Born in WestBengal, Darjeeling & Sikkim was our frequent destination for the family trip from childhood. But I got to know the real Sikkim when I traveled all by myself. Traveling through those rocky roads alone, talking to mountains, letting your hair down and feeling the clouds kissing you. These are the feelings that bring you close to nature. It is just not a travel destination, it’s a soul-searching journey.Come discover the beauty of mountains with me.
Sikkim is the land of tough yet beautiful terrains
This little state of North-east India is the misty land of majestic mountains. The place that welcomes you with warmth even when the temperature is a single digit number. The only negativity you can find is in the temperature that may sometimes fall drastically. But the warmth of the simple Sikkimese people and their hospitality will keep you warm all through the journey. Its a place for everyone from filthy rich tourist to travelers with humble savings. A tiny state standing tall and proud on the lap of the Himalayas.
Sikkim has a beautiful spread to offer in a limited space. Every bit of Sikkim is beautiful. Wherever you lay your eyes on gives you a picture perfect view that can melt your heart in seconds. So better fix your priorities about the places you want to visit. Especially if you are on a time constraint.
The journey to reach Gangtok is quite beautiful
The travel from land to hills is a beautiful journey in itself. The beautiful Tista river on one side and mountains all over. As the journey goes on, you feel the chill in the air. The pollution slowly reduces and what you are left with is purity. Its a long 5 hours journey but then you would not feel bored even for a moment. It can be a bit tiring but never boring. The food, the weather, the photogenic sceneries are just perfect to make you forget about your fatigue (if any). The steamy plate of momos and the simple yet delicious Thukpa are the popular dishes. After the quick lunch, you head towards the Gangtok Taxi stand. This is where you can travel anywhere around the small state in shared taxies or private taxies according to your budget, time and preference.
From the taxi stand, a Rs.20 will give you a seat in smaller cabs that will take you to the main city. You can also take a walk to your hotel in the main city if you are a minimalistic person with very little luggage.
Places to stay
There are many budget hotels in Gangtok. I would suggest staying in a place on M.G Marg. That’s the happening place of the town. If you are looking for Hostel, GO-HILL Hostel is a good option.Its budget-friendly yet cozy bed and breakfast option.
The entrance is a bit shady and it might make you question about the interiors but it’s totally a different world inside the hostel.The family stays on the same property and are the most lovely host you would meet. They are very helpful and accommodating. The stay ranges from around Rs. 450 per person per night.Which includes your morning breakfast as well
There are not many hostels in Gangtok so its recommended to book your bed in advance even if you are traveling solo.
Things to do in Sikkim
Sikkim is a state where beautify lies on every sight that you lay your eyes on. It has beautiful lakes, snow-capped mountains, Vally of flowers, Buddhist monasteries, spectacular ropeway, the local market for shopping, adventure sports like trekking, cycling, paragliding, water rafting.
Some of the most beautiful places I had the luck to visit was: Tsongu Lake, Nathula Pass, Baba Mandir
These are the places you can cover in a single day but you need to get permits to go there. It cost me around Rs. 450 for visiting these 3 places. ( Make sure you do not go on Monday and Tuesday because Nathula ( the Indo China border will be closed on these 2 days)
It was a shared cab so it turned out to be quite cheap for me. You can also rent the whole cab if you are traveling in a group.
Do not expect any fancy food on the way but the simple noodles and fried eggs are what you can get at the altitude of roughly 14000ft above sea level.
Once you are on the journey you would really understand the love of Maggie and Mountains.
If you think of spending a day doing the city tour Ropeway, flower show, a visit to Ganesh Tonk and Hanuman Tonk is a must. If you are lucky to get a clear sky, a trip to Tashi viewpoint will gift you the most heavenly view of the snow-capped white Kanchenjangha range.
Shopping In Sikkim
If you are into some good stylish leather boots, Jackets or 1st copy shoes, Kanchenjangha Shopping Complex also called Lal Bazar is for you. They have a variety of items for display but do bargain as they quote quite a high price.
Gantok gives you a bouquet of options to choose from when it comes to food. From simple Nepali thali.Beautiful Italian cafes to simple yet authentic Tibetan food. Posh restaurants with awesome nightlife, music, and taste of exotic luxury cuisine to roadside eateries. It has all you want to treat your taste buds.
Tasting local food is one of the biggest agenda of my trips so I always go with the recommendation of the local shopkeepers or localities. Their recommendations never go wrong for me. And this time I try food in many small joints but 3 places just filled my heart and stomach without making a hole in my pocket
1)Taste of Tibet
It’s right on MG Marg and it is well known among tourist as well as localities. The two little girls I met on my trip suggested me the place. It was quite crowded but the food is delicious. You Must try the chilli pork, momos, and noodles. If you can handle spices, try the chilli momos there. The spices may hit you initially but if you can bear the heat, the taste will linger in your taste buds and memories for a long long time. Even when I am writing about it my mouth is already watering.
2) Hotel ShekMari
The next place I liked was Hotel SHekMari which is situated beside the famous People Tree in MG road. They have very limited menus but whatever they serve is hot, fresh, tasty and served in an authentic Nepali style. I tried their chicken and pork curry and can vouch for it. They also serve alcohol in case you need it to beat the claws of cold waves. A veg meal with a bowl of chicken curry will cost you Rs.150. The place may look a bit dingy but its worth a visit because of this food and hospitality.
3) Baker’s cafe
This is a place where you can sit for hours with a cup of coffee and enjoy the vibe. Baker’s cafe has a wide range muffin, pastries, snacks.They also have some homemade chocolate boxes, very creatively packed. My recommendation would be the Lava cake, Almond muffins, and the Pineapple muffins.
How to reach
- Nearest airport- Bagdogra
- Nearest Railway station – NJP
- Nearest bus stop – Tenzing Norgay Bus stop
From the three places, you will be getting cabs to Gangtok ( which is the capital city). Cabs might be around Rs.2000 to Rs.3000. The best way is to share a cab with some other passengers. From Tenzing Norgay, you get shared cabs which will cost you Rs.250 per person
Place left unexplored by me this time
I didn’t have much time as I had planned to go to Bhutan the next day but a late night chat with my roommate and a fellow traveler whose I met in Go Hill told me of Gurudongmar lake, Lachen, Lachung and Yumthang and Zuluk. These are mostly trek destinations but you can also go in the cab. Provided you book and plan your trip in advance.The Sikkim Tourism office in MG road is there to help you out. There are many private tourism companies out there in MG road that can help you out as well.
These are also few of the places I would love to visit on my next trip to Sikkim. Do share with me your experiences of Sikkim and let me know if I have missed anything.
My short and sweet trip to Sikkim ended here and the next morning I headed toward Bhutan. My first road trip across borders.
You can also travel with me to Varanasi – the spiritual land of Ghats and much more