I would like to express my wonderful experience we had in our 16 days India trip, mainly in Sikkim. We started from crowded city of Delhi and flew to, Darjeeling. We spent two nights in Darjeeling and a morning view from Tiger hill is certainly recommended if you're not lazy to wake up early in the morning (3:30am). Darjeeling seem to have lot things which are built by the British when they were colonizing India so obviously one should try the TOY TRAIN RIDE.
After Darjeeling, we continued to Sikkim, Darap is not far from Pelling and there were no any other tourists rather than 8 of us. We were welcomed in a traditional style, bonfire and with a cultural program performed by a local girls from the village. Food was great! The next morning, we walked through Darap village and we felt that was something the normal tourists cannot do. In the afternoon we continued drive to a monastery which had a amazing energy. The prayer flags everywhere, over a thousand curved stones with OM MANEY PADME OM and several faces of the Buddha and his devotees and we were so lucky to meet the old monk who had alone curved those stones since he was 13 (now he is 83)!
After two nights in the monastery we were pleased to stay with a Nepali family. What a pleasure to be a part of their guest. So happy family, they cook what they pick from their own garden, milk from their own cow and most fascinating part was they mill their own rice in a traditional way without using the machine!
I realized, if I go on with my story it will never going to finish so I would rather keep it short!
Last 5 nights we stayed at Ranka monastery and interacted with little monks from Bhutan, Nepal and from Sikkim. We visited little reinpochee who is been learning to get his power back from his previous life, that was WOW.
We finally got to see some modern part of Sikkim, yes Gangtok seem to us very modern and well planned town. Good restaurants, fashionable people and very safe.
Last two nights before we took a flight to Kolkata were in Kalimpong. What an amazing retreat that was. Huge Orchid garden and other plants grown in their place, the owner takes you through his garden and where he breeds his plants. Food cooked by his daughter in law was something said us well good bye from the beautiful region.
Last two nights we stayed in Kolkata which was a dramatic change after the Himalayas. Kali temple was on a full swing filled with thousands of devotees trying to get a glimpse of kali god. We were there around 5 am!
We walked through local markets and had a little walk through the slums.
The trip was something were looking to experience and we are very glad with our trip leader Sajit Cintury who traveled with us the entire journey and showed us which we would not have seen with our own ideas.
We did a round trek called Kasturi trek in Sikkim and it was totally worth it. All our arrangement were done by a local company called Sikkim Travel Express (http://www.sikkimtravelexpress.com). STE were very professional right from the beginning of email correspondence until we finished the trek. Sajit Cintury is truly a nice person who is leading the company up from the front, Sanjay, a guide is very knowledgeable young man. Cook was probably the best in India and our driver (Tshering) was very reliable.
Let us know if you need more information about the trek: firstname.lastname@example.org
We started from Gangtok at 9 am , then reached Nathula at around 2.00PM. The weather was very cold with temperature of - 4/5 degrees but the wind was a spoil sport. With wind chill factor it was not less than -18-20 degrees. I asked the Indian captain posted there, he said it the morning it was around -16 or so, but then the Sun came out strongly.
While we left the place, the snow fall started and it rained heavily made the area dark. it was very difficult to drive.
The visit to Nathula will be remembered for long time!
We visited Nathula on 16th March'2013. The journey from Gangtok to Nathula took about 4 hours by Toyota Innova to cover 54 kms. It's now a trading point between India and China. This is the part of Old Silk Route!
Nathu La is located on the 563 km (350 mi) Old Silk Route, an offshoot of the historic Silk Road. The Old Silk Route connects Lhasa in Tibet to the plains of Bengal to the south. In 1815, trade volumes increased after the British annexed territories belonging to the Sikkimese, Nepalese, and Bhutanese. The potential of Nathu La was realised in 1873, after the Darjeeling Deputy Commissioner published a report on the strategic importance of mountain passes between Sikkim and Tibet. In December 1893, the Sikkimese monarchy and Tibetan rulers signed an agreement to increase trade between the two nations. The agreement culminated in 1894 when the trade pass was opened.
Nathu La Pass Indo China Border
Nathu La played a key role in the 1903–1904 British expedition to Tibet, which sought to prevent the Russian Empire from interfering in Tibetan affairs and thus gaining a foothold in the region. In 1904, Major Francis Younghusband, serving as the British Commissioner to Tibet, led a successful mission through Nathu La to capture Lhasa. This led to the setting up of trading posts at Gyantse and Gartok in Tibet, and gave control of the surrounding Chumbi Valley to the British. The following November, China and Great Britain ratified an agreement approving trade between Sikkim and Tibet.
Nathu La 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 Indian state of Sikkim on Jawaharlal Nehru Marg and only citizens of India can visit the pass, that too after obtaining a permit in Gangtok.
Nathu La is one of the three open trading border posts between China and India; 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 was expected to bolster the economy of the region and play a key role in the growing Sino-Indian trade but that has not happened. Currently, agreements between the two nations limit trade across the pass to 29 types of goods from India and 15 from the Chinese side. The opening also shortens the travel distance to important Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region.
for the most part, Sikkim is only accesible by shared jeep.
The Yuksom, Geyzing, Peling (spelling?) circuit is great.. And a hike in to the National Park of Kanchanjunga is amazing.. but takes a few days.
Gangtok is cool too... Tsomgo lake of course, and the view from Ganesh Tok is great~
Amazing area. Good you're going!
Make sure you have your Sikkim permit if you need one!
The weather in Sikkim will be good in daytime but will be cold in the night and January & February is a good time to go.
I spent 13 days in Sikkim and did not get time to do a trek to see Kanchenjunga much because the tour operators in Gangtok will only go with atleast 4 people or more, unless you pay alot of money. So I had to settle for a trip to Yumthang Valley which blew me away with it's amazing scenery, so I wasn't disappointed at all.
