Sikkim

Sikkim is a state blessed by Natures Marvels. One can find this mountainous region blooming with flowers in the spring and frozen lakes in winter. Gangtok, the capital city is a modern hill station with all amenities. The weather is pleasing most of the year and its Buddhist past has a tremendous appeal. The Institute of Tibetology, Do-Drul Chorten, Enchey Monastery, Rumtek Monastery and monasteries at Pemayangtse and Tashiding are visit worthy places. Among other places are the sacred and serene Changu Lake, Khecheopalri Lake, the quaint hamlet of Pelling, the traditional “Lepcha” village at Chungthang, the view of the magnificent Kanchenjunga peak at Singhik and the remote and flower-bedecked valley at Yumthang. There are numerous activities attracting adventure tourism enthusiasts like trekking in Tendong Hill, the Versey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Menam Hill and Dzongri Trail. Hang-gliding at Jorethan, Kayaking and River Rafting on the river Teesta, Mountaineering and Mountain biking can be thrilling experiences.
Sikkim being mountainous terrain does not have an airport or railway network. The nearest airport is Bagdogra in West Bengal and nearest railhead is New Jalpaiguri. Gangtok can be reached by road from Siliguri, Darjeeling, Bagdogra and New Jalpaiguri.
Best Time to visit: March to May and then October to mid-December
Languages Spoken: Nepali, Sikkimese
Climate: Temperate climate with pleasant summers, heavy rainfall during monsoon and cold winters
Holy Places: Do-Drul Chorten, Enchey Monastery, Rumtek Monastery, monasteries at Pemayangtse and Tashiding
Places to visit: Institute of Tibetology, Pelling Hamlet
Natural Wonders: Changu Lake, Khecheopalri Lake, Singhik
Adventure tourism: Hang-gliding at Jorethan, Kayaking and River Rafting on the river Teesta, Trekking in Tendong Hill, the Versey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Menam Hill and Dzongri Trail and Mountain biking
Mountaineering Peaks: Freys Peak, Jopuno, Tinchenkhang, Byrmkhangse and Lamo Angden

Trek to Goecha La – Yuksom to Dzongri

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We gathered in small groups in the tents to chat and while away the time. Dinner was served at around 8 p.m. at the one- room camp house which was occupied by cook Sumit Rai and his men. When I had ventured out of my tent around mid-night to go to the toilet-tent, I was awestruck on seeing small silvery snowflakes dropping from a clear sky. The moon shone in its silvery best.

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Summer in Sikkim-way to Pelling

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We crossed the border to enter Sikkim. Smooth good road replaced the bumpy and potholed road, air became cooler, traffic lighter and River Rangit replaced Teesta. Soon there was no traffic at all. We were the only one on the road and River Rangit was there, revealing its beauty to prove Aaroop right. Yes!!! Rangit was dancing, flirting and romancing with us. I have traveled along rivers in Uttaranchal, Himachal but nothing like this.

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The road less travelled – Kolkata to Kaluk

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At about 1 p.m. Tara took his first halt at Teesta Valley. Very near to this place is the point of White Water River Rafting on Teesta. The area is dotted with a few small eateries run by the local villagers. Tara took us to one named Tashi Restaurant. All the eateries here, as this one, are very basic. I am a bit apprehensive about eating at small joints as the hygiene factor is low, but had no other alternative here. However, the good food coupled with the beautiful Teesta flowing beside the eatery made me set all thoughts aside for a few moments. Had it been some other place, such a beautiful locale would surely have been commercialized and turned into a Mc Donald’s or KFC with the wealth again going to the rich hands.

Our car moved on towards Jorethang. Tara was true. The stretch from Malli to Jorethang was in really poor condition. Although it was for wider and better roads in coming days, the ride was extremely stressful for us. Clouds of dust engulfed us at short intervals. We are much more impatient than our counterparts residing at higher altitudes.

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Enchanting Sikkim, Disappointing Darjeeling

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The next day, we visited the main market of Gangtok, M.G. Road. The market is pedestrian friendly, as no vehicles are allowed to ply on this road. Being at this place gave us a feeling of being somewhere in Singapore or Malaysia. The best of brands, right from Bata to Adidas and Lee Cooper to Louis Vitton dominated the signboards. The shops displayed not only the brands, but also the local stuff, especially, trendy woolens and shoes. The locals are well and fashionably dressed to the extent that the tourists from the metros appear to have outdated knowledge of fashion.

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Gangtok-Namchi-Pelling-Darjeeling tour- part 2

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Pelling is a small place, which offers an exceptional view of snow-covered Kanchenjunga mountain range from almost everywhere, from your hotel room to the small street you are walking on. After having breakfast, we started our journey from pelling to Darjeeling, as our night halt for that day was in Darjeeling, but we were to cover good places in between.

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Gangtok-Namchi-Pelling-Darjeeling tour- part 1

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We walked down to MG Road, and found it is such a nice open place with no-vehicle movement and lots of good eating and shopping options. Such large area for pedestrian and kids were just so happy in running here and there. We should also have something like this in Delhi NCR too; all we have here are malls or congested markets with no place to walk. I found Gangtok a very safe place for girls too.

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Visiting Kaluk in West Sikkim

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If you are an aficionado of history, then Rabdentse is a place not to be missed if you are on a trip to West Sikkim. Located on a ridge near Upper Pelling, Rabdentse was the ancient capital of the kingdom of Sikkim from 1670 to 1814. It was destroyed by the Gurkha invasion and now only the ruins of the palace remain. The remains of the palace have been declared as of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India. The ruins offer panoramic views of Mt. Kanchendzonga.

Vikram dropped us at the point from where we were to trek about 1.5 km through forest to reach the ruins. A huge decorated gate leads to the trekking path. We started our journey through a stone-cobbled path through the forest. The path was narrow and dark. The forest was deep. There was not a person to be seen anywhere. It was super-thrilling!!

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Khecheopalri – The Holy Lake of West Sikkim

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Siliguri to Pelling in West Sikkim is 131 kms and takes approximately 3 hours for straight drive. Needless to mention that the drive is subjected to imponderables like traffic snarl, road repairs and broadening work, tea and meal breaks. As such it is safe to plan approx 4 hours for the drive. Pelling to Khecheopalri is 32 kms and takes about an hour‘s drive along a graveled road. As usual the condition of road from Siliguri to the lake can best be described as “the good, the bad and the ugly”. Last year at a chance meeting a MLA from Jorthang told me that this West Sikkim road is being turned into a four lane highway, insallah.

Road from Siliguri to Sevoke is a smooth broad 2 lane highway (NH 31) that knifes through the neat sevoke Military Cantonment and Sevoke Forest. From Sevoke Bazaar to Coronation Bridge (3 kms) is another smooth, well carpeted road snaking along he mountain curves runing almost parallel to Teesta River. This road is adorned with good highway signs; however, unfortunately this stretch is marred by delays due to railway gate blockage and heavy traffic from/to North East, Dooars, Sikkim and Kalimpong. From Coronation Bridge to Teesta Bridge near Teesta bazar (37km) NH 31is forever in the making and subject to traffic jams & delays caused by repairs and expansion; as such, it can be dusty and slushy depending on the season.

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Ranka Monestry Gangtok

Sikkim : A mystic land

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Sikkim is a truly mystical land, a confluence of advancement and mysticism. It is India’s least populated state, hosts Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak,…

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