Sikkim is derived from two words in the Limbu language: the word “Su” meaning new, and the word “Khyim” meaning the palace or house. Sikkim therefore means “New palace or house” with the first ruler is Phuntsok Namgyal (in the Tibetan language, Sikkim is Denjong, which means Valley of rice). Sikkim is the second smallest state after “Goa” or “Goa” in India. With a total area of 7,098 square kilometers. The capital city is “Gangtok” which is the largest city (Located to the east of Sikkim).
Sikkim has the highest peak which is The peak of the highest mountain (Khangchendzonga) was originally a height of 8,598 meters, which is considered a sacred hilltop. It is believed that this peak is the place to store all 5 symbols of God, namely money, gold, Rattanachat and Phra Khumpon. For the peak, Kanchang Jungka is the 3rd highest peak in the world, after the peak of EVE. Forest at 8,848 meters high and K2 mountain peak at 8,611 meters.
Where to go:
1. Mountaineering in sikkim
Sikkim snuggled in the stretch of north eastern Himalayas is one of the best experience of the mountains. The beautiful state remains unrivaled when it comes to the thrilling experience of mountaineering. Mountaineering in Sikkim has been introduced very recently. The Government of Sikkim has opened some of its alpine peaks for climbing and other adventures. Mountaineering is a new step to promote quality adventure tourism in Sikkim.
Mountaineering season in Sikkim starts from April to June, and September to November. Temperature are milder in spring but there can be more snow around. Mid April, June through last week of September, to first week of December, is considered the safest and the best time for mountain adventures in Sikkim. The breathtaking views form the magnificent heights. The trails through alpine meadows, rhododendron fields, scared lakes, bio-diversity and humming mountain brooks is enchanting. Adventure lovers have found their haven and nature lovers will be lost in the magnificence of the scenic beauty of mountains.
Thrilling Mountaineering Trails in Sikkim are Mt Khangchedzonga (27,803 ft.), Mt. Kabru (24,005 ft.), Mt Siniolchu (22,610 ft), Mt. Thingchinkhang (6010 meters) and Mt. Jopunu (5936 meters), Mt. Pandim (22,010 ft) and Mt Rathong (21,911 ft.). Prior permission is needed from Indian Mountaineering Institute before embarking on the mountain adventures in Sikkim.
2. Yak Safari
The Yak safari in Gangtok is the perfect opportunity to enjoy viewing wonderful flora and fauna. Enjoy an amazing journey into the wild with Gangtok Yak safari. Yak safari in Sikkim is truly a safari experience with a difference where you get a chance to ride colorfully adorned Yaks, wearing woolen knits over their horns, and bells around their neck. This animal offers you a ride around Tsomgo Lake near Sikkim while it walks on rugged trails and you treat your eyes to the scenic beauty.
Dzongri and Tsomgo Lake are the popular areas where Yak riding in Sikkim is popular amid tourists. Yaks domesticated animals in Sikkim but from the past few years, they offer memorable safari experiences. People of all age-group, from children to an old person, all can enjoy this activity. Yaks are generally found on high altitudes of around 9000 feet but during the winter season, they are brought to somewhere around 7000 feet. In the Himalayan region, they are also a means of carrying goods. Do not forget to click a photograph while atop the Yak.
3. The Gangtok Ropeway
The Gangtok Ropeway is one of the greatest attractions in the capital city of Sikkim, Gangtok. The unmissable attraction is a double-cable zig back ropeway operational since December 2003. Gangtok Ropeway offers breathtaking views of the city. The Deorali Bazar form where you board the cable car can be easily seen. The majestic views of Mt Kanchenjunga snow peaks, valleys and a river flowing some 3500 feet below open for travelers of the ropeway. Overall it is an unforgettable experience.
Each cable car can carry up to 24 passengers. There are three stations in this 1 km long ride (up and down is 2 km). The lowest station, boarding point is at Deorali near Institute of Tibetology. The next station is Namnang and the top most station is in Tashiling next to the Secretariat. You can get off at any point, but it is best to take 2-way ride. The ticket price includes two-way ride and you get to enjoy the beautiful scenery both ways. One way ride takes about 10 minutes.
