Sikkim is one of the North-eastern states that is quite famous with people from all over India. It is also one of the smallest states, but with huge tourism potential. It is bound on all sides by Tibet, China, Bhutan, West Bengal, and Nepal. Sikkim is a tourist hotspot, and Gangtok, the capital city, is quite popular. The terrain is particularly mountainous, with lakes located at a high altitude. Moreover, the mountains are also snow-capped for a large part of the year. The residents consider the mountains as their gods.
The temperature can also get really chilly during the winter months. More than two-fifths of the region is covered by forests. Some of the trees and vegetation, that you will find there include Sal, Bamboo, and Orchids. Maple and Chestnut are quite common in temperate zones. The Alpine Tundra vegetation occupies the highest levels. You should visit Sikkim for the mighty mountains, the Himalayas, waterfalls, greenery, and monasteries. This is one terrific combination that attracts tourists from across the globe.
Background of Sikkim
Sikkim is nestled between the mountainous valleys of Tibet and China and is dominated by Buddhism. It has been the dominant religion there since the 8th century. However, Nepalese and Bengali influences have also percolated within the territory later. The Sikkimese Kingdom was established in the mid-1600s. Additionally, the Namgyal Dynasty was in power for a long time. It was an independent monarchy till the British took Darjeeling under control. In the 1800s Sikkim was also involved in wars with Bhutan and Nepal. Sikkim maintained internal autonomy all this while and allowed the British to handle all the external affairs. The agreement was fixed in that manner and stayed operational for quite some time. However, in 1975, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi abolished the monarchy and formally incorporated Sikkim into India. It became the 22nd state to be incorporated in India.
Popular Tourist Attractions of Sikkim
Sikkim may be a small state but grand in natural and scenic beauty. The place boasts some natural landscapes that are beyond your wildest imagination. Kanchenjunga, which is the third-highest peak in the world, is in Sikkim. The Buddhist gompas dominate the place, and if Buddhism is your calling, you should definitely visit the place. You can visit the monasteries like Enchey Monastery, Phodong Monastery, and Pemayangtse Monastery. Moreover, if you are a gastronomic enthusiast, you have to sample the food as well. It is a fine concoction of Tibetan, Nepalese and Sikkimese cuisines.
If you are inclined towards spirituality, you should visit Sikkim during the Cham Festival. It is celebrated on the 28th and 29th day of the tenth month. Bumthang, Lachen, and Zuluk are some of the spots that will strike you with their grandeur. Today, it has turned into one of the havens for bikers. Bikers from all over the country love to drive past the hairpin bends to reach the highest lake, Gurudongmar. Apart from the natural beauty, Sikkim also displays diverse cultures and traditions. The Losar Festival is celebrated with aplomb, which mainly celebrates the end of the harvest season. Bhumchu is another Sikkimese festival, which the residents celebrate with a lot of fanfare. You can visit the place around the year. Here are a few spots which you cannot miss.
- Tsomgo lake
- Baba Mandir
- Nathula Pass
- Yumthang Valley
- Zero Point
- Gurudongmar Lake
- Rinchenpong and Kaluk
These are just a few of the tourist spots in Sikkim that you must check out on your holiday. There are plenty more offbeat spots around there.
Activities That You Can Indulge in Sikkim
If you want to get away from the daily hustle-bustle of life, you have got to go to Sikkim. You can engage in numerous activities there:
- Yak Ride – Once you reach Tsomgo Lake you will understand why, it is such a popular spot. At the lakeside you get the opportunity to ride Yaks. They are very cool animals and will carry you across the hills and plains on their backs. You can gaze at the surroundings and enjoy the views.
- Trekking – It is one of the best places in India, for trekking. You can opt for the Goecha La Trek, which is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. The trek is for a duration of 10 days and is very challenging. However, it is worth it. At 4,940 ft, along the route, you get to enjoy magnificent views of the Kanchenjunga.
- Hang Gliding – Sikkim is the haven of adventure sports. Hang Gliding is a popular adventure sport, out there. You can also experience it, even if you are a novice. Every tourist should take part in it.
- Explore the Culture – You can soak in the culture of the place. After you do so, you will come out as a transformed individual. You can visit the monasteries and gompas to learn in-depth about the culture and history of the place. The monks ate very nice and can help in your transformation as well.
- Mountain Biking – This is a much-loved activity that you can engage in, Sikkim. The rugged and undulating terrains of the hills and valleys, add to the fun. Many tourists travel to Sikkim on their bikes from all other parts of the country.
- Sandakphu Trek – You can trek on this route till Singalila. You will be spotting 4-5 peaks on this route. They are Mt. Everest, Makalu, Kanchenjunga and Lhotse.
How To Spend a Few Days in Sikkim
You can visit Sikkim between March-May or October-December. But many tourists also visit the spot, during other seasons. Most of the people start their tour from Gangtok. You can enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful journey, on the way to Gangtok. The city square is M.G. Marg, where all the activity happens post your day trips. It is the most happening part of Gangtok. You can visit Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Rumtek monastery, Flower Exhibition Center, Ranka Monastery, Banjakri waterfall, Hanuman Tok, and Ganesh Tok. You can cover all these in a day. After you are done with all the local delights, you can head to Lachung, where you can immerse yourself in the rhododendron gardens. A trip to Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir is also a must, if you are in Sikkim. After that, you can also spend a day at Pelling and enjoy the views of the Kanchenjunga. Check out Pemayangste monastery as well, on a week-long trip. You can cover the other spots, as well if you have over a week’s time in hand.
How to Reach Sikkim
You can either travel by flight, and disembark at Bagdogra airport, which is 125 km away from Sikkim. Apart from that, you can also fly down to Pakyong airport, which is Sikkim’s own airport.
You can also travel by train from any of the major cities in India, and disembark at New Jalpaiguri Station.
It is a 5-6-hour driver from both the airport and station.
You can also avail yourself of a road trip from the nearby states like West Bengal, or Guwahati. The national highways are all well-developed for road travel. State buses are also available from the surrounding states.
Places to Stay in Sikkim
Sikkim is a tourist destination, so you will not find any dearth of hotels, guest houses, or homestays. There are quite a few luxury resorts as well, there. Some of the most beautiful and luxurious hotels in Gangtok are The Elgin Nor-Khill, Vivanta in Pakyong, Villa Tosca, Yarlam Resort in Lachung, and Norbu Ghang Resort, in Pelling. Homestays are there in all the offbeat regions.