As the journey continues from Gangtok, the route meanders through small villages flanked by fields and valleys until it hits the forest grove of Kabi Langchuk, the place that saw the historic swearing of blood brotherhood between the Lepchas and the Bhutias. An event that underlines the ethos of even present day Sikkim. Stone markers were erected to keep the promise alive and stand to this day.
Before you have even caught your breath from the magnificence of Kabi, you hit the Karma Kagyu monastery of Phodong. Built in 1740 the monastery is famous for the intricate murals that adorn its wall.
comes next with its promises of one of the most glorious views of Kunchanjungha. Situated at an altitude of over 4000ft Singhik offers a desired break to the travellers on the way to Lachen or Lachung. For those having time, a half an hour's walk uphill takes one to an ancient monastery suspended in time.
Straddling at the confluence of Lachen and Lachung rivers lies Chungthang, a small town with full of legends. One of such legends claims this to be the place from where the word Demaong (the hidden valley of rice) first originated for Sikkim. The road coming from Gangtok divides at Chungthang. One leading towards northeast via Lachung up to Yumthang, Yumesamdong and Katao, all in the high altitude plateau above 12000ft and the other one via Lachen towards further north up to Thangu, Gurudongmar and Tso-Lamu Lake on Tibet border.
It is evening by the time you reach Lachung at a height of 8610 ft, one of the most exquisite villages in the valleys of North Sikkim. With resplendent snow-capped mountains, dazzling waterfalls and sparkling streams, Lachung has been described as the "most picturesque village of Sikkim" by none other than Joseph Salton Hooker in his definitive, The Himalayan Journal (1855). A small monastery adorning a solitary hilltop is a perfect place for meditation. The entire valley gets a completely different look in winter when wrapped by thick layer of snow. Lachung has a small market but due to tourist influx several small and medium hotels have come up with basic facilities. Lachung provides a base for the travellers bound to Yumthang Valley, popularly known as the 'Switzerland of the East'.
Lachung's sister village Lachen is only a recent host to tourists. Situated at an altitude of 8838 ft and a good 6hours drive from Gangtok along the North Sikkim highway, Lachen stands on a grassy and bushy flat land separated by deep gorges of Lachen Chu from where rises the pine clad mountains with their snowy peaks and black cliffs. The village comprises of nearly 150 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. The monastery overlooking the Lachen village is worth visiting. A fabulous trek route to the Green Lake at 15400ft in Kunchanjungha National Park originates from Lachen. Few hotels with basic facilities with a luxurious one have come up in Lachen to cater the requirement of nature lovers.