"Explore the unexplored Beautiful Places of Sikkim"
If you are visiting Sikkim and don't think that you will make it again in a long time to come, then do pursue a visit to Lachung, Yumthang Valley and Zero Point in North Sikkim. Why? Because you may not again see such stunning views of snow mountains and rivers anywhere else. Dr. Joseph Hooker in his 'Himalayan Journal' of 1855 mentioned that Lachung and Yumthang are the two most picturesque places in the whole of Sikkim and had even compared them to valleys of Switzerland.
Yumthang Valley is world famous for its rich variety of flowers and rare fauna and is known as the Valley of Flowers, considered as a mecca for nature lovers and botanists from all over the world. The Yumthang valley provides a great array of Flora –fauna and is an only one of its kind place where tree line vanishes. It is grazing pasture and bounded by the Himalayan Mountains in the north Sikkim. Yumthang Valley is situated at 148 kms from Gangtok and at the height of 1180 feet from sea level.
The whole Yumthang valley becomes colorful and air becomes scented with the aroma of flowers as the valley gets filled with endless flowerbeds furnishing pleasing view of grassy plains covered in colorful flowers and a river flowing from the green slopes in the spring season. There is an old temple of Lord Shiva a few kilometres away from the valley, from where one can have a breathtaking view of the entire Yumthang valley. Also there is a vegetation free mountain known as Yumesamdong at a height of about 16,000 feet and it’s the last point from where one can see the Chinese border. You can also see a variety of animals like Yaks, Shingba Rhododendron, primulas, poppies, iris etc., here and also there is a village called Lachung which is one of the oldest villages of Sikkim and retains an era old charisma and culture of the state. A visit to this valley is an unmatched experience, which can only be felt only by visiting this place and spending some time here, it cannot be explained in words.
Situated in North Sikkim, Yumthang Valley is a paradise on earth, which is full of natural wonders and picturesque beauty. It is home to a zillion flowers, spectacular mountains & a serene river, and is often also called as the ‘Valley of Flowers’ like the one located in Uttarakhand. Needless to say, its breathtaking and magical surroundings make it a must-visit place for every traveler.
It also happens to be situated at what is called "the tree-line", the altitude above which there are no trees. This makes the Yumthang Valley unique in that it has trees and Rhododendrons, and yet abounds in tiny, low-growing Himalayan flowers. The Valley has an astounding, over 24 species of Rhododendrons which paint the Valley red in spring. Rhododendrons are shrubs or trees, and different species of Rhododendron cover different large stretches of the Valley. In spring, the Valley looks like a collage of little forests of different colors. The flowering of Rhododendrons is over by May end. During monsoons, starting in June, the Valley blooms with all kinds of tiny Himalayan flowers, like the Primroses, Cinquefoils, Louseworts and Cobra-lilies. This is a much more enchanting scenario, but takes a keen viewer, with an eye for detail, to truly appreciate.
How to visit
Only vehicles from tour operators who are registered with Sikkim tourism are allowed. Visit to Zero Point requires additional cost for vehicle. You need to take a tour package from an authorized tour operator of Sikkim. Click here for some of such well known
I would suggest that on the second day, start early in the morning and first visit Zero Point. This is because the weather conditions there can change any time and in the afternoon the visibility may not be as good as in the morning. On your way back, visit Yumthang Valley and Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary. Also visit the small local market in Yumthang and scan through the small stalls selling clothes and knick knacks. Try out some noodles or omelet and tea.
Gurudongmar is a high altitude lake close to Tibet border in North Sikkim. It is the land of Yaks, blue ships and other high altitude animals of Sikkim and Tibet. The snow-fed milky water of the lake is one of the major sources of Tista, the most important river in Sikkim and North Bengal.
The Gurudongmar Lake
About The Lake
At an altitude of 17000 ft, Gurudongmar is one of the highest lakes in the world. It lies in the North side of the Khangchengyao Range and is encircled all around by snow-covered mountains, the sacred lake freezes during the winters except at one spot, which the devout belief has been especially blessed. The Chinese Tibetan border is just a few kilometers away from the lake.
The blessed water of the lake is believed to possess the miraculous power of granting children to issueless couples. Interestingly, the myth of Gurudongmar is believed as reverentially by the Hindus as by the local Buddhists.
The name Gurudongmar is derived from the name of the Guru Padmasambhava who is thought to have visited Tibet through this area. The area is said to be blessed by Guru Padmasambhava. There is a temple of the Guru besides the lake. Devotee tourists as well as the Army personnel offer prayer at the temple.
