Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination for this holiday season

Tripoto
17th Dec 2016
Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination for this holiday season by Arushi Agrawal

Sikkim is land of #Glaciers #AlpinePasture #rhododendron #thrill #Monastery #innerPeace #Snow #teaGardens #herbs. Indians need permission in advance from Tourism and Civil aviation department to visit places which are close to international border. All foreign nationals need Inner Line Permit(ILP) to visit any part of the state.

Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination  for this holiday season 1/12 by Arushi Agrawal

Places to visit -

Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination  for this holiday season 2/12 by Arushi Agrawal
Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination  for this holiday season 3/12 by Arushi Agrawal
how to get permits
Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination  for this holiday season 4/12 by Arushi Agrawal
permits taken in this itinerary
Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination  for this holiday season 5/12 by Arushi Agrawal
Permits granted to foreign nationals

Travel tips for Sikkim-

Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination  for this holiday season 6/12 by Arushi Agrawal
Sleeping & Eating
Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination  for this holiday season 7/12 by Arushi Agrawal
Health & Hygiene
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Must carry
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Phone & Technology
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Sightseeing
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Transportation
Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination  for this holiday season 12/12 by Arushi Agrawal
Trip Planning

What makes Sikkim ideal holiday spot?

Natural beauty, extremely safe, humble, helpful and trendy locals.

Hotels at Sikkim:

I used MakeMyTrip to book hotel using their feature of "Book Now Pay Later" which helped me to do away with the cancellation fee charges.

Budget: 1200-1500 INR/hotel

Day 1

How to reach Gangtok, Sikkim

By Air: Siliguri or commonly know as Bagdogra is the nearest airport.

From the airport prepaid taxi is available to Gangtok

Source and Destination city for flight: Pune(PNQ) --> New Delhi(DEL) --> Siliguri(IXB)

The price of prepaid taxi was fixed, I was charged 2200 INR for private taxi in December 2016.

It took around 4.5 hours to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra. Checked into the pre-booked hotel.

Interesting facts that I got to know about Sikkim during this journey were:

a)Vehicles of other Indian states are not allowed in Sikkim for sightseeing . Vehicles of other states can enter the state only to drop off the passengers at their hotel/home. Drivers should very well know the local routes and respect army restrictions which is otherwise a punishable offence.

facts about Sikkim

Photo of Central Ninamma Boutique Resort, Gangtok, Gangtok, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

Glimpse of Kanchenjunga from hotel room balcony

Photo of Central Ninamma Boutique Resort, Gangtok, Gangtok, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal
Day 2

Reaching Lachen (base village for Gurudongmar lake)

By road is the only available mode. Private or shared cabs can be hired from Gangtok. I chose for private cab from Sikkim Tours and Travels. 7 hours journey covering distance of 95 KM.

Why special visit to a lake:

i. It is one of the highest lakes in the world located at an altitude of 17,800ft

ii. It's proximity to Chinese border

iii. It's sacred nature due to the legends associated with Guru Padmasambhava and Gurunanak.

We were riding on SUV owing to the difficult terrain that was waiting to be conquered. Sikkim has mountainous terrain with lush greenery and waterfalls all over.

Picture & lunch time

Photo of Central Ninamma Boutique Resort, Gangtok, Gangtok, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

Gangtok was windy at 19°C while in Lachen mercury had dipped to 11°C. Our body had to acclimatise both to mountain sickness and the temperature. We had early dinner in hotel and marked it end of day.

Day 3

Our ascent to Gurudongmar

We began our journey at 4 in the morning when temperature was negative and we were shivering. It took 4 hours of treacherous ride through snow clad peaks to reach the lake.

All set to meet freezing weather

Photo of Delight Hotels Royal Lachen, Lachung, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

Food available at Gurudongmar:

halt for breakfast

Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination for this holiday season by Arushi Agrawal

The locals will let you buy the least quantity of liquor which will make you feel at ease with the temperature.

I was admiring the locals for hospitality, adherence to rough surroundings, hard-working nature, zeal to stay at native place and still make a beautiful today and better tomorrow.

15 Km before the lake is Indian army base camp.

Snow covered mountains and way to army base before the lake

Photo of Gurudongmar Road, Thangu, Thangu Valley, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

Since oxygen level and temperature is low around the lake, it's essential that one should not have empty stomach.

At army base camp before the lake

Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination for this holiday season by Arushi Agrawal

I bought handful of coffee mugs as a small token of saying THANK YOU.

Gurudongmar lake

Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination for this holiday season by Arushi Agrawal

Me at 8.15 AM and -4Degree Celsius temperature

Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination for this holiday season by Arushi Agrawal

An interesting fact about this lake is that a part of it never freezes and devotees carry sacred water in containers.

Motor able road on the way to lake & Rhododendron

Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination for this holiday season by Arushi Agrawal

It is advisable to return to base camp max by 12 noon as the oxygen level dips further. We stayed at the lake for about 45mins and began our descent to Lachen.

During descent we saw alpine pastures covered with rhododendron tree all over. This state has maintained its raw form and is still flourishing.

On reaching the hotel in Lachen, had lunch and left for next stop, Lachung.

