Sikkim is the destination to live, experience, to feel alive. Being the gateway to the northeastern charisma of India, this picturesque state offers pristine Himalayan mountain views with kaleidoscopic city views. As the name suggests, this incredible state is the paradise on earth. With spectacular mountains, fascinating valleys, beautiful rivers, lakes, and very special monasteries, this state has everything to wonder about.
The more I read about Sikkim, the more I was eager to visit it. Hence, our voyage began one fine summer to explore Sikkim. Our journey started from the Kolkata airport, followed by exploring some famous places in Kolkata (the capital city of West Bengal) and then proceeding with the Sikkim journey ahead.
How to Reach Sikkim:
Kolkata to Sikkim: There are two ways to proceed – you can either board a flight from Kolkata airport (Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport) to Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri or take a train from Kolkata railway station to Jalpaiguri railway station. Both Siliguri and Jalpaiguri, popular places for tea gardens, are the beautiful cities of West Bengal.
Also you can directly board a flight to Pakyong Airport near Gangtok, which was inaugurated in 2018.
I traveled to Sikkim back in 2012, so after spending a lovely day in Kolkata, we moved to Jalpaiguri by train the next day. On the way to Gangtok, we took a one-day stop at Kalimpong and decided to explore this unexplored city.
Day 1 – Kalimpong
Exploring Kalimpong was like experiencing heaven because this town has an unexplored touch of ecstasy. This spectacular hill town is famous for its valley panoramas. Deolo Hills is one such spot to witness majestic scenes of the valley along with great cityscapes. Paragliding is one amazing adventure one could experience here.
The Cactus nursery in Kalimpong is a breathtaking location with a vast collection of flowers and plants in a super exciting atmosphere (full of fog, panoramic mountain and valley views) to give you the best experience here.
After spending one fantastic day at Kalimpong, we proceeded to Gangtok the other day. The gorgeous Teesta river will grab your attention along the entire route.
Day 2 – Gangtok
Gangtok is the capital city of Sikkim which will totally make you delighted as you enter this famous hill station. The Gangtok city tour is refreshing when your eyes get the most fantastic views of snow-covered mountains including the third largest peak in the world – Mount Kanchenjunga. When you are in Gangtok, visit the famous Rumtek Monastery along with Ganesh Tok and Flower Exhibition Center. You will never forget the charisma of MG Marg, famous for shopping and relishing the local culture. Read more on the Gangtok travel guide to plan your one-day Gangtok tour.
After the relishing Gangtok tour, we traveled to the famous Tsomgo Lake and Nathu La pass the very next day.
Day 3 – Nathula Pass, Sikkim
The road to Nathula Pass is magical and will make your eyesight captivated the entire way. Nathula Pass is the historical mountain pass connecting India and China. You will get a sneak peek into China and the Chinese houses at this pass. On the way to Nathula Pass, we visited the tantalizing Tsomgo Lake.
Tsomgo Lake / Changu Lake
The alluring Tsomgo lake located 38kms from Gangtok is one of the highest lakes in India. In summers the lake looks very beautiful reflecting the snowy mountain peaks, the bright blue sky, and the different colors in the surroundings. The Primula flowers and the alpine vegetation around the lake will make your day. To experience this natural beauty you have to leave for Tsomgo lake early in the morning. You have to arrange for an area permit beforehand from your tour operator or Sikkim tourism department at MG Marg.
This lake is even more spectacular during winters because of the frozen waters which attract many tourists for ice skating, yak rides, and trekking alongside the lake.
On our way back from Nathula Pass, we visited Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir. It is one of the unique destinations and a memorial honoring Indian soldier and saint Baba Harbajan Singh. It is believed that the saint guards the lives of soldiers along the border. People visit this place because of the alarming mountain views and the stories around here.
Day 4 – Lachung, Sikkim
We left Gangtok early in the morning to reach the unexplored yet scenic location in Sikkim – Lachung – a place to feel nature’s magic.
Being the magnificent Himalayan village, the place offers the most scenic views that you would like to stay here for a longer time. Lachung is famous for exuberant waterfalls, meandering streams, and the snow-covered mountains. It is also popular for the lovely fruit orchards including apples, apricots, and peaches. This place is inaccessible during winters due to heavy snowfall, so summers are the best times to visit this breathtaking destination.
Yumthang valley / Valley of flowers
This valley is very popular for exotic and rare flowers that will make you feel heavenly with their fragrance, colors, and beauty. The entire valley blooms to spread the most phenomenal colors that nature can showcase with flowing rivers, hot springs, and appealing meadows. You need a special area permit to visit this place. This is a must-visit place no one should ever miss.
