By road to Lachung is 102 km from the state capital Gangtok. The journey takes about 4.5 hours. Most visitors stay overnight at Lachung enroute to the beautiful Yumthang Valley. It is a scenic route with charming villages and waterfalls along the way. Visitors climb from Gangtok at 5,118 feet to Lachung at 8,610 feet. We travelled in a Tata Sumo driven by a Nepali driver.
Lachung is at the confluence of Lachen and Lachung Rivers, both of which are tributaries of River Teesta. The army has a substantial presence in the border town. Travellers from India and abroad visit the town between October and May, on their way to Yumthang Valley and Lachung Monastery. Lachung is the base camp for the Rhododendron Valley Trek which begins from Yumthang Valley and ends at Lachen Valley. In winter season, visitors can watch the mask dance festival and snow covered valley. Summer season brings red Rhododendron flowers which carpet the entire valley. By road to Lachung also presents stunning views, as it nestles amid the Himalayan peaks of Pauhunri and Shundu Tsenpa. Pauhunri is a mountain in the Eastern Himalayas, on the border of Sikkim and Tibet. It about 75 km northeast of Kangchenjunga. Teesta river emerges from here.
Seven Sisters Waterfalls
Right by the roadside on the Gangtok – Lachung route is Seven Sisters Waterfalls. It is supposed to have got its name because the fall has seven steps on the way down. I could not make out the seven steps from down below. There is a footbridge across the stream for visitors to get a closer view. A large picture of Budhha overlooks the falls.
Cars pass along an old narrow bridge opposite the waterfalls. It is festooned with multi-coloured prayer flags. The waterfall itself is beautiful and the water were very cold. The flow of water reduces during the summer months.
We found this stall near Seven Sisters Waterfalls. Hungry travellers could buy momos, samosas and noodles. Biscuits, tea, colas and bottled water were also on offer. Most such shops down their shutters by evening.
Bakcha Chu Bridge
Border Roads Organisation (BRO) built this modern bridge. There was an old Bailey Suspension Bridge of 400 feet span over Bakcha Chu. The bearing capacity was just 8 ton. The new 120-metre balanced cantilever bridge will allow the passage of heavy vehicles. Hishey Lachungpa, MP from Sikkim, inaugurated the concrete bridge on 10 December 2016. BRO is engaged in many other road building activities in the border area.
Lungma Dara – By Road to Lachung
We stopped at Lungma Dara View Point for a sweeping view up, down and across the Himalayan mountains. We were really up among the clouds there.
A long descent began as the road swung north out over the very deep valley of the Teesta River. It flows through the length of Sikkim. Teesta is the lifeline of the state.
Red Snake or Bhewma Falls
At a height of 275 metres is Bhewma Falls. In the local dialect it means Red Snake. Over the years, tourists have started referring to it also as Lachung Falls. It comes down in three steps. It usually does not freeze even in the peak of winter.
For travellers going by road to Lachung, there are a few excursions to check out. Some deviate to the superb Yumthang Valley. Others take the slightly harder route to the frosty Gurudongmar Lake. Those in love with flowers go on to the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary. Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world and at a steep elevation of 5,430 m (17,800 ft). It is considered sacred by Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus.