Located in the North West of Sikkim, Dzongu established in early 1960s, is the territory reserved for the Lepcha community and borders the Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve. Dzongu’s elevation ranges 75 between 800m and 6,000m above sea level. The area has panoramic views of Mount Khangchendzonga (8585 m), the third highest mountain in the world, and has a particularly rich fauna and flora that is endemic to the area. The Lepchas are the only residents of Dzongu and are considered to be the indigenous people of Sikkim.
Situated at an attitude of over 17000 ft and encircled all around by snow-covered mountains, the sacred lake has a great religious significance as well. This snow-fed milky water of the lake is one of the major sources of Teesta, the most important river in Sikkim and North Bengal. The road to Gurudongmar from Thangu passes through the high alpine pastures carpeted with thick rhododendron bushes. One can get a prized view of rare Bramhakamal peeping through the bushes in inaccessible terrain or of a herd of mountain sheep grazing in the distant valley.
Lachung’s sister village, Lachen is only a recent introduction to tourism. Situated at an altitude of 2,694m, Lachen stands on a grassy and flat bush from the periphery of which rise with the pine clad mountains with their snowy peaks and black cliffs.The village comprises of barely 150 houses, earlier inhabited only during winters by their owners who spend the summers on the alpine pastures along the Tibet boarder tending to their yaks.
The Ultimate destination for a foreign tourist to North Sikkim, Thangu at a altitude of 3,960m is 30 km beyond Lachen . The months of May June sees this valley carpeted with colorful alpine flowers which are replaced by snow from October through March. A stop over destination for a visitor to Gurudongmar, Thangu has a forest Dak Bungalow for accommodation. Enroute Thangu to Gurudongmar one comes across a herbal Garden and Kalep Cave.
Wonder never ceases in North Sikkim with each turn, each valley, and each rivulet trying to outdo the other in the scenic beauty that it offers. Few places come close to the virgin appeal of Chopta Valley (4,020 m). Just a 20 – minute drive from Thangu, this valley provides one of the few accessible places in Sikkim where visitors can actually walk over frozen rivers during winter.
Yumthang the “valley of flowers” is at an elevation of 11,800 feet and about 140kms from Gangtok, Yumthang is a paradise for nature lovers with a fascinating blend of flora and fauna and breathtaking scenic grandeur. The valley is also the home for Singbha Rhododendron Sanctuary with around 24 species of Rhododendrons. Yumthang Hot spring, popularly known as ‘Tsa-chu’, on the left bank of Lachung Chu is immensely popular for its curative properties and healing power.
A number of hot springs are scattered in the valley providing an unexpected opportunity to feel the warmth of the water even in freezing temperature. Rich in sulphur these springs are believed to have miraculous healing power.
Resting silently on the foot of massive rocky mountain and spread on either side of the roaring Lachung Chu, one of the tributaries of river Teesta, Lachung reminds one of an old cowboy town. At almost 2684mts in North Sikkim, a drive to Lachung is a passage through villages memorable as time, picturesque spots for stoppage, waterfalls, great views. Lachung has emerged as a tourist destination with the soaring popularity of Yumthang Valley, which is just 25kms away from Lachung. The village, spread out on either side of Lachung Chu, has managed to retain its unique culture and tradition. The Lachung Monastery on the slope opposite to the highway is a focal point of all religious function of the local inhabitants. Sikkim with its proximity to Kangchendzonga and the fact that it lies in the direct path of the monsoon is much the wettest portion of the whole area, and has a heavy rainfall.
Mangan, the north district headquarters is a primary business centre for the large cardamom trade. Tourism also has picked up in the town which offers a panoramic view of the eastern face of Mt. Khanchenjunga. Trekking routes have been opened recently with Mangan as a base for eastbound treks towards the beautiful Tosar Lake at the base of Chola range and northwest towards the fort of the Khanchenjunga.
The place offers one of the most spectacular and closest views of Mt. Khangchen-Dzonga and its ranges. For those with time a half an hour uphill takes one to the ancient Labrang Monastery suspended in time with beautiful moral paintings adorning the walls and manned by monks who look just about as old as the monastery itself. Its name literally means “The lamas dwelling”.
This historical place is 17 kms form Gangtok on the North Sikkim Highway. This is where the historic treaty of blood brotherhood between the Lepcha Chief Te-Kung-Tek and the Bhutia Chief Khey-Bum-Sa was signed ritually. The spot where the ceremony took place is marked by a memorial stone pillar amidst the cover of dense forest. The statue of Unity erected near the Thakur Bari Temple in Gangtok is in memory of this event.
7 sister waterfall - A prominent spot for a tourist visiting Gangtok and on the way to north Sikkim is the Seven Sister waterfalls. Seven identical falls that gushes down the rock as if from heavens, a replica of each is in fact a single stream of waterfall that finally lands near the road with a single splash. The Department of Tourism, Government of Sikkim has built a viewpoint with a cc footpath leading to a watch tower from where the fall can be captured in the camera.