10 MUST see places to visit in Sikkim

Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state located in the Himalayan mountains. The state borders Nepal to the west, Tibet to the north and east, and Bhutan to the east. The Indian state of West Bengal lies to the south. Sikkim is in the north eastern part of India and famous for its organic farming and Temi tea. Sikkim is also a popular tourist destination, owing to its culture, scenery and biodiversity. Below one can check the ten most must places to always add to their tour plan whenever they decides to visit this beautiful part of the Himalaya:

1. Baba Harbhajan Mandir

Build in the honour of the Captain “Baba” Harbhajan Singh was an Indian army soldier. He is revered as the “Hero of Nathula” by soldiers of the Indian army, who built a shrine to honour him. He was accorded the status of saint by believers who refers to him as the Baba (Saintly Father).

Ever since Harbhajan Singh’s early death at the age of 22 in 1968 he has become subject of legends and religious adoration which has now became a popular folklore amongst the Indian army soldiers, the people of his villages and perhaps also the soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as well. The official version of his death is that he was a victim of battle at the 14,500 feet (4,400 m) Nathu La, a mountain pass between Tibet and Sikkim where many battles took place between the Indian Army and the PLA during the 1965 Sino-Indian war. According to legend, Singh drowned in a glacier while leading a column of mules carrying supplies to a remote outpost. His remains were found after a three-day search. His body was subsequently cremated with full military honors. The legend further claims that the late Singh helped the search party find his body. Some Indian soldiers believe that in the event of a war between India and China, Baba would warn the Indian soldiers of an impending attack at least three days in advance. During flag meetings between the two nations at Nathu La, the Chinese set a chair aside to honor him.

As per common belief, any army official not maintaining a clean and disciplined attire is punished with a slap by Baba himself. His own attire which hangs in display need not be cleaned by anyone as it gets cleaned by his own soul.

He has come to be known as “Saint Baba”.

Every year on 11 September, a jeep departs with his personal belongings to the nearest railway station, New Jalpaiguri, from where it is then sent by train to the village of Kuka, in the Kapurthala District of the Indian state of Punjab. While empty berths on any train of the Indian Railways are invariably allocated to any waitlisted passenger or on a first-come-first-served basis by the coach attendants, a special reservation for the Baba is made. Every year a seat is left empty for the journey to his hometown and 3 soldiers chaperone the Baba to his home. A small sum of money is contributed by soldiers posted in Nathula to be sent to his mother each month.

2. Gurudongmar Lake

If Gurudongmar lake is a dream then the path to it is no less than a road to paradise. Filled with brazen beauty, Gurudongmar lake is an experience of a lifetime. The surreal beauty of this place is completely poetic. The blue crystal clear water surrounded by the snow capped mountains and barren mountains on the other side appears to be hugging out on becoming a part of this heavenly destination. Without a shadow of doubt Gurudongmar Lake can be acknowledged as the highlight of the Sikkim.

Gurudongmar lake is located at an altitude of 17,800 ft and is one of the highest lakes in the world and in India. It’s a part of the small village, Lachen, and falls in the north part of the Sikkim. Any visit to this place requires a “permit” which can be obtained from the local travel agents a day before or from the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department.

The lake is named after Guru Padmasambhava, otherwise called Guru Rinpoche, originator of Tibetan Buddhism who went to the lake in the eighth century. It is one of the most noteworthy lakes on the planet, situated at a height of 17,800 ft in the Indian state of Sikkim. The lake can be reached by street from Lachen via Thangu. As indicated by a legend, when Padmasambhava went to the lake he saw a favorable phenomenon in the lake and after that he thought of it as a decent augury to enter the territory of Sikkim, then known as Demojong. It is currently said that the lake provides a shelter to any pregnant lady offering prayers to God at the lake.

3. Yumthang Valley

Such is the beauty of Yumthang valley that any random click here can become a perfect snapshot. Yumthang valley or the Sikkim valley of flowers is another gem of the north Sikkim. Located in another small village there (Lachung), Yumthang valley is a nature sanctuary with hot springs, rivers, yaks and grazing pasture on rolling meadows surrounded by Himalayan mountains.

