TOURISTS POINTS IN CHUNGTHANG

CHUNGTHANG-

A small town on way to Yumthang, it stands at the confluence of the rivers Lachen chu and Lachung chu. The North Sikkim highway bifurcates from here with one road leading to Lachen and the other to Lachung. Chungthang valley is considered to be a holy place which has been blessed by Guru Padmasambhava, the patron saint of Sikkim. There is a rock here which to this day bears the hand and footprints of Padmasambhava. From a small opening in the rock there is continuous flow of mineral water. There is a small patch of land here from which grows paddy every year. The nature defying miracle is believed to be the blessing of Guru Padmasambhava who sprinkled a handful of grain on the spot which has sprouted paddy ever since.

Chungthang is a good place to halt before one takes off for the more alpine regions of Lachen, Lachung and the Yumthang Valley. Chungthang is mired in myths and legends, one such being that this is the place from where the word ‘Demazong’ [the hidden valley of rice, as Sikkim is known first originated.

LACHUNG-

The picturesque mountain village of Lachung, at a height of 8610 ft, embraced by snow capped mountain peaks, breathtaking waterfalls, sparkling streams and apple orchards is the perfect holiday destination. Sprawled across the banks of the Lachung Chu [river] which slices the village in two, Lachung is famous for its apples, peaches and apricots. At Lachung you can visit the Lachung Gompa, built around 1880, the monastery is situated amidst apple orchards across the river from the town centre. Also go see the handicraft centre which has exquisitely woven rugs and blankets.

Accommodation is no problem in Lachung which has many hotels and lodges including a Dak Bungalow. But despite throwing its doors open to tourists Lachung still retains its distinctive culture and tradition, including the unique system of self governance called the Zumsa where all local disputes are settled by a totally representative body of the village which is headed by an elected Pipon.

You can also visit the Shingba Rhododendron sanctuary through which flows the Yumthang Chu. The sanctuary is known for its abundance of Rhododendron trees and shrubs. Lachung is perfect for an overnight halt before you visit the spectacular Yumthang valley.

LACHEN-

At an altitude of 8500 ft Lachen is alluring in its simplicity. Not yet as big a tourist destination as Lachung, it retains a freshness which is very appealing. The village comprises of less than 200 houses, earlier inhabited only during winters by their owners who spend their summers on the alpine pastures bordering Tibet tending to their yaks. Lachen is the starting point for some of the most interesting treks in North Sikkim as well as the gateway to the holy Guru Dongmar and Tso Lhamu lakes.

You can visit the Lachen Gompa here and sample the simple village life of the 'Lachenpas'.

The area is restricted for foreigners, but special passes can be procured in advance. A few lodges are available here for stay as well as Forest Department and a PWD Bungalows.

GURUDONGMAR LAKE-

As per Denjong Nye-Yig (The Pilgrim's Guide to The Hidden Land of Sikkim, by Jigme Pawo, reincarnation of Gyalwa Lhatsun Chenpo) and Nay-Sol texts, Gurudongmar Lake, located at an altitude of about 17,000 feet within the Lachen Dzomsa area in North District, Sikkim, is one of the 108 "Tso-Chen" or major holy lakes of Denjong (Sikkim) which are believed to be abodes of local guardian deities. The holy lake is located close to Mt. Khangchen Gyao, also considered sacred by the locals.
During the eight century AD, Guru Padmasambhava, also referred to by Buddhists as Guru Rinpoche, hailing from the Swat region in present-day northwest Pakistan, visited Tibet at the invitation of the Tibetan emperor Trisong Deutsen and introduced the practice of Tantric Buddhism to the Tibetans.
On his way back from Tibet, Guru Rinpoche is believed to have visited Sikkim and Gurudongmar Lake was probably the first major landmark that the Guru came across upon his entry into the fabled hidden land of "Denjong"/"Demojong". The word "Dongmar Shab Chakpa" refers to his visit to this place. He recognised the lake as a part of Dorje Nyima/Chorten Nyima, a sacred place of worship in northern Sikkim.
It is believed that the Guru, in order to provide drinking water to the local people during winter when the lake freezes, placed his hands on a part of the lake, which miraculously stopped freezing during winter, thereby facilitating in provision of drinking water to the locals. Since then, the water of the lake is considered sacred.
Recognising the auspicious omens in the lake, Guru Rinpoche saw them as propitious and favourable signs welcoming his entry into the land of Denjong/Demojong.
Devotees believe that by offering prayers at the holy lake, one can be blessed with the birth of a child/children.

