Top 10 Best Place to visit in Sikkim and Darjeeling in 2018 | TravelGangtok - Tours & Travel Company | Gangtok, Sikkim, India

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Yumthang Valley - north Sikkim

Best Place to visit in Sikkim

If you are visiting Sikkim and don't think that you will make it again in a long time to come, then do pursue a visit to Lachung, Yumthang Valley and Zero Point in North Sikkim. Why? Because you may not again see such stunning views of snow mountains and rivers anywhere else. Dr. Joseph Hooker in his 'Himalayan Journal' of 1855 mentioned that Lachung and Yumthang are the two most picturesque places in the whole of Sikkim and had even compared them to valleys of Switzerland.

Yumthang Valley is world famous for its rich variety of flowers and rare fauna and is known as the Valley of Flowers, considered as a mecca for nature lovers and botanists from all over the world. The Yumthang valley provides a great array of Flora –fauna and is an only one of its kind place where tree line vanishes. It is grazing pasture and bounded by the Himalayan Mountains in the north Sikkim. Yumthang Valley is situated at 148 kms from Gangtok and at the height of 1180 feet from sea level.

The whole Yumthang valley becomes colorful and air becomes scented with the aroma of flowers as the valley gets filled with endless flowerbeds furnishing pleasing view of grassy plains covered in colorful flowers and a river flowing from the green slopes in the spring season. There is an old temple of Lord Shiva a few kilometres away from the valley, from where one can have a breathtaking view of the entire Yumthang valley. Also there is a vegetation free mountain known as Yumesamdong at a height of about 16,000 feet and it’s the last point from where one can see the Chinese border. You can also see a variety of animals like Yaks, Shingba Rhododendron, primulas, poppies, iris etc., here and also there is a village called Lachung which is one of the oldest villages of Sikkim and retains an era old charisma and culture of the state. A visit to this valley is an unmatched experience, which can only be felt only by visiting this place and spending some time here, it cannot be explained in words.

Situated in North Sikkim, Yumthang Valley is a paradise on earth, which is full of natural wonders and picturesque beauty. It is home to a zillion flowers, spectacular mountains & a serene river, and is often also called as the ‘Valley of Flowers’ like the one located in Uttarakhand. Needless to say, its breathtaking and magical surroundings make it a must-visit place for every traveler.

It also happens to be situated at what is called "the tree-line", the altitude above which there are no trees. This makes the Yumthang Valley unique in that it has trees and Rhododendrons, and yet abounds in tiny, low-growing Himalayan flowers. The Valley has an astounding, over 24 species of Rhododendrons which paint the Valley red in spring. Rhododendrons are shrubs or trees, and different species of Rhododendron cover different large stretches of the Valley. In spring, the Valley looks like a collage of little forests of different colors. The flowering of Rhododendrons is over by May end. During monsoons, starting in June, the Valley blooms with all kinds of tiny Himalayan flowers, like the Primroses, Cinquefoils, Louseworts and Cobra-lilies. This is a much more enchanting scenario, but takes a keen viewer, with an eye for detail, to truly appreciate.

How to visit
Only vehicles from tour operators who are registered with Sikkim tourism are allowed. Visit to Zero Point requires additional cost for vehicle. You need to take a tour package from an authorized tour operator of Sikkim. Click here for some of such well known

I would suggest that on the second day, start early in the morning and first visit Zero Point. This is because the weather conditions there can change any time and in the afternoon the visibility may not be as good as in the morning. On your way back, visit Yumthang Valley and Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary. Also visit the small local market in Yumthang and scan through the small stalls selling clothes and knick knacks. Try out some noodles or omelet and tea.

