Sikkim is a state in North East India and not just the site of Kanchenjunga. This is a small Himalayan state with scenic beauties, lush woodlands, wildflowers-filled meadows, and others wrapped around in panoramic mountain views. This is why Sikkim's honeymoon is quite common among those who want to fall in love throughout their vacation.
Whenever the word 'North East India' comes in mind, you will obviously think of beautiful scenery and pristine environment all around. Sikkim, being the least populous state in the country, has everything which a tourist needs when going on their vacation to some place. Unique monasteries, lakes situated at high altitude, waterfalls, wonderful rivers and whatnot. Also, you will get the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the largest peak of India and third largest one in the world which is Kanchenjunga or Khangchendzonga.
Sikkim is regarded to be part of the Eastern Himalayas which leads to this destination being filled with rich biodiversity. One of the interesting facts about this state is that almost 35 percent of it is covered by Khangchendzonga National Park. Sikkim's official languages include English, Sikkimese, Nepali and Lepcha. The religions found to be predominant here are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism.
History of Sikkim
In the 17th century, Namgyal dynasty founded the kingdom of Sikkim. Chogyal, who was considered to be a Buddhist priest king, ruled this kingdom. In 1890, it successfully became a princely state of British India. After the country's independence, Sikkim retained its protectorate status with Republic of India. In 1973, in front of the Chogyal's palace some anti-royalist riots took place. Monarchy was deposed by the people living there in the year 1975. After conducting a referendum, Sikkim became the 22nd state of India in 1975. Till now, it has retained its position of being a multiethnic and multilingual state.
Best time to visit Sikkim
It is regarded fine to visit Sikkim during the summer season because at this time, you will be able to enjoy the views and take up adventure activities. If we talk about winters, it is equally beautiful at that time also. Everything gets covered with snow and you can enjoy the festivals that take place in the state during this time.
How to Reach Sikkim:
Want to do some adventure? Then choose traveling by road to Sikkim. NH31A connects Sikkim and Siliguri. Also, you can easily reach this state from Kolkata, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Bagdogra.
NJP is the nearest railway station which is located almost 148 kilometers away. From there, visitors can hire a private taxi or cab.
Sikkim's nearest airport is the Bagdogra Airport which is at 154 kilometers. It is 5 to 6 hour drive from there. A private taxi or cab can be hired by the tourists.
Adventure Activities in Sikkim
There are plenty of adventure options that Sikkim provides to a tourist. 28 major mountain peaks, around 80 glaciers, 100 rivers and streams, 5 hot springs, 227 high altitude lakes, and whatnot. You can find everything at one place when you step in at Sikkim. River rafting, mountaineering, mountain biking, trekking and the list has other options in it which the tourists can opt for.
The very famous adventure activities in the state are-
Paragliding and Hang Gliding
The aerial view of Sikkim having villages, rivers, forests, etc. can be enjoyed through these adventure activities. Paragliding can be taken up near Gangtok while for hang gliding one can go to Yumthang valley in North Sikkim and Jorethang in West Sikkim.
The time during November to March is regarded to be ideal one for those who want to go for skiing. During this period, there is snow all around the sharp slopes of mountains. Yumthang valley is perfect for skiing. Another destination for this different kind of experience is Phuni valley which is situated around 18 kilomteres from Lachung.
Trekking and hiking
There are many trekking trails in Sikkim which adventure enthusiasts will surely not miss. The renowned treks around here are Monastic trek, Green Lake trek, Rhododendron trek, Village trek, Goechala trek, Phoktey Dara trek, Singalila trek, Dzongri trek.
Mountaineering or peak climbing
Sikkim provides home to world's third largest mountain peak which is Kanchenjunga and has height of around 8,500 metres. There are some other peaks also namely Mount Jopuno, Frey peak, Brumkhangse, and Lama Wangden which make it heaven for the ones who want to opt for mountaineering or peak climbing.
The eco-friendly way to explore the natural beauty of Sikkim is mountain biking or cycling. It is considered to be one of the ideal locations in India where one can try mountain biking. Rich biodiversity can be observed while going for this adventure activity.
Teesta and Rangeet rivers provide an opportunity for river rafting to the tourists. The water current is regarded to be perfect for this adventure activity to be opted.
Best destinations to visit:
Being the capital city of Sikkim, Gangtok invites many tourists to it. You can find wonderful scenic views and the beauty of nature right here. All this makes it a place worth visiting. The pristine surroundings clearly justify Gangtok being considered among the significant cities in the state. If you want to have a glimpse of the magnificent peak of Mt. Kanchenjunga, then Gangtok is the right place for you. Coming to this city from March to mid-May is nothing less than heaven because rhododendrons fill up the city. An aerial view can be seen from the places such as Tashi viewpoint and Ganeshtok. Various monasteries are present in Gangtok namely Ganeshtok, Enchey monastery, Chorten Rumtek Monastery, etc., you can pay a visit there to have some unique kind of experience.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp
Being on a trip means knowing about diverse cultures and living the life of those cultures. Coming to Sikkim will offer you an option of enjoying the third highest peak in the world and the highest one in India which is Mt. Kanchenjunga. The essence of Sikkim culture can be experienced by visiting the Kanchenjunga Base Camp which is situated at the height of 14,000 ft. above sea level. Dzongri is regarded to be the last road around this peak from where the trek to this mighty mountain begins. If you are someone who wants to get indulged into adventurous activity, then visit Kanchenjunga base camp and it is something which you can brag about when you return to your place.
