Sikkim – the least populous state in India is perhaps the most beautiful one in our country. A handsome state by itself, Sikkim is also surrounded by equally stunning places like Tibet in the north, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west, and West Bengal in the south. More than a third of the state is covered by the Kanchenjunga National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. No wonder it is home to Kanchenjunga, the highest peak in India and the third highest in the world.
But the most impressive part? It is the only fully organic state in the country. You can say that Sikkim is environmentally conscious, having banned polystyrene products throughout the state. Plastic water bottles are also banned at any official events. Even as one of the smallest states in the country, Sikkim is the largest producer of cardamom in India, and is the world’s second largest only after Guatemala.
With an elevation ranging from almost sea level to 8.5 kilometers above sea level, Sikkim’s diverse terrain has it all – mountains, forests, farms, lakes, waterfalls, rivers, glaciers and springs. Everything from leopards to bears too. You’re in for a real adventure if you decide to head here! The most happening town is expectedly the capital – Gangtok. As you arrive here, we have a list of fun things for you to do in and around. We’ve divided them across 4 categories, depending on your mood.
How about a simple cable ride for starters? No view can beat a bird’s eye view. As you enjoy the views of Gangtok from above, hope for good weather so you can see ice-clad mountains like Kanchenjunga. Once that’s done, you can head for a yak safari if that interests you. If you are keen on something more adventurous, you must try rafting on the Teesta river, after which you can enjoy a night of camping by the banks. Spread your metaphorical wings and go paragliding, where you can be guaranteed of serene views everywhere you look. Now for the more hardcore adventurous people, Sikkim has ideal and exciting routes for mountain biking. These trails include trekking too. If skiing tickles your fancy, head to Mount Katao! The mountain also offers snow-tubing and snow-boarding.
If you’re someone who intentionally loses themself amidst nature, there’s enough ground to cover. Sikkim has over 200 lakes, but while you’re in Gangtok you must drive up to Tsongmo Lake, which is at twice the elevation of Gangtok itself! Menmecho Lake is another option, where you can sit by the pristine waters and enjoy the tranquility of the water body. If you prefer fiercer waters, how about waterfalls like Seven Sisters and Banjhakri? If you want to be closer to the wildside and witness some wildlife, Himalayan Zoological Park and Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve will keep you engaged. If you simply want to enjoy a sunset amongst the mountains, head to Tashi View Point.
No matter where you go in Sikkim or just Gangtok, you will always come across monasteries. Some are architecturally superior, while some exude a peaceful aura. Gangtok has loads of them, so you must check out Rumtek Monastery which is likely to overwhelm you. Other notable monasteries are Tsuk La Khang Monastery, Pemayangtse Monastery, Tashiding Monastery, Ranka Monastery and Do Drul Chorten. If you’ve seen enough monasteries, do visit the temple complex of Hanuman Tok, in the upper reaches of the city.
For momos and more, go to M. G. Marg to feast on local specialities. You can also shop for cultural items at Lal Bazaar. If you feel like further indulging yourself, head to Deltin Denzong where the stakes literally got higher! Set at 6000 feet above sea level, this casino offers a celestial gaming experience against the backdrop of the frozen pinnacle of Kanchenjunga. Try your hand at popular casino games as you indulge in exciting live entertainment and a sumptuous buffet dinner. The all-inclusive deals are worth it. Perhaps this casino bit should have been under the ‘adventure’ category. Ah, well.
Now that you have enough to do in Gangtok, where do you plan to stay? Luckily for you, we have three of the finest villas in Gangtok. Check them out below.
1. The Orchid Glade
Conveniently located, The Orchid Glade is easily accessible from the city. This mountain cabin is a comfortable retreat where the only decisions to make here involve which window to savour the view from, or which variety of tea to sip while you do so. Located in the vicinity of nature, it has an open garden where you can enjoy a bonfire. Enjoy your complimentary breakfast as you snuggle inside the contemporary decor of the wooden house.
Complete with a picture perfect view and cozy interiors, this stylishly designed villa literally places you on top of the mountains. After you start your day with a hot cuppa at the terrace sit-out, you can slowly move to the gazebo for an afternoon board games session, and finally end your day chattering around the bonfire. Enjoy the Tibetan food and karaoke nights at Debrung! No matter which part of the house you may be in, a breathtaking view is an absolute promise.
3. Muma’s Homestay
As the name suggests, Muma’s Homestay is a home in the lap of mother nature. Surrounded by lush green postcard perfect views, valleys and organic vegetation, this abode is a nature’s paradise. Gather around the bonfire, play some outdoor games or stay indoors to enjoy a peaceful read with a cup of tea. Charming old British exterior and cosy indoors make for a perfectly dreamy house to spend your vacation at. Come here to detoxify your mind amidst nature!
Make sure you check out the room listings for the properties above, in case you’re looking to travel in smaller groups. Sikkim offers something for everyone, which is why it’s great for families, couples, and even solo travellers. Please make sure that wherever you visit, you have figured out the logistics beforehand. The spontaneous explorer in you might need to be prepared for 2020. For current COVID advisories, please check the official tourism website before visiting. Stay smart, stay safe!