Sikkim is a land of high passes, cold deserts, barren mountains, ancient monasteries, and stunning landscapes. It is a Land of Mystery and intrigue which never ceases to amaze travellers. Gangtok is a small and beautiful city & is the capital of Sikkim, is one place that will definitely take your breath away. Though our stay in Gangtok was only for a short time we really had a good time having momos & local cuisines drinking channg, talking to all the fellow travellers, while walking on the most cleanest street Mg Marg.
We booked a taxi from Thimphu to Phuentsholing, and from Phuentsholing we hired another vehicle to siliguri. We got down at the coronation bridge and thought of taking a sharing taxi to Gangtok. It was very difficult for us to Find a taxi to Gangtok. So we had to again break our journey into two parts, we got down at some point(forgot the name of the place) from there we hired an alto to Gangtok. Though we were tired after such a long and tiresome Journey from Thimphu we didn’t plan to rest because of our crunched itinerary. The very next day is the most awaited and the exciting North Sikkim trip. I was dreaming about Lachung, Lachen & Gurudongmar lake all day and night since the trip started. By the time we arrived at Gangtok it was around 6:30-7:00pm.
We went to MG marg which is the heart of the city and is the best place for travellers to find budget hotels. After renting a room in Rigwa international hotel, we had dinner at the same hotel and ended the day. Next morning we woke up with a call from Lahiri regarding our trip to Northsikkim, that due to the bad weather conditions the road to Gurudongmar Lake and Lachen has been closed. So, 3day and 2itinerary has come down to 2day and one night to Lachung. So we had a full day to explore Gangtok. We went to the taxi stand in MG marg and negotiated the price for a customised daytrip. Since we are four people we reserved a wagon-R car for us (there are also larger vehicles like Scorpio, Sumo which can take 7 persons) for local sightseeing tour. My first impression on this beautiful city is that it’s very clean& green, well organised city with lot of foot bridges and footpaths(almost all of the people were using it 😉 ), very organised cab system, hospitable people.
We thought of exploring Gangtok on a shoestring budget. A day trip to Gangtok was little bit hectic but we customized this itinerary, such that we are covering most of the must see places here. Our first stop was at Ropeway. This is a must see in the city and the ride is of 15 to 20 Minutes duration which provides spectacular bird view of Gangtok city and the surrounding vista.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology & Museum:
This place has a great collection of artifices and paintings related to Tibet. It’s a great museum showcasing lot of things on Tibetan Buddhism. Informative Museum and is the right place for the history enthusiasts. There’s a souvenir store inside the complex. If you are not a history lover then you can have a second thought on this place whether to visit or not.
Hanuman Tok & Viewing area:
Hanuman Tok is a temple of Lord Hanuman. it has wonderful serene ambience and the viewing area offers spectacular view of Kanchenjunga range. According to the local legends, when Hanuman was flying with the “Sanjeevani” (mythological: life saving herb) mountain to save Rama’s brother Lakshmana he rested in the spot where his temple now lies for some time. The mandir is actually managed by The Indian Army.
Ganesh Tok & Viewing area: Beautiful and serene temple with a great view from the top.
Himalayan Zoological Park:
Himalayan Zoological Park is quite unique and the first Zoological park of Sikkim. The Park accomplishes the perception of modern zoo, where the animals are kept in replicated natural conditions. The entrance to the Zoo is located at the end of a short pathway opposite to Ganesh Tok. It’s about 6kms from Gangtok town.There lot of rare and endangered species of animals.Biggest attraction of this park is Red Pandas, Himalayan Black Bears, Snow Leopards, Clouded Leopard, Common Leopard, Leopard Cat, Tibetan Wolfs, Himalayan Palm Civets, Barking Deer, Yaks, etc. You can also see different types of birds here.
Tashi View Point:
It’s located in Tashi and about 8kms from the Gangtok town. It offers a sweeping view of Kanchenjunga snow peaks on a clear day. It seems that the view of sunrise from here is quite impressive, One can see the peaks dazzling with changing colors. Because of our crunched itinerary we didn’t even plan of going there for sunrise.Since it was foggy day we didn’t get a clear view of the snowclad mountains. It was bit foggy and rainy day so the visibility was close to zero on that day. Unfortunate for us, But I am sure it would be spectacular on a clear day. Definitely a must see place.
