Gangtok is a beautiful hill town and the capital of north-eastern state of Sikkim. This is one place which many tourists like to combine along with a visit to Darjeeling. In fact the combined trip of Darjeeling-Gangtok is a common recipe when people think about visiting this part of the country. This is mainly because of the proximity of the two places as well as easy access. And while in Gangtok, tourists visit several other places including the wonderland of Yumthang valley in north Sikkim, and Tsomgo Lake, Nathula Pass in East Sikkim, Pelling in west Sikkim etc.
Deorali Rope Way :
If you are at Gangtok you must experience ropeways or cable cars located at Deorali market. This rope way of about less than 1 km long has three entry points or stops. The lowest point is at Deorali market and the highest point is at Tashiling (below the state secretariat). There is a midpoint stop at Nam-Nang. One can enter from any point and return to same point after touching other two points. Cable car journey provides spectacular view of Gangtok market, valley and State Assembly hall of the state of Sikkim on its 15 to 20 minutes journey. The ticket fee for adult is Rs 50 and Rs 30 for kids below 6 years. One can carry a video camera by paying a fee of Rs 50. No extra charge for normal still camera
About 25 kilometres east of Gangtok and at an altitude of 5,800 feet is Sikkim’s biggest monastery, the Rumtek Monastery. Built in 1740 and rebuilt in 1979, the monastery features a golden stupa containing the relics of the 16th Karmapa, with several other sacred Buddhist artifacts.
Surrounded by beautiful gardens, the waters of Banjhakri Falls are a treat to the eyes and senses. This is an ideal spot for a delightful picnic with family and friends.
Locally known as the Lingdum monastery, this monastery is run by the Sikkimese Gharwan Rimpoche. Known for its architecture and aesthetic value, this monastery has a collection of colorful Tibetan paintings called Thangkas that adorn the walls. Visitors can spin the long row of prayer wheels for good luck. A huge gold plated Buddha statue sits in the lotus position inside the sanctum.
Do Drul Chorten:
Arguably the most popular stupa (a dome-shaped Buddhist shrine) in Sikkim, Do Drul Chorten was built in 1945 by a Tibetan Buddhist named Trulshik Rinpoche. Surrounded by 108 prayer wheels on which Buddhist mantras have been engraved, monks and tourists swirl the wheels, which is equivalent to completing 108 beads of recital. The gold plated steeple atop the Chorten is what Do Drul is famous for.
The Tashi Viewpoint is one of the best places to go to with a pair of binoculars, water and some sandwiches. From the Tashi Viewpoint, you get the perfect view of the snow covered peaks of Kanchenjunga.
This is a wonderful waterfall located on the North Sikkim Highway towards Tashi View Point and about 3kms from Gangtok town. While visiting Tashi View point or returning, it's worth stopping at this roadside waterfall for sometime. While the height of the fall isn't much, it's the width of the fall that makes it so beautiful. The source of the water is at Ratey Chu.
Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology:
Perched on the top of a beautiful hill, the Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology was established in 1958 to promote research into the Mahayana sect of Buddhism and Tibetan language and culture. The institute was initially known as the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology after Late Palden Thondup Namgyal (the Chogyal of Sikkim). The institute also plays host to one of the world’s largest collection of Buddhist books, rare manuscripts and Tibetan cloth paintings called thangkas.
Gangtok Handicrafts & Handlooms centre:
Directorate of Handicrafts & Handlooms (DHH) was established in 1957 in order to promote manufacture and sale of various handicrafts, carpets, furniture etc. It's located at the zero point and about 1km from MG Marg. If you take the Tibet road from MG Marg, go straight up and at the end you will find the Handicraft center at the crossing. The main building in front houses the training centers for various handicraft items. It also has a museum which was opened in 2007 to showcase many artworks and items which are created in this center by local artists and artisans. Behind the main building, there is a 2-storey Sales Emporium where you can buy various products created at the center. Admission ticket is Rs. 10 per person. DHH is open from 10am to 4pm daily except Sundays and Government holidays.
Hanuman Tok Overview:
On the road to Nathu La at 7,200 feet, this temple is managed by the Indian Army. The views of Gangtok and the nearby lush hills from here are spectacular.
Ganesh Tok is a small temple dedicated to Lord Ganesh, located at an altitude of about 6,500 metres above sea level. It is situated next to the television tower on the hillock on Gangtok–Nathula Road. This is a really tiny temple with place only for one person at a time and you would have to crawl to get into the temple. But one you are in, you will get a nice panoramic view of Gangtok and the surrounding areas.
