Sikkim is hailed as the smallest state in India but don’t let geography fool you into thinking it doesn’t have much to offer. This small state offers a multitude of activities and a beautiful scenic landscape for its people and tourists alike. It is also a landlocked state encompassed by Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. This makes Sikkim a blossoming multicultural hub with a steadfast local culture. Furthermore, packed with a staggering landscape of snow-clad mountains, lush green hills and brilliantly blue placid lakes – Sikkim does not go easy on you. The original inhabitants of Sikkim, the Lepcha people, called it Nye-mae-el which translates to ‘paradise’ (It certainly is one.) With your eyes glued to the ever-changing sceneries of Sikkim, you can’t help but wholeheartedly agree! It is the colourful Sikkim ladened with prayer flags that we absolutely miss. The beautiful cafes, karaoke nights and the lip-smacking local dishes that we look forward to once Sikkim is back on track. We have a list of some favourite and offbeat things to do in Sikkim post lockdown.
Although Sikkim is further along than most states with zero coronavirus cases so far – it is better to be cautious than sorry. So, remember to maintain your budget with the staggering economic and social distancing while doing any of it.
Best Things To Do In Sikkim Post Lockdown
Our list features fun activities ranging from those suitable for adventure lovers and those that love peace. All in all, this article is the perfect guide for those who wish to feel Sikkim truly. We are featuring all those activities you can do over the weekend or even after work for a getaway. Hope it serves as a guide for all who are new to the place as well as who call it home but have missed out what it has to offer.
Cycle along the Old Silk Route
One of the best adventurous activities available at Sikkim is the Silk Route Cycling Tour. Most of the starting locations are around 2.5 hours away from Gangtok. Some of the cycling tours will guide you through stunning locations with a clear view of the Himalayan ranges and Mt. Kanchenjunga. Such an experience among the hills is just what you need to refresh your post lockdown hangover. But most importantly, it guides you through the ancient silk route which is a part of East Sikkim. The silk route was a route essential to trade in ancient times. It was a 900km long trade route that connected Lhasa to the port of Tamluk in West Bengal during the 1st century AD.
The cycling ride is an adrenaline-pumping ride in conjunction with the scenic beauty of Sikkim. Adventure cycling is a better alternative to motorcycling as it provides good exercise and is quite an environment-friendly activity. Further on, you can check out “Tag Along Asia” for a wonderful cycling experience along the 160km section of the Silk Route. The cycling usually starts from Lampokhri Lake in Aritar via Nathu La Pass and ends at Gangtok. There are alternative rendezvous points such as Sillery Gaon where you can view the majestic Mt. Kanchenjunga. The route will also take you through the popular Zuluk Loops (32 hairpins). And you will even be able to marvel at the sights of Tsomgo Lake and the majestic Elephant Lake. The cycling trip will be a memory that you will definitely cherish and it is an exquisite treat for adventure lovers!
You can make your booking or rent a cycle and head out. Don’t forget a map though!
Relax along Gurudongmar Lake
Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world situated at 17,800 ft. The lake is a seven-hour drive from Gangtok, therefore, we advise you to spend a night at Lachen on the way. This is certain to make your post lockdown weekends a memorable one. The entire stretch of the lake is lovely and a sight that will be etched in your memory through the years. Due to the high altitude, one has to take caution regarding the low oxygen level and slowly acclimatize. However, the picturesque lake and the windy weather will keep you on your toes. The cherry on top with regard to Gurudongmar Lake is its strategic location.
The lake is located north to Mt. Kanchenjunga and connected to the Tibetan Plateau – therefore, the backdrop of the lake is fed with glaciers. The area is quite pristine and untouched by human interference. Don’t forget your cameras for this one because you’ll be snapping away without a break! It is not every day that we can see unsullied nature rest so assuredly. Moreover, the area around Gurudongmar Lake is home to various wildlife – most notably, the Yak and the blue sheep. The road to Gurudongmar Lake is a rough one but the sight is enough to help you overcome the journey and weather. With the clear blue sky, deep blue lake, and the snow-capped brown mountains, the place might feel otherworldly.
