Sikkim – Land of Peace and Tranquility

Mt. Khangchendzonga, the world’s third-highest peak is revered by the people of Sikkim as their protective deity and is located on Sikkim’s border with Nepal. Little wonder that this tiny former Himalayan kingdom is such a haven for travelers.

HOW TO REACH:

By Air:

The nearest airport is Bagdogra (in West Bengal). Consider booking flight tickets well in advance, for cheaper fares. I booked mine a month in advance. Gangtok is 124kms away from Bagdogra.

From Bagdogra, you can also take a TSA helicopter to get to Gangtok in just 20 minutes. However, their services depend on the weather conditions.

By Train:

The nearest railway station to Gangtok is about 148 kilometers away in New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri. The station is well-connected to major cities like Kolkata and New Delhi. From New Jalpaiguri, you can take a taxi to Gangtok or go to Siliguri Bus Station and catch a state-run bus to Gangtok, which will take you about 5-6 hours.

BEST TIME TO VISIT:

Summer (March – June) The summers are the best time to visit North-Sikkim as the weather, though on the cooler side, is pleasant. Monsoon (July – September) The monsoons, though not ideal, are a good time to visit North-Sikkim.

MY WEEK LONG ITINERARY: 

Day 1:

My flight from New Delhi landed at Bagdogra airport around 1 pm. It took me another five hours to reach to Gangtok. I checked into Silk Route Residency and after taking a shower took a stroll around the MG Road. After shopping around and quenching my crave for the much-hyped momos (that lived up to their expectations), I retired early to bed as I had to leave very early for Nathu La Pass the next morning.

Day 2:

I woke up to the news that there was some discrepancy with my travel permit (you require to obtain a travel permit to visit Nathu La. More details below). And so, instead of getting dismal about it, I decided to go and explore places around Gangtok.

  • Banjakhri Waterfalls:

    It’s a museum created around a waterfall and beautifully maintained by Sikkim Tourism. After hopping a few more typical tourist sight-seeing spots like Ganesh Tok, Tashi Viewpoint, flower exhibition center and having a nice lunch, I hired a taxi to visit monasteries.

  • LINGDAM MONASTERY: 

    It was recommended by a travel enthusiast friend. This was my first visit to a monastery, and I am not exaggerating – one of the most beautiful moments of my life! The moment I stepped inside, I was surrounded by such calm and peaceful vibes. The interiors were intricate, minimal and very detailed. Monks, draped in traditional robes, flocked the monastery, all drowned in their own activities. Some sat in prayers, some played the gyaling – a traditional woodwind instrument of Tibet – and others sat outside studying. I met two meditative cats, gray and black in color. The monastery visit left a lasting impression, and I knew at once what I will be re-visiting Sikkim for. [Always trust experienced people for alternatives!].

 


  • RUMTEK MONASTERY: 

    One of the more famous monasteries, there is a kilometer long walk to the main entrance after the taxi driver drops you. A very beautiful and enthralling walk, that would not be tiring at all. “DO NOT FORGET TO TAKE YOUR ID CARD HERE FOR ADDRESS PROOF.” After reaching the monastery, I sat on its terrace gazing at the most beautiful mountain view for hours.After the monasteries visit we came back to the hotel. I was falling in love with Sikkim a little more every day.


DAY 3:

At around 1 pm, we started for Lachen.

LACHEN :

It is a small town, about 124 km from Gangtok. From the local taxi stand, it took almost 7 hours to reach there, so I will suggest you guys leave as early as 8 am for Lachen. I spent most of the day traveling, halting the cab at some very beautiful scenic point, crossing many waterfalls, and bridges (I have literally lost the count!). The terrain is a little rough, but the view during the journey compensates.
Finally, I checked into Hotel Hill Retreat at Lachen and had a hearty dinner.

DAY 4:

I got up at 5 AM, to a beautiful Sun greeting me, and started the journey towards Gurudongmar Lake.

Gurudongmar Lake:

The road leading from Lachen to the lake is almost 65 km and it took almost four hours to reach there. Again, it is always recommended to start your day early, so you can visit the lake and return by afternoon. It is one of the highest lakes in the world and is considered sacred by both Buddhists and Sikhs. The lake is blessed by Guru Padmasambhava and also by Guru Nanak, and you can start feeling the sacred vibes once you are in its vicinity.
The lake remains completely frozen during the months from November to Mid-May. China border is 5 km on the eastern side of the lake.
After spending 45 mins at the lake, I started my journey back to Lachen, where I reached at 4.

Some things to take care of:

  • As the lake is situated at an altitude of almost 18000ft. you can face breathing issues there. so two days in advance start taking medicine like Diamox [after consulting your doctor of course].
  • Kids or people with breathing issues should think twice before going here.
  • A 2-hours stretch terrain is so rough that, all your body shake and might hurt, so be prepared for that.