Himalayan Zoological Park:
The Himalayan Zoological Park is a stunning lush forest reserve that overlooks the majestic Khangchendzonga range and is spread across a total area of 230 hectares. The objective of the park is the conservation of rare and endangered species by providing them a safe and natural habitat. Two of the highlights of the Red Panda which is also the state animal of Sikkim, and the Snow Leopard, the apex predator of the Himalayas, figure prominently.
The Enchey Monastery was established in 1909 above Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim in the Northeastern Indian state. It belongs to the Nyingma order of Vajrayana Buddhism. The monastery built around the then small hamlet of Gangtok became a religious centre.The location was blessed by Lama Drupthob Karpo, a renowned exponent of tantric (adept) art in Buddhism with flying powers; initially a small Gompa was established by him after he flew from Maenam Hill in South Sikkim to this site. The literal meaning of Enchey Monastery is the "Solitary Monastery"
Flower Exhibition Centre-Deorali:
A beautiful tropical greenhouse, the Flower Exhibition Centre in Gangtok is a paradise for plant lovers. The location is a beautiful stretch of green and is an absolute treat to the eyes.
This is also the venue of the famous Sikkim Flower Show, usually held around March, when the orchids around the region are in full bloom. People from around the country especially travel to Sikkim around this time to attend this colourful event.
Located at a height of around 10,100 feet on the rugged terrain of the lower Himalayas in East Sikkim, Zuluk or Dzuluk is a small village beside a winding road. It was once a transit point to the historic Silk Route from Tibet to India. It is relatively an emerging and offbeat destination in East Sikkim. This small village accommodates a population of around 700 people. There is also an Indian Army Transit base camp of Cloud Warriors at Zuluk, which has been used as a transit camp for the army movement to the Chinese border, a few kilometres away. It is the very first village within this whole Silk Route circuit to offer home-stay facilities for tourists.
The sunset view from Zuluk helipad will surely overwhelm you. The Sarba Dharma Sthal at Army Transit point is a place to visit here. A morning walk to the Zuluk Shibalaya offers a freshening start of the day. Zuluk itself does not offer views of the snow peaks but only 14 kms away the Thambi View Point offers a panoramic view of the entire Mt. Kanchenjungha range.Zuluk is a hilltop and a transit point within the Silk Route. The road through Zuluk makes almost 32 hairpin turns to reach Lungthung, which makes it a unique engineering feat. There is a local Nag Temple here. The temple has a cave like structure and the deity of King Cobra or Nag, famous Hindu mythical god is
worshipped in the temple.
Another great attraction of Zuluk lies in watching the sunrise over Mt. Kanchenjungha and its allied peaks from Thambi View Point (around 14 kms away) at 11,200 feet. The glittering rays of the rising sun kisses the snow clad peak of Mt. Kanchenjungha, which slowly turns crimson and then golden and finally silver. The spectacle is truly breathtaking. While staying at Zuluk you can cover Padamchen, Lungthung, Nathang, Kupup Lake, Tukla Valley and all other spots in the Silk Route circuit in day trips. Zuluk has high diversity of Himalayan fauna. The place shelters variety of birds like Monal Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Khaleez Pheasant, Snow Pheasant and others. You may also catch a glimpse of Himalayan Weasel or A Martin. Sighting of Red Panda, wild dog and deer in the high hills have also been recorded.
During August and September, Zuluk is drenched is a riot of colours of wild flowers. The whole region is covered in various wild flowers. From January to April Zuluk is covered in snow. The rainy season of May to July is usually foggy but the rest of the year it has nice sparkling weather. At 11200 feet, Thambi View Point offers a panoramic view of Mt. Kanchenjungha. Located at a distance of 14 kms from Zuluk on the famous zig-zag road (locally called Bhulbhulaiya for its 30 hairpin turns) Thambi is a roadside viewpoint that opens up suddenly to Mt. Kanchenjungha. Named after the Civil Engineer who constructed this amazing road, Thambi Viewpoint truly honours the extra-ordinary feat achieved by the engineers and workers who constructed this road. On a clear day on your way to Thambi viewpoint, you would also catch a glimpse of the zig zag road from Zuluk. The village of Lunghthung-Dhupidara located at almost 11,500 feet is perched on a hilltop with panoramic views of Mt. Kanchenjungha on one side and the winding roads of Zuluk on the other.
