LACHEN TRAVEL GUIDE
Lachen is the sister town of Lachung, tucked away in the Himalayan wonders, surrounded by the Lachen Chu river and mountain ranges. Located at an altitude of 8838ft and a distance of 109 km from Gangtok, it is the starting point of treks further north into the Himalayas, and also to the nearby Gurudongmar Lake & Chopta Valley. As with all the areas in North Sikkim, travel to Lachen requires permits, being close to the China border. This can be obtained via a travel agency from Gangtok.
Getting There & Getting Around Lachen
Lachen is reachable via road from all the major towns of Sikkim. Tourists from the main cities like Gangtok and Pelling can book a good SUV to take the journey to Lachen. The journey itself is extremely picturesque, and nothing short of a day trip. The 8-10 hour drive to Lachen from Gangtok is bumpy in places, so it is important to start early in the day, as night driving is not safe in the hills.
Sightseeing & Activities
The town carries all the charm of a small hill town, with wooden houses, narrow curvy roads, grazing cattle, and beautiful vistas of the hills. Growth of tourism in the area has led to more concrete and brick houses, but the old charm remains. There is nothing much to buy in the town, but the picturesque setting of the town itself is a feast for the eyes. A walk around the town in the early morning or evening is a light exercise as well as a delight for those who relish old world sights. Lachen monastery is a short walk, and a beautiful site showcasing Buddhist culture. The inhabitants of Lachen are mostly Bhutias or Tibetan Buddhists but they understand Hindi.
The most coveted site close to Lachen is the Gurudongmar Lake, which is 67 km from Lachen. It is recommended to set out early in the morning to catch the most beautiful views of the terrain and the lake itself. Surrounded by mountain peaks all around, the water of the lake is clear as crystal and shines out in the otherwise sparsely vegetated region. Gurudongmar is the second highest lake in India, and the steep climb slows down the journey. As you drive on, you can see the height and density of vegetation changing as you go further. On the way you can see small house-shops dotted around the roads, apart from military bases. There are incense stands outside houses at regular intervals, giving a different flavour to the mountain air.
Lachen is one of the most scenic spots in Sikkim, and shows the unadulterated, untouched countryside of the hills of India, recreating the old-world charm. Most hotels in Lachen are homestays and the hospitality of the people can be experienced first-hand. It is also the starting points of treks in the mountains, which require elaborate planning and permits. Professional mountaineers and trekkers will need to plan their treks way in advance, as per the season.