Snow-capped mountains, beautiful greenery, water-falls and breathtaking landscapes – the first place that all of these remind us of is Switzerland, right? Not anymore! You don’t really have to go that far now, with our own beautiful Mt.Katao of Gangtok offering all of that and a lot more too.
Lodged in the northern part of Sikkim this beautiful, snow-capped Mt.Katao is just a little away from Gangtok, the state’s capital. Lachung, however, is the closest town to the mountain. The snowfall that takes place here on this mountain every winter makes it look picturesque. The slopes are filled with trees and shrubs such as poppy, rhododendron and primula most of them snow-capped too making for a really beautiful vision to our eyes. In winters, there is also scope for plenty of snow-sports here such as skiing, snowboarding and just plain trekking along the snow, which can be great fun too.
There’s one catch though. The Mt.Katao area is a military base and this makes it not accessible to the public very easily. We should get permits from the army and although they allow the common folk most of the time, it does get unpredictable. Making sure that you have the permission before you plan your trip is a good idea.
How to get there
Mt.Katao is 28 kms away from Lachung of Sikkim and is 144 kms away from Gangtok. Whether you plan to reach here from Gangtok or Lachung, hiring a cab is the best means to getting here. The roads are slightly rugged post the 31A highway that reaches Gangtok so you should be prepared for a rather rough drive.
Nearest airport : The Bagdogra airport is the nearest. You should drive to Gangtok from here and take a vehicle of your own with army permit to reach Lachung and then Mt.Katao.
Nearest railway station : The nearest railway station is the Jalpaiguri station which is also at 130 kms from Gangtok. You should drive to Gangtok and then to Lachung.
Things to do in Mt. Katao and around the area
Mt.Katao : If a drive alongside the snow-capped mountain and its slopes is not enough to satiate the senses, you can also try out some snow sports or trek along the slopes of the mountains. The least we can guarantee you is that you can definitely get a whole lot of insta-worthy pictures here!
Yumthang valley : The Yumthang valley with its beautiful flowing waters and picturesque flowers makes for a breathtaking vision which cannot be missed out on when you are here.
Hot spring waters : The Yumthang hot springs are located near the Yumthang village and are worth a visit. These hot water springs coming out of the snow-clad mountains are also said to have medicinal properties.
The seven sisters water fall : On the drive from the Yumthang valley to Katao, the seven sisters waterfalls is yet another marvel of nature amidst the greenery and the snowcapped mountains that you should not miss out on.
Lachung monastery : The beautiful, two-storeyed Lachung monastery that is located by the Lachen and Lachung river is worth spending some time in for the serenity and the views that it has in offer.
When to go
The best time to get here is during the summer months from March through to June so that the weather is not so hot. But if playing with snow is what you want to do here and you don’t mind the severe winters, you should visit during the months of December, January and February.
Cuisine on offer
There are not too many options for food in Yumthang except for some tiny restaurants that have some of the local foods such as momos, dumplings, rice and noodles. Some of them are worth a try too. Lachung on the other hand has got plenty of options and plenty of great places to eat with Indian and Chinese cuisine.
Staying in Lachung which is the nearest town to Mt.Katao is the best option with a whole lot of options available here. The Etho Metho hotel by Rightclique and the Tenzing retreat are two places you can stay at. For more places to stay in Lachung, look up here.