Thambi View Point which offers a great bird’s eye view of Mt. Kanchenjungha and the whole of Eastern Himalayas is within a kilometre of Lunthung–Dhupidara village. From January to April the whole of Lungthung–Dhupidara is virtually buried in snow and the only colour you can see is white. The mountain slopes and valleys are drenched in a riot of colours around Lungthung–Dhupidara from July to September when the wild flowers bloom. You can see a mesmerising sunrise over Mt. Kanchenjungha range just walking down from your
room. Lungthung–Dhupidara village is very near to the famous Thambi View Point and offers one of the best views of Eastern Himalayas with Mt. Kanchenjungha on one side and the winding roads of Zuluk on the other The surrounding forests of Lungthung–Dhupidara is home to numerous species of birds and even the Red Panda. Wild flowers, rhododendrons and ferns bloom during the seasons around Lungthung. Lungthung–Dhupidara shelters some of the rarest birds like Pheasants.
Padamchen... Perched on a hill slope at 8000 ft and covered in dense forests, Padamchen is a small village on the Silk Route circuit just 14 kms from Rongli and 4 kms from Zuluk. Padamchen experiences a very pleasant weather throughout the year and this is one of the main reasons for its popularity. If you are not used to biting cold and snowfall but want to experience the mesmerizing sunrise, excellent views and winding roads and valleys of this Silk Route circuit, then staying at Padamchen could be a choice.
Padamchen has some of the best views of the valleys and forests of this part of Sikkim and Himalayan foothills. The forests around Padamchen support a wide variety of bird population and bird watchers would love to spend a few days here. There is a heritage Forest Resthouse at Padamchen too. You can visit this forest resthouse to see the wooden floors, fireplace, verandah and wooden furniture from the forgotten days of the lonely Forest Officers and Sahibs who used to travel this way.
Dense temperate forests surrounding the Padamchen village is home to a huge bird population like Laughing thrushes, Fulvettas, Honey Buzzards, Steppe Eagles, Babblers, Tits, Wrens and others. The deeper regions of the forest have occasional visitors like Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda and Leopards. While staying at Padamachen, you can go to watch the sunrise over Mt. Kanchenjungha range from Thambi View Point (around 18 kms away) at 11,200 feet.
The beautiful Kewkhola or Kuekhola falls is just a few minutes drive from Padamchen. Kuekhola Falls derives its name from "Kue", which in Nepali language means potatoes and "khola" means small rivulet. Thus, during earlier times there was huge plantation of potatoes and locals use to wash potatoes under this fall, and thus, was it was named Kuekhola Falls.
You also can take a small walk across the road to reach Nimachen, a small hamlet indeed. With lots of colorful flowers, a small trail will take you to the Nimachen Gompa, small, but worth to Visit. You can also take a short trek in the forests of Padamchen and discover the trail of the original Silk Route through which the traders used to travel on horseback for thousands of years.
Menmecho Lake is one of the most serene and tranquil lake of Sikkim at an altitude of 13000 feet. Surrounded by untouched pine forests and deep slopes, Menmecho Lake is said to change colours every minute.
It is a beautiful lake located 20 KMs. ahead of Tsomgo Lake. It lies cradled between the mountains below the Jelepla Pass and is source of river Rangpo-chu. It derives its water from melting snows around. The lake is famous for its Trout and a farm to cultivate these fish also exist nearby. As it is a important trout breeding centre, it is a tourist restricted spot. You need permission from the Gangtok Fisheries Dept. to visit and stay at the cottage near
The lake is fed by the waters of the surrounding mountains of Jelep La Pass and stays frozen from January to August. A narrow bumpy ascending winding road 4.5 kilometers beside Baba Mandir would take you near to Menmecho Lake.Most of the year, due to weather conditions, cars would not be able to reach Menmecho Lake but you can trek these 4.5 kms to reach the lake. There is a viewpoint on the banks of the lake for the trekkers to rest and watch the beauty of the lake unfold before them. Apart from its mystic beauty, Menmecho Lake is also famous for its trout population. The lake is one of the best Trout cultivation centres of Sikkim and the Fisheries Department even maintains a cottage here.
This high altitude lake is surrounded by virgin forests and fed by the glacial waters brought by gurgling rivers and water falls. The sandy banks of the river gives it an appearance of a sea beach. The crystal clear water teems with trout and the high mountain walls guard the secrets of this lake. Apart from its mystic beauty, Memencho Lake is also famous for its trout population. This lake is one of the important trout breeding centres of Sikkim.
Its a different world out here – the mountain streams meet the lake skirting through a sandy beach surrounded by pine forests inhabited by Ghorals and Himalayan Bears. Just before the winters in November, you would find migratory birds resting on these placid waters. There is a bungalow overlooking the forest and streams just 10 mins walk from the lake. Special permits are required to reach this bungalow and the lakeside because the road leading to this lake is guarded by the Indian Army. There is a viewpoint on the bank of the lake for the trekkers to rest and watch the beauty of the lake unfold before them. However, you really need to stay overnight in this lakeside bungalow to stand witness to some of the most amazing moments of your life.
