Tourism Bharat: Read about Tourism in Sikkim, know Popular Destinations, points of interest, best time to visit Sikkim & more.
Tourism in Sikkim
Sikkim, the youngest state of India, with its pristine atmosphere and lush green landscape is a perfect holiday destination for travelholics and adventurers alike. Because of its remoteness and the fact that permits are required from the Indian Army and civil administration, Sikkim isn’t the most easily accessible area to visit in India. However, it certainly is one of the most energetic and refreshing places to spend time with your family and friends. Sikkim opened its first airport recently in late 2018. It is indeed an ideal destination to create and cherish some grand memories.
The Himalayan state of Sikkim is a home to some important Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan culture centers. The most well-known charm of the state is Khangchendzonga mountain, the world’s third highest mountain.
Gangtok, the capital and the largest city of Sikkim is one of the few cleanest cities of India. After independence in 1947, Sikkim chose to remain an independent monarchy, with Gangtok as its capital. The city exhibits one of the richest destinations for history, culture and beauty lovers. It is an important trade center between India and China and a demanding administrative and business center too.
With a blend of various cultures and communities, Gangtok is a must visit tourist destination. Huddled within upper peaks of the Great Himalayas and a pleasant year-round temperate climate, Gangtok is the major center of Sikkim’s tourism industry. The city has been developed as a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site after the creation of the Enchey Monastery. Today, Gangtok is a center of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning, with the occurrence of several monasteries, religious educational institutions, and centers for Tibetology.
Namchi (means Namtse) is fast developing as a major tourist spot and a pilgrimage center in the region. The Namchi Monastery, Ralang Monastery and Tendong Hill are some extremely important Buddhist pilgrimage centers present in the area. The world famous Buddhist Padmasambhava, popularly known as Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim, is on the Samdruptse Hill which is opposite to Namchi. It is said that the Samdruptse Hill is actually a resting volcano. According to regional myths, Buddhist monks have been going on top of the hill and offering prayers to the volcano to keep it calm.
The Siddhesvara Dhaam is an exceptional pilgrimage tourism venture of the Sikkim Government developed as “Pilgrim cum Cultural Center” boasting an 87 ft statue of Hindu God “Lord Shiva”. The prime attraction of this center is the display of exotic and rare orchids. One of the highlights of the town is the football stadium — the Bhaichung Stadium built by the Sikkim’s government in honor of its most renowned citizen, Indian international footballer Bhaichung Bhutia, who owns many football schools all over India. The visitors can also enjoy the attractive view of Temi tea garden, which is the only tea estate in the state that produces top quality tea for the international market. In the month of February, the Namchi garden hosts an annual flower show. The flower show is the largest in Sikkim, with flowers of vivid colours and varieties.
Dzuluk or Zuluk is a small village located on the rugged terrain of the lower Himalayas in Sikkim. Its tourism importance is due to the excellent view of the eastern Himalayan mountain range including the Kanchenjunga. Dzuluk is surrounded by wild forest, some of the forests are completely virgin. Finding animals such as Deer, Wild Dog, Himalayan Bear, or the Red Panda is not very uncommon here. A variety of birds can also be seen here such as Monal Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Khaleez Pheasant and Snow Pheasant among others. Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri, West Bengal is the nearest airport. Tourists can also travel to Dzuluk from Gangtok by hiring vehicles (taxis, buses).
The three-level switchback roads of Dzuluk offer mesmerising views of Kanchenjunga mountain range. Some other attractions in this place include a few lakes, temples, and the route that leads to Tibet. Some of the forests around Dzuluk are completely uncharted and offer a variety of flora and fauna not to be seen anywhere else in the country.
Pelling is a small town located in the West Sikkim district of Sikkim. Nevertheless, with the arrival of tourists, the region is experiencing a metamorphosis, as the roads are being repaired and hotels, restaurants being set up. Pelling is also an important point from where trekkers and roving adventurers embark on the demanding and difficult treks of West Sikkim. The land around Pelling is still a virgin territory and is surrounded with alpine vegetation, with several waterfalls lining the hillside. In the winter months, Pelling is sometimes covered with a blanket of snow.
Regular jeeps connect Pelling to the towns of Jorethang, Kalimpong and Namchi. The nearest airport is Bagdogra airport. Most of the people of Pelling are Buddhists and speak the Sikkimese language. Other languages spoken are Nepali, Hindi and English.
Lachung is a small town and hill station located in the North Sikkim district near the border with Tibet, China. The Indian Army has a strong presence in the town. Before the Chinese conquest of Tibet, Lachung was a trading place between Sikkim and Tibet, after which it was closed down. In recent times, the town’s economy has been bolstered by tourism as the region has been opened up by the Indian government for tourists.
Lachung has been described as the “most picturesque village of Sikkim” by British explorers. Skiing is conducted in Phuni near this town. Tourists come from all over the world to visit the town during the months of October and May. Languages spoken here are Nepali, Lepcha and Bhutia.