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Tsomgo Lake - east Sikkim

Best Place to visit in Sikkim

The ethereally beautiful Tsomgo (Changu) which means “source of water” in Bhutia language (Local language of Sikkim) lake is located 38 kms away from the capital Gangtok on the Gangtok-Nathula highway which forms a part of the old trade route from India to China. This tranquil lake is situated at the height of 12,000 ft and is about 1 km Long, oval in shape, 15 meters deep. The lake gets filled with pure and clean water from the melting snows of the mountains surrounding the lake. Of fabled beauty, the lake looks different in every season, in winter the peaceful lake remains frozen with the area and mountains around it all covered in snow while in late spring the abundance of flowers in bloom covers the whole area in wonderful colors and aroma around the lake.

This area is restricted and hence an inner line permit is mandatory to visit this place. You need to submit a photo copy of any the ID proofs (Voter ID, Passport, Driving License or any other id card issued by the Government of India / State Government) along with passport size recent colour photographs. Note that PAN card or Aadhaar card are not accepted in Sikkim.

Tsomgo Lake (Changu) is conceived sacred by the inhabitants for myths and beliefs associated with the lake in Sikkimese culture. One of the oldest myths connected with the lake is that in old times the Buddhist monks used to study the color of the water of this lake to forecast the future. The Tsomgo lake (Changu) also keeps an important place in the lives and culture of the Jhakris [faith healers] of Sikkim who assemble here every year on the day of Guru Purnima, which concurs with the festival of Raksha Bandhan, from all over the country to offer their special prayers which are believed to give them more closeness to the God.

This lake is also a habitat for the red pandas and numerous rare species of birds which fly here in the beginning of the spring season and remain until the fall. You can enjoy colorfully decorated Yak and Mule rides here and take a tour around the lake and nearby places where you can really enjoy the delicious snacks, food and beverages. For the tourist a visit to the Tsomgo lake is a really refreshing and rejuvenating outing. Best time to visit this place is March to May and October to December.

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Gurudongmar Lake - north Sikkim

Best Place to visit in Sikkim

Gurudongmar Lake
Gurudongmar is a high altitude lake close to Tibet border in North Sikkim. It is the land of Yaks, blue ships and other high altitude animals of Sikkim and Tibet. The snow-fed milky water of the lake is one of the major sources of Tista, the most important river in Sikkim and North Bengal.

The Gurudongmar Lake

About The Lake
At an altitude of 17000 ft, Gurudongmar is one of the highest lakes in the world. It lies in the North side of the Khangchengyao Range and is encircled all around by snow-covered mountains, the sacred lake freezes during the winters except at one spot, which the devout belief has been especially blessed. The Chinese Tibetan border is just a few kilometers away from the lake.

The blessed water of the lake is believed to possess the miraculous power of granting children to issueless couples. Interestingly, the myth of Gurudongmar is believed as reverentially by the Hindus as by the local Buddhists.

The name Gurudongmar is derived from the name of the Guru Padmasambhava who is thought to have visited Tibet through this area. The area is said to be blessed by Guru Padmasambhava. There is a temple of the Guru besides the lake. Devotee tourists as well as the Army personnel offer prayer at the temple.

Getting There
Tour to North Sikkim requires a special permit (Inner Line Permit). The permit is given to Tourists through an authorized tour operator. Only Indian tourists are allowed to visit Gurudongmar Lake. For international tourists, the tour is limited to Chopta Valley a few kilometers before the lake.

The lake is located at an extreme corner of India. The nearest tourist accommodation at Lachen is 68 km (3 hours) away. A typical tour starts at Gangtok from where Lachen is about 120 km (6 hours). After an overnight stay at Lachen next morning, you may visit Gurudongmar. You should start early in the morning and be back to Lachen latest by lunchtime. As the day progresses weather in the high altitude begins to worsen.