Tour to North Sikkim requires a special permit (Inner Line Permit). The permit is given to Tourists through an authorized tour operator. Only Indian tourists are allowed to visit Gurudongmar Lake. For international tourists, the tour is limited to Chopta Valley a few kilometers before the lake.
The lake is located at an extreme corner of India. The nearest tourist accommodation at Lachen is 68 km (3 hours) away. A typical tour starts at Gangtok from where Lachen is about 120 km (6 hours). After an overnight stay at Lachen next morning, you may visit Gurudongmar. You should start early in the morning and be back to Lachen latest by lunchtime. As the day progresses weather in the high altitude begins to worsen.
FOREIGN NATIONALS ARE NOT ALLOWED HERE
Road to Gurudongmar
The first phase of the journey starts at Lachen at 8800 feet and in next 35 km reaches Thangu at 13000 feet. As you gain altitude you will find the green forests of lower altitude gives way to smaller trees and bushes. Beyond Thangu is the second phase of your travel. The road towards the lake from Thangu passes through the high alpine pastures carpeted with occasional rhododendron bushes. One can get a prized view of rare Sikkim Rhubarb peeping through the bushes in inaccessible terrain or of a herd of mountain sheep grazing in the distant valley. In this area, you will find little vegetation or people. Apart from the Indian Army, there is no human habitation here. The gravel road through the valley gives you a unique view of barren land. Just before you reach the lake the road takes a right turn and goes uphill to reach the lake.
On the Way to Gurudongmar Lake
The Way to Gurudongmar Lake
Special Note for Travellers
The terrain leading to Gurudongmar is very hostile and yet very beautiful. The land resembles Tibetan plateau, vegetation is very limited and the road is through a stony moraine-like unpaved path. Due to proximity to the Chinese Boarder, landmines are not uncommon and presence of Indian Army is ubiquitous. Due to high altitude breathing problems may also arise. Tourists are suggested to spend less time at the high altitude and come down to Lachen soon.
Despite the hardship and difficulty, a visit to this lake may last as an experience of a lifetime.
You can visit this part of North Sikkim only through a package tour. Individuals cannot go their directly. Tours must be organized by authorized travel operator such as TRAVELGANGTOK (the company behind this website). It is part of a minimum of 2 night three days tour from Gangtok to Gangtok basis. Most tourists combine a tour to Lachen and Gurudongmar with a trip to Lachung and Yumthang valley.
Thangu, situated at an altitude of 13,500 ft. is a beautiful village which is about two hours ' drive from Lachen. It is a comfortable village where the tourists usually choose to relax before they proceed to Guru-Dongmar Lake, Muguthang or Cho Lhamu Lake. There is a beautiful Guest House at Chopta Valley which overlooks Thangu and this place is a perfect holiday destination for soothing and pampering yourself in the lap of nature.
Thangu is a small and cozy village about 30 Kms from Lachen located at an altitude of 13,000 feet. The ideal time to travel to this place would be between the months of May and June, during which, the entire valley gets decorated with vibrant alpine flowers and the heavy snow covers up these beautiful beds of flowers in the cold months between October and March. In Thangu, one can catch a glimpse of the rows of trees and as one goes more upwards, the beautiful view of Tibetan Plateau begins.Ô_For people who are nature lovers, Thangu is a perfect gateway. The spectacular hiking trails from Thangu to places like Chopta Valley and Muguthang enhance the beauty of the village. Since Thangu is near the border between India and China, there is also a big military base present here in Thangu.
Lachung, a tourist hotspot situated in North Sikkim is a splendid destination that is sited at the spot where two tributaries Lachung and Lachen meet. This town is a popular tourist attraction because of the many waterfalls that gush in this area. Glimpses of snow covered mountains can also be caught from this place and offer a spectacular sight. Lachung is also a preferred base to visit the famous Yumthang Valley, quite a landmark in Sikkim's tourism scene.
Lachung is a small town in Sikkim which has majestic mountains all around that tempt tourists to travel here every year. It is that beautiful town of Sikkim which has several snow covered mountains, sparkling streams, peaks, amazing waterfalls and much more. It is the perfect tourist spot which guarantees you pleasurable holidays amidst apple orchards, peaches and apricots. The market of this city is filled with handicrafts such as exquisitely woven rugs and blankets that make this town ideal for shopping sprees. Lachung means 'Small Mountain ' and it gets this name as it is outlined by majestic mountains. There are a few interesting places that you must visit during your trip to Lachung. Gompa is the famous sightseeing spot in this city and Mount Katao is a good destination near Lachung that is sited at a distance of thirty kilometers.
