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.
Gurudongmar Lake at a height of 17100 ft., is among the top 15 highest lakes in the world and is the second highest lake in Sikkim as well as in India, the first being Cholamu lake at a height of 18000 ft, also located in Sikkim. Being the second highest lake in India, the splendid and scenic beauty of the place is breath-taking.
The Gurudongmar Lake is located in Lachen, a small beautiful town in North Sikkim situatedÔ_at a height of 10000 ft.and a night stay at this town is recommended before visiting the Gurudongmar Lake. The nearest village from Gurdongmar LakeÔ_is Thangu, at about 14000 ft. which is another popular tourist attraction. Named after Guru Dongmar, the lake has a lot of religious significance and the beautiful view of Mount Siniolchu and Khanchendzonga from that point is a sight to behold. Encircled by snow-capped mountains and crystal clear icy water, it is considered as a very holy lake. The lake is one of the sources of River Teesta, which flows through Sikkim, West Bengal and Bangladesh to merge with the Bay of Bengal. There lies a 'Sarva Dharma Sthal' near the lake and it is a very popular place of worship for all religions.
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.
Around 38 kms from Gangtok are the monasteries of Phodong, Phensang and Labrang. All three are close to each other on the North Sikkim Highway.
Phodang Monastery was built in the 18th century by Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal. It belongs to the Kargyupa sect. The original monastery has been rebuilt although the old mural paintings and frescoes were preserved. It celebrates its annual ‘chaam’ on the 28th and 29th day of the tenth month of the Tibetan calendar.
Phensang Monastery was built in 1721 by Lama Jigme Pawo, who was the third incarnation of Lhatsun Chenpo. In 1947 it was completely destroyed by a devastating fire but rebuilt again the following year. The annual ‘Chaam’ is held on the 28th and the 29th day of the tenth month of the Tibetan calendar.
Labrang Monastery is famous for its architectural style with rich frescoes detailing the interiors of the monastery. Between Phodong and Labrang Monastery are the ruins of the third capital of Sikkim, Tumlong.
A small and picturesque hamlet, Singhik is located around four kms away from Mangan. The popular Singhik View Point offers the most magnificent view of Mt. Khangchendzonga and Mt. Siniolchu . Surrounded by lush green hills, with the Teesta River flowing below it, Singhik is a great place to take a short break in before heading on to the other destinations of North Sikkim .
For those who want to linger, a tourist lodge is available close by for night halts. The area also has a number of interesting short nature trails for 1 to 3 days along the higher ridges of the surrounding hills.