This World Tourism Day tap the heavenly places to visit in Sikkim!
As the monsoons bid adieu and the winter season is ahead of us, it’s the best time to visit the land of picturesque glaciers and quaint meadows, Sikkim. As perfect timing has it, with the inauguration of Pakyong Airport this Monday, September 24, one can expect a surge in tourism in the area.
Nestled in the snow-capped Himalayan Mountains, flourishes the idea that is sure to become a memorable trip for any traveller who visits Sikkim. Having gained the status of the cleanest state in India and the only state that grows their food organically, this pristine beauty is worth every minute of our time, even though some of us may be chained to our desks most of the days of the year.
It’s like Sikkim has opened its arms for us all and it’s time to visit the soulful terrains.
From the crystalline glaciers to the lakes and hot springs, from the flora and the fauna to the picturesque mountain passes and a tête-à-tête with the culture, people and food, Sikkim is truly a melting pot of all things magical. It’s a must-visit for all kinds of travellers, be it the quiet reader sitting in a cozy corner at a quaint café or the social media buff sharing visual travel diaries on Instagram.
We have the top picks for you to have the perfect getaway experience in Sikkim.
One of the highest lakes in the world, located at 5430 m. The lake is fed by glaciers and located to the north of the Kangchengyao range. The lake joins the Tso Lahmu to form the source of the Teesta River, and remains completely frozen from November to Mid-May. Legend has it that the lake’s frigid state is linked to the visit of Guru Padmasambhava to the lake, on his way back from Tibet. When he saw it, he realised that the location was worthy of veneration. However, since the lake remained frozen for the major part of the year, it could not serve any drinking water needs to the people of the state. The guru then agreed to help the people by placing his hands in a small area of the lake which stopped freezing during winter, facilitating drinking water to the people of the state. Since then, Gurudongmar Lake has been considered sacred. It has also been claimed that the lake was blessed in the 15th century by Guru Nanak Ji, the spiritual leader of Sikhism, when he had passed through the area.
Himalayan Zoological Park
Notably one of India’s better-maintained zoos, the Himalayan Zoological Park occupies an entire hillside with a splendid view of Mt. Khangchendzonga. The star attraction is the red panda, also called the red cat bear, Sikkim’s animal emblem. One can also hope to see the Snow Leopard, Goral, Himalayan Palm Civet, Himalayan Black Bear and Crimson-Horned Pheasant at the park. The best time to visit the area is Mid-February to May and Mid-September to December.
Kanchenjunga National Park
The Khanchenjunga National Park includes a diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and spectacular, snow-capped mountains covered with ancient forests, including the world’s third highest peak, Mount Khangchendzonga (or Kanchenjunga). The national park is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Feel the sprays of this torrential fall as they cascade down granite rocks while you enjoy this breathtaking beauty. Marvel at the beauty of nature creating a perfect symbiosis of sound and sight.
Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary
Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary located in the Yumthang Valley of Flowers, North Sikkim, is home to 24 species of rhododendrons, which burst with colour every Spring/Summer between March till early May.
The Buddha Park plays host to a beautiful statue of Sakyamuni Buddha, visible from all directions of Southwest Sikkim and some parts of West Sikkim. The park area is beautifully landscaped making it a haven for visitors who can enjoy the serene surroundings.
If you’re sitting down to enjoy the view or are on the road exploring, you might have to wait for the cloud cover to vanish so you can register the full view at one go so it stays with you as a fond memory. From the Tashi Viewpoint, you can take in some of Gangtok’s best glimpses of the Khangchendzonga. This road also leads up to the iconic Nathu La Pass which reopened in 2006 and is manned by the BRO (Border Roads Organisation).
The highest bridge in Sikkim, this 230 metres-span suspension bridge is an engineering marvel and was constructed to reduce the travel time on the Dentam-Utterey road, but ended up becoming a tourist attraction instead. Who’s complaining, though?
Yumthang Hot Springs
When you set out for Yumthang, it’s the journey that matters as much as the destination. On the way to the springs and the pool that you can choose to bathe in (basis the time allowed) or just soak in the greenery and the purity of the locales, you’re in. You and your camera are going to be happiest!