If you are looking to travel to some beautiful places that soothe your soul and take you right through nature’s very best, then you needn’t look any further than our own gorgeous country because the state of Sikkim will offer you all that and a whole lot more. So, if you visit Sikkim here are some places for you to check out:
How to reach: Stay overnight at the tiny town of Lachen and leave early in the morning to make the approximately 4 and a half hours long drive to this lake.
Best time to visit: November to June (subject to roads being open). It is also subject to whether you want to see the snow in a more frozen state with snow surrounding it or if you would prefer seeing its blue waters flowing.
You know that over excited kid who won’t stop talking about their favourite cartoon repeatedly? I think that’s me with Gurudongmar Lake. Every time someone asks me about the most beautiful place I have ever seen, I obviously cannot pick one but in the 5 that I do pick there’s always Gurudongmar Lake. At an altitude of 17,800 ft it is one of the highest lakes in the world and with this height you aren’t permitted to stay here for a long duration because of the chances of falling sick. But even a few minutes at this pristine lake will leave you enthralled for sure. Even the drive leading up to the lake is a gorgeous one where you see mountains lined one after the other adorned with scoops of snow on top. Legends around the lake have come to be contested as the Buddhists believe that Guru Padmasambhva touched the lake with his bare hands to make it flow. Meanwhile, the Sikh community believes that Guru Nanak touched the lake with his stick to bring about this result. Nevertheless, both deserve a token of gratitude because this high-altitude lake is a stunning shade of blue, its beauty amplified by the surrounding peaks and the colourful prayer flags.
Click here to read about Goechala Trek in Sikkim!
How to reach: The nearest airport is Bagdogra and railway station is Jalpaiguri, thereafter, you would have to take a local taxi. The drive will take approximately 5 – 7 hours.
Best time to visit: March to June, September to October
In the hills on the Western end of Sikkim lays a charming hamlet by the name of Yuksom. The valley prides itself for being known as the Gateway to Mt. Kanchendzongha or Mt. Kanchenjunga. It opens up to green trees and serenely sprawling valleys overlooking mighty mountain peaks. Once upon a time, Yuksom was the centre was the crowning ritual of new kings would take place. If you enjoy interacting with locals, maybe grab a cup of butter tea with them to ask about this lost history. You can even visit the Coronation Centre which tells tales from the time of 1642! Pay your respects at Tashi Tenka Monastery, Dubdi Monastery and Tashiding Monastery. And of course, make your way to the Kanchenjunga National Park for a chance to spot Sikkim’s crowned jewel or just to walk around and take in the view.
How to reach: Once again, the nearest airport is Bagdogra and railway station is Jalpaiguri, thereafter, you would have to take a local taxi and the drive will take approximately 5 – 7 hours.
Best time to visit: September to May
Probably, Pelling’s foremost claim for popularity is also its proximity for sighting Mount Kanchenjunga. Well, if it’s the third highest mountain in the world there is sure to be that much hullabaloo! And rightly so, because Pelling lets you catch fleeting glimpses and views of the formidable peak that is sometimes mysteriously shrouded in a tuft of clouds and other times glistening in the most stunning of orange kissed golden sunrises. Additionally, the drive itself to Pelling gets prettier with River Teesta playing peekaboo along the journey. Further, Kanchenjunga Waterfalls and Khecheopalri Lake add to this town’s beauty. As per myths, birds do not allow any leaves to fall upon this scenic lake. It is also revered by both Hindus and Buddhists who regard it to be a lake capable of fulfilling wishes. So, who wants to make some wishes? ? Or, who knows, maybe the wish was actually a trip itself and it got fulfilled just by sitting around the lake and the hills?
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Tsongmo Lake and Nathula Pass
How to reach: From Gangtok it takes approximately 2 hours to reach the lake. You can visit via a shared jeep or hire a private taxi. The lake is at a distance of roughly 17kms from Nathula Pass, taking about 30-45 minutes.
Best time to visit: December to June, September to October. The time of visit is subject to whether your preference would be to see it with snowy surroundings or greener ones. Also, the winter season does make the functionality of the roads a little tricky.
