The most beautiful view is the one I share with you…”
It is said that 'a thing of beauty is a joy forever'... the sentiment lends an apt introduction to Lachen village that clings to the grassy mountain slopes of the eastern Himalayas in the state of Sikkim. With many incredible attributes with respect to landscape, people, culture, seasons...and each more fascinating than the other... this Himalayan village in the north east of India, transcends the most ethereal of travel experiences.
Lachen radiates charm, life and colour. Prayer flags fluttering in the chilly mountain breeze embody not only a strong Buddhist sentiment, but also stand testimony to the indomitable disposition of the Lachen community, which comprises migrant Buddhist Bhutia yak and sheep herders called Lachenpas. These smiling folk greet or bid visitors farewell with the traditional 'khada' scarf.
Lachen, which literally means 'Big Pass', is nested in a valley of mixed conifer and Rhododendron forests, and against a backdrop of imposing snow capped peaks, glaciers and rock cliffs. In this fragile high altitude (8,838 ft) environment, seasons unfold with a great fervour... Rhododendrons flower in the spring, the monsoon brings swirling mists, followed by the afterglow of autumn, and finally the severity of the winter sets in and the entire village of about 150 houses becomes snow-bound.
Hot springs, lakes and celebrated trek routes dot the vicinity of Lachen. The world's third highest mountain, Kangchendzonga, rises alongside, lending its name to India's high altitude Kangchendzonga National Park. Foot trails to Mt. Khangchendzonga and Mt. Sinolchu begin at every doorstep. Nearby villages of Rabom, Chaten, Talem, Yakthang, Kalep, Samdong and Thangu form the larger part of Lachen.
The village is unique in more ways than one and a stay with the locals is the best way to be introduced to the novelties... Watch them make cheese called the Churpi and yak butter, and try your hand at milking a yak! Even their accounting system Traditional system in financial accounting practiced by locals. A council, with a set hierarchy, meets the Treasurer to settle accounts. Distribution and settlement is represented in symbols such as the beans, stones, sticks - each of which represent a different monetary value. Whatever be the amount, several hundreds or thousands, the same system is followed.
is of a singular kind! Unique to this region is also the mountain sheep called Byangluk, found in the upper reaches of Lachen, reared for meat, and also for wool used to weave traditional blankets and carpets.