Of Mountain life and Homestays: Sikkim with The Blueberry Trails
This beautiful state of Sikkim in the lap of the Himalayas is still a well kept secret. It’s a melting pot of cultures and traditions and with nuances like the quaint villages, gorgeous landscapes, the tea gardens, treks, local life, the golden peaks in the backdrop, it makes for a great experiential travel plan. Sikkim is surrounded by the mighty Himalayas on all sides except the South. It has Bhutan to the east, Tibet to the North and Nepal to the west and is the least populated state. However it is the looming presence of the Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world that casts a mystical spell.
This Nov we head out to land of happiness, Sikkim in Tibetean literally means that. Sikkim was voted no. 1 on the Lonely Planet list of places to visit in the year 2014.
Essence of the trip: Mountain Life | Local hikes | Village walks | Trek | Tea garden explorations | Rural life | Photography | Local Food and Brews
Highlights of the trip:
1. Village walks around beautifully laid out villages, getting a peek into their daily lives of some of the myriad tribes that inhabit Sikkim. You will see this at your stays at Takdah and Darap especially
2. Trek to Lamahatta, a mountain settlement through verdant pine forests.
3. Explorations of tea gardens, getting to see the process up close and personal.
4. Day trip to Kecheopalri Lake, surrounded by lush green landscape and mountains forming a dramatic backdrop.
5. Architecture and iconic sights: Monastaries of Rumtek, Pemagatsye, and Palace ruins of Rabdtense
6. Local life and Local food: Whether it’s a simple lunch at a local’s home or a rock and roll evening at Gangtok, Sikkim has it all
Day 1: Bagdogra to Takdah Drive time: 4 hours
Pick up from Bagdogra airport and drive to Takdah village.
Takdha is a beautiful village, one hour before Darjeeling. It used to be a cantonment town during the British days and still bears a beautiful colonial charm. Even today one can admire the stone structures built by the British. It is surrounded by large stretches of pine forests and tea gardens, which lend the place a very special charm.
Day 2: Takdah
After breakfast we go for a trek through dense oak and pine forests to Lamahatta, a small mountain village. After lunch we visit some of the tea gardens near Takdah to understand how tea is grown and picked.
Experiences: One day trek, Visit to the tea garden
Day 3: Takdah to Darjeeling Drive time: 1 hour
After breakfast we drive to Darjeeling, the queen of hill stations. Walk around Mall area and Observatory hill to get a feel of the colonial past the British left behind. Visit the Peace Pagoda which was built under the guidance of a Japanese Buddhist monk. From here once can get stupendous views of Darjeeling town. In the evening walk around Observatort Hill or relax at the hotel.
Experiences: Monastery visit, Walks around Darjeeling
Day 4: Takdah to Darap Drive time: 4.5 hours
After an early breakfast drive to Pelling via a picturesque route which skirts tea gardens.
Darap is a very culturally diverse village with Limboo, Bhutia, Gurung and Rai residing next to each other. Gently sloped terraced fields with panoramic views of snow capped mountains welcome you to the village. It is an ideal place to experience the rural Sikkimese way of life.
Have lunch at the Home stay after which we set out for a walk in the village, skirting through vegetable gardens and cardamom fields. During the walk we will learn about the agrarian lifestyle of the people through interactions with the villagers. On the way we will also learn about the Limboos, a little know community of Sikkim with a unique cultural identity.
In the evening relax at the Home stay where we will experience the warm hospitality of a Gurung family in their picture perfect place.
Experiences: Homestay, Village walk
Day 5: Sightseeing around Pelling
After breakfast drive to Khecheopalri Lake, a tranquil lake nestled in the midst of verdant hills. It is believed that any wish asked by a devotee is granted by the deity of the lake hence considered very holy by the local people. From here drive to Yuksom, the first capital of Sikkim. It is over here that the first Chogyal (holy King) was coroneted in 1642; you will visit the site and see the stone throne. By evening return back to Darap.
In the evening light a bon fire around which we exchange conversations with our host over a cask of local millet beer.
Experiences: Lake visit, Bonfire, Local brewery
Day 6: Darap to Gangtok Drive time: 5 hours
Bid farewell to our hosts after which we drive to the capital city of Gangtok .On the way visit the Rabdtense Ruins, a palace fort which was once the capital of Sikkim and Pemagyatse monastery, one of the holiest monasteries in entire Sikkim.
In the evening walk to the Palace monastery which was closely associated with the Chogyal of Sikkim. From here walk down towards the lively MG Road for a fell of modern Sikkim.
Experiences: Monastery visit, Heritage walk
Day 7: Gangtok sightseeing
Start our day with a visit to Tibetology museum to learn about Buddhism and its advent into Sikkim. The museum also has many rare manuscripts written by Buddhist scholars. From here we drive to Rumtek monastery, the seat of the Karmapa. This grand monastery is the most important one of the Karmakagyu sect of Buddhism. On the way back we take a halt at Banjhakri falls soaking in the cool of nature.
Day 8: Gangtok to Bagdogra Drive time: 5 hours
Drop to Bagdogra airport
What: Sikkim Road Trip
Where: Sikkim – Pelling – Gangtok
When: 22nd – 29th November
How much: 32,200 per person ex Bagdogra
AWESOME-3SOME- OFFER = 1000rs off!!
Takdah – Saino guesthouse
Darap – Gurung guest house
Gangtok – Minokling residency
- Accommodation on a twin sharing basis in home stays / hotels mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8
- All transfers and sightseeing using a Xylo or similar vehicle Note: The vehicles will not be at the disposal of the clients but will only be used for the said transfers and sightseeing.
- Entrance fees for monasteries and museums
- Local coordinator
- Camera fees at any of the places of sightseeing
- Excess stay & meals due to bad weather conditions or strikes, resulting in delay of flights or any other form of transport.
- Soft drink charges, table drinks, laundry, cigarettes, telephone expenses, beer and liquor charges
- Any other item not mentioned in “Cost Includes” section above
What time do I book my flights? Any specific flights which all travellers are taking?
- Any flight which arrives Bagdogra before 1 and book flights which depart after 2
Mumbai to Bagdogra - Bagdogra to Mumbai
What will be the weather at Sikkim?
- The lowest will be 15 – 12 degree at nights and afternoons will be 20-23degree. Jackets and thermals are a must.
What about food? I am a vegetarian, will there be options?
- Yes vegetarian food is easily available. Dont forget to try some Thukpa and Momo’s