Mountains all around, that is how Zuluk looks. There is a pristine temple of Nag Devta named Nag Temple. It has an idol of King Cobra and the temple is shaped like a den or cave which makes it look like entering into a snake hole. Other destinations which you can visit after stepping into Zuluk are views of the snow-covered Mt. Kanchenjunga and Thambi viewpoint. Do not forget to include this scenic town when coming to the state of Sikkim.
Tsomgo means 'the source of water. This spectacular glacier lake is situated 40 kilometres away from the city of Gangtok. It is India's highest altitude lake which makes Sikkim even more beautiful. If you visit this place, then you will get the opportunity to see snow clad mountains all around. Make sure to come during day hours here because the roads are not well laid and also the place gets dark. The perfect time to come to Tsomgo Lake is January to March if you want to see snow everywhere and April to May if you want to enjoy the beauty of orchids and rhododendrons.
After Gangtok, Pelling is considered to be the second best tourist spot in Sikkim. The tourists who want to sit and enjoy in the lap of nature and be surrounded by magnificent views should include Pelling in their travel itinerary. It can be easily reached by major tourist destinations such as Gangtok and Darjeeling located around 131 km and 73 km respectively. North eastern food can be found in abundance here which the visitors can enjoy. Also try to come to Pelling during December to May as varied seasons like winter, spring and summer can be enjoyed at this time.
Finding its location around 60 km away from the capital city of Gangtok, Nathula Pass is not just a tourist destination but some politically significant spot. Indian and Tibetan cultures can be observed around here in amalgamation as this pass connects India to Tibet. Sherathang, which is a border trade market, can be visited to purchase some souvenirs. The visitors can also think of going to Kupup which is situated nearby Nathula Pass and is covered under the clouds making it look like paradise.
The way this river flows will leave you in awe. Tourists can plan a vacation in winter season if they want to experience the river in frozen state or can also come during summer season when there is beauty all around with shiny river water flowing. Kayaking and river rafting can be taken up in these waters. You can watch a glimpse of sangam of Teesta river with its tributary Rangeet river here. Along with this, visiting Teesta river provides you an option of going to Dikchu Bridge while on your way to Lachung.
Lachen, Lachung and Yumthang valley
These extremely beautiful villages should definitely be on your places to visit when coming on a vacation to the state of Sikkim. Lachen, a small village, is placed in North Sikkim which can be explored during winters to have a look at the Tibetan nomadic tribes who come here during this time. It is a lesser known tourist place but is surely worth visiting. Gurudongmar and Tso Lhamu lakes can be seen when being in Lachen. Peaceful time can be enjoyed at Lachen, while Lachung offers you the perfect opportunity to enjoy the snow and Yumthang Valley is filled with flowers which makes it the flower valley of Sikkim.
The trekkers and adventure enthusiasts should visit Goechala which is a mountain pass. You can try skiing and hiking at this destination which will make your trip unforgettable one. If you are not someone who takes up trekking or hiking, you can still come to Goechala to have spectacular view of the mighty mountain peak of Kanchenjunga.
Looking very similar to Pangong Tso Lake in Leh, Gurudongmar Lake is a must visit place in Sikkim. The clear blue water of the lake will totally surprise you. The north east culture can be found around these waters which one can observe and experience when paying a visit here. It is considered holy by three religions- Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. This peaceful and beautiful lake is located at an altitude of 17,800 ft. above sea level. The tourists can see yaks and blue sheep at this destination.
Thanks to Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain peak, this place has a cliché Himalayan climate with cool summer and shivering winter. Do you know that until 1975, Sikkim was a separate kingdom? Sikkim still boasts that unique culture, which is a mix of Indian culture fused with Nepal and Tibet traditions. If you check the top Sikkim tour packages, you will find that culture is a grand part of the beauty of this state.
Fairs and festivals:
Standing out amongst all the celebrations of Northeast India, Losoong festival is also known as Namsoong. It is regarded to mark the beginning of new year. This festival begins when the reaping season ends. The tourists who want to experience the Sikkimese culture should attend this celebration to witness cultural dances, customs and traditional food.
Sonam Lhochhar Festival
Sonam Lhochhar, also named as Sonam Lhosar, is considered to be the energetic celebration of socially rich Tamang group. It marks the start of Tibetan new year. People, whether men or women, get dressed up in their traditional clothing. One can explore Tamang cooking during this time.