Do not forget to take pictures from the cable car. You will find a small glass pane on either side of the cable car which you can slide and take clear pictures through that. The Gangtok Ropeway has a mid-scale restaurant at its de-boarding/. Relish coffee or local cuisines after a thrilling day up and down the ropeway. Gangtok Ropeway operates daily between 8 am to 4:30 pm. Ticket price is 60 INR per adult and 30 INR for child below 6 years. Video camera charge is additional 60 INR, still camera have no fee.
4. Enchey Monastery in Sikkim
Enchey Monastery located in close proximity to Gangtok, Enchey Monastery is listed among the most popular tourist spots in Sikkim. The land on which the monastery is put up is believed to be blessed by respected tantric master Druptob Karpo. It is said that the master had flying powers; he flew from Maenam hill to this place and built a small hermitage. The three Gods worshipped in the monastery are Buddha, Loki Sharia and Guru Padmasambhava. Enchey Monastery in Sikkim is an important seat of the Nyingmapa order of Vajrayana school of Buddhism. Surrounded by tall pine trees, the iconic monastery is a two storey building boasting of shells which are regarded propitious Buddhist symbols and several murals representing the protective deity and wheel of law on the porch. The striking monastery is home to around 90 monks.
Further, if you want to get familiarize with the amazing culture of the monastery then you can participate in the yearly festival which is celebrated on the 18thto 19th day of the 12th month, according to Tibetan calendar in January month. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and people here enjoy the monk dace, Thamar Chaam.
5. Temi Tea Garden
Temmi Tea Garden is the sole Tea Estate in the mountainous state of Sikkim. The tea garden is located just 18 km from Ravangla and can be visited on a day tour. The garden is spread on a slope below Tendong along the highway to West Sikkim from Gangtok. The tea estate is presided with the dominating view of snow covered Mt Kanchendzonga. Temi Tea Garden was established in 1969. The total area of the Temi Tea garden is set approximately on 435 acres. The tea estate employs about 450 people and produces 100 metric ton of organic tea annually. Some of the best varieties of tea in the world is produced here. The original tea saplings were brought from Darjeeling.
Set at altitude of 1200-1800m, the garden offers beautiful natural views. The road to the tea garden is lined with cherry blossom trees. When these trees are in bloom is like walking right through a pink mist. The factory is situated at 1500m can be visited to have an interesting lesson on tea processing. Temi tea is the most popular souvenir for tourists visiting the state. Most of the tea produced in the garden is either consumed locally or purchased by tourists. The garden is owned by Sikkim government. It is popular for producing organic tea, evading the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides.
The Temi Tea Garden Bungalow is an old British built bungalow situated just below the Temi Tea Garden. The heritage bungalow is open for accommodating tourists visiting the estate. The well-maintained building has two bedrooms with all modern amenities. The large windows opening up to picturesque views of the tea garden. Enjoy the warmth of fire in the sitting room in the cold evenings. The Bungalow has been carefully restored keeping the original British structure intact. Staying at the Temi Tea Bungalow is like travelling back in time. Experience the visit of tea gardens with a stay in a colonial home.
6. Samdrup Tse Monastery Namchi
Samdruptse Monastery Namchi is one of the most revered monasteries in Sikkim, the Samdruptse Monastery boasts of modern planning and architecture, which is one of its highlights. The monastery is just 72 km Gangtok. In the local language Bhutia, the word ‘Samdruptse’ means ‘The Wish Fulfilling Hill’ and its name is a pointer to the extreme popularity of the monastery amid the devotees as well as the tourists. Location is around 7 km from Namchi, 2 km off Damthang-Ravangla road.
It was on 22nd October in 1997 that the foundation of the monastery was laid by his holiness, Dalai Lama. This masterpiece is a work of art of around 1000 laborers, and several learned architects, engineers, and sculptors. The construction of the monastery got completed in 3 years. The colorful Samdruptse Monastery is an amalgamation of Sikkimese, Tibetan and modern- day styles of architecture. The most stunning feature is 135 feet statue of Guru Padmasambhava statue, and it probably is the world’s highest statue of Guru Padmasambhava. The statue in golden color with copper-colored clothes looks amazing.
This wonderful monastery is a treasure house of various paintings, historic sculptures, artifacts, and statues. Beautiful paintings and sculptures adorn the walls of the monastery. The architecture plan of the monastery is a combination of historic and modern nuances. Covering the statue from all the sides, the monastery also provides accommodation to Lamas and Monks. The monastery celebrates all the festivals related to Buddhism with great zeal and it surely is one of the best time to visit Samdruptse Monastery. Mask dance is an essential feature of the festivals celebrated here. The other highlights are superb fireworks, grand decoration, religious chants, sumptuous food, and rituals done by the monks.
