If you planning a sojourn to this faraway enchanting land of Northeast India, you need to make a conscious effort to know this land and its Sikkim tourism jewels along with its traditions and customs, rituals and climate better to be able to plan your trip better.
Let’s harp on the important and must-visit places along with the favourite food and activities of this land and plan a robust holiday among the hills, glens and forests, monasteries, lakes and hamlets.
Sikkim – How to Reach
Sikkim has a veritable single-route entry through the state of West Bengal. The small hill town of Shiliguri is majorly connected to Gangtok, the blissful capital of Sikkim. The National Highway 31A is said to be the lifeline of Sikkim. This route connects Gangtok with Siliguri and offers a spellbinding and picturesque highway travel that crosses lush green forests and merrily keeps on winding along the beautiful river Teesta.
On one side you feel the thrill of peeping down the unending dark crevices and on the other side you strain your neck trying to see the top of the sky-high mountain peaks. The valleys spread along the sides remain covered with colourful blossoms and is a soothing green to calm your senses. Four-wheelers can be hired at reasonable rates from Shiliguri connecting Gangtok.
The closest railhead to Sikkim is at New Jalpaiguri, which is located in West Bengal. New Jalpaiguri is well connected with all major rail heads of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata etc. From the New Jalpaiguri station, private vehicles such as buses, jeeps and taxis can be hired.
Moreover, a variety of public transport is also available that ply regularly between these two places. The distance between New Jalpaiguri and Gangtok is 188 kilometres while from Shiliguri it is 145 kilometres.
The closest airbase to Sikkim is the Bagdogra Airport. The distance from Bagdogra to Gangtok is 124 kilometres and vehicles ply on this much frequented regular route. There are regular flights connecting Bagdogra to all other major airports of India.
Best time to Visit Sikkim
Sikkim is best visited during the summer months between April and June when the weather is fantastic or in the winter months from October to March when one can see the snow-wrapped frozen white land of Sikkim. It is best avoided during the monsoon months from July to September due to potential landslides and treacherously wet mountain roads.
Gangtok – The Capital of Sikkim
Gangtok is also familiarly referred to as the ‘Land of Monasteries’. It is enchanting with mesmerizing views of the rocketing Himalayan peaks, the dazzling beauty of Mt. Kanchenjunga, crisp and unpolluted mountain air and a relaxing atmosphere.
The major tourist attractions in Gangtok
- Nathu La Pass, which is located at a distance of around 55 kilometres from Gangtok at an altitude of 14,500 feet offers spectacular views of the snow-capped peaks of the Eastern Himalayas.
This pass is widely famed for its scenic beauty and attracts a lot of tourists every year. Nathula Pass visit needs special permissions form the authorities as it is an important military post of the Indian Army. Children and people with asthma or other breathing problems may avoid visiting it.
- Tsomgo Lake also the Changu Lake can be visited en route Nathula Pass visit. This lake is blessed with surprisingly crystal clear waters and is set against a stunningly picturesque backdrop with snowy Himalayan summits. Visit in winters will reveal a partially frozen lake that undoubtedly adds to its never-ending charm. The lake gets completely frozen in winters, giving it an additional touch of artistic splendour. Help yourself to the local delicacy of steaming hot tea made of special Yak milk and butter that are usually served with hot Maggi and delicious momos. Enjoy a memorable Yak ride. Lake visit needs prior permit from the Army authorities.
- Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial located 18 kilometres from the Tsomgo Lake while going towards Nathu La is popularly known as the ‘Baba Mandir’ and is dedicated to a brave sepoy of the Indian Army.
- Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary and Water Falls is located around the Tsomgo Lake area and makes for an enigmatic high-altitude scenic wildlife sanctuaries. Watch some rare flora and fauna and enjoy the breath-taking beauty of ‘Kyongnosla Waterfalls’ located within the sanctuary.
- Rumtek Monastery which is largest monastery in Sikkim, gifted by lush green landscapes and gurgling streams make for a tremendously tranquil setting. Similarly, Enchey Monastery is another major attraction promoted enthusiastically by Sikkim tourism.
- The beautiful temples of Ganesh Tok and Hanuman Tok are amazingly picturesque. Indulge in Gangtok Ropeway experience for an adventure ride to the highest point of Gangtok, Tashiling, and enjoy the bird’s eye view of the Gangtok city.
Major Attractions of Sikkim Recommended by Sikkim Tourism
North Sikkim is replete with exotic travel destinations such as Lachung located 120 kilometres from Gangtok. It is a beautiful town with snow-covered mountain peaks, mesmerizing waterfalls and sparkling streams.
It showcases the major tourist attractions such as the Lachung Gompa set against serene backdrop of apple and peach orchards; Yumthang Valley known as the ‘Valley of Flowers’ where the slopes stretch endlessly covered by pretty mountain wild flowers; Yumesamdong or the Zero Point, Katao, Gurudongmar and Cholamu Lakes, Chopta Valley.
Pelling in West of Sikkim has Pemayangtse, Khecheopalri Lake, Rabadantse Ruins, Singshore Bridge, Dentam Valley for enjoying nature at its best. Yuksom has lavish natural charm and the special attractions of Dubdi Monastery, Tashiding Monastery, Kanchenjunga National Park and Norbugang Park.
Namchi, in South Sikkim offers awe-inspiring views of Darjeeling and Kalimpong in West Bengal. It has the following tourist attractions of Samdrupste Hill, Solophok Char Dham and Temi Tea Estate to seal your memory with unforgettable experience.
Overall, Sikkim Tourism proudly boasts of the natural beauty and splendour and the magnificence of all the man-made creation that continues to awe generation after generation.