Sikkim borders Bhutan, Nepal, and China and has been viewed to be among the Himalayan Shangri-las. This state was an independent Kingdom till 1975 when India took over it after a period of political unrest and anti-royal riots. Sikkim is not an easily accessible area in India because it is remote and you need permits. However, it is among the most refreshing and energetic destinations in India. The ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture and the mountainous beauty of Sikkim are soothing to the soul. The distance looks short but it will take you several hours to travel through it. Below is a list of some of the best places to visit in Sikkim.
10 best places to visit in Sikkim:
Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim that is constructed on a crowdy ridge, 5500 feet above the sea level. When clouds clear, you are able to see all the way to the soaring peaks of Khangchendzonga National Park that was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2016. It is a well-organized and refreshingly clean and most tourists spend several days here to see the sights and make their travel arrangements. It is an excellent base for individuals heading off on treks.
Sikkim is a fantastic mediation place and close to two hundred monasteries dote these divine hilltops. Rumtek is the most popular monasteries in West Sikkim near Pelling and Tashiding. The other monasteries that you can visit are the old Sanga-Choeling monastery, Enchey monastery in Gangtok, Karma Kagyu monastery that has two hindered year-old murals in Phodong, North Sikkim. These monasteries hold several festivals especially near Losar in February. In July, Tse Chu features the Buddhist dances at Rumtek. Enchey is the other place that hosts the Charm festival in December and January.
3. Nathu La:
Nathu La is three hours on the eastern side of the Chinese border was the main passageway on the Old Silk Route between Tibet and India before being closed in 1962. The border comprises a lone barbed wire fence and you will enjoy the strange thrill of viewing the Chinese soldiers on the other side. The most unfortunate thing is that only Indians are allowed to travel this far and only on Sundays, Saturdays, Thursdays, and Wednesdays. Also, you will have to obtain a special permit through a licensed travel agency in Gangtok.
4. Flora and Fauna Sanctuaries:
Sikkim is well known for having astonishing varieties of animals, birds, and even flowers. It has more than 40 species of rhododendron, 450 varieties of orchids, 400 species of butterflies, and 450 species of birds. The Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is located in Singalila Range on Sikkim’s south-west corner and is the best place to visit during spring. You will get Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary close to Ravangla on the southern side of Sikkim. The other highlight near Lachung is the Singba Rhododendron Sanctuary. You can have an amazing butterfly, birding, and wildlife tour in Sikkim.
5. Yuksom and the Dzongri Trail:
Sikkim is a trekking paradise and the historical Yuksom is a great trekking gateway towards Mount Khangchendzonga. If you are up to the challenge, you can trek to Rathong Glacier and Dzongri peak from Yuksom and even further on to the Goecha Peak. It is Sikkim’s most popular trek. You will pass through the powerful rivers of the Khangchendzonga National Park, magnificent rhododendron gardens, and the unspoiled forests. Spare ten days of trekking from Yuksom to the peak of Goecha and back. Foreigners must have additional permits for this trekking.
6. Yumthang Valley, Lachen, and Lachung:
The Yumthang valley and Lachung are located on the northern part of Sikkim from Gangtok and nine thousand feet above the sea level close to the Chinese/Tibetan border. It is a dramatic pristine scenery that dazzles visitors. Lachung was a traditional post between Tibet and Sikkim before the annexation of Tibet to Chinese. Currently, it is the base camp for the famous trekking of the Rhododendron Valley from the Lachen valley to the Yumthang valley. The other attractions that you will find in this region include Yumesamdong or Zero Point, Lachung monastery, and the astonishing Guredongmar high-attitude Lake. It is among the highest lakes in the world with over 17,0000 feet above sea level.
Pelling is a three to four-hour drive on the western side of Gangtok. It is a charmless tiny town but the best places to visit in Sikkim for the unapparelled viewing of Mount Khangchendzonga at dawn. You can lodge at the Ifseen Villa that has top budget homestays and guesthouses in the Indian Himalayas. In addition to these views, the other main attractions are the monasteries and the ruins of Rabdentse. Previously, it was Sikkim’s royal city from 1670 to 1814 and very little remains of Rabdentse nowadays.
Ravangla is along the way from Pelling to Gangtok and is highly notable for the Buddha park that has a 130-foot towering Buddha statue that surrounds the manicured gardens. The Monastic Palchen Choeling Institute is close to Ralong and houses a massive size of golden Buddha. It houses more than 100 monks and you will hear their chanting in the mid-afternoon and early morning. You can also visit a large number of other monasteries in this area. This is the only tea garden in Sikkim and it nests the tranquil Cherry resort amidst it.
The giant statues are what make Namchi famous. Currently, it has two of them, one Hindu and the other Buddhist. Apparently, the third one is under planning. The Buddhist statue is approximately 140 feet tall and has a commanding position of 7,000 feet above sea level on the Samdrupte Hill. These two statues make Namchi the best places to visit in Sikkim.
10. Teesta River Rafting:
The latest adventure activity is Sikkim is Rafting and you will get some world class opportunities at the Teesta River. The main path is Rongpo – Bardang – Sirwani – Makha. There is an interspersing of grade 2 to 4 with several white sandy beaches for camping at night. High gorges and cliffs, together with the strewn-boulder river beds increase the thrill. The Rangeet River has more turbulent waters that provide advanced rafting opportunities. The best time to rate in Sikkim ranges from October to December and March to May.