Among the seven North-Eastern states of India, perhaps none are as unforgettable as Sikkim. Bordered by China, Bhutan and Nepal with the incredible Kanchenjunga Ranges domineering over the state, it’s nothing less than culturally and aesthetically magnificent. If you plan on visiting North-East India, also read about the Best Places to Visit in North-East India.
Every district of the state is more beautiful than the former. It’s going to be a confusing list, but one thing is for sure, you can’t miss out on this state.
Nowhere better to start than the capital itself. This place is rightfully given the title of the capital city with all the adventures and cultural exposure that it offers to tourists.
Gangtok is overshadowed by the high Himalayan ranges which give this place a fantastical appeal. Moreover, there is so much to do in Gangtok that another list can be made out of it. Well, that’s exactly what we’ve done. Here are the Things to Do When in Gangtok.
2. Zuluk Village
Zuluk Village is a growing tourist destination, mainly because it is an important military base even today. But the sheer beauty of the place couldn’t stop people to swarm in here and experience ultimate tranquillity. It is heaven personified.
Zuluk Village is approximately at a four-hour distance from Gangtok. This makes it easily accessible. The village has a significant history, and its importance exists even today. Zuluk Village is en route to the border that India shares with Tibet. In the earlier centuries, this was a crucial way through which all the major trade happened with Tibet and China, not only from India but other Mediterranean countries also. The majority of the purchased item was silk. Therefore, it came to be known as the silk route. It was later confiscated by China, thus the border.
History states that travellers used to stay here overnight before continuing their journey further. Today, this small village with little hut-like houses dotted here and there on sloping hills attract hundreds and thousands of tourists. Some people flock here for its historical importance while others for its sheer charm. Also, it acts as a base for a trek to Nathang Valley. It is a valley located at an altitude of 13,500 ft which was the home to yak herders from Tibet during the silk trade period. A must-visit place.
Don’t forget to check out The Most Charming Villages in India.
3. Teesta River
This is one beautiful river originating from Sikkim itself. Because of the terrain through which the river flows and because of its different speed at certain points of the terrain, Teesta River is famous for river rafting. In fact, people from around the world come here to have an adrenaline spiking adventure. The river flows down well to Darjeeling which is also crowded during favourable seasons for water sports.
During the winter seasons, the river is frozen, and it’s a sight to behold. But during summers also, it looks brilliant with its emerald blue waters and gushing speed. The path surrounding the river is covered by dense forests. There are some plantations en route as well. Also, you can find some lovely white sand beaches here where the Tourism Department usually arranges camps for river rafting.
Teesta River’s forests also prove as a paradise for bird watchers.
4. Nathula Pass
This is the most famous place in Sikkim and one you should visit without fail.
Located at the height of 14,140 ft, about 50 km from Gangtok, this magnanimous mountain range is a part of the silk route. You can see the fenced border of Indo-China from here. Soldiers are always present here despite the freezing temperature and hazardous conditions. They are quite friendly so don’t hesitate to interact with them.
Apart from the border, there is a border market about 3 km from these fences. Actually, a little bit of trade of items still goes on through this border in both India and China but this is done by only 100 businessmen or less. Therefore, some amazing things from China can be found in the market. Oh, and if you forgot to bring money, don’t fret. The highest altitude ATM in the world is in Nathula Pass, and it’s always functioning.
Kupup is another place in Nathula Pass where you can find some Tibetan monasteries and a golf course too! A war memorial is also built here in remembrance of the British soldiers who lost their lives during the India-China war. Since oxygen will be very scarce up here, either bring in oxygen cylinders with you or consult a doctor and bring some altitude sickness tablets just in case.
Don’t forget to visit the enchanting Tsomgo Lake near Nathula Pass. It’s said to be absolutely breathtaking.
Namchi is a beautiful town in South Sikkim which is quickly progressing, both regarding tourism and education. There are many private schools here providing quality education.
Namchi is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site as there are many monasteries here. The city is also full of the fragrances of beautiful flowers. Fresh mountain air will detoxify your system, and the scent only adds to the luxury.
Also, the only tea estate in Sikkim, Temi Tea Garden, is also here. Make sure you pay a visit there.
6. Yuksom Village
Yuksom Village literally translates to the “place where the three learned monks meet”. The villagers believe that three holy monks came from Tibet to Yuksom and chose the first King of Sikkim from here. They named him Chogyal meaning the righteous king. But besides this old folklore, Yuksom is also called as the “modern village of eco-tourism”, all thanks to the inspirational villagers living here.
The village is situated in a valley which is home to incredible biodiversity. Incidentally, it is also the starting point of trekking to Mount Kanchenjunga that stands proudly beyond the valley. The Kanchenjunga National Park is also here. Therefore, you can expect the kind of species diversity here. The villagers are very strict about maintaining this diversity rather than destroying it in the name of tourism. Sure they’re very fond of the tourists who frequently come here. In fact, there are a large number of tourist cottages in the valley. But they don’t let any of that affect their natural surroundings in any manner and have adopted ways to keep the area environment-friendly. Their dedication is incredible.
You can trek to the majestic Mount Kanchenjunga from here. Yuksom Village also has a rich Buddhism culture, and they preserve this as well. There are a few monasteries that are worth visiting. With all this scenic beauty, trekking opportunities, friendly villagers and rich culture, wouldn’t you want to visit the Yuksom Village?
7. Yumthang Valley
This picturesque valley is known to be similar to Switzerland because once you visit this place, you’ll cherish its memories forever.
Yumthang Valley also called as the Valley of Flowers or specifically, the Valley of Rhododendrons, is full of them. You will be amazed at the acres and acres of land spread with beautiful rhododendrons of various species and some other flowers as well. It is believed to be one of the most splendid valleys in the North-East itself. The flowers are in full bloom and glory between the months March to May.
The State Department also organises an International Rhododendron Festival here. There are approximately 38 species of this flower found here, and you can see all of these exhibited in the festival. So if you want to spend some relaxed time in a dreamy valley, come here.