Losar is a Tibetan word which particularly means 'new year' in English. It is one of the most significant celebrations of Northeast India. Agriculturists, at this time, with whole excitement begin to cheer up the produce of their diligent work. This celebration begins at the end of reaping season. Various explorers find Losar as an opportunity to experience the culture and traditions of Northeast.
Jorthan Maghey Mela
Maghey Sankranti Mela is celebrated with full joy in the beautiful village of Jorethang. Plenty of explorers come to this festival to get the idea and experience the social projects, nourishment shows and games rivaleries such as para floating, trekking, arrow based weaponry, stream boating and sight seeing ballooning.
Dentam Rhododendron Festival
In the month of March, this splendid town of Dentam having background of Mt. Kachenjunga in West Sikkim, gets decorated beautifully with natural contributions. All kinds of tourists who come to the state of Sikkim will definitely find this festival to be interesting and fun.
Bhumchu refers to the hallowed pot of water and is regarded to be a celebration which includes exhibition at great extent. This festival chooses the destiny of coming new year of the province. People come from far off places to witness the religious traditions and customs. You can easily find people from the countries of Nepal and Bhutan here. Buddhists, in Sikkim and around it, consider this time as the holiest one. Also, the non-Buddhists attend this festival with same enthusiasm to get an overview of Buddhism.
Saga Dawa Festival
Those people who want to get an idea and explore the dynamic Buddhism culture should surely attend this celebration. The ones who follow Mahayana Buddhism on this event remember the Lord Buddha's introduction to the world, his fulfillment of illumination and salvatiln from the bodily world. This festival involves religious functions as well as road parades.
Lampokhari Paryatan Mahotsav
Also known as Lampokhari Tourism Festival, this Paryatan Mahotsav sees a footfall of around thousands of explorers. Regardless of the kind of traveler you are, you will definitely find this mahotsav to be some worth attending one.
Best Restaurants in Sikkim
If you want to have the experience of Korean delicacies, then this place stands perfect for you. Mu Kimchi is worth paying visit if one wants to order authentic Korean food. The artefacts and woven lamps lead up to making the ambience of this place unique and beautiful.
Location- Vishal Gaon, Gangtok, Sikkim
The herbs and spices used here in cooking will give you an idea of Thakali community. You will go on some unique culinary tour while being here. Not much options are present in the food menu, but you can try some drinks as Thakali has bar in it.
Location- Oberoi building, MG Marg, Gangtok, Sikkim
The vegetarians can try coming to Rasoi for some fine dining experience. This place is properly furnished and the food menu here includes some authentic Sikkim cuisines. Rasoi Thali is something which you should not miss if you eat vegetarian food.
Location- MG Marg, Arithang, Gangtok, Sikkim
If you want to have punjabi food, then come to Parivar restaurant. It has got all vegetarian food covered under perfect ambiance. Dal makhani, butter paneer masala, raita, chapati and other North Indian vegetarian dishes are worth trying here.
Location- MG Marg, Arithang, Gangtok, Sikkim
Tatopani Bar and restaurant
While exploring west Sikkim, you can come to Tatopani Bar and restaurant which is considered just the ideal one for the tourists. The menu having varied drink options and food will make you go surprised and also the live band performances is something which will make your experience unforgettable one here.
Location- West district, Pelling Rimbi road, Pelling, Sikkim
Taste of Tibet
If you are looking for some perfect ambience combined with delicious food, then Taste of Tibet should be on your list. The visitors on coming here can enjoy the Tibetan food options.
Location- MG Marg, Gangtok, Sikkim
This restaurant specialises in offering Indian and Chinese food to the tourists at affordable prices. Dum aloo is something which you should definitely order when being here. The ambience is quite natural which makes it even more beautiful.
Location- MG Marg, Arithang, Gangtok, Sikkim
Khan Uncle's Biryani house
The Hyderabadi and Kolkata Biryani can be ordered from here. Chicken roll is something which will not make you go disappointed. This food place has bollywood posters around with interesting write-ups which will make the experience here a fun one.
Location- MG Marg, Gangtok, Sikkim
Therefore, with these many adventure activities, destinations, food options, Sikkim is definitely a fulfilling package for the tourists. You need to include every recommendation to your travel itinerary to make your trip unique one. You will be warmly welcomed in this state by its people. Sikkim, having improved connectivity, is paradise for the nature and adventure enthusiasts.
Apart from these, there are numerous Sikkim tour itineraries that focus on the Himalayan genre of adventures like yak riding, skiing, river rafting, mountain biking, mountaineering, paragliding, camping, and others. The rugged terrain of the land and the gushing streams burrowing the mountainsides make it the best place to enjoy adrenaline-pumping activities.
If you are looking for holistic Sikkim holiday packages, it is best to visit during the Tibetan or Buddhist festival. Top kaleidoscopic celebrations take place during the winter season. However, the summer is the best time to enjoy the nature and adventure activities. Do you want to explore natural beauties like hot springs, mountain streams, and flower-riddled meadows? Or, do you want to stick with skiing and other snow activities? Check out the following Sikkim itineraries to choose.