Day 4

Yumthang valley and Zero point

We reached Lachung previous evening and stayed overnight at the hotel. We started by cab for Yumthang valley after breakfast and stopped for necessary permit check. The roads were like what we had seen during our ascent to Gurudongmar lake.

Way to Yumthang valley

Photo of Delight Hotels Royal Lachen, Lachung, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

Yumthang is also known as valley of flowers off which season is March - mid June. As we went in December, we saw bushes.

There were few shops for refreshments, souvenirs (hats, stoles/muffler, jackets) and most importantly to rent snow boots.

Further ascent began around noon towards Zero Point which took about 2 hours.

It was second consecutive day when we saw temperature changing from positive to negative within span of few hours. But the view at Zero Point was worth to this fluctuation. Second time in as many days, I was close to international border.

I was here

Photo of Yumthang, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

Parking at zero point

Photo of Zero Point Yumesamdong, North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

Let yourself loose

Photo of Zero Point Yumesamdong, North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

time to refill our stomach

Photo of Zero Point Yumesamdong, North Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

On our way back to the hotel, stopped at Yumthang Valley for couple of minutes to return the snow boots. We began our descent journey from Lachung after having late lunch in the hotel. Reached Gangtok at night, checked in to a prebooked hotel and dozed off. Actually took bath after 3 days, couldn't gather the courage to do so in Lachen and Lachung :)

Day 5

Nathula pass, Tsomgo lake and Baba Mandir(temple)

Nathula pass can be visited only by Indian citizens after obtaining permit from Gangtok with the help of local tour operators. Photography is allowed only till car parking. The place fills every individual with pride, after witnessing the harsh climatic condition, low oxygen level that soldiers face here. Second half of December on wards, it's covered with snow.

way to Nathula pass

Photo of Nathula, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

the majestic Nathula

Photo of Nathula, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

Post this went to Baba Mandir, shrine built in honour of late Indian army men who lost his life in 1969 during one of the wars between India and China.

Baba Mandir

Photo of Baba Mandir, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

Tsomgo lake can be visited by both Indian and foreign nationals after obtaining permission. It is located at an altitude of 12000+ feet and remains frozen during winters.

top view of Tsomgo lake

Photo of Tsomgo Lake, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal
Photo of Tsomgo Lake, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal
Photo of MG Marg Market, Gangtok, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal
Day 6

Hello to a sunny day in Namchi

Few interesting aspects of this day -

i.From Samdruptse hill, you can see the gigantic statue of Lord Shiva built in Char-Dham. Similarly when you're in Char-Dham can see the statue of Guru Padmasambhava built at Samdruptse.

ii.Guru Padmasambhava, founder of Tibetan Buddhism is the same guru after whom Gurudongmar lake has been named.

iii.Char dham contains the replica of 4 dhams, 12 jyotirlinga and sai-baba spread across length and breadth of the country. The followers of Hinduism believe that in order to attain salvation one should do pilgrimage at all the four dhams. After visiting this place, I felt I was done with my share of visits needed by a hindu. :)

Photo of Temi Tea Garden, South Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

statue of Guru Padmasambhava in Samdruptse

Photo of Samdruptse, Namchi, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

Gigantic statue of Lord Shiva on top of temple

Photo of Char Dham, Rhenock, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

In the evening, checked in to our hotel.

Day 7

Descent continues to Ravangla at 7000 ft

It took an hour to reach Ravangla from Namchi. Our 1st stop for the day was "Buddha Park".

Buddha Park

Photo of Buddha Park, Ravangla, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

Spent more than a hour there, then moved to Ralang monastery. One goes to a holy place to seek peace but every bit of me was in peace since last 7 days. That is the kind of impact this state to offer.

Ralang monastery

Photo of Ralong Monastery, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

After admiring the sacredness of the monastery, started for hot spring. Post parking the car in a remote corner of the town, trek began. Our driver agreed to trek with us not only to save time but to prevent us from getting lost in the mountains. Around 2 hours of descent and saw what a hot spring is. I was amazed to see that people from neighbouring countries actually come down there for arthritis treatment as these have medicinal properties. After spending few hours, we began our upward journey.

By the time we reached at the starting point , it was dark. We decided to sit and chat with the locals who had set up refreshment stalls. We decided to give "Tongba" a shot, it's local made alcoholic drink that taste like beer.

Tongba

Photo of Ravangla, Sikkim, India by Arushi Agrawal

After having Tongba, left for the home-stay we had pre-booked and upon reaching there called off the day.

Day 8

Time to say I'll be back again Sikkim, thank you for EVERYTHING.

Left from Ravangla via private cab and headed for Bagdogra from where our return flights were booked. Took 4 and half hour to reach there

A happy ending or a new beginning?

Photo of Sikkim Tour Itinerary and Travel Tips - your destination for this holiday season by Arushi Agrawal

Source and Destination city for flight: Siliguri(IXB) --> New Delhi(DEL) --> Pune(PNQ)

2 Comment(s)
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How much you paid for taxi from lachen to gurudongmar lake n back ?
Thu 07 05 18, 11:03 · Reply · Report
From airport to Gangtok 2200/- is per head or for what?
Sun 03 25 18, 21:03 · Reply · Report
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