YUMTHANG--

Yumthang, situated at a height of 11800 feet is popularly known as 'Valley of Flowers', Located at a distance of 148 kms from Gangtok, it is a paradise for nature lovers with a fascinating blend of flora and fauna and breathtaking scenic beauty. In spring season, wild flowers such as primulas and Rhododendrons bathe the landscape in rich colours, making it a tourist hot spot. The Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary over here has 24 species of Rhododendron flowers which bloom from April to May end.

hot spring located on the right side of Yumthang river is a popular tourist attraction. In addition to a vast green meadow, lush green forest abounding in Pine and silver fir trees throngs the place. While driving towards the valley, one can see cascading waterfalls and streams.

Six kms away further North is Shiv Mandir. A drive or trek to this place can be very refreshing and exhilerating. Situated further up at a distance of 16 kms, at an altitude of about 16,000 feet is Yumesamdong. The rugged vegetation- free mountains, especially in the months of November-December and February¬March over here present a breathtaking scenario. The approach to Yumthang is from Lachung valley, situated at a height of 8000 feet. It is at a distance of 120 kms from Gangtok. It has a unique self-governing body called the Dzumsa, which substitutes the modern Gram Panchyat. The village, spread out on the either side of Lachung Chu, has managed to retain its unique culture and tradition.

SINGHIK :

The place offers one of the most spectacular and nearest view points to Mount Kangchendzonga and its ranges. You can also have solo view of Mount Janu which perhaps can be viewed only from this place and from part of Nepal. A well-known tourist wayside accommodation for visitors is also available. The area also has a number of interesting short nature trails for 1 to 3 days along the higher ridges of the surrounding hills.

Chopta Valley :

The Chopta Valley is at an altitude of 13,200 ft. It has breathtaking alpine scenery with lofty snow capped peaks, meandering rivers and alpine flowers that bloom in June-July. It is about 20 minutes drive from Thangu. Gurudongmar Lake is a holy lake at an altitude of over 17,000 ft, it is beyond Chopta and armed with a special permit it is possible to reach the same during a day's excursion ex-Lachen. The Valley is also the home for Shingbha Rhododendron Sanctuary with all species of Rhododendrons. Yumthang's "Tsa-Chu" or the hot spring is immensely popular for its curative properties and healing powers.

MAIN TOURIST POINT IN CHUNGTHANG SUB DIVISION .

  • Myang water falls.
  • Chungthang Gumpa.
  • Chungthang Gurudwara.
  • Ledo ( Footprints of His Holiness Guru Rinpoche ) Chungthang.
  • Bimnala Waterfalls in Lachung.
  • Lachung Gumpa.
  • Katoa View Point.
  • Yumthang Valley.
  • Yumisamdong Hot Spring .
  • Zero Point.
  • Yumthang Hotsrping.
  • Chpota valley
  • Mukuthang.
  • Phalung.
  • Lachen Gumpa.
  • Thangu.
  • Gurudongmar Lake.
  • Tourist can visit the Rohdoardan sanctury on the way to Yumthang valley.
  • Chuba gumpa via Domang (oldest Gumpa in Lachung.
  • Domang Valley.
  • Chubaka Lake in Lachung.
  • Green Lake.