It is popularly known as ‘Valley of Flowers’ and is home to the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, which has over twenty-four species of the rhododendron, the state flower. The flowering season is from late February and to mid June, when countless flowers bloom to carpet the valley in multicolored hues of rainbow. A tributart of the river teesta flows past the valley and the town of Lachung , the nearest inhabited centre. Yumthang is closed between December and March due to heavy snowfall. There is also a hot spring in the valley.

Yumthang valley is a gorgeous place and attraction and literally demands a complete tour of its own. And since it is surrounded by mountains and flowing rivers, any time during the year is perfect for visiting it. However, if you are looking for the best time to visit Yumthang for witnessing the blooming beauties, then make sure you plan your trip between March to mid June. But, if you wish to capture a clear sky and snow-capped mountains, then the months from September to December would be ideal.

4. Rumtek Monastery

Originally built under the direction of Wanchuk Dorje, 9th Karmapa Lama in the mid-18th century, Rumtek served as the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage in Sikkim for some time. But when Ranjung Rinpe Dorje, 16th Karmapa , arrived in Sikkim in 1959 after fleeing Tibet, the monastery was in ruins. Despite being offered other sites, the Karmapa decided to rebuild Rumtek. To him, the site possessed many auspicious qualities and was surrounded by the most favorable attributes. For example, flowing streams, mountains behind, a snow range in front, and a river below. With the generosity and help of the Sikkim royal family and the local folks of Sikkim, it was built by the 16th Karmapa as his main seat in exile.

After four years, construction of the monastery was completed. The sacred items and relics brought out from Tsurphu monastery, the Karmapa’s seat in Tibet, were installed. On Losar in 1966, the 16th Karmapa officially inaugurated the new seat, called “The Dharmachakra Centre, a place of erudition an  d spiritual accomplishment, the seat of the glorious Karmapa.” The monastery is currently the largest in Sikkim. It is home to the community of monks and where they perform the rituals and practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage. A golden stupa contains the relics of the 16th Karmapa. Opposite that building is a college, Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies. Rumtek is located 24 kilometres (15 miles) from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, at an altitude of about 1,500 metres (4,900 ft).

Rumtek is one of the most significant and largest monastery in Sikkim and offers a beautiful sight for exploration to the tourists and researchers alike.

5. Kangchendzonga National Park

Khangchendzonga National Park also Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve is a National Park and a Biosphere reserve located in Sikkim, India. The nearest city to it is Chungthang. It was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in July 2016, becoming the first “Mixed Heritage” site of India and is governed by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

Located in the northern region of the state, the park is situated at the highest elevation range of 1829 to 8585 meters, the park is spread over a sprawling area of 850 sq. km. The western boundary of the park is straddled by Mount Kanchendzonga, the third highest peak in the world. The park also has to its credit; one of the longest and most awesome glaciers namely the Zemu Glacier. Three most beautiful peaks of Mount Kanchendezonga named Mt. Pandim, Mt. Narshing and Mt. Siniolchu also lie in the park area.

The reserve is said to be the home to Snow Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Tibetan Antelope, Wild Ass, Barking Deer, Musk Deer, Flying Squirrel and Red Panda who find a blissful refuge amongst Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Pine forests. More than 550 species of avifauna also find shelter in the park. Some of the major birds found here include Blood Pheasants, Satyr Tragopan, Osprey, Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeier, Snow Pigeon, Impeyan Phesants, Sun birds & Eagles.

An exceptional topography and awesome peaks in the park contribute to attract a large number of nature lovers. But entry to the park is strictly restricted to mountaineers and to more serious expeditions.

6. Mahatma Gandhi Marg

No visit to Sikkim, especially the capital city Gangtok, can ever be complete without a visit to Mahatma Gandhi Marg otherwise popularly known as the MG Marg. Over the years, Sikkim has earned a reputation of being very clean and this road and place in Gangtok can be attributed as a testament to it. Located in the center of the city, this place acts as a hub for all the tourists and locals alike.