Imagine! – a moonlit night – you are sitting in the bungalow’s terrace amidst deep forests – the sound of lake water lapping on its shore – the gust of wind through forests and gorges making an eerie sound and the sandy beach of the lake seems like a silver lace all around the lake. To top it all – the caretaker and his wife serves you some local delicacies. Yes..fairies come alive here..at MenmoiTso…
There is something about high altitude lakes – you climb up the mountains, struggle through the hairpin bends and at the end you will greeted by a gleam of water body, a brilliant spectacle indeed. The Silk Route tour has several such high altitude beautiful lakes and one of the most beautiful is surely the Kupup Lake. Locally called Bitan Cho, it is one of the most sacred lakes of Sikkim, with high mountains and valleys bordering it. Owing to its resemblance to elephant, Kupup Lake is also known as Elephant Lake.
The amazing view of the lake will make you feel that nothing could be more peaceful and serene on earth. You just could not stop admiring this wonderful lake. The lake nestles at an altitude of 13,066 feet, on the way to Jelepla Pass, bordering area with China and India. It is the second highest mountain in Bhutan. The shape of the lake resembles an elephant. The right side of the lake looks like an elephant trunk and on the left, it looks like tail. The lake is also accompanied by a stunning valley. A small village called Kupup, which has only few houses and a police check post is located at the lake coast. Kupup is one of the highest villages in the region, which was a recognized transit point during the silk trade between India and Tibet. Kupup has also earned recognition in the world map, due to the Yak Golf Course, highest of its kind across the globe. This 18-hole golf course, affiliated to Indian Golf Union since 1985 nestles at an altitude of 13,025 feet from the sea level and has been included in Guinness Book of World Records.
After crossing Kupup Lake, you would find a place marked “Younghusband’s Track”. A beaten track starts from here which was used by the British Army to conquer Tibet. Led by Lt. Col. Francis Younghusband in 1903 – 1904, this was the first expedition to conquer Tibet by any European Army. The British troops began its journey from Siliguri, moved up to Rangpo, Nathang and crossed through Jelep La Pass into Chumbi Valley in Tibet and finally reached Lhasa traversing a distance of 520 kms.
Lord Francis Younghusband reached Jelep La Pass on 13 December 1903 and stepped on Chumbi Valley. It took 25 days for the troops to cross Chumbi Valley and on 07 January 1914 they reached a small outpost in Tibet called Tuna crossing the infamous Tang La, where temperatures dipped below – 30 deg C at an altitude of nearly 3 miles above sea-level. Far above the tree line, the troops had to survive in Tuna inflicted with frostbite for 3 months.Fierce battles were fought in these high mountains and the British were ruthless in killing the monk armies of Tibet. In the first major battle at Chumi Shengo, 628 Tibetan monk soldiers were killed with no casualties on the British side. Soon more skirmishes took place at Gyantse and Changlo and at the end nearly 3000 Tibetan monk soldiers were killed. Finally, on 7 Sep 1904, Lhasa surrendered and the Lhasa Convention was signed. Lord Francis Younghusband became the first European to conquer Tibet.
Located at 13025 feet above sea level, the Yak Golf Course has been listed as the World’s highest Golf Course by the Guinness Book of World Records. Initiated in 1972, the Yak Golf Course received its first makeover in 1979 by Brigadier J M Singh. However, it was completed as a complete 18-hole Golf Course under Brigadier Ranbir Singh and Col. T K Murali. Affiliated to the Indian Golf Union (IGU) since 1985, the Yak Golf Course measuring 6025 yards in length features fairways across natural mountain streams and ponds as hazards.The Golf Course arranges for Yaks for its senior members to move around. The members are also allowed to use ‘preferred lie’ to prevent their clubs from getting damaged and help them complete within the score of 72. The Saragarhi Cup was the first tournament held here in 09 Sep 1979. Also, the famous Kalimpong Cup was held here in 1988.
Jelep La is a high altitude mountain pass at 13,999 feet linking Lhasa to India. It nestles between India and Tibet in the eastern part of the Sikkim in India. The word Jelep La is of Tibetan origin and it means “the lovely level pass”. It is truly the most level among all the passes between Sikkim and Tibet.The beautiful Menmecho Lake flows below the Jelep La Pass. One can savor the awesome sight of the pass, while coming from New Baba Mandir to Kupup Lake, just after crossing the Menmecho Lake on the GN Road. There are some small military settlements