Enchey monastery was later rebuilt in the year 1908 by the 10th King of Sikkim – Sikyong Tulku. The monastery follows an unique architecture which is an artistic adaptation of Gyanak Riwo Tse-Nga or the sacred mountain with five peaks in China – which is the spiritual place of Jampalyang. He is known as the god of knowledge to the northern Buddhists. The monastery is therefore one of the most recognized ones in the whole of Sikkim. quiet, and peaceful temple..
Flower Exhibition Center:
By the time we returned back to MG marg it was around 6pm and it was so beautiful with the colorful lights, grand decorations, diverse people. We had some momos and tea. Then had a walking tour in the city. After that we spend few hours in a bar. Then back to the hotel.. End of the day..
Tips from my perspective:
- Ropeway is open between 8 Am to 4.30 Pm. There is no sitting arrangement inside the ropeway. Ticket price is 60/Head.
- There’s no entrance fee for Enchey monastery, Ganesh tok, Hanumantok & Tashi View point.
- Namgyal Institute of Tibetology entrance fee is Rs.10
- According to me the Best time to visit Gangtok is in March-May and September-October.
On 3rd of April, 2015, after a big party a day before in Gangtok, it was pretty hard for us to wake up the next morning. With great struggle, we finally woke up at around 7AM and got ready for the most exciting trip. We got ready and after having breakfast we headed for the taxi stand, (where the actual trip to North Sikkim starts) taking a taxi from our hotel in MG Marg for INR 150. Mr.Lahiri Ji was waiting for us at the taxi stand. We were supposed to start by 8:00 AM but we reached late. On reaching the stand he guided us to our car. The car driver was furious and started howling at us for being late. We planned to even the score during the journey :P. All were waiting for us. There was a Bengali couple along with us, waiting to start the most incredible journey to North Sikkim.
We departed at around 9:30 am in a Mahindra Bolero from Gangtok Taxi stand. Lachung is a very small town around 120 kms from Gangtok. It’s at an altitude of 9600ft. We were informed, that we will get to see 3-4 view points during our journey from Gangtok to Lachung, however our driver Kanniah was nice enough to stop wherever we asked him to stop for sightseeing.
Our first stop of the day was at Seven Sister’s waterfalls. These falls were adjacent to the road with a stream of water flowing down from the mountain top.
We almost skipped many stops. We’ve seen many tourists who are being hurried by their drivers. But our driver was very patient and he never rushed us. So we had an amazing time. Because of his patience he made our journey itself, a destination.
We had a quick stopover at Phodong for lunch. The food we had was delicious, with a backdrop of the beautiful and mighty Himalayas. We were served rice, Chicken, Pickles, Daal, Potato, some kind of beans and a piece of egg. We’ve never seen our friend Prashant eating like that before. He was going on eating, he was unstoppable.
After lunch, we headed towards Mangan (district headquarters) a few kms further to Mangan is Singhik viewpoint which offers a panoramic view of Mt.Kanchenjunga and Teestha Valley.
Due to heavy fog, we didn’t get a view of Kanchenjunga but the view of Teestha was priceless. Moving ahead and we kept on gaining altitude and the sun rays were getting weaker and weaker, the temperature dipped rapidly.
We reached Chungthang around 3:30 P.M. From Chungthang the road for Lachen and Lachung bifurcates. Lachen is approximately 30 kms from Chungthang and Lachung is around 23km. Our next stop was at Lachung for an overnight stay. We reached Lachung at around 4:30 PM, then we checked in at a hotel. It was pretty cold in Lachung village, the temperature was below zero degrees Celsius.
We could hear the icy winds roaring across the mountains. We were given a couple of rooms on the first floor of our hotel. Later on we went to capture the beauty of this Magnificent tiny village. We finished exploring the whole village in about an hour. After shooting some footages for our Video, we got back to the hotel.
Our driver Kanniah took us to the Army Base. We never knew that going with him will be such a memorable experience. He almost knew every person in the village and even in the army. He took us to the Military Canteen. We bought some snacks and had a chat with the army men at the canteen. Luckily we met a soldier who could speak Telugu, who shared his life experiences and his love towards our nation. Photography is strictly prohibited so we couldn’t click any pictures with him!! Soon after Kanniah was done with his work , we started from there, while returning we had a quick stopover at a small home, there we had local wine and chai !! After a while we got back to our hotel and had dinner. Back to bed!
