Places to Visit in Sikkim
Sikkim is fairly close to heaven on earth. This tiny state is the land of sublime Kangchendzonga, evergreen alpine forests, waterfalls and beautiful lakes. Dotted with quaint monasteries, Sikkim’s breathtaking landscape will leave you mesmerized and speechless. Though the state is small in area it is full of tourist attractions. Here is a brief overview of places to visit in Sikkim.
Gangtok: The capital city of Sikkim is characterized by its cheerful and boisterous nature. Perched on a precipitous mountain ridge, the town spreads down the hillside with its prettily painted roofs. Gangtok is a walker’s paradise and the best way to enjoy the town is by foot. On a clear day after the monsoon, you can see Khangchendzonga in its full glory. The majestic peak changes colour through the day. The other places of tourist interest in Gangtok are: Ganesh Tok, Hanuman Tok and Tashi View Point.
Rumtek Monastery: Located at 24 km from Gangtok, on a picturesque road across the Rangeet River, Rumtek is Sikkim’s Largest Monastery. The monastery is 300 years old and houses some truly magnificent thangka paintings.
Tsomgo Lake: Located at 36 km from Gangtok, on the way to Nathu La Pass, Tsomgo Lake resembles a high altitude lake and on first sight it gives the appearance of pure glass. There are plenty of shops around the lake offering food, souvenirs, socks and gumboots. You can also see the yaks around the lake. If you are planning a trip to Nathu La you can buy the necessary gear from the shops around the lake.
Nathu La: Nathu La is a Himalayan pass located at an altitude of 14,140 ft, on the Indo-China border. It’s located at a distance of 54 km from Gangtok. The air here is rarefied and you may find it tough to breathe. You need a special permit to travel to Nathu La.
Namchi: Namchi literally means “Sky-high”. It is the district headquarters of the South Sikkim district. Located 100 km from Siliguri, at an altitude of 5500 ft, it affords lovely views of the Kangchendzonga Range. It is also a perfect base for short hikes to nearby hills.
Pelling: Located in West Sikkim district, Pelling offers stupendous views of the Kangchendzonga and some lovely mountain walks. It is also the home to the famous Pemayangtse Monastery, the third oldest Monastery. The ruins of the erstwhile capital of Sikkim at Rabdentse, which have been recently excavated, are a sight to see.
Khecheopalri Lake: Khecheopalri Lake is considered to be a sacred lake by both the Buddhists and the Hindus. It is believed that by visiting the lake all your wishes will be fulfilled. Located at 27 km from Pelling, amidst dense forests, legend has it that birds don’t allow even a single leaf to float on the surface of the lake.
Pemayantse Gompa: Perched on a hilltop, at an altitude of 2100 m, overlooking the Rabdentse ruins, in Pelling, Pemayantse Gompa is one of the Sikkim’s oldest Gompas. Its name literally means ‘Perfect Sublime Lotus’ and during the 12th lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, the ‘Cham Dance Festival’ is held here.
Yuksom: Yuksom, the erstwhile capital of Sikkim, is known for its unspoilt wilderness. It a small village with a fairytale charm to it. If you want to escape the crowds and spend some time in the lap of nature, then Yuksom is the place to be. The place has excellent trekking options and is considered to be a gateway to the Kangchendzonga.
Tashiding Monastery: Tashiding Monastery is considered to be the holiest monastery in Sikkim. Located 19 km from Yuksom, on a conical hill, it is part of Buddhist religious pilgrimage circuit. The monastery is the site of popular Bumchu festival that is held in the month of February.
Ravangla: Located at altitude of 7000 ft and ringed by conifer forests, Ravangla is small town located between Sikkim and Pelling. The place offers breathtaking views of the mountains and is a bird watcher’s delight.
Yumthang Valley: Located 150 km from Sikkim, at an altitude of 3500 m, Yumthang Valley is a region of extraordinary beauty. It is also known as ‘Valley of Flowers’, as during the spring season, the valley is blooming with flowers, such as rhododendrons, primulas, poppies, and iris. The place is also a popular skiing destination.
Lachen: Lachen is a small mountain village in North Sikkim. Located 130 km from Sikkim, the village has a population of 1000 and retains its old world charm with its old wooden homes, ornate Tibetan-style window frames and prayer flags. Lachen acts a base for treks to Tsopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake – one of the highest lakes in the world, located at an altitude of 5430 m.