Note: Make sure to acclimatize properly and it is advisable to refrain bringing anyone with asthmatic issues.
Have a sip of local liquor In Dzongu
Dzongu is a place specially restricted for the Rongkup tribe, popularly known as the Lepcha community. It is approximately a 3.5-hour drive from Gangtok. The history and culture of Dzongu is fascinating and continues to thrive as it remains secluded from the rest of Sikkim. Dzongu is an ideal place to have a quiet and peaceful time either solo or even with your partner/friends. However, this hidden beauty also hides some of the tastiest liquor you can taste. All their food and liquor are organically produced through farming and other traditional techniques.
The Rongkup’s local liquors are quite popular namely, Chee and Aarack. They are offered as complimentary drinks by the homestays. Chee is created by fermenting millets and can be considered equivalent to beer. Whereas, Aarack is created by brewing cinnamon plants. This alcohol is colourless and tastes pungent. Moreover, they provide a very homely and unique feel to their alcohol by serving them in bamboo mugs. The entry to Dzongu is through Teesta River and there exists two entry points to Upper and Lower Dzongu. Dzongu is a peaceful place – almost like a sanctuary and it is the ideal place for a solitary time post lockdown.
Spot waterfalls on your ride to North Sikkim
Sikkim is a mountainous wonderland that is home to numerous hidden waterfalls. The ride to North Sikkim interrupted by scenes of waterfalls during the way is a pleasant surprise. The most popular waterfalls of Lachung and Pelling are recommended as they’ll make your day. In addition, Bhim Nalal Waterfall of Lachung will arrest your heart. As you approach the waterfall, you can hear the water cascading down the rocks. Bhim Nalal is one of the tallest waterfalls in Sikkim and a nice quaint area to unwind.
Another waterfall to watch out for during your exploration of North Sikkim is the Kanchenjunga Falls, which is hailed as one of the best waterfalls in Sikkim. Although, opinions are quite subjective but one cannot deny the prime beauty that is said to have originated from the majestic glaciers of Mt. Kanchenjunga itself. We have spelt out two of the best waterfalls in Sikkim but there exist more waterfalls that are no less captivating. You will find several waterfalls during your journey to the capital of Sikkim – Gangtok. These include the distinctive Banjhakri Falls, the scenic Seven Sisters Waterfall and the sublime Naga Falls. Don’t forget several unnamed waterfalls that will leave you in awe of their beauty.
Lay among flowers in Yumthang Valley
The Yumthang Valley is a sanctuary of a river, flowers, yaks, hot springs and rolling meadows. It is a place to live and let go post lockdown! It is a 5-hour drive from Gangtok. The valley is embedded with a carefree spirit that evokes the same in the people who visit it. This exotic location is a lovely destination for nature lovers who wish to sit under the sky with towering hills around and engage with the nature around them. The valley is quite picturesque with green slopes, yaks grazing on the green valley flecked with flowers and a river running its course through the crease in the valley. More than anything, it is home to the Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary of Sikkim.
The valley is shrouded with over 24 species of rhododendrons that paint it red in spring. During the season of bloom, you’ll find a wide range of flowers such as primroses, cobra-lily, cinquefoils, and louseworts. It is a paradise for those who love flowers immensely! The valley is a charming scenery and what meets the eye is a lush of green dotted with colourful flowers. Just laying down among the flowers makes your worries disappears for the time being. The river running through the valley goes on to meet the Teesta River and enters West Bengal further along.
Take a dip in the Hot Springs
A good dip in hot springs is a wonderful way to unwind yourself post lockdown. Moreover, nothing feels better than cold air surrounding you and your body getting soothed by warm water. The most famous hot spring to visit in Sikkim is Reshi Hot Springs that is frequently opted due to its religious significance and strategic location. The hot water springs in Reshi go back to ancient times where pilgrims and visitors would soak themselves in the hot springs which are said to have medicinal properties. Reshi Hot Springs is located in Gangtok and is quite easily accessible to the people. Further on, a holy cave associated with Lho Khandro Sang Phug monastery is situated adjacent to the river giving it a holy significance. The abundant sulphur in the water makes it a relaxing and warm bath to beat the cold weather.