LACHUNG :

Lachung is 50 km from Lachen and it took almost 2 hours to reach there, including time spent at “Amitabh Bachchan waterfall”. yes, it’s a real place.
Our hotel at Lachung was ‘oh so beautiful’! Of all the places I have been to, I had the most scenic view from here. Can’t forget that moment when all I did was sit on the bench outside our room and gazing at mountains. I can go back to Sikkim just to stay in that hotel again.

 

DAY 5:

We left for Yumthang Valley at 6 in the morning!

Yumthang Valley:

Also called as, Valley of Flowers, with a river, hot springs, yaks and grazing pasture on rolling meadows surrounded by the Himalayan mountains! It took 2 hours to reach there from Lachung. Of all the time I spent in Sikkim, that half hour sitting near a bridge surrounded by numerous prayer flags will always stay with me. There was no one around and all I could hear was the sound that Teesta river made. some birds flying over and the sound that the flags created because of the wind pressure. I did not want to get up from there but I had to because I had to reach Gangtok by evening!

 


So after spending some time in Yumthang Valley, we started for Lachung. there was a different kind of silence inside my body while I was leaving that place. Such places do that to me.
After reaching Lachung we had our lunch and started for Gangtok around 3 pm. We stopped at multiple points again and reached Gangtok around 8 PM.

DAY 6:

And the second last day of the trip was everything. Adventure, emotions, spirituality, patriotism! Finally, at 8 AM, I started for Nathula Pass.

Nathula Pass:

Nathula pass is the border between China and India. It can rain/ snow at almost any time of the day making the temperature go as low as -1-degree Celsius. Nathula is 57 km from Gangtok and including the time taken to reach to the check post, it took around 4 hours to reach there. It is 14000 ft above sea level.

Few things before you plan to head out here:

  • Apply for the permit at least 4 days before. Keep multiple passport size photos and your ID proof with you for the permit form.
    wear warm clothes.
  • Carry a raincoat or umbrella.
  • Avoid traveling with your kids, because of temperature and breathing issues.
  • wear gripped shoes for snow.
  • Photography is prohibited so you can give a rest to your cameras.

Nathula Pass was the place through which the famous Silk Route used to operate until 1962. We climbed till the actual border line in heavy snowfall and everything was freezing there. Also, met Indian and Chinese soldiers. Spoke to them about the difficulty of their job. The Indian soldiers are transferred after every 3 years and they carry everything with them, even the soil of their plants, “because this is what home for them is.”

As per our itinerary, we were to leave for Darjeeling after reaching Gangtok around 6. After we started from Nathula Pass, we took a stop at Baba Mandir.

BABA MANDIR:

This temple is dedicated to an Indian army soldier Baba Harbhajan Singh who died in 1968 near the Nathu La. Indian Army personnel who are posted around Nathula Pass have come to believe his spirit protects every soldier in the inhospitable high-altitude terrain of the Eastern Himalayas. This mandir has a very different vibe, that you will feel if you will stand inside the temple!

So while we were there, one army personnel told us to hurry up as multiple landslides happened en route Gangtok. We rushed back to our cars and just after a few kilometers we were stuck because of the landslide. And as it was a Sunday, the labor was on leave so we had to wait for a JCB machine to clear the mess, that took more than 4 hours, with help from the army, volunteers and the generous local people.
Finally, I reached Gangtok at 11 PM and did not leave for Darjeeling.

DAY 7:

Now I have a flight at 1 and Bagdogra is almost 5 hours from Gangtok, I took a cab around 6 and left for the airport.

Now, you can do any of the following things if you have one extra day unlike me:

  • Book a taxi and visit Darjeeling. You can do local sight seeing there. You may visit Tiger hills or Darjeeling zoo.
  • Book a taxi and go to Nepal border for shopping.
  • Visit Namchi for The Namchi Monastery, Ralang Monastery, and TendoHill. The world’s largest statue of the Buddhist Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim, is on the Samdruptse hill (The Wish Fulfilling hill) opposite Namchi.

Make the choice as per availability of time!

The natural beauty of Sikkim and the warm hospitality of its people are sure to remain with you throughout your life.

If you have any query or need any suggestions, do comment below and we will make sure to revert as soon as we can!

Also, read about our last trip to Hampi here.

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Things to do in Hampi !

What to do in Hampi?

1. Rent a two-wheeler at dirt cheap price! A scooty costs you INR. 200/- a day, if you bargain right. There are mopeds and bicycles too. Go for bicycles only if you are fit enough to endure the slopes and treacherous roads of Hampi. Mopeds are the favorite among many foreigners. Petrol is sold in many shops in plastic bottles and costs INR 90/- per liter.

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2. Meet/interact with locals and other co-travellers. During my journey through Hampi, I was fortunate to come across many interesting and warm-hearted people, and I am going to carry many meaningful conversations ahead in my life. Don’t be shy to smile and say hello.

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3. Do give the local cuisine and fresh fruits a try. My favorite was the Veg Thali along with Papaya or Watermelon juice.

