The northeast comprises of seven sister states with an area of 260,230 square KM and is known for vast spread of lush green lands and forests. The area also hosts innumerable hills and exhibits a wide variety of flora and fauna making it a destination with a difference. Each of the seven states has a plethora of tourist destinations and in this article, we will touch upon the state of Sikkim.
Sikkim – The unexplored mystical region of the North East
Sikkim is a relatively unexplored part of India and is a landlocked state sharing its borders with Nepal, China, Bhutan and the state of West Bengal on the Indian side. Interestingly, about 40% of the landscape of Sikkim is covered with forests and valleys making it one of the best getaways for nature lovers.
Places to Visit
Foreign travellers do need the Inner Line Permit to move into Sikkim and the permit can be arranged in district magistrate offices in Siliguri, Darjeeling and Rangpo and also from Sikkim Tourism office in Delhi and Kolkata.
Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim is the most favoured tourist destination not just for its reputation as capital but also because it is centrally located from many tourist spots and destinations in Sikkim.
Siddheswara Dham, a pilgrim centre, is located about 85 km from Gangtok making it very accessible to pilgrims from all over the world.
Built in the year 1705 by Lama Lhatsun Chempo, it is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim. Located at about 2,085 metres above sea level, the monastery is a spectacle to watch. The monastery depicts some paintings and statues of saints and Rinpoches on its walls.
Known as the ‘’Valley of Flowers’’, Yumthang, located about 148 km from the capital and at an altitude of 11,800 meters, is nature lovers’ paradise. A valley loaded with breath-taking scenic places, Yumthang spares no efforts to thrill travellers with vast lush green meadows, tall pine and fir trees and cascading waterfalls.
Located about 112 km from Gangtok, Pelling is the second most favoured destination among tourists. Known to host the highest peak in India, the Kanchenchunga or K2, Pelling also is a central point for a lot of tourist spots and Buddhist Monasteries.
Himalaya National Park
Located 6 km away from Gangtok, the park hosts many endangered species of animals such as – Red Panda, Snow Leopard and Himalayan Black Bear. The park also is a sanctuary for some rare species of birds like the Golden Pheasant and Silver Pheasant.
The highest waterfall in all of Sikkim, Phamrong is located between the towns of Jerethong and Yuksom. The best time to visit the falls is during Monsoon as the rains add glamour to the falls making it come more alive.
It is situated near the hilltop town of Mankhim and is connected to the town through a narrow jungle path. The lake is 1120 feet long and 240 feet wide and is shaped like a boot. It is one of the oldest lakes in Sikkim and is characterized by tall green pine trees that surround it.
How to get there?
Air – Sikkim does not have an airport of its own but then tourists can fly down to Bagdogra Airport near Darjeeling, West Bengal and then take a Helicopter ride to Gangtok which is about 150 km away. There are two Helicopters to and from Gangtok every day. All these facilities can be avail with the help of flight booking software.
Rail – Sikkim does not have any railway network of its own but the nearest railway stations are Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri, both in West Bengal. From either of this station, taxis can be hired towards Gangtok which is 114 km from Siliguri and 125 km from New Jalpaiguri.
Road – Sikkim is most connected through roadways with National Highway 31A as the lifeline. There are a lot of buses that are plied by both West Bengal and Sikkim state transports between Siliguri and Gangtok. Alternatively, a lot of individual and shared taxi services operate from Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri to Gangtok.
Best time to visit?
Spring between March to May is a good time to visit as the weather is cool (13C – 15C) and it’s a great time for trekking and sight-seeing. Summer months of May and June are again a good time as the climate gets slightly warmer and the valley is spread with blooming flowers all across. This is also the time to see Rhododendrons and Orchids making the view even more breath-taking.
June to September is Monsoon affected and has rainfall leading to muddy roads but the end of September to November welcomes autumn and autumn is an amazing time to be in Sikkim. The waterfalls and lakes are full due to rains and the flowers re-bloom again making it more than a worthwhile trip. These months are also good for river rafting.
Amongst all destinations spread across India, Sikkim is one of the most unexplored and that makes it, even more, a reason to visit and explore the forest laden, lush green and mountainous land of Sikkim. So the next time you want to live it up differently, pack your bags towards the tiny but scenic laden state of Sikkim.