Another well known Hot Spring in North Sikkim is the Yumthang Hot Spring which is accessible through a hundred-yard walk from the road across a pedestrian bridge that hovers over Lachung river. The therapeutic effect of these hot springs provide an escape for you after a tiring day. If you’re opting for Yumthang Hot Spring especially, it provides a way to wash off that 5-hour exhausting drive. In Yumthang, the hot spring water is diverted into two pools for the convenience of the bathers. Those seeking a more remote and quiet location can go for Yum Samdong Hot Spring located 25 km from Yumthang. Dhuni Pani, Borong and Ralong hot springs are some offbeat options you could try.
Meditate at Enchey Monastery
The ambience of Enchey Monastery is the ideal ingredient for some post lockdown meditation. It was established in 1909 and has been a source of prayer for the Sikkim people ever since. The monastery belongs to the Nyingma order of the Vajrayana Buddhism. Moreover, it is located in Gangtok and is a wonderful place for exploring your inner self. The quiet ambience reverberates within you and motivates you to focus on meditation. One can find themselves some ‘me’ time at the monastery and spin the prayer wheels located downstairs. The monastery is quite easily accessible through road so there is no struggle to approach your spot for meditation. The moment you enter this monastery, you can feel the divinity that persists within the area. The place is a charming place where your entire body feels waves of peace. The architecture of the monastery is quite intriguing as you can see a semblance of Buddhist artistic representations. Its history resides within the belief that the protecting deities – Khangchendzonga and Yabdean live within the monastery. Legend says that Guru Padmasambhava had subdued their spirits along with Mahakala in this very monastery.
Around 200 years ago, the monastery was a religious centre around which the hamlet of Gangtok grew. The religious significance of the monastery resonates with the people of Gangtok who believe that the powerful deities will fulfil the wishes of the devotees.
Enjoy the Sunrise over Mt. Khangchendzonga
An early morning 4-hour drive to Tiger Hill, Darjeeling would give you a sweet spot to watch the sunrise over Mt. Khangchendzonga which is the world’s third-largest peak. Tiger Hill is an exceptional viewpoint that provides a panoramic view of Mt. Everest and Mt. Khangchendzonga. The early morning effort to wake up and drive 4 hours will be quite fruitful once you see the mesmerizing sunrise that awaits you. To see the golden rays of the sun hit the peak and move on its way to the rest of the valley is quite humbling.
The Hill in itself isn’t a sight that you’d expect as it is a little desolate and wild but the sight that surrounds it is quite heavenly. Watching the sunrise over the peaks of Mt Khangchendzonga will be a delightful reminder that despite the hard times Sikkim stands firm as a natural beauty. We hope you have a clear day visit here post lockdown!
Dig Into The Local Cuisine
The glaciers, meadows, and varieties of flowers are not the only signature elements that Sikkim offers. The most important activity one should opt for is to try out the cuisine – tourist or local. Sikkim offers a multi-cuisine palette in most of its restaurant due to its strategic location between Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Sikkim offers delicious Nepali dishes and Tibetan dishes that have been popularized through the years in Sikkim. Nevertheless, it would be an underestimation to believe that Sikkim does not have its own local food to offer as a staunch representation of its culture.
What makes the Sikkimese Cuisine so distinct is the locally-sourced ingredients which gives it a different flavour to ones found outside of Sikkim. You must head over to the local cafes of Sikkim to experience first-hand of what you’ve missed out for a good while now. One heavenly dish that’ll make your stomach groan is Phagshapa – which is pork fat accompanied with radishes and red chillies. What triggers one’s memory when it comes to Sikkimese food is Kinema curry, a curry rich with protein. It consists of fermented soybean with fried spices and vegetables. And finally, Gya Kho is a dish which won’t fail in making you drool. It is a meaty stew that you can have with an assortment of vegetables and meat.
On another note, Woovly requests the countrymen to stay inside their houses and follow the guidelines issued by the government. In these times of need, please help the needy and do whatever is under your capabilities to help the country.
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