Monasteries of Tsunthang Sub-Division-

  • Ridgzing Choeling Gonpa (monastery), Tsunthang:
    The historic and religiously significant Ridgzing Choeling Gonpa (monastery), located at Tsunthang, is one of the oldest monasteries in Denjong/Sikkim, belonging to the Nyingmapa Sect of Tibetan/Himalayan Buddhism. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) himself consecrated the site on which the Gonpa stands. The original monastery structure was built around 1788 AD by local Lepcha Buddhists.
    The later day structure, that stood on the very site where the original monastery once stood, was built during the reign of the twelfth Denjong Chogyal, Miwang Palden Thondup Namgyal in 1968. This structure was unfortunately severely damaged by the September 18, 2011 earthquake that devastated many parts of Sikkim.
    Presently, a new monastery structure along-with a new Mani Lhakhang, are coming up at the site.
  • Samten Choeling Gonpa, Lachung:
    The Samten Choeling Gonpa, located at Lachung, was built around 1850 AD.
    The Gonpa, which is one of the most important in Denjong/Sikkim, originally adhered to the Bon Sect of Tibetan/Himalayan Buddhism. However, it was subsequently affiliated to the Nyingmapa Sect. The copper idols of the Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara) as well as the holy Kangyur and Tengyur religious texts, that the monastery possesses, were brought from Tibet.
    The present Samten Choeling Gonpa structure underwent renovation and remodelling in 1983.
  • Ngodup Choeling Gonpa, Lachen:
    The Lachen 'Ngodup Choeling Gonpa' was built around 1858 AD, by Karchen Dorje Drak, a monk who hailed from Tibet. However, it was during the lifetime of Ngawang Kunzang Rinchen, also known as Lachen Gomchen, that the monastery acquired prominence. The Rinpoche, who hailed from Namok village in north Sikkim, was persuaded by the ninth Denjong Chogyal, Miwang Thutob Namgyal and local Lachenpas to stay on at Ngodup Choeling Gonpa.
    The monastery, which possesses a number of religious artefacts, is a significant Nyingmapa monastery of Sikkim.
  • Kunzang Choeling Gonpa, Ship-Gyer:
    The Ship-Gyer Gonpa, initially built around 1900 AD, was later on rebuilt in the year 1985. It adheres to the Nyingmapa Buddhist tradition. HE Dodrubchen Rinpoche consecrated the new monastery structure and named it as 'Kunzang Choeling'. Located at a distance, above the monastery site, is a lake known as 'Lamtar Tso', which is considered sacred. Near the lake is a site called 'Shemu Mungda', where Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) is believed to have slain a Shemu (demoness). There is also a place where the Guru is believed to have tied his horse and a stone where it is said he placed his hat. It is also said that, at this site, the Guru opened a 'Naygo' or 'a door to a sacred place', where holy water (Dubchu) is still found, even to this today.
  • Ugen Samdroling Gonpa, Naga:
    The Ugen Samdroling Gonpa of Naga, which follows the Nyingmapa tradition of Tibetan/Himalayan Buddhism, was established in the year 1937.
    The Gonpa was built by local Buddhists on the direction of Kyabgon Batrul Rinpoche, an eminent monk who visited the place while on a visit to north Sikkim.
    Currently, a new and much larger monastery structure is being built at the place. There is also a Mani Lhakhang on the campus.
    'Chaam' or religious dances are held here, participated in by local monks, in the month of December each year.
  • Samten Choeling Gonpa, Thangu:
    The Samten Choeling Gonpa of Thangu, which is a branch of Lachen Ngodup Choeling Gonpa, was formerly a hermitage founded in the 19th century by a Buddhist monk from Kham in Tibet. Subsequently, around 1974, a small Lhakhang (temple) was built at the site by local Lachenpas.
    In 2003, with State Government assistance, the present monastery structure was built.
    During the summer months, the people of Lachen move to Thangu, which is located at an altitude higher than that of Lachen. Here, they practise cultivation of various varieties of vegetables such as potato, radish, cabbage etc. The religious occasions that fall within these months, are performed at the Thangu monastery. During the winter, the public fall back to Lachen.