FOREIGN NATIONALS ARE NOT ALLOWED HERE

Road to Gurudongmar
The first phase of the journey starts at Lachen at 8800 feet and in next 35 km reaches Thangu at 13000 feet. As you gain altitude you will find the green forests of lower altitude gives way to smaller trees and bushes. Beyond Thangu is the second phase of your travel. The road towards the lake from Thangu passes through the high alpine pastures carpeted with occasional rhododendron bushes. One can get a prized view of rare Sikkim Rhubarb peeping through the bushes in inaccessible terrain or of a herd of mountain sheep grazing in the distant valley. In this area, you will find little vegetation or people. Apart from the Indian Army, there is no human habitation here. The gravel road through the valley gives you a unique view of barren land. Just before you reach the lake the road takes a right turn and goes uphill to reach the lake.

On the Way to Gurudongmar Lake The Way to Gurudongmar Lake

Special Note for Travellers
The terrain leading to Gurudongmar is very hostile and yet very beautiful. The land resembles Tibetan plateau, vegetation is very limited and the road is through a stony moraine-like unpaved path. Due to proximity to the Chinese Boarder, landmines are not uncommon and presence of Indian Army is ubiquitous. Due to high altitude breathing problems may also arise. Tourists are suggested to spend less time at the high altitude and come down to Lachen soon.

Despite the hardship and difficulty, a visit to this lake may last as an experience of a lifetime.

Tour Planning You can visit this part of North Sikkim only through a package tour. Individuals cannot go their directly. Tours must be organized by authorized travel operator such as TRAVELGANGTOK (the company behind this website). It is part of a minimum of 2 night three days tour from Gangtok to Gangtok basis. Most tourists combine a tour to Lachen and Gurudongmar with a trip to Lachung and Yumthang valley.

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Zuluk - east Sikkim

Best Place to visit in Sikkim

Trade linkages between British India and Tibet through the passes of Sikkim dates back to the late 18th Century. The adventurous Younghosband Mission launched from Sikkim with a military escort during 1903-04 accomplished it’s task in reaching Lhasa through the famous Old Silk Route thereby leading to 1904 Convention that firmed up Anglo-Tibet trade. The ancient Silk Route, that used to connect Lhasa in Tibet and Kalimpong via Jelep-la ( “la” stands for mountain pass) and onwards to the rest of the world was in uses even a few decades ago till the China invaded Tibet.

Zuluk is an abode of peace. Situated at an altitude of around 10,000 ft above the sea level and perched on the rugged terrain of the lower Himalayas in East Sikkim, Zuluk is a hamlet close to Indo-China border. Zuluk is located on the famous Old-Silk-Route. Zuluk is a relatively new offbeat destination of Sikkim and has a primitive charm.

Zuluk was commonly used by traders travelling to Tibet through Jelep-la as an overnight base. There are around 700 people residing in Zuluk. These people are mainly immigrants from Nepal.

Zuluk is the name of the valley with a small hilly village and famous for the zig-zag roads which is a definitely an eye catching landscape. Zuluk offers excellent view of sunrise on Himalayas. There is a place called Ganek, which is situated at the height of 10600 ft which is famous for its exquisite view of sunrise at dawn.The rising of the sun is a phenomenon which is beyond description. During the sunset the ladscape view become more breathtaking. The snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas along with the guardian of the Sikkim, Mt. Kanchandzongha make an excellent showcase in the entire north.

Winter is severe in Zuluk with heavy to very heavy snowfall and freezing temperature while summer is wet and foggy. During the summer, Zuluk and its surrounding hills are covered with thousands of blooming rhododendron. Zuluk during these months, is a riot of colors due to the variety of rhododendron that can be seen here.

In the travel circuit this territory has been opened to the tourists very recently. Even now most of the route is restricted area due to its international boundary with ( Tibet) China and the route is controlled by the Indian Army named as – “ Cloud Warriors”.

Surrounded by virgin wild forests, Zuluk is full of nature’s boon. Zuluk has large diversity of the Himalayan fauna. It’s quite common to get a view of variety of birds such as Monal Peasant, Blood Peasant, Snow Peasant, Khaleez Peasant and others. Viewing Red Panda is a rare luck in Zuluk. Himalayan Weasel are also can be seen in capering mood.