20 kms from Gangtok, on way to North Sikkim is the sacred spot of Kabi where the pact of blood brotherhood was sworn between the Lepchas and the Bhutias in the 15th century. Nine stones were erected facing Mount Khangchendzonga to witness the treaty of brotherhood between the Lepchas and the Bhutias. To this day the stones stand as testimony to the treaty.
The area is a sacred grove rich with medicinal plants and is the venue for the annual Siqueok Puja, a thanksgiving for a good harvest to the Gods and prayers for continued benevolence. Lamas and Bongthings perform the puja with age old rituals which is participated by large number of people.The Puja falls every year on the 15th day of the ninth month of the Tibetan Calendar, normally corresponding to October.
It is located 32 kms away from Gangtok on the National Highway leading to North Sikkim. To facilitate the tourists to savour the pristine beauty and to be with nature, Tourism and Civil Aviation Department has set up a waiting shed and cafeteria where they can take a break and shoot pictures. A must see picturesque beauty of nature.
Spread over 43 sq kms through which flows the Yumthang river, Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary adjoins Lachung and Yumthang. The Sanctuary which is known for its abundance of Rhododendron shrubs and trees is rich in ground flora and other vegetation as well.
The Yumthang River is rich in Brown Trout and good for angling. There is a forest rest house here as well as one in Yumthang.
At an altitude of 8500 ft Lachen is alluring in its simplicity. Not yet as big a tourist destination as Lachung, it retains a freshness which is very appealing. The village comprises of less than 200 houses, earlier inhabited only during winters by their owners who spend their summers on the alpine pastures bordering Tibet tending to their yaks. Lachen is the starting point for some of the most interesting treks in North Sikkim as well as the gateway to the holy Guru Dongmar and Tso Lhamu lakes.
You can visit the Lachen Gompa here and sample the simple village life of the ‘Lachenpas’.
The area is restricted for foreigners, but special passes can be procured in advance. A few lodges are available here for stay as well as Forest Department and a PWD Bungalows.
A small town on way to Yumthang, it stands at the confluence of the rivers Lachen chu and Lachung chu. The North Sikkim highway bifurcates from here with one road leading to Lachen and the other to Lachung. Chungthang valley is considered to be a holy place which has been blessed by Guru Padmasambhava, the patron saint of Sikkim. There is a rock here which to this day bears the hand and footprints of Padmasambhava. From a small opening in the rock there is continuous flow of mineral water. There is a small patch of land here from which grows paddy every year. The nature defying miracle is believed to be the blessing of Guru Padmasambhava who sprinkled a handful of grain on the spot which has sprouted paddy ever since.
Chungthang is a good place to halt before one takes off for the more alpine regions of Lachen, Lachung and the Yumthang Valley. Chungthang is mired in myths and legends, one such being that this is the place from where the word ‘Demazong’ [the hidden valley of rice, as Sikkim is known] first originated.
70 kms away from Gangtok in North Sikkim is Dzongu, an area reserved for the Lepchas, the original inhabitants of Sikkim. Bordering the Kanchendzonga Biosphere Reserve and at an elevation ranging between 3000ft and 20,000ft above sea level, Dzongu still retains an air of exclusivity. The Lepcha Communities in Dzongu live in relative isolation from the outside world with their own traditional practice and believe.
30 minutes ahead of Dzongu is the Seven Sisters waterfall, seven waterfalls falling down cliffs amidst dense forests, it is a sight to behold. Dzongu is surrounded with panoramic views of Mt. Khangchendzonga and is particularly rich in flora and fauna.
Dzongu offers a unique home-stay experience. You can stay with local families and experience the Lepcha lifestyle and cultural traditions amidst luxuriant landscape and spectacular mountain scenery. You can go for village hikes, visit the rich cardamom fields or check out the cane bamboo bridge at Passingdon. Go angling on the Teesta River or learn how the Lepchas use medicinal plants for healing. In the evening a special cultural programme can be arranged on demand.
Dzongu offers an authentic and alluring experience of Sikkim.
67 kilometres from Gangtok, this small town is the district headquarters of the spectacular North district. It is an attractive place with good views and is a transit point to other destinations of the region.
A three day music festival is held at Mangan in December every year. Bands from the region as well as from the other Northeast states entertain the huge gathering and compete for the main prize. Mountains, music and the cold weather create an enthralling event.
Other attractions include an exhibition cum sale of local handicrafts, a presentation of traditional cultural songs and dances and a food festival.