Points of Interest In Sikkim
National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Reserves
Some popular national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and national reserves of Sikkim include Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden, Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary, Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary, Khangchendzonga National Park, Singalila National Park, Yumthang Valley of Flowers, Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park, and Banjhakri Falls and Energy Park.
Popular temples in Sikkim are Shirdi Saibaba Mandir and Char Dham Complex, Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple (Baba Mandir), Ganesh Tok and Hanuman Tok.
Monasteries and Stupas
Sikkim’s popular monasteries and stupas include Phodong Monastery, Rumtek Monastery, Pemayangtse Monastery, Do Drul Chorten, Enchey Monastery, Tashiding Monastery, Dubdi Gompa and Kathok Wodsalin Gompa.
Fairs and Festivals
Fairs and popular festivals celebrated in Sikkim are Lhabab Duechen, Dasain ( Durga Puja), Diwali (Tihar), Namsong Festival, Sikkim Red Panda Winter Carnival (Gangtok), Dzongu, Losar Festival (February), Pelling Winter Tourism Festival, Tharpu Monsoon Festival (August), Gangtok Winter Festival (Dec 9- Jan 11), Sakewa, Drukpa Tshechu, Guru Rinpoche‟s Thrunkar Tshechu, Barahimizong (celebrated by the Mangar community), Tamu Lhochhar, Jorethang Maghey Mela, Sonam Losar, Ram Nawami (Chaite Dashain), Tendong Lho Rum Faat (celebrated by indigenous Lepchas), Lampokhari Paryatan Mahotsav, Baisakhi Festival, Kagyed Dance and Saga Dawa.
Some very popular trekking destinations in Sikkim are Yuksom and the Dzongri Trail, Singalila Ridge Trek, Green Lake Trek and Goecha La Trek.
Adventurers can visit Sikkim’s popular mountain passes, which include Nathula Pass (Only Indians are allowed to visit this Pass; it’s a no foreigner zone), Jelep La Pass, Dongkha La or Donkia Pass and Chiwabhanjang Pass.
Lakes and Waterfalls
Lakes and waterfalls that upraise the beauty of Sikkim are Tsomgo Lake (Changu Lake), Gurudongmar Lake, Khecheopalri Lake, Tso Lhamo Lake, Jhakri Falls, Mandakini Waterfalls, Banjhakri Waterfalls and Kyongnosla Waterfalls.
Best Time to Visit Sikkim
Being a Himalayan state, Sikkim is a perfect destination for snow lovers. Winter season is a good time to visit Sikkim as the whole area becomes a snowy paradise. The temperature ranges from 7 to -5 degree Celsius during the months of October to March.
In summers too, the state of Sikkim remains considerably mildly cold as temperatures range between 5 to 25 degrees Celsius. This season is the peak time for tourists to come and enjoy the culture and beauty of Sikkim with their loved ones and friends.
The Himalayan state gets good amount of rainfall during the monsoon season from July to September. During this season, mudslides and landslides are common phenomenon in Sikkim and most of the trekking places and many highways remain closed due to this. Even if they are open, you will face many difficulties due to traffic congestion. Therefore, it is advisable not to visit Sikkim during the rainy season with your family. However, adventurer lovers can try visiting Sikkim during this season as most hotels offer generous discounts during monsoon.
Things to do in Sikkim
Explore the Flora and Fauna of Sikkim
Sikkim is a very rich state in terms of the variety of flora and fauna it possesses. According to various estimates, the landlocked state has over 5,000 species of flowering plants. The enthralling floral spectacle of the area will make you feel like never leaving this beautiful place. Lush green, dense forests of primulas, magnolia, blue poppies, gentians, and geraniums are worth seeing.
Sikkim is home to a large variety of animals and birds; some are only found here in India. Some famous animals and birds found here are the Musk Deer, Barking Deer (Munjak), the Himalayan Black Bear, the Red Panda, the Red Goral, the Blue Sheep (Bharal), the Shapi, the Snow Leopard, the Yak, the Impeyan Pheasant, the Crimson Horned Pheasant, the Snow Partridge, the Snow Cock, the Lammergeyer and Griffon Vultures, Golden Eagles, Quail, Plovers, Woodcock, Sandpipers, Pigeons, Old World Flycatchers, Babblers and Robins, Kaiser-i-hind, Yellow Gorgon, and the Bhutan Glory.
Relish Authentic Sikkimese Cuisine
Momos and Thukpa are the most savoured Sikkimese culinary delights. Both these items are available across the state from roadside food stalls to hotels and restaurants. Depending on your eating habits, you can order veg or non-veg versions of these dishes.
Contrary to the general belief, the cuisine of Sikkim is not all about Momos and Thukpa; there’s much more to it. Some other must-eat dishes if Sikkim are Saelroti (a special kind of Nepali origin bread), Chhurpi, Kinema, Gundruk, Sinki, Sishnu Soup (made using leaves of edible wild varieties of nettle), Gundruk Soup, Sinki Soup and Chaang (a fermented cereal-based alcoholic beverage).