Lachen Circuit :
Lachen, 107-km from Gangtok and 27-km from Chungthang, is a mountainous town in North Sikkim. Lachen means "big pass.” It serves as the one-day acclamation base before one can embark on a visit to the Tsopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake at an altitude of 17,800 feet.
During the stay at Lachen, one can take a stroll past the old wooden homes built on stone bases and decorated with bright, multi-hued window frames constructed in Tibetan style.
A 20-minute walk will take one to the Nyudrup Choeling Gompa, monastery standing at a gorgeous location offering panoramic views of the surrounding hills and the countryside.
To go further beyond Lachen, tourists need a special permit and Global Connections right there to help. Foreign tourists, however, are neither issued a permit nor allowed beyond Lachen.
After Lachen, the next stop is Thangu at an altitude of 13,000 feet. Thangu is about 30-km from Lachen on the way to Tsopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake. Thangu remains covered with snow for the most part of the year.An annual yak race is held here in every summer.
At 13,200 feet, Tsopta Valley is barely a 20-minute drive from Thangu. An adventurous trek through Tsopta valley leads to Muguthang valley at an altitude of 15,500 feet, a virgin territory in the Himalayas.Its slopes covered with pine forest and the grazing fields by the meandering river make it an ideal place for the trekkers and explorers.
A drive for 32-km from Tsopta Valley through rugged trails, you are finally at Gurudongmar Lake, one of the highest lakes in the world. The lake is named after Guru Padmasambhava ~ also known as Guru Rinpoche ~ founder of Tibetan Buddhism, who visited the site in the 8th Century.
The Sikhs believe that the lake was blessed in the 15th Century by Guru Nanak on his way back from Tibet. Thus, Gurudongmar is at once sacred to the Buddhists, the Sikhs, and the Hindus.
The lake is spread over 290 acres area and its peripheral length is 5.34 km. The surroundings are devoid of human habitation and are inhabited by Yaks, blue sheep, and other high altitude wildlife.
Gurudongmar is surrounded by smaller snow-clad peaks and remains frozen in the winter. In the summer, the snow melts into turquoise blue water and feeds the source streams that join TsoLahmu Lake at a lower elevation of 17,490 feet.
TsoLahmu Lake is the one from which the mighty Teesta river originates and traverses its course through Sikkim, Bengal and then enters Bangladesh.