Sikkim, the mountain kingdom is a must see this summer; it’s an ideal way to beat the heat and enjoy the serene beauty. You can see the Indo-Tibetan culture’s co-existence, as you can find Hindu temples and shrines along with Buddhist monasteries which reflect Tibetan culture.
The flawless beauty of Sikkim is worth mentioning but must say that the way local people and administration have joined hands to keep it clean and tidy to make Swachh Sikkim is commendable. Even we tourist should have the motto of exploring it, not exploiting it. What we leave behind should be memories, not any carbon footprint.
Sikkim is situated in the north-eastern part of India at the Himalayan foothills. It shares its boundaries with three other countries i.e. China, Nepal and Bhutan. The word Sikkim means “Beautiful House”, which is indeed true. One can see an amazing contrast of white and green at this place and breathe in the unpolluted and fresh air. Entire Sikkim is blessed with serene beauty, and most of it is unexplored. It is divided into four parts, i.e., east, west, north, south. East is densely populated, but rest of the Sikkim is least populated and mostly unexplored.
Flights can easily connect it. Just opt for any flight which goes to Bagdogra airport and from there take a cab, and within four hours you will be there in Sikkim. Now you can also travel by helicopter from Bagdogra to Sikkim which hardly will take 35 minutes.
For those who wish to go there by train, the nearest station would be New Jalpaiguri station; from there you need to take prepaid cabs to Sikkim.
For adventure loving people who want to hit the road can take their own vehicle, especially if it’s a bike ride that would be the ultimate thing one can do, but if looking for options like boarding a bus from Kolkata to Siliguri, you can opt for luxurious buses which are very pocket-friendly. It will take almost 13 to 14 hours so you can easily opt for a night journey. After reaching there, you can take a yellow cab for sightseeing and shopping. For shopaholics, there are places like M. G. Marg and Lal market where you can use your time-tested bargaining skills.
Local sightseeing can take a day or two which includes a visit to different monasteries, zoo, flower show, and if you really like to see nature very closely then you must definitely visit Lachung, which is almost six to seven hours drive from Gangtok, on the way you will encounter numerous waterfalls. For visiting places like Yumthang, Kataw (the Switzerland of Sikkim) and Zero point you need to stay overnight at Lachung and from there start early for zero points where you would find snow covered mountains waiting to embrace you. While returning visit the beautiful Yumthang Valley, which looks like a mysterious valley covered with mist and cloud. Not only this but the main attraction of this valley is different flowers like Primula and Rhododendron which blooms during the spring season and can be seen until late May and then during monsoon it would be again covered with different types of Himalayan flowers like Cobra-lilies and Cinquefoils. Make sure to check out the hot springs which are a walking distance from Yumthang village.
The monasteries like Rumtek, Fatak and Ravangla are worth visiting. It will give you inner peace and tranquillity.
As a part of ecotourism, Sikkim provides ample opportunities for the travellers and tourist to explore it, while being very close to it. Sikkim Himalayan home stay is such a programme where one can closely observe the lifestyle of local people and simultaneously explore the authentic home cooked food and observe the scenic beauty at the same time. You can find home stay programme at Dzongu(North Sikkim), Pastanga(East Sikkim), Yuksam(West Sikkim) and Kewzing(South Sikkim). These places are easily accessible, and by road, they can be connected with Gangtok as well. Language won’t be a problem there as most people speak and understand Hindi.
Sikkim is like a treasure chest of nature full of beautiful flora and fauna. Flora and fauna are so diverse that you can find tropical, temperate and alpine vegetation and a wide variety of animals right from red panda to snow leopard which are endangered species.
There are almost 5000 species of flowering plants like orchids, poppies, camellias and loads of others. When it comes to fauna, it’s an ultimate destination as almost 550 species can be found here only. You can do bird watching and spot different species of butterflies also. And if you are lucky enough you can spot the shy Himalayan Red Panda. The mysterious misty land has lots to offer. Sikkim itself is so beautiful that you would feel like as if God himself has painted it to perfection.
A visit to Nathula pass is must which will give you a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Indo- China border covered with snow and you can really experience how the Indian soldiers despite harsh weather conditions stand tall and protect the border. Even in the month of May, you can find it snow covered. On the way to Nathula, there is a beautiful lake called Tsomgo which freezes during winter. While coming back from Nathula, you can also visit the old Baba Mandir which is a temple built in memory of an Indian soldier Harbhajan Singh, whose ghost is believed to protect the soldiers and the Indo- China border till now.
Along with these, you can check out different art and handicraft museums which will enrich your knowledge about Sikkim and people of Sikkim.
To explore a place, you need to explore the food too which means without tasting the delicious food here your trip is incomplete. You can try some popular authentic Tibetan delicacies like Thukpa, Phaley and many others.
Not only this, but you can also explore options like trekking, mountaineering, paragliding and river rafting. There are plenty of mountain ranges here which are famous for adventure sports like trekking and mountaineering.
These adventure sports will actually give you an adrenaline rush, and the memories will be cherished whole life which will surely make you fall in love with Sikkim.