4. Immerse in nature – Find a tree to sit under, chase the Sun, watch its reflection in a lake and gaze at the infinite stars and constellations dancing above the boulders. Hampi is a visual treat for the soul.

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5. Temples – I witnessed my History books come to life. From genius architecture to intricate carvings and detailed labor, the majestic temples of Hampi have stood through the ages and still provide answers that all of us have craved.

Temples of Hampi include – Vittala (dedicated to Lord Vishnu), Virupaksha (commemorated in the worship of Lord Shiva), Aengundi (Hanuman temple), Laxmi Narasimha, Hazara Rama, and Krishna.

6. Watch the sunset and sunrise, every day.

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7. Lakes of Hampi – Find a nice, clean and still lake around and jump! Some lakes are believed to have crocodiles. I am joking. Or Am I?

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8. Get lost in the wilderness. Escape. Explore. Experience. Chill. Do it all while you are here.

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Also read, Hampi – the mystical city of ruins.

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Do not let Hills turn into garbage pit !

Who doesn’t love to travel? If given half a chance of receiving a salary even when you travel, half of us will pack our bags and just leave!  Hence, we have to make sure that the hills we call our home are clean, trash free and look as beautiful as your own home does !

No matter where you go, you see cigarette buds, chips wrappers, chocolate wrappers, perfect rolls thrown everywhere. As a fellow traveler, one thing you never want to face is garbage trash, so why would you keep on throwing these small things that will eventually become a garbage pit in no time.

Last year I visited Mukteshwar. There is a very famous place called ‘Chauli ki jali’. This place is so beautiful that people from far away places come just to catch a glimpse of the sunset and sunrise from this place. Just see for yourself!

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Pictures don’t do justice to this place !

But as obvious as it gets, more people means more garbage and more trash. And, if you really want to see the place clean, do not rely on anyone else but yourself. With this magnificent view as a backdrop, I could see all the waste on ground and people trying to adjust their cameras so that the garbage below doesn’t show up in their pictures. Turning your eyes away is the easiest job. Doing something about it makes all the difference.

So I started picking up the waste around me and started collecting it in a bag. Looking at me most of the people who came there started picking up the waste around them and this beautiful place was cleaned in a few hours. Did we get anything in return? No. Did we post about the “good deed”? No. Today i stumbled across these pictures that my friend clicked during that time to make fun of me.

We all did our part in keeping it clean so when people will see a pristine place without any trash, they will not throw any trash, this is as simple as it gets.

So do your part, do not litter, do not allow people to litter! And no one is going to clean that place you “think” should be clean, just start doing it. For yourself. For the hills!!

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Christmas in Shimla <3

We all have been to Shimla, and we all have our memories of a family summer vacation  or a quick road trip with friends. Even if it has become one of the most commercialized hill station,  I have always felt attached to Shimla.

Tired of Delhi playing Smogy and not so cold, I decided to take a day off and visit Shimla on the Christmas weekend. Christmas in Shimla is always fun, because of the carnival going on and festive feel everywhere. And with some great luck in life, Shimla received the most unexpected snowfall on Christmas morning.

Am I kidding?? Nope. Check these beautiful pictures of Shimla during Christmas.

London is just over-rated.

 

 

 

 

 

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Five beautiful resorts you can spend your New Year’s at !

Instead of spending big bucks in the city for new years, we are recommending you some amazing properties where you can spend some quality time and give a beautiful start to your new year !

        1.Seetalvan Orchard, Narkanda, Himachal Pradesh

Seetalvan Orchard, is honestly the reason we went to Narkanda. The place is a home away from home.
The staff is very humble and simple pahari people. The food is great too, and I would personally suggest you to request the cook to serve you with Pahari food at least once while you stay.

Read the whole story here : http://travelbugbytes.com/staycation/narkanda-himachal-pradesh/

        2.Devico Cottage, Mohal, Himachal Pradesh

We stayed in the Devico Cottages, with mesmerizing valley view surrounded by Orchard farms all around it. Devico serves home cooked food as per your request.

Read the whole story here : http://travelbugbytes.com/staycation/devico-cottage-mohal-beauty-of-orchards/

        3.Neemrana Fort Palace, Kesroli, Alwar

This 15th century heritage hotel is among the most popular resorts near Delhi for weekend breaks and is ideal to invent your own past at the dream site of history.

Read the whole story here : http://travelbugbytes.com/staycation/neemrana-fort-palace/

        4.Ramgarh Bungalow, Ramgarh, Uttrakhand

On a trip where i see a shooting star, is a trip I always remember. Ramgarh is an angelic place for a quiet long weekend. I absolutely loved the simplicity of life at this place with not much hassle and busyness.

Read the whole story here : http://travelbugbytes.com/staycation/ramgarh-uttrakhand/

        5.Himachal Heritage Village, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh

One of the main reason I loved Palampur to my core because of the Himachal Heritage Village! It was a small village in itself with waterfalls, river , trees !

Read the whole story here : http://travelbugbytes.com/staycation/road-trip-to-palampur/

 

 

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