White-throated and Pied Kingfishers, Rufous Woodpecker, Indian Robin, Pied Bushchat, Jungle Myna and various kinds of Barbets can be seen frequently.