Serenity, adventure, passion, sight-seeing, and cultural scrutiny, all that you look for in a journey, Sikkim and Darjeeling have it in store.
Here are few places to view the mammoth sized mountains and witness the rarest animal species of the Himalayan Range:
Distance: IXB -GANGTOK 122 km approx.
The capital city of Sikkim, Gangtok is a travel destination that must be added in your travel diary. Surrounded by the Himalayan Range and lush green environment, the city has a lot to explore. The numerous vantage points display a terrific view of the Kanchenjunga. Tsomgo Lake, Banjhakri Falls and the popular tourist hot-spots Seven Sisters Waterfall, Naga Waterfall and Bakthang Waterfalls are some of the water bodies describing the beauty of the North-East. The Tashi and Singhik View Points are the nature lovers’ delight to capture the snow coated Mt. Khangchendzonga and Mt. Siniolchu on a clear day whereas the animal lovers can pay a visit to the Himalayan Zoological Park in Bulbulay, Deer Park (Rustamji Park) and Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary to witness the wild habitat of the region. A number of Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples are there in Gangtok, where one can go and seek inner peace. Hanuman Tok, Ranka Monastery, Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial Temple, Enchey Monastery, Do-Drul Chorten Stupa, Phensong Monastery, and Shiva Temple are frequented by tourists.
2. Lachen and Lachung
Distance: IXB- Lachen and Lachung (198-195) km approx.
The North Sikkim district is perhaps one of the most beautiful places to be in India, bordering China in the foothills of Himalaya. A six hour drive from Gangtok brings you to a bifurcated route going to Gurudongmar Lake (Lachen), which is one of the highest lakes in the world, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and Khangchengyao Range, however only Indian citizens can catch a glimpse of it, others are restricted to Chopta Valley which is 13200 ft. above sea level leading towards the greater Himalayan valley known as Muguthang (15500 ft.) The sister village of Lachen known as Lachung has a lot of exquisite villages in Northern Sikkim and the popular tourist hot-spot is the Yumthang valley where hot springs are scattered and its surrounding areas such as Katao, Zero Point and Yumesamdong give a mesmerising sight. Mt. Katao near Lachung gathers people to enjoy snow-adventures all around the year. Although, few places are not easily accessible being a Defence establishment near the China border but North Sikkim has a lot to explore in this lifetime.
3. Namchi and Dzongri
Distance: IXB-Namchi and Dzongri (90-97) km approx.
Namchi is another bewitching place to be at, in North Sikkim. The world’s largest statue of the Buddhist Saint Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) known as Siddhesvara Dhaam and a replica of chaar-dhaams with a 108 ft. tall Shiva statue at Solophok hilltop make Namchi a popular Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage centre in the region. The Shirdi Sai Mandir, Namchi Monastery, Ralong Monastery and Tendong Hill Monastery add up to the religious importance. Other must-go destinations are the Temi Tea Garden, the only one in Sikkim state which is considered to be one of the finest in the country and Meenam National Park which is one of the few homes of the rare Red Panda. Further, about 40 km in West Sikkim is Dzongri, a heaven for the adventure lovers. The trek in Dzongri stats from Yuksom heading towards Kanchenjunga National Park at 15,000 ft. giving an unforgettable view of the panoramic snow-coated Himalayas. The park holds an account of many animal species like Asian Sloth Bear, Himalayan Blue Sheep, Red Panda and Wild Dogs. Another trek takes place at the Green Lake having several of waterfalls, thick vegetation and variety of bird species making a picturesque trail.
Distance: IXB-Pelling 140 km approx.
10 km from Geyzing, Sikkim, is the small town of Pelling where a plethora of waterfalls will grab your eyeballs. Khecheopalri Lake, Rimbi Waterfalls, Khangchendzonga Waterfalls and Sangay Falls are few water resources that offer an attractive sight. The breath-taking Singshore Bridge located at a height of 100mts. gives an adrenaline rush. The Buddhist monasteries (Rabdentse Ruins, Pemayangtse Gompa, Sanga Choeling etc.) there have quite a setup to pay a visit. Nearby is the Darap Village, a home to the local Limbu Tribe at an altitude of 5,790ft offers a mild blowing sightseeing for the zealous wanderlusts. At the Upper Pelling one must also check out the new helipad ground.
Distance: IXB- Darjeeling 66 km approx.
Darjeeling, West Bengal often referred to as Queen of the Hills, is very popular for its sunrise point at the Tiger Hill which offers a panoramic view of the great Kanchenjunga. Lava, Sandakphu, Chattakpur, Ghanti Dara too are few more spots to view the Himalayan Range. In fact, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling offers training and courses in Mountaineering and has a museum and a memorial (Tenzing Memorial & Rock); close to the institute is the local zoo (Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park) which has the world’s largest single captive population of Snow Leopards. The zoo also has very rare animal species like Red Panda, Tibetan Wolf and Himalayan Bear etc. which will surely excite the children. To add a little more exploration to the journey, Batasia Loop, Darjeeling Ropeway and a Toy Train ride scheduled in the morning and afternoon by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is must to experience. In the evening, a walk at Tibetan Refugee self-help Centre to buy Tibetan handcrafts and accessories is a mesmerising social interaction. The colourful town centre known as Chowrasta offers a fantastic view of the mountains shadowing the promenade. One can also pamper their taste buds with local and cosmopolitan delicacies like momos and thukpa and other Indo-Chinese recipes. Darjeeling is of course renowned for its Tea gardens from where you can buy the freshly-picked tea and leaves. Other places of religious and cultural interests are St. Andrews Church, Japanese Temple, Bengal Natural History Museum, DHR Ghoom Museum and War Memorial.
Distance: IXB- Kalimpong 74 km approx.
Located at the outskirts of Darjeeling district, West Bengal, Kalimpong, a holy place for the Buddhists is usually famous for few of the oldest monasteries in India. Thongsha Gumpha, Tharpa Choling Monastery, Zang Dhok Palri Phodang will give you a glimpse of Buddhist lifestyle and religious science. Deolo Hill giving a 360 degree view of the snowy mountains, Dr Graham’s Home and Gauripur House attract thousands of tourists every year and so do the Pine View Nursery and Kalimpong Cactus Nursery displaying the vegetation. Neora Valley National Park in the region is a paradise for animal lovers; the rare Red Pandas are also known to exist here. The Golf Garden serves as a recreational hub for the tourists. The Himalayan and the city view from the highest point of Kalimpong known as Durpin Dara Hill and the Teesta River burbling nearby welcome you to this hill station.