Located in the Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim is one of the smallest states in India and home to many popular tourist destinations. The state of Sikkim is sandwiched between China in the north, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west and the Indian state of West Bengal in the south. Sikkim mainly consists of three regions – North Sikkim, Central Sikkim and South Sikkim. The beautiful state has many famous trekking trails, Buddhist monasteries, lush green mountains, snow-covered peaks, lakes, waterfalls and other unique attractions that attract tourists from around the world year after year. Here is the top 11 tourist destinations to visit in Sikkim are listed below.
As the capital city and administrative hub of Sikkim, Gangtok literally means “top of the hill.” As its name suggests, it is sits at a height of 1650 meters above sea level. Gangtok has modern and state-of-the-art facilities and it is also the hub of Buddhist values and way of life. This place has a calming and serene effect, and it is the perfect description of the Zen philosophy of Buddhism. A perfect itinerary in Gangtok is waking up to the beautiful mountains and trying local food such as momos and kinema at any café or heritage hotel. These eateries serve Sikkimese, Nepalese and Tibetan foods and will be a treat for your taste buds. The famous tourist places in Gangtok include Tashi Viewpoint which offers a view of Gangtok city if the air is not too misty. If you are a history buff, a visit to the 200 years old Enchey Monastery, the beautiful Rumtek Monastery and the temple which also offers scenic views of Ganesh Tok is a must. A cable car ride in the city and offers splendid views of the greenery and mountains around the city. If you stay at Gangtok, you will spend your days in the lap of nature and the peaceful and serene energies associated with the monastery will help you unwind and relax. Nightlife is also rich with abundant amazing experiences. A walk on MG Marg can give you a chance to relish the tasty foods, enjoy the ambiance of bright lights and clean roads, live music and shops offering a huge variety of things to shop from. MG Marg is a pedestrian-only area. It has many beautiful cafes and hotels which offer delicious cuisines, and it is the perfect spot to try out some local foods.
Pelling is located in West Sikkim and is an area that you must have on your bucket list whenever you visit Sikkim. It has many amazing places to engage the tourists such as Chhayatal lake, Himalayan Botanical Garden and Hee Khola Water Garden. If you are fond of adventure sports, Hee Bermiok is an ideal place. It is a small town not so far away from Pelling. The upper Pelling has a 137ft tall statue of Buddha known as the Statue of Chenrezig. It is a classic example of the architecture of this place. Next to this statue and monastery is the first skywalk of India which offers splendid views of mountains and lush green forests around the area.
If you love waterfalls, then this place is perfect because it has two waterfalls in proximity. Kanchenjunga waterfalls are located nearly 28 kms from Pelling whereas you can experience the attractive Changay waterfalls at only a distance of 10 kms from Pelling. As its name suggests, Changay waterfalls have seven different flows which is the reason behind its appealing beauty. If you want to immerse yourself in local culture, then you must visit Kanchenjunga Festival. Pelling is also home to Singshore Bridge which is the second-highest suspension bridge in Asia with the river Singshore Khola flowing below. A walk on this bridge is a delight for sore eyes as it offers scenic views on all sides. The Ruins of Rabdentse Palace are the remnants of the second king of Sikkim, Tensung Namgyal.
3. Phodong Monastery
Built in the 18th century by King Gyurmed Namgyalm, this monastery is located at 4500 ft above sea level. It is a famous tourist spot because it offers a gateway to the lifestyle of 260 monks who live here as well as the beautiful architecture of the monastery. Decorated with ancient murals and attractive paintings, this is a must-visit for anyone who loves history and art. The monastery does not have any entry fee and it has three levels which are all designed splendidly. An annual festival is hosted here around December where one can experience many local festivities such as Chaam dance performed by monks.
4. Tsomgo Lake
Believed by the locals as a holy and pristine lake, Tsomgo lake is a scenic spot located at an elevation of 12,000 ft. The lake is sapphire blue in color and is surrounded by mighty mountains often covered in snow. This is a glacial lake and when it is misty it appears to be a Van Gogh painting. The best time to visit this lake is during the summer when you can take photographs with a scenic background, ride on yaks and mules, explore the biodiversity of plants and animals, and fall in love with the lovely surroundings. Sikkimese believes that this is a healing place and it is a part of their folklores and stories. This area is open to Indian nationals, but foreign tourists need a permit to visit.
