Twenty-eight mountain peaks, twenty-one glaciers, 227 high altitude lakes, five hot springs, and over 100 rivers and streams. And you are still wondering what to do in Sikkim?
Breathe the crisp mountain air, escape to the least populated state of India and see the world’s third highest peak, Kanchenjunga.
Sikkim is the second smallest state of India, inhabited by India’s most friendly people – charming and slightly shy. Plunge into a world full of snow-capped mountains with breathtaking views, green mountain valleys occasionally interspersed with rice terraces and groves of flowering rhododendrons.
10) Eat, Drink, Travel, Repeat!
Bid adieu to your monotonous routine. Instead, adopt a new one. At least, for the time you are in Sikkim.
- To really savour the true Sikkimese atmosphere, visit a village tongba-bar for some local millet beer which has strong ritual importance among the tribes, strong enough to give the drinker a mild kick.
- Dishes to savour are Thukpa/Gya-Thuk (noodle soup with vegetables), Kinema (traditional fermented soybean food), Chhurpi (cottage cheese), Momos, Mesu, Tama and Masauyra Curry.
9) Visit Monasteries
Sikkim has more than two hundred monasteries, temples, churches, mosques and gurudwaras. Some of the famous monasteries are:
- Rumtek Monastery: Demonstrates the best of Tibetan architecture, houses some of the rarest Buddhist religious art objects, the priceless Black Hat (Vajra Mukut) studded with rubies, diamonds, gold and other precious stones.
- Enchey Monastery: Its sacredness is attributed to the belief that Khangchendzonga and Yabdean – the protecting deities – reside in this monastery and these powerful deities always fulfil the wishes of the devotees.
- Dubdi Monastery: One of the three oldest monasteries built in 1701, Dubdi means ‘the retreat’. It is located near Yuksom on a, and one has to travel by foot to reach it.
8) Adventurous Activities
- Mountaineering: Situated in the very lap of Mount Kanchendzonga, the third highest peak of the world, Sikkim naturally offers a unique opportunity to explore the Himalayan mountains.
- Trekking: With the help of the adventure division of Sikkim Tourism, treks can be hatched. The best period for trekking is from March to May or somewhere between October and December.
- River Rafting: Two rivers – the Teesta and Rangit gush through the paradisiac country, proving it to be a heavenly abode for river rafting.
- Others include yak ride, mountain biking.
7) The epitome of Natural Beauty: Lakes
Most of the lakes in Sikkim are considered sacred and steeped in flawless natural beauty.
- Tsomgo Lake: Situated 38 km from Gangtok and at an altitude of 12,400 ft, the lake derives its water from the melting snows of the mountains surrounding the lake. It is also home to brahminy ducks and remains frozen in winters. Special tourist permits are required for a visit.
- Gurudongmar Lake: One of the highest lakes in the world, located at an altitude of 17,100 ft and remains completely frozen in winters. It is believed to have miraculous properties and is associated with many legends.
- Other famous lakes: Khecheopalri Lake (West Sikkim), Lampokhari Lake (East Sikkim), Menmecho Lake.
6) Visit the Valley of Flowers
- Yumthang, popularly known as ‘Valley of Flowers’, is home to the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary. It has over twenty-four species of rhododendron, the state flower. Located at a distance of 148 km from Gangtok, it is a paradise for nature lovers with a fascinating blend of flora and fauna and breathtaking scenic beauty.
5) Take A Dip In Hot Water Springs
- There are many hot springs, the most important being Phur Cha-chu at Reshi, about 12 km from Jorethang. Other hot springs are Borong Cha-chu, 7 km from Ravangla and Ralang Cha-chu, a one-hour trek from the Ralang monastery.
- Sulphur baths in Sikkim’s natural hot springs are popular in February and March.
- These natural spas are said to have strong curative powers, that help in healing physical and mental aches.
4) Flora and Fauna
- Sikkim has recorded 552 species of birds and 690 species of butterflies.
- It is home to around 5,000 species of flowering plants, 515 rare orchids, 60 primula species, 36 rhododendron species, 11 oak varieties, 23 bamboo varieties, 16 conifer species, 362 types of ferns and ferns allies, 8 tree ferns, and over 424 medicinal plants.
- Nowhere in the world in such a small area can one find flora and fauna of all varieties: Blood Pheasant, Red Panda, Blue Sheep, Rare Snow Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Orchids and Rhododendrons.
3) Sacred Caves
- Spread in four directions are the Four Sacred Caves – Sarchog Bephug in the east, Khandro Sangphug in the south, Dechen Phug in the west and Lhari Nyingphug in the north.
- Buddhist texts suggest that it was after a series of meditations in these caves that Padmasambhava was known to have blessed the sites of some of Sikkim’s future monasteries and stupas.
2) Passes Of Sikkim
- Nathu La
Located at 14400-ft, Nathu-La links India with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
It is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and is richly surrounded by alpine flora.
- Jelep la
Located at 13,999 ft in East Sikkim District, the famous Menmecho Lake lies below the Jelep La Pass. The route is scenic with forests of rhododendrons blooming in spring.
1) Buy Yourself A Souvenir
- Thangka painting is a unique Sikkimese art which consists of hand-painted religious scrolls in brilliant colours drawn on fabric.
- It is not merely a decorative piece but a powerful aid to tantric meditation.
- It is said to bring auspiciousness and peace and drive away evils, depending on the deity painted on the scrolls.
So, choose the things you’d like to do on your trip to Sikkim and return with an experience you will cherish forever. If you have a long tour, why restrict yourself? Try and cover all of these.
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