Sprawling cafes, bar, restaurants, karaoke place, shopping markets, ATMs on either sides of it makes this place completely impossible to give it a miss. Also, the best part of this place is that vehicles and even bicycles are forbidden to enter which makes it perfect places to take even an evening stroll or engage creative activities like making live sketches of people or the place itself, drum a guitar while singing your heart or maybe even display your art works or get knowing the other tourists or the friendly people of Sikkim itself.

Apart from the cafes, restaurant etc the place is also blessed with some great touches to it structures, colours and looks. There are benches to sit and relax as well as some flowers, lights, small fountains to entertain yourself and create some lovely memories. Also, the constant changing awesome weather of the city makes the whole lot experience totally fulfilling. Not to mention, but the popular Gangtok ropeway is much closer to this happening place.

7. Temi Tea Garden

Temi 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.

Then there is Temi Tea Garden Bungalow which 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.

8. Buddha Park of Ravangla

The Buddha Park of Ravangla, also known as Tathagata Tsal, is situated near Rabong in South Sikkim district, Sikkim, India. It was constructed between 2006 and 2013 and features a 130-foot high statue of the Buddha as its centerpiece.

On the birth anniversary of Lord Gautama Buddha in 2006 the state government took a policy decision to observe the birth anniversary throughout the year in Sikkim. And as a part of the celebration, the people of Ravangla   took the initiative to construct and install a large statue of Lord Buddha and eco -garden to commemorate the event. This would also be a landmark in Sikkim’s unique effort to promote pilgrimage tourism

The Buddha Park hosts a beautiful statue of Sakyamuni Buddha which is clearly visible from all the directions of southwest Sikkim near Ravangla and some parts of west Sikkim. The park area is beautifully landscaped creating ample walkway, gardens and space for visitors to enjoy the serene surroundings. The site commands beautiful views of the mountains and the spiritual ambience of the location adds to the visitor experience. The site also has additional infrastructure created for a museum meditation centre and for Buddhist conclave.

9. Banjhakri Falls and Energy Park

The Banjhakri Falls and Energy Park is a recreation centre and tourist attraction near Gangtok, in the state of Sikkim, India. The park’s statuary and other displays document the Ban Jhakri, or traditional shamanic healer who worships spirits living in caves around the falls.

Ban Jhakri Falls is about 10-12 kilometers from Gangtok on the way to Ranka. Ban Jhakri Falls is a new sightseeing destination for tourists, its compound spreads on 2 two acres of land. The main attraction of the park is the waterfalls which cascades from a rocky height of almost 40 feet and plunges down with intense force. Around the waterfalls gardens have been beautifully landscaped and the place is further adorned with several statues of Ban Jhakri, Lyam Lymay, Mangpas and Lepcha ancestors. Other recreational activities and refreshment stalls are also placed at the entrance of the park. Entrance fee is levied for all visitors.

Ban literally means forest or jungle, and Jhakri means traditional healer. A Ban Jhakri is a mythical man, who exists only in folktales within the Nepali Community in Sikkim. Local people believe that Ban Jhakri dwells in the forest and live in rock caves worshiping sprits. The ethnic communities of Sikkim still believe in such mysteries as it is part of their tradition and culture.

All along the park you will witness ethnic sculptures and figurines depicting jhakri culture. The figurines in the park illustrates rituals, some healing ceremonies and others the induction process in the life of a shaman. Other recreational activities and refreshment stalls are also placed at the entrance of the park. Entrance fee is levied for all visitors.

10. Singshore Bridge

Located in Pelling, Singshore Bridge, with an height of over 100 m and 240 m in length, is the highest bridge in Sikkim and the second highest bridge in Asia. It is truly a man made marvel that offers the spectacular baseview of immense greenery that makes it difficult to distinguish between the lowlands and the mountains. You can feel the thrill when you are standing in the middle of the bridge and the strong wind blows. The river flowing through the uneven rocks seems breathtaking along with the effusive sound of the waterfalls. It is one among the oldest bridge that connects two hills and shortens the travel time as well as the distance for the trekkers. This engineers triumph is certainly one of the most popular tourist destination in Sikkim.

This place is also popular for trekking.

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