We were supposed to start at 5:00am to see Yumthang valley. Unfortunately there is no geyser or hot water in the hotel. So had to freshen up with cold water. We were amazed to see the snow rugged mountains around our hotel. We didn’t notice anything the day before because of the intense fog around us. It was our first sight of snow rugged mountains in Sikkim. Quite fascinating it was. Now I believe in ‘Love at first sight.”
The Yumthang Valley is at an elevation of 3,564 metres and is a grazing pasture surrounded by the Himalayan mountains in the North Sikkim. It is popularly known as ‘Valley of Flowers’. During the spring months(April-September), the area blooms with rhododendrons, primulas, poppies, iris and other flora. Even though we took this trip in April, we hardly found any flowers there. We missed seeing the real beauty of Yumthang. No one in our group was interested in visiting the hot springs in Yumthang. So we skipped it.
It was around 7 AM, we thought of extending our trip to Katao border and Zero Point. Generally both Katao border & Zero Point are not covered in the tour, but we negotiated with the driver to take us there. He charged 500 bucks per head and agreed to take us to those places. We reached Katao border at around 8:30 AM. We were warned by the Soldiers about the ferocious dogs. I am always afraid of dogs, so I was very cautious while going there. On the other side of the gate, Photography is strictly prohibited. Finally, a quick hike on a cliff, we found a good place to capture the beauty of the peaks. Here we had a good conversation with Telugu speaking Aunties whom we met in Gangtok before. After enjoying and playing a lot with Snow, we left for Zeropoint at around 9:30 AM.
We arrived Yumesdeong famously known as zero-point, It wasn’t so cold eventhough we were at an elevation of 13700 feet . And the view from here is breath taking and the joy we had while playing with the snow and making the snowman and snowwoman was priceless. Sunrays cascading on the Snowcapped mountains made it look like, as if it were made of gold. All those beautiful Mountains, lovely Snow, striking Sunlight and clear blue Skies..
Oh God, this is what I am looking for. Going to Mountains is not an adventure, Going to Mountains is finding Happiness. Thank you god for making my life more meaningful by taking me to these mountains. Then we headed back to Lachung. At around 1:00PM, we reached our Hotel in Lachung again, after having lunch and freshening up, we departed to Gangtok at around 2:30 PM and reached back at 8:00pm.
Tips from my perspective:
- Initially we paid for 3D/2N – Lachen – Gurudongmar Lake & Lachung – Yumthung Valley. But due to heavy rains and landslides the road to Gurdongmar lake was blocked. So we got our money refunded. Then we changed it to a 2D/1N – Lachung with Yumthung Valley.
- It is mandatory to take a Travel Agency to visit North Sikkim.
- Permits, Food and accommodation everything will be taken care by the travel agents.
- If you are planning a trip to Sikkim, Don’t miss North Sikkim..
The Tsongmo Lake or Changu Lake is a glacial lake in the East Sikkim, India, some 40 kilometres (25 mi) away from Gangtok, the capital of the state of Sikkim. Its elevation is 3,780 m (12,400 ft). During the winter season the lake remains frozen.he lake surface reflects different colours with change of seasons. The lake is held in great reverence by the local Sikkimese people. Buddhist monks prognosticated the future of the country after studying the changing colours of the lake. As the lake is located in a restricted area it is essential for all Indians visiting the area to obtain permits. In case of foreign nationals special permit is essential. It’s better to go with travel agents because they will do all the documentation for our trip.
This 25 days of Backpacking trip has made us to pause our lives and rediscover ourselves..This is just a glimpse of our scintillating travel experience. Soon we’ll be uploading few more videos with different shades of our incredible journey…
Places covered in this video are:Bhutan-Thimphu, Buddha Dordenmo, Chelela pass, Dochula Pass, Paro, Tigers monastery, Ta Dzong, Kiyuchu llakhang, Arts school, National library, National Memorial chorten, Punakha Dzong, Phuentsholing, Gangtok, Tashi view point, Ganesh tok, Gangtok Ropeway, Darjeeling, Lachung, Lachen, Katao Border, Nathula pass, Tsomgo Lake etc.,..
Stay tuned folks..