Yuksom is situated in West Sikkim, and it is equally interesting for people who admire nature and are also history geeks. This area derives its name from a legend that three monks from Tibet selected Phuntsog Namgyal as the first King of Sikkim. This place is the home of Khangchendzonga National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you visit this park, you will be surprised to see wildlife such as Red Panda and Snow Leopard as well as many glaciers, lakes and mountain peaks. This area also has many base camps for treks in Sikkim. Other noteworthy places include Dubdi Monastery, Tashiding Monastery and the Coronation Throng of Norbugang.
6. Nathula Pass
A place of historical significance for both India and China, Nathula Pass is located on the former Silk Route which was operational until 1962. An important Indo-China trade route, this pass connects Sikkim to the region of Tibet in China. It is also an official border personnel meeting point. While paying a visit to this place, Indian and Chinese soldiers can be seen patrolling the area. Nathula Pass has a steep stairway which is the corridor to the Indo-China border. Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir is also located in its vicinity and is dedicated to a soldier who lost his life during combat. This temple commemorates his courage and valor and gives inspiration to everyone who visits this place. Locals believe that his soul continues to live on and guards the whole area. Indian nationals require a permit to get access to Nathula Pass whereas foreigners are not allowed.
7. Lachung, Lachen and Yumthang Valley
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Located near the Tibetan border in Sikkim, Lachung is a village that has an artistically decorated monastery known as Lachung Monastery. This place is worth visiting because it offers magnificent views of waterfalls and mountains. In addition, from here you can also plan a trip to Yumthang Valley which is a valley of beautiful and radiant flowers. Lachen is a small town in the Mangan district and the most famous spot here is the alpine lake Gurudongmar. You would not be bored even for a moment around this beautiful lake which has clear blue water and mighty mountains around it.
Sitting at an altitude of 7000 ft., above sea level, Ravangla is famous for its biodiversity, flowing cascades, delightful mountains, and charming country cottages. Ravangla is also a prominent place in Sikkim. It is well-known for its Bonn Monastery, Ralang Monastery, Ralong Hot Springs, Buddha Park at Ravangla, and Temi Tea Estate which produces tons of premium quality tea every year. Some of the major peaks of the Himalayas like Kanchenjunga, Pandim, and Siniolchu are visible from Ravangla. Ravangla is also an ideal place who loves to trek.
Namchi is the capital and administrative center of South Sikkim. It is a tourist’s paradise because of its versatility of tourist places which include Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, Namchi Monastery and Tendong State Biodiversity Park. Other worth-visiting places include Ralong Monastery which was built to commemorate the pilgrimage of the fourth king to Tibet and the Rock Garden which offers great views to travelers.
Zuluk is a town situated in East Sikkim with a population of only 700 people. It offers panoramic views of the Eastern Himalayas which are enough to cast a spell on the tourists. Zuluk is a hilltop town and a transit between Kalimpong and Tibet within the Silk Route.
Some of the notable tourist attractions are Thambi Viewpoint situated at 11,200 meters above sea level which offers impressive views and magnificent sunsets, Nathang Valley is the best place for skiing because it gets a lot of snowfall every season. Lungthung is also an amazing viewpoint with thick forests and abundant wildlife. Other important destinations include Kalpokhari lake as well as Old Baba Mandir.
11. Teesta River
This 315 km long river is located in Sikkim and offers splendid views all year long. The river banks near the Darjeeling district have forests, tea gardens, and a rich variety of flora and fauna. The sandy bank adjacent to this place offers a good base for White Water Rafting. This river is a beauty you can surely not miss out on. There are two main bridges over the Teesta River- the Coronation Bridge and the Teesta Bridge.
Thus, Sikkim is a tourist’s paradise and a visit to this state will give you memories and experiences that you will cherish for a lifetime.