Nestled amidst the mesmerizing Himalayan range in the northern part of Sikkim, Lachen is a quaint little village that’s an embodiment of natural splendor and serene tranquility. Known for its stunning landscapes, and unique local culture, and as a gateway to some of Sikkim’s most revered sites, Lachen offers an unspoiled and captivating experience to all who visit.
Introduction to Lachen
Sitting at a breathtaking altitude of 8,500 feet, Lachen is a quiet hamlet with a population of just around a thousand, primarily Bhutia tribes. The name ‘Lachen’ translates to ‘big pass,’ referring to its location. Despite its remoteness and small size, Lachen has a unique charm, with wooden homes, lush green fields, and the majestic Himalayas as a backdrop.
A Journey Through Culture
The Lachen Gompa, a major Buddhist monastery in the heart of the village, is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region. Founded in 1858, the Gompa is an architectural marvel with vibrant murals and sculptures. The annual mask dance festival, known as Chaam, performed in the monastery precincts is a sight to behold and provides a window into the unique traditions of the local community.
Flora and Fauna
Lachen is blessed with rich biodiversity owing to its varying altitudes and climatic conditions. Surrounding the village are lush forests teeming with a multitude of flora, including rhododendrons, blue poppies, and numerous orchid species. The region is also home to a variety of wildlife such as the snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, and several species of deer.
Gateway to Gurudongmar Lake
Lachen serves as the base for the journey to one of the highest and most sacred lakes in India, Gurudongmar Lake. Located at an altitude of 17,800 feet, the lake is a spectacle of ethereal beauty and tranquility. Its crystal-clear blue waters against the stark ruggedness of the surrounding snow-covered landscape present an awe-inspiring sight. The lake holds significant religious value and is considered sacred by Buddhists, Sikhs, and Hindus.
The Lachen Losar Festival
One of the highlights of a trip to Lachen is the chance to witness the Losar festival, the New Year celebration as per the Tibetan calendar. During Losar, the entire village comes alive with music, dance, and a feast of local delicacies. This festival, generally celebrated in December or January, provides an excellent opportunity to witness the unique cultural nuances of the Lachenpas, the inhabitants of Lachen.
Ecotourism and Homestays
Lachen is a pioneer in implementing ecotourism in Sikkim. The village is managed by a local eco-tourism committee that ensures sustainable tourism practices. Visitors are encouraged to stay in community-run homestays, where they get to experience the traditional hospitality and lifestyle of the local people, while also enjoying the delicious Sikkimese cuisine.
Uncommercialized and tranquil, Lachen is a haven for those seeking peace and natural beauty. Whether it is the appeal of the serene landscapes, the rich cultural experience, or the allure of the high-altitude lake, Lachen has something to offer every traveler. As you plan your next trip to Sikkim, make sure to include Lachen for a truly unforgettable and enriching Himalayan experience.