Mangan / Thangu / Chopta valley / Muguthang Valley - Heaven on earth is North Sikkim with diversity seen to be believed. Beautiful Lakes, Valley, Hot water spring, Rhododendron forest; Monastery, etc are places to visit. Apple orchard, wool etc are produced here and the small hamlets have home stay. Few trek routes have base camp here
Mangan – Mangan is a beautiful settlement in North Sikkim in the Indian state of Sikkim. The town is connected to the capital Gangtok by decent metalled road. Mangan also serves the towns of Lachung, Chungthang and Lachen in the far north. Due to its elevation, the town enjoys a temperate climate. North Sikkim is the largest of the four districts of Sikkim and is mountainous with dense vegetation all the way up to the alpine altitude before thinning out to desert scrub towards the Northern Tundra. The drive is enjoyable as numerous waterfalls astride the main road make the trip to this district extremely picturesque.
Population of the district resides near Mangan situated at an altitude of about 2000 feet / 610 meters. The elevation increases with the vegetation turning from temperate to alpine to tundra towards north. Temperatures range from about 25° to below - 40° in the extreme high reaches where the altitude is in excess of 6000 meters. Kanchenjanga is the highest peak at over 8000 meters. Eastern border is shared with Nepal and can be seen clearly from the town of Singhik. One of the major attractions of the town is the Labrang Monastery that was constructed in 1814 and is one of the oldest monasteries in India. Tourists can also visit Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, which houses more than forty species of endangered plants and Rhododendrons blooming in spring. Mangan is known as the Cardamom Capital of the world as the climate and terrain best suit the cultivation of the larger variety of Cardamom here.
Thangu Valley - Thangu Valley is situated at a distance of 30 kilometers from Lachen and is very beautiful place with less greenery. An annual Yak race is organized in the region and is quite popular with tourists. Lachen is the starting point for most of the interesting treks and also the gateway to the holy Gurudongmar and Tso Lhamu lakes. Visit the Lachen Gompa here and see simple lives of the local people known as Lachenpas. Thangu valley in North Sikkim is situated at around 16,000 feet. We find less vegetation there. Some scattered huts, some yaks and military camps are only found all around. Thangu is a small but scenic area, located in the North District of Sikkim at an altitude of 13000 feet and is approximately at a distance of 30 kilometers from Lachen. Activities like trekking can be done here. Adventure seekers have started coming to Thangu village with some basic facilities for accommodation coming up in the last couple of years but not so organized. It has become an important point where trekkers acclimatize before proceeding for the trek to Chopta Valley, Green Lake or Muguthang. These trekking routes attract a lot of adventure seekers both from India and abroad. The most important streams flowing through Thangu are Chopta Chu, Thangu Chu and Lassur Chu.
The place remains snow covered for most of the time. The tranquil and serene valley of Thangu blooms with flowers during the months of April - May. The whole landscape turns into a valley of snow from October till March. Thangu lies midway between Lachen and Gurudongmar Lake, which is considered sacred by both Buddhists and Hindus.
River Teesta originates from Cho Lhamu which is close to Thangu. Thangu with scanty population is inhabited by various tribes. The best time to visit Thangu is March - April.
Chopta Valley - The relatively unexplored and untouched Chopta Valley is located in northeast Sikkim. Rich with alpine trees, orchids and rhododendrons, enthralling lakes and rivers add to the beauty of Chopta Valley. A preferred destination with nature lovers, Chopta is also famous for the several monuments of historical and religious importance. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot rare species of animals, plants and birds in Chopta Valley.
Bird watching is a popular activity and the region is ideal for trekking and other adventure sports. The valley, located at an altitude of 13200 feet, is preferred destination for hiking and trekking and leisure holidays.
The trek from Chopta Valley to Muguthang Valley is considered one of the best. It lies in the Greater Himalayas at an altitude of 15500 ft. Trekkers are assured of scenic landscapes with snow-covered mountain peaks on one side and green pine forests and meandering rivers on the other. The route through Thangu - Chopta Valley - Muguthang - Lachen trek is quite popular but difficult. An hour drive from Thangu to north reaching to uninhabited land of Chopta Valley is nice. Chopta Offers walk over the frozen river. The valley is covered with Alpine vegetation. The road leads towards Gurudongmar Lake; the landscape becomes more barren as it is a cold desert. Chopta valley glows with colours during the late spring.
An exciting feature of trip to the valley is a chance to walk on frozen lake if visiting the place during winter. A few kilometers from the valley is the Gurudongmar Lake, considered sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists. The lake is very close to the Indo-Tibet border, and is considered special because a part of it never freezes even in the peak of winter. About nine km from Gurudongmar Lake is the Tso Lhamu Lake and is the source of river Teesta.
Muguthang Valley – This high mountain valley is basically for Tibetans refugee village under the constant vigil of Indian Army. This is the last outpost of Indian Army in the eastern part of extreme north Sikkim. From here they monitor the Nepal-Tibet border. It is also alternative way to green lake; it also serves as the kanchenjhunga base camp. Muguthang valley can be reached from Chopta Valley by trekking through high altitude alpine route.
The route through Thangu - Chopta Valley - Muguthang - Lachen trek is quite popular but difficult to travel. An hour drive from Thangu to north reaching to uninhabited land of Chopta Valley is nice. Situated at an altitude 13500 feet with close proximity to Tibet the valley provides one of the few places in North Sikkim where one can even walk over the frozen river. The valley is covered with Alpine vegetation. The road leads towards Gurudongmar lake, the landscape becomes more barren as it is a cold desert. Chopta valley glows with colours during the late spring.
An adventurous trek through Chopta valley leads to Muguthang valley situated at an altitude of 15500 feet, another unseen destination in the greater Himalayas. The view is marvelous with stretches vast flat pasture crisscrossed by numerous snow - fed streams / rivers.
High alpine valley of Muguthang is only inhabitable for rare high altitude ruminants and their predators. Some nomadic tribesfrom Tibet occasionally settle here for food and for grazing their yaks.