The tour from Gangtok to Yumthang Valley is for 4 days and you can book that at the Modern Tours & Treks who run Modern Central Lodge but dont stay there unless the hotel has had a revamp in the last couple of years if not stay at another hotel across the road which has heating & TV. I'm affraid I don't remember how much I paid for the trip it's almost 4 years ago since I went to Sikkim.
If you go to West Sikkim stay in Pelling a very popular place for travellers and only a walk away from the Pemayangste monastery. The last time I was in Sikkim in Febraury 2006 I caught the 3 day Tibetan Loser Festival and it was awesome. Really would suggest to you do some research and find out the dates for the festival next year and if you are in the area at the time of the festival I would highly recommend it even if you only attend one day, it's well worth it.
If you only have 8 days in Sikkim you will not have enough time to do both Kanchenjunga and Yumthang. Kanchenjunga is expensive but my biggest problem was not finding enough people to do the trek with but there plenty going to Yumthang Valley and more people you get into a jeep the cheaper it can be. The tour will take you all the way upto the valley and beyond the mountains is China, we didn't do any trekking on this tour but i'm sure something can be arranged.
There are some photos of my Yumthang Valley tour on my website.
Gochela is a pass from where we can view kanchenjunga at the closest.The trek is a difficult one as we have to walk at 2 am to get to the first viewpoint for sunrise .The view is beautiful with mountains surrounding all sides and the view of the kanchenjunga is better if not closer.
The second viewpoint is 2 hours away and the walk is punishing.You get a better and closer view from here along with the mountains and the blue gocha lake.The pass id 14600 feet and some 5000 m.Kanchenjunga looks massive and pandim shines to glory.
Thansing and Lamune are the next stops in the trek to gochela the trek is comfortable as very few places are steep climb.Thansing has a trekkers hut and a hut for the chowkidar,the place is beautiful surrounded by barren hills as this place is above the tree line.Lamune is further 2 hours from Thansing the stop before gochela.It has camping grounds but no trekkers hut.
View of the mountains from Dzongri top.Also one can go for a day hike to Laxmi pokhari (lake) it takes two hours.Its a beautiful lake however not blus in colour as all high altitude lake,its green in colour might be coz of vegetation around the lake .
Dzongri meadows is a frequented place by trekkers.The camping site offers great views of the mountain range around.The Kabru,Pandim,Narsing,Tensing Khang and of course the Kanchenjunga the third highest peak.Dzongri has an excursion to the Dzongri Top for a Sunrise view,however we have to get up at 2.30 am to start for the top to be on time for view.
Tshoka is a small tibetian settlement located 16 km from yuksom.This was our first halt where we stayed in a private dometry for the night.Its a beautiful village with few shops.We have to walk thru the forest path and after we cross the third bridge have to climb steep uphill to reach Bakhim from where we can see yuksom some 4 hills beyond ha ha.Tshoka is 2 km away however it take 2-3 hours to reach.
Yukson is a small town in west sikkim famous for treks to Dzongri,Gochela and to HMI base camp.We visited this place while on a trek to Gochela.Its a small town where u can hire guides,porters,yaks and equipments.Everything is avaliable for rent.The town has decent accomodation as well as food stalls.
I took many of the pictures while travelling by the Jeep. But in this process I ended up taking about 2000+ pictures in North Sikkim. I am selecting the photos at random and putting it o VT. Feeling tempted? Please do come and visit this place!
We visited Yumthang valley on 18th March'09. We started from Lachung at 7.30 AM and by 10.30 AM we were there. Enroute we stopped at many places and captured the beauty of Yumthang. Beautywise it is surely the best place of North Sikkim. Please have a look at the beauty we captured. We got - 4-6 degrees Celcius and lots of snow and snowfall.
To fasten the beauty of Yumthang Valley in words would be like slighting the creator of such splendor. Yumthang Valley is just right place, where magnificence seeks no bounds. Perched at the bewildering elevation of 11800 ft, Yumthang Valley tenders an awe-inspiring spectacle of alpine pastures, rhododendron forest and snow-cloaked peaks of the Himalayas of India. For many years, Yumthang Valley had been debarred from visitors owing to its proximity with the border of Tibet.
In the northern district of Sikkim, Yumthang Valley is like a surprise that certainly deserves a visit. Yumthang Valley is easily accessible from Mangan by regular jeeps or by hired taxis. During this journey, Lachung is the last destination prior to Yumthang. Lachung lies at a distance of approx 25 kms and serves as an excellent stopover for the tourists on course for Yumthang. However, Yumthang has been made accessible to the tourists, yet foreigners are required to obtain the Inner Line Permit to enter this area.
Yumthang Valley is also known by the name of "Valley of Flowers". This bottomless vale has remarkable variety of flowers to boast of. Once again to its credit, Yumthang also embraces the world renowned Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary in its region. A tributary of the Teesta flows through the valley and making it all the more mesmerizing in its appearance. To visit this vale, spring season is the perfect time when flowers blossoms at their best. During summers, this valley acts as a pasture land for the yaks.
Besides its astonishing flora, Yumthang also offers an eye-catching vista of peaks along with Pauhunri and Shundu Tsenpa. Yumthang is also famous for Hot Springs, but actually these springs fall in Yumesamdong region. We have covered them in a separate article. During winters, the whole valley gets enveloped in a thick layer of snow. To put succinctly, Yumthang Valley is an amazing treat where you would become the element of the ceaseless picture exclusive of any sort of infringement.
Lower Samdur, Ranipool, Gangtok, Sikkim, 737135, India
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