Sikkim is a small, hilly state perched at the entryway to the exotic seven sisters, the untouched jewels of Northeast India. This place is surrounded by Nepal on the west, Tibet Autonomous Region and China to the north, and Bhutan to the east with the state of West Bengal to the south of it. The entire region is divided into four districts and the Himalayas pass through nearly the entirety of Sikkim. The hilly terrain and high elevation, interspersed with lush vegetation and exotic fauna make Sikkim such a beautiful and attractive place to visit. Presently, Sikkim has become all the more attractive because of the outright ban on the use of plastic and Styrofoam products making it one of the eco-friendliest and cleanest paces that you will ever visit.
Sikkim is a land filled with exceptional places and amazing people. The food, the culture, the mystic mountains, and so on combine to give you a magical experience that you are not likely to forget. There are different parts to travel through in Sikkim and you should take some time in hand before you go exploring this place of abundant beauty.
Airport and railway station are not in city. The nearest airport is Bagdogra or you could even get down at the railway stations at Siliguri or New Jalpaiguri. All these spots are in the northern fringes of West Bengal and you have to travel via road using bus or cab services which will take you about 3 to 5 hours to reach your destination.
The best thing about Gangtok is that it has a lot to offer in the form of adventure activities, cuisines, lush forests, the hustle of a hilly city, and so on. If you like to indulge in crowds, living close to the MG Marg road is a great idea. You get the entire Mall Road at your disposal with all kinds of shops selling all kinds of wares. However, if you are looking for peace, you will find accommodation away from the crowd. There are monasteries like Rumtek and Enchey near Gangtok that you can visit to get a slice of the Buddhist lifestyle.
Pelling is surrounded by lush vegetation that also exhibits a variety of fauna. The clear blue skies, the waterfalls, and the overall pristine beauty of the place will cast a luxurious charm on you that you can never forget. Although you can visit Pelling all year round, the best time to visit the place would be the summer months of May to June. The winter months can surprise you with the occasional snowfall. Some of the oldest monasteries that were built in Sikkim such as the Pemayangtse Monastery are located in this place. Khacheopalri Lake and Kanchenjunga Falls are also excellent places that you have to go to when you are in Pelling. You can also find many offbeat trekking routes emanating out of Pelling for the adventurer in you.
Yuksom finds many young and adventurous travelers treading through the place. This is because the hilly area is filled with all kinds of trails and is also the perfect gateway into Mt. Kanchenjunga! The moderate altitude of Yuksom ensures that you can visit the place at any time, though the best time would be between March to June and September to October.
Yumthang Valley receives very heavy snowfall in the winter months and thus generally remains closed between December to March. The best time to visit the place would be between the end of April to mid-June to immerse yourself in the brightest of blooms. Even in these months, the valley can get very cold and thus it is recommended that you carry proper clothes. You will also need to be prepared since you need to get a permit to enter the valley which is very easy to obtain. This is because the valley is located very close to the international borders that India shares with China!
Since Tsomgo Lake is also very near to the border areas, you need to carry a permit that you could easily get from the tourism department in MG Marg. Though the lake is accessible to tourists even in winters, there is a chance of facing roadblocks for long hours due to heavy snowfall. This lake is considered to be a sacred spot by the locals so be sure to protect the sanctity of the place. You can hike along the banks, go on yak-back rides, and even skate through the frozen lake in the winter months. The Guro Poornima festival is hosted along the banks of the Tsomgo Lake every year and is a sight to behold! The lake could also be a special spot to bird watchers as native birds are seen in plenty in the lakes around October.
Lachung is a place to while away your time and serves as an escape from the cacophony of everyday life. Wild alpine forests and rivers are originating from glaciers in plenty all around Lachung. There are also many fruit orchards throughout Lachung which is maintained by the locals. Being a high altitude hilly terrain, you will also come across many waterfalls throughout Lachung.
Nathu La itself is a beautiful location and gets you an unhindered view of the Chumbi Valley in Tibet. The old and famed Silk Route, the road that connected eastern, southern, and western Asia and southern parts of Europe passes through Lachung and was used to connect the Bengal plains to Lhasa in Tibet. The drive to Lachung is a splendid one and you will be charmed by all the vistas and views that you will come across.
The trip through the Old Silk Road is a breath-taking one with some of the most astounding views you will ever come across. Zuluk is a place that gets the most attention among all other places on this route because of the 32 hairpin bends that give you some of the most stunning views on and rides through the Himalayan ranges. The snaking road along with a panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga is what awaits you at the end of Zuluk at Thambi View Point. The Elephant Lake, shaped like an elephant is also an attractive sight to behold. You will also find yourself riding above the clouds with the setting sun to one of your sides as you travel through this amazing road.
This place is so unexplored that you will not find any hotels to stay here and homestays are the only options for you. The locals are amazing and make your time all the more enjoyable with their stories and food. The serenity and peaceful place offers the best scenic beauty that you could ever ask for. You should also take a driver with you especially because of the utterly bizarre zig-zag of roads that you will come across over this area.
In essence, Namchi is similar to Gangtok, being a big hilly city. However, the vies that Namchi has to offer are far superior to the ones you will find at Gangtok. Any time between the months of March to October is great to visit this stunning place. The monsoon season makes the place muddy and thus you have to be cautious while traveling during such time. The Namchi Monastery and Ralang Monastery are notable places to visit in Namchi. This place also boasts of a 118 feet tall statue of the holy saint Padmasambhava and attracts lots of Buddhist pilgrims all year round. The place also attracts Hindu pilgrims because of the 108 feet tall Shiva statue. The locals are interactive and approachable and will welcome you with open arms. There are lots of hotels and homestays to choose from and there are even decent markets to shop for souvenirs in Namchi! It is a good place to either start or ends your trip through Sikkim.
The spectacular lake is situated 5425 m above sea level. At such an incredible height the atmosphere is sparse and thus you should consult a doctor before going. Also, it is recommended that you do not smoke or drink before or whole going to the lake, as this can cause you to get fatally ill. The months of April and May are the best times to go to the lake as the weather remains bright and the flowers blossom giving you astounding views to immerse yourself in.
The north-eastern states are beautiful and the best thing about them is that they are mostly untouched. The best thing about Sikkim is that it is very easily accessible unlike the other north-eastern states in India. You should make it a point to visit Sikkim at least once in your life because the kind of raw, mesmerizing Himalayan beauty that you will find at Sikkim is unparalleled. You have to come to this place to understand the charm that this place can cast on you! Welcoming locals and unique culture combined with stunning views are what sets Sikkim apart.
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