To reach this enthralling destination it takes around 1.5 hours from Yumthang valley. You need permission to visit this place since it is located very close to the India-China border. Zero-point is the last outpost of civilization and the location where three rivers meet offering impressive views with snowy mountains all around. There are no civilian roads beyond this point so the name Zero Point. Driving here is the most amazing experience since you would only see the white snowy lands and a blue sky.
The next day we proceeded to Gangtok and spent the entire day relaxing. After the exhausting day at Lachung you definitely need a relaxing day. You can walk on the streets of MG Marg to feel pleasant vibes.
Day 6 – Ravangla, Sikkim
The trip to Pelling was my dream and it was fulfilled the next day. On the way to Pelling, we visited the famous tea gardens of Sikkim. The Temi Tea gardens are the government tea plantation over the sloping hills producing the refreshing Sikkimese tea. The picturesque location with the scenic Himalayas will give you pleasant vibes.
On the way from Temi tea Garden to Pelling, you will locate two far away destinations. One is Ravangla Buddha Park which has a 130 ft high statue of Buddha over the mountain peak. And on the other side is Char Dham Temple which has a 108 ft high Shiva statue over the temple. We decided to visit Ravangla this time because both places lie in opposite directions.
Tathagata Tsal/ Ravangla buddha park
This is a delightful park situated on a mountain peak with enchanting foggy weather and dark tall mountains. The huge Buddha statue is the prominent attraction that you wouldn’t stop clicking pictures.
On the way, the sublime views of tea and rice terrace plantations made our trip quite memorable. We reached Pelling in the evening and experienced the flavor of Pelling’s weather.
Day 7 – Pelling, Sikkim
Pelling is the small town at the foothills of Mount Khangchendzonga. This town is a place to enjoy nature just like Lachung. We started our Pelling trip from the sacred Khecheopalri Lake. The peaceful walk in the morning will make you feel rejuvenated. This lake is famous because of the fact that leaves are not allowed to float on it, since the birds pick up the leaf as soon as it is seen to be floating. It is magical to see this moment at this virgin lake.
The splendid beauty of Kanchenjunga waterfalls, which originates in the glaciers of Mount Kanchenjunga will make your journey refreshing. Rimbi waterfalls are the scenic falls in Pelling that one should visit. Pemayangtse Monastery is one of the oldest and most visited monasteries in Sikkim built in a delightful backdrop. I enjoyed eating hot and delicious momos near this place.
Day 8 – Namchi
The next day we proceeded to Darjeeling – the destination I wanted to visit very eagerly since my childhood. On the way we visited Namchi for the famous Char Dham temple. We didn’t know about this location until our driver told us about it. I feel so happy that we didn’t miss going to this wonderful place I have ever seen.
Char Dham Temple, Namchi / Siddheshwar Dham
It is an incredible cultural complex built spread across 29 hectares of the area on the mountain top. This place houses replicas of four Dhams of Hindu religion – Badrinath, Dwarka, Jagganath, Rameshwaram – and 12 jyotirlingas. The huge 108 ft Shiva statue on the 87ft temple is the key attraction. The Nandi statue faces the gigantic Shiva statue and embarks the divinity. The entire premises bring utmost serenity with the mountain scenery as a cherry on the cake.
En route, you can also enjoy white water rafting at Teesta river if you are not exhausted from a long road trip.
Day 9 – Darjeeling
This day was totally reserved for Darjeeling city vibes. Very early morning we visited Tiger Hills to enjoy the spectacular sunrise on the Kanchenjunga ranges. The sunrays that directly fall on Mount Kanchenjunga make the third highest mountain in the world clearly visible. Since I am not an early bird, it was a heavenly experience to watch the sunrise in the mountain peaks.
If you are in Darjeeling, make sure to hop on for a ride on the Toy Train. Also, head out to the tea gardens to drink the best tea in the world as the locals claim it. And I even agree with its astounding taste.
I really wished to spend one more day in this gorgeous city but the trip has to end. The city has more to offer and you can definitely visit if you have one more day here. Do read the Darjeeling city blog if you wish to know about the attractive places in Darjeeling.
After the amazing tour at Darjeeling the next day we proceeded to Bagdogra airport to board the flight for our hometown. The Sikkim tour concluded here but those beautiful moments are still living with me. This one Indian state has some magic that attracts me for another trip here and sprinkles the magic on every Sikkim tourist. One should definitely visit this place once in a lifetime!
Tips for Sikkim Travel
1. Carry warm clothes, since most of the locations mentioned above remain cold throughout the year.
2. Carry around 8-10 passport-size photographs along with identity proof for area permits at various locations mentioned above. Make sure to get the permit beforehand to avoid hassle at the last moment.