"Explore the unexplored Beautiful Places of 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.
Nathu La (Devanagari ???? ??; Tibetan: ?????????, IAST: N?th? L?, Chinese: ?????; pinyin: N?idu?l? Sh?nk?u) is a mountain pass in the Himalayas. It connects the Indian state of Sikkim with China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The pass, at 4,310 m (14,140 ft) above mean sea level, forms a part of an offshoot of the ancient Silk Road. Nathu means "listening ears" and La means "pass" in Tibetan. On the Indian side, the pass is 54 km (34 mi) east of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Only citizens of India can visit the pass, and then only after obtaining a permit in Gangtok.
Nathu La is one of the three open trading border posts between China and India; the others are Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh (or Lipulech) at the trisection point of Uttarakhand–India, Nepal and China. Sealed by India after the 1962 Sino-Indian War, Nathu La was re-opened in 2006 following numerous bilateral trade agreements. The opening of the pass shortens the travel distance to important Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region and was expected to bolster the economy of the region by playing a key role in the growing Sino-Indian trade. However, trade is limited to specific types of goods and to specific days of the week.
Gangtok, with magnificent views of Kanchenjunga, uniqueness and vibrancy in colors of culture and tradition, infused into the stunning sceneries and just the right dash of subtle city life is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the area.
The name meaning hill-top, Gangtok can be safely said to be one of the most beautiful hill stations in the country. With everything in just the right amount from a blend of cultural identities to urbanisation, Gangtok is a breathing and dynamic bit of paradise of the northeast. It has an amazing view of mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain peak in the world. Also like everything around it, Gangtok is abundant in natural beauty and has various natural attractions such as the Tsomgo Lake, Ban Jhakri falls, Tashi viewpoint and more. Other places to visit include the Enchey Monastery, Ganesh Tok, Do Drul Chorten Rumtek Monastery, etc. Also, river Teesta is one of the best spots for white water rafting in North East India.
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.
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).
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.
Aritar is a region in the East Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim under Rongli Sub-Division. It is known for its natural and landscaped beauty. It is located on the edge of the Himalayas, and can be reached in about four hours' drive from Gangtok via either Pakyong or Rangpo.
Isolated from the rest of the state, on the far eastern border of Sikkim and bounded by Mt. Kanchendzonga, the region is characterized by lush forest, mountains and rivers. The Aritar Lake (Ghati-Tso) is a nearby attraction, as are traditional villages and monasteries such as Lingsay. Visitors may also stay in a British-built bungalow of 1895 located 0.5 kilometres (0.31 mi) below the lake.
Situated around 23 kms from Gangtok, in the hill facing Gangtok is Rumtek, a quiet getaway and home to the Rumtek Monastery, seat of His Holiness, The Gyalwa Karmapa of the Kargyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
The drive to Rumtek snakes through typical Sikkimese villages and many paddy fields. The paddy fields resemble a green carpet from July to September and later in October-November, the entire place is a sight to behold with golden paddy swaying in the breeze.
The lush green hilly terrain, a breathtaking topography and misty mountains makes Rumtek an ideal place for some quiet time. Rumtek offer a host of sightseeing opportunities. These include local sightseeing within Rumtek, one day tours to places around Rumtek, monastery tours and adventurous exploits such as white water rafting and trekking.
The main attraction, however, is the Rumtek Monastery, seat of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa of the Kargyu sect of Buddhism. The largest monastery in Sikkim it demonstrates the best of Tibetan architecture and is an almost replica of the original monastery in Tsurpu inTibet. The monastery houses some of the rarest Buddhist religious art objects found in the world and is also a world renowned centre for Kargyu teachings.
Just ahead of the Rumtek Monastery is the Nehru Botanical Garden which has a mix of tropical and temperate plants and trees as well as a big greenhouse of exotic orchids. It’s a good place to stop for a while. For children there is a small playground with swings and a see-saw and a winding footpath is ideal for a stroll. Rumtek offers many stay options. You can stay at the many lodges near the monastery or at the beautiful tourist resorts, which offer modern amenities in typical rural settings
In order to promote Tourism, the Govt. of Sikkim has decided to setup a, Tourist cum Socio-Cultural Amusement Park at Ranka. It islocated 15 kms. from Gangtok coming up over sprawling 16 acres of land. The project comprises of 24 tourist accommodations of traditional Sikkimese architecture, Villa Club with bars, restaurant, indoor swimming pool, multi- gym, open-air theatre, children’s park, Food Court, Exhibition Halls showing arts, handicraft, ornament, musical instruments etc.
It will have Centralized A.C in the Reception cum Information Center, Multipurpose hall, Amusement Park with Rides, Simulators, Musical Fountain, Water Chute, Closed Circuit TVs, laser-cum-video show on water screens, Rain Forest Cafe, etc, along with all infrastructure developments works and tourism facilities. The small state of Sikkim is East India, nestled among the Eastern Himalayan mountains has an ace up its sleeve for tourist attraction.
The state has presented a mega tourism project which is a combination of provision of modern facilities combined with the cultural heritage of Sikkim. The project was open to tourist after President of India, Shrimati Pratibha Patil inaugrates Khangchendzonga Tourist Complex cum socio-cultural amusement park at Ranka, East Sikkim on 15th April.
The project is the first of its kind in the state of Sikkim. It was conceived in 2005 by the Chief Minister of Sikkim and work started on the same in June 2006.
The park spread over 16 acres of land has many cultural attractions like the dome shaped Sikkim Panaroma, swimming pools, bowling alleys, colourful and musical fountains and laser shows. The Sikkim Panaroma houses relief features of important places of Sikkim including the state’s low lying areas and going higher up to Mt Khangchendzonga. These relief features are made from fiber glass. There are also murals of the ethnic communities of Sikkim in the Sikkim Panorama along with traditional huts. Also in keeping with the serenity and surroundings of the region, the park has a rain forest café, a unique food joint with glass floors over a natural stream with lots of greenery. For the locals of Ranka and tour operators in Sikkim where the tourist villa cum park has been built, such a mega project will vastly benefit their economy as tourist flow will increase. Since the project is a new feature in the region of in and around Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim, tourist may extend their visit by a day or few in order to visit this place. The government is spending another Rs. 30 crore for reviving local economy so that the place can be given good marketing publicity in addition to the project and the tourist can be persuaded to extend their stay in Gangtok and visit Ranka.
Ranka also has other tourist attractions such as Lingdum Monastery and Banjakhri Falls. Also with limited recreational and entertainment facilities in Gangtok, the locals can visit Khangchendzonga Tourist Villa cum park for their own entertainment benefit as well.Khangchendzonga Tourist Villa cum Socio-Cultural Amusement Park is a pioneering standalone project of its kind, celebrating the many gifts Sikkim is endowed with. Itis a landmark not only in the state but in all of Northeastern India. It is the pride of the people of Sikkim and brings joy to visitors to this enchanting land.
On earth there is no heaven but pieces of it. Perched at an altitude of 13500ft is Nathang Valley the Ladakh of East Sikkim. Also, spelt as Gnathang Valley, Nathang Valley poised at a high-altitude plateau is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and is an isolated vale with a roundabout brook crisscrossing it.
Nathang Valley is the highest and a heavenly place to stay in during a visit in Eastern Sikkim. Once, the home of the Yak herders, Nathang Valley is now one of the favored offbeat destinations of East Sikkim for the people who like to dwell midst wonders of nature.