During the visit to the Samdruptse Monastery, do not miss exploring the other attractions. One of the most popular one is the Shiv Mandir with a huge statue of Lord Shiva, at Solophok that is known as the imitation of Char Dham- one of the most revered sites of Hinduism. The other attractions include Tirikhola Dancing Falls, Temi Tea Garden, Tendong State Biodiversity Park, Salley Bong Cave, and Kanchanjunga Handicrafts Center.
7. Tsomgo Lake Gangtok
Tsomgo Lake also known as Tsongmo Lake or Changu Lake, is a glacial lake in the East Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim, some 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the capital Gangtok. This glacial lake is perched at an elevation of 3,780 meters above sea level. Nathu La road meanders on its northern side and the Indo-China border is just a 5 km away. This azure lake is one of the topmost attractions in Sikkim, having the backdrop of gigantic hills carpeted with snow.
There are many myths that make it a revered spot; in the olden days, Buddhist monks used to forecast the future by studying the color of the water in this lake. Also for the Jhakris (faith healers), this lake has special significance and they gather here on Guru Purnima, every year. Tourists visiting this lake can opt for yak and mules ride around here. There are restaurants and stalls available for snacks and beverages. If you are looking for snow boots and gum boots, they are available here on hire. This is for sure one of the best lakes in India.
8. Nathula Pass
Nathula Pass is a mountain pass in North Eastern Himalayas in Sikkim. The Indo-Chinese border is nestled at an elevation of 14,140 feet. It serves as the trade link between India and China. Nathula Pass is among the highest passes accessible by tourists via motorable road.
9. The Buddha Park of Ravangla in Sikkim
The Buddha Park of Ravangla, also known as Tathagata Tsal has an ancient connection with Buddhism. The mountain state is dotted with various monasteries and relics of the faith. On the birth anniversary of Lord Gautama Buddha in 2006, the Sikkim state government took decision to celebrate the birth anniversary throughout the year in Sikkim. And as a part of the festivity, Ravangla was chosen to construct and install a large statue of Lord Buddha and eco-garden to memorialize the event. The Buddha Park Ravangla Sikkim is an important landmark in Sikkim’s unique effort to promote pilgrimage tourism.
The Buddha Park houses a beautiful statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. The colossal statue is clearly visible from some parts of west Sikkim. The park area is attractively designed to create ample walkway, gardens and space for visitors to enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The views of the mountains and the spiritual ambience of the location adds to the visitor experience. Also check out the museum, meditation centre and the Buddhist conclave.
10. Kanchenjunga Falls
Kanchenjunga Falls about half an hour from the beautiful hill station of Pelling in Sikkim, Kanchenjunga falls is a perennial waterfall that is one of the major tourist attractions in the region. It is believed that the pristine waterfall originates high up in the glaciers of Mount Kanchenjunga.
Being hidden due to thick forest cover, the Kanchenjunga falls were not known to people and remained untouched till the 90s. It only came into the limelight, when a local tour operator accidentally discovered it. Noted for its mesmerizing beauty and grandeur, the Kanchenjunga falls near Pelling serves as a perfect picnic spot to be traveled with family or friends. For the convenience of visitors, certain infrastructural changes have been made at the very spot. This include setting up of small cafes and stalls in the vicinity of these wonderful falls.
11. Singshore Bridge
Singshore Bridge is around 10 km away from Uttarey, Singshore. Bridge is one of the most popular tourist spots in West Sikkim. The location seems to be a wonderland from top. The enchanting view from the middle of bridge is quite thrilling and fascinating.
Singshore bridge in Gangtok (133km away) is revered as the highest bridge in Sikkim and second highest in Asia. Settled roughly 300 m above sea level, Singshore is around 260 m long. In fact, one can spend a half day in just exploring the area. Wholly surrounded by lush forest, Singshore offers a great view of green hillsides and breathtaking waterfalls. Most importantly do not miss to click pictures as it is lifetime opportunity.