In Zuluk, there is no conventional Hotel or Resort. Some home-stays are there which run by local people with attached bath and basic necessities. But those home stay cottages are clean and hygienic. Room Heater or fire Places which are called “ Bukhari” in local language arrange by home-stay owners to make bedroom warm and comfortable.

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Baba Mandir - east Sikkim

Best Place to visit in Sikkim

Located between Nathula and Jelepla pass at an altitude of 13,123 ft and about 52kms from Gangtok, Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple is popularly known as Baba Mandir. One usually covers this temple along with a visit to Tsongmo Lake and Nathula Pass.

There is a touching story associated with this temple. Harbhajan Singh was a Sentry of Punjab Regiment and was posted here as part of border patrol force. The border with China is nearby. In October 1968 he disappeared. It is said that while escorting mules carrying provisions, he fell into a stream and drowned. After a few days he reappeared in the dreams of one of his sentry colleagues and asked him to make a memorial here on his name.

The sentries then made a samadhi and later this temple was built. Although Harbhajan Sing is no more, the sentries and guards here believe that his spirit is still alive and he is therefore treated as a living being. They all believe that Harbhajan will guard and protect them in this very difficult terrain. In fact there has been reports that Chinese soldiers across the border having seen a turbaned sentry doing his rounds at night. Many sentries here believe that Harbhajan comes here every night as his camp bed sheet gets crumpled every morning and his polished shoes turn muddy by the evening.

While Harbhajan Singh is dead since long, his live memories have resulted in several actions from the army which is rarely seen. Out of sheer belief that he his spirit is still around, he has been promoted to the rank of honorary Captain.

Every year during his annual leave, Harbhajan is known to visit his hometown in Punjab even today although he is well past his retirement age. Two soldiers actually accompany his uniform in a jeep up to Siliguri then in a train to his hometown. In fact his salary is still sent to his home.

Over the years the temple has become a place of pilgrimage. Inside the temple you will find large photo of turbaned Harbhanaj Sing which is worshipped. Many who come here leave a bottle of drinking water which they arrange to collect a few days later. It is believed that one can fulfill one's wishes by drinking that water. You will often find that army trucks passing by stop here and soldiers come and offer quick prayers before proceeding.

On one side of the temple is Harbhajan Sing's Office where he is believed to be carrying out his day to day work. Next to it is his dining place. A room has his bed, shoes and uniform. There is a souvenir shop here and a cafe. Although this temple is on a roadside, it is surrounded by mountains in all sides and the views all around is magnificent. If you are lucky, you will get lots of snows here, particularly during the winter time (November to March).

NOTE: This temple is also known as the New Baba Mandir because the original bunker of Baba Harbhajan is located further up near Nathang Valley (located on the historic Silk Route) where the original or the Old Baba Mandir was built. But due to its difficult terrain, many tourists can not make it to the old mandir. One also requires to climb several steps in high altitude to reach up to that temple. So for tourists' convenience a new baba mandir was constructed here on 11th November 1982 at the junction of the road leading to Kupup/Nathang and the trail to Menmecho lake. If you want to visit the old Baba mandir and like to know what else can you see there, then read historic Silk Route.

How to visit
Baba Mandir is usually included during a day trip to Tsomgo lake or Nathula Pass. You need to go through a registered tour operator or travel agency in Sikkim to organize the day trip. Since this is a protected area, you will also require a Protected Area Permit which the tour operator will take care of. You need to provide a photo Id proof and two passport size photos. Permits should be applied a day before your planned trip. Hotels can also mediate through a tour operator.

A round trip from Gangtok including Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir costs about Rs 3,800 by a reserved large vehicle like Scorpio. Group tours on a per person rate are also offered in high season. It takes about 3 hours one way from Gangtok to cover both Tsomgo and Baba Mandir. So start early.

Due to the high altitude, there is lack of oxygen in the air. You should take adequate precautions and consult a doctor before visiting the Temple if you have any health or breathing problems.

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