Lachen, North Sikkim
Lachen is the sister village of Lachung in North Sikkim and is the base for tours to Gurudongmar lake and Chopta valley. Situated at an altitude of 8838 ft, the small town is a good 6 to 8 hours drive from Gangtok (depending on road condition) along the North Sikkim highway.
Lachen stands on a grassy and bushy flat land separated by deep gorges of river Lachen-Chu from where rises the pine clad mountains with their snowy peaks and black cliffs. The village comprises of nearly 250 houses, earlier inhabited only in winters by the owners who spend the summers on the alpine pastures along the Tibet border tending to their herd of yaks.
Lachen is the base for tours to Gurudongmar Lake and Chopta valley. You will have to stay here one night before going to Gurudongmar day tour. The Gurudongmar lake is just 67 km from here. However, the travel takes about 4 hours as it entails steep climb of about 9000 feet and driving through high altitude unpaved mountain roads. You have to start very early as the weather around the lake starts deteriorating as the day progresses.
If you have some extra time in hand, we would recommend you visit the Lachen Monastery. The Ngodub Choling monastery overlooking the village is one of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim being constructed in 1858. The monastery follows Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. There is a large ground in front of the monastery which offers a panoramic view of Lachen village and surrounding hills.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Best time to visit Lachen is October to June as the weather is quite pleasant at that time of the year and you can also play with snow and see the Rhododendrons blooming on the hills nearby. Monsoon season starts from July and ends by September. Heavy rains are expected in this places during these days due to the South-West monsoons. The heavy rains during this time will play a spoilsport with sightseeing plans so it is advisable to void travelling during these seasons.
HOW TO GET THERE
Airways: The nearest airport is in Bagdogra, West Bengal about 5 hrs drive from Gangtok, and about 199 km from Lachen. Sikkim also has got its first commercial airport at Pakyong, East Sikkim but weather hampers the operation of this airport most of the time. If you are lucky enough you can get a flight directly to Pakyong.
Railways: The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) in West Bengal which is about 195 km from Lachen.
Roadways: Lachen is about 106 km from Gangtok, the capital city. You have to halt at Gangtok and start your journey to Lachen the next day early morning after getting the necessary permits.