12. Rabdentse Palace
Rabdentse Palace Sikkim isplaced towards the south east of the very popular Pemayangtse monastery, the ruins of the Rabdentse Palace is one of the main attractions in Sikkim. Founded in 1670 by Tensung Namgya, the 2nd Chogyal (king) of Sikkim, Rabdentse was the second capital of Sikkim after Yuksom and remained so till 1814 A.D. The palace cum monastery complex is almost in ruins, and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. Thick forest with a pond surround the palace ruins. A 2 km trek from the monastery brings you to these ruins.
The old palace and monastery complex are in ruins, and now Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is maintaining and undertaking the restoration works. The place is surrounded by dense forest with a water pond. When you get on the top of ruins, savor a panoramic view of the valley, the Kanchenjungha peak, and the whole of southwestern region of Sikkim.
As you walk through the chestnut trees, you can spot a stone throne with 3 standing stones named Namphogang by the judge who used to give final judgments in the flourishing days. Do not miss Taphap Chorten, another structure here. On passing the fourth and the last courtyard wall, you can see the palace ruins in the focus. Dab Lhagang, placed along the place is the site where the members of the royal family used to pray to their deities. The decorated entry gate of the palace is yellow in color and is near Pelling-Geyshing road. The palace and the city was virtually entirely devastated by the Nepalese Army, only leaving the chortens and palace ruins. ASI in the recent times has done excavation and has been able to restore the guard’s rooms, the kitchen, the hall, the public courtyard, the assembly, and the bedroom of the king.
Location: West Sikkim (near Pemayangtse Monastery)
Highlights: Splendid Palace Ruins
How to reach: 2 km trek away from Pemayangtse Monastery
13. Solophok Chardham Namchi
Solophok Chardham Namchi is one of the most popular attractions of Sikkim, Solophok Chardham was an initiative by Shri Pawan Chamling, the Chief Minister of Sikkim to promote Eco and Village tourism, along with Religious Tourism. The site is equally popular amid national and internal tourists. This wonderful Pilgrimage-cum-Cultural Centre has a huge 87 feet statue of Lord Shiva in its main temple with a height of 108 feet. The statue has the Lord in a seated posture at the Solophok Hill. The center also has replicas of 12 Jyotirlingas.
Legends say that Lord Shiva was born in Indrakeel (present day Sikkim) as Kirateshwar and so he his highly worshipped by the locals as Lord Kiratshwar. A statue of Lord Kirateshwar, with a height of 16 and a half feet high can also be seen in the complex. In Hinduism, Chardham yatra is one of the most sacred pilgrimages and it includes for religious destinations- Dwarka, Puri, Badrinath and Rameshwarm. This site has replicas of all these for destinations so that people can easily pay their homage. Around 5 km from Namchi in South Sikkim, the center complex is built atop Solophok hill and spreads in an area of 7 acres of land.
The complex is segregated into 4 main parts- 1) Lord Shiva Statue with 12 Jyotirlingas, 2) Chardham, 3) Sai Baba Temple, and 4) Kirateshwar statue along with other attractions like Kirat Dwar, Sai temple, Nandi bull temple, Shiv dwar, and Sai dwar. The complex has certain other facilities also such as security building cum cafeteria cum auditorium, kiosks, main entry gate, driver’s rooms, car parking, VIP guest house, 96 bedded Yatri Niwas, viewing pavilion, musical fountain, dormitory, viewing chattri, and main prayer hall.
14. Rumtek Monastery
Rumtek Monastery or Dharma Chakra Centre is located in the Indian state of Sikkim, 23kms away from Gangtok. It is the largest Gompa in Sikkim which is a visual display of religious and cultural heritage of India and Buddhism. Rumtek monastery is considered as a shrine for Tibetan Buddhist. Moreover, the complex of Rumtek signifies the aim of sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, who wanted to spread the teachings of Buddha in the world.
One of the main attractions of this Gompa is the Golden Stupa, where several monks, pilgrims and visitors perform Kora (a stringed instrument). The Stupa also constitutes precious relics of Sixteenth Karmapa. Other attractions in Rumtek Monastery include a Buddhist shrine (main temple), Karma Shri Nalanda Institute (a college for Buddhist Higher Studies), nunnery and protector’s shrine. You can also see several monks’ quarters inside the monastery. Rumtek monastery can be visited throughout the year however the best time to visit Rumtek Monastery is between September and June. Opening tim in Summer: 8am – 5pm and Winter: 10am – 5pm
Tips: Foreign nationals need to obtain a permit to visit the monastery.
The permit can be obtained from the main government office at Sikkim and Siliguri.