Tsongmo is a lake that enhances the beauty of this beautiful state called Sikkim. The lake looks different to the eyes in different seasons. For instance, my visit in March let me witness it as a sheet of silver amidst the white specs of snow-clad peaks. On the other hand, pictures from summer months showcase a vibrant shade full of life and the blue-green colour. Summers also see rhododendrons and poppies blooming near it. Winter months will find you spotting yaks near the lake. Truly, it is gorgeous at both times and simply an individual’s pick about when to visit. From the lake a short journey takes you to Nathula Pass. An offshoot of the ancient Silk Road, it is at the cross-roads of the Indo-China border. Here you will also find the Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir, a temple built in honour of an army personnel who lost his life here valiantly in 1968 and is believed to protect the area, as per legends. A day trip to Tsongmo and Nathula is a journey from nature to history, both adding to the layers of your experience.
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How to reach: Ravangla can be accessed by road from Gangtok with a drive of approximately 2-3 hours.
Best time to visit: March to October
At an altitude of 7,000 feet, Ravangla is a cozy little invitation for a mountain getaway waiting for you in this North Eastern land. Of course, the green sceneries replete with mountainous backdrops never cease to amaze one here. There’s the Rayong Sunrise Point and Temi Tea Garden for you to lazily stroll about and take in the vistas. And if your need for adventure is itching for a quicker pace, then trek up the Maenam Hill to witness the sunset or trek up to go see the Doling Gompa. But Ravangla has the added bonus of offering you a genuine taste of Sikkim’s culture and devout Buddhist heritage. The Buddha Park lets you gaze at the revered god himself in splendour, while the monasteries of Ralang and Bon are a chance to interact with monks and learn more about their norms and ways of life. Lastly, to let yourself relax by heading over to the hot springs here.
How to reach: Make your way to Lachung and stay overnight, from there you can visit Yumthang Valley. For reaching Lachung once again the ideal options for an airport and railway station remain Bagdogra and Jalpaiguri respectively.
Best time to visit: Late February to mid-June are when flowers are in bloom, while September to December offer snowy set ups.
Meet Sikkim’s very own Valley of Flowers, Yumthang Valley. In season, Yumthang blooms with poppies, orchids, chimals and a lot more species. Stretches after stretches of flowers make this valley a riot of colour in the summer seasons. The winter months present it to be covered in blankets of snow, the trees softly covered in snowflakes resembling magical forests from the Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia. The magical valley is a joy and I could go on and on about a freezing March afternoon where we pelted snow at each other and had a rather warm snow fight. Some days you just want to look around and be amazed by the views around you and for those wants there is a place called Yumthang to simply leave you smiling.
How to reach: Railway station – New Jalpaiguri, Airport Bagdogra. It is an approximately 4 – 5 hours long drive from Gangtok. Otherwise, if you wish to stay closer there’s Rangpo which is about a 2 hours long drive from Zuluk.
Best time to visit: January to April for a taste of snow, August and September for seeing flowers in bloom.
Zuluk is most known for its maze of criss-crossing roads on the hairpin bends of a hill top. These roads find themselves seasonally dressed up with either wildflowers or mounds of snow. The roads can even be treacherous and that is why Zuluk isn’t one of the most popular picks amongst tourists visiting Sikkim. Now this same fact makes it an attractive one for adventurers and for the ones who love their holiday destinations to be away from the business of many crowds. Located where the historic Silk Route used to carry fast paced trade for a different era, the charm of Zuluk can best be enjoyed by staying in local homestays here. The 32 hair pin bends road is of course a favoured pick but Zuluk has other gems too. Such as the peak of Ganek which though requires you to wake at the crack of dawn, rewards you with a mesmerizing sunrise. Thambi is a view point and Lungthang overlooks dense forests. Mountain based jungles and throngs of trees add to the scenic views and mystery of Zuluk equally. For peace and quiet, for nature and tranquillity, Zuluk is the one you need to visit.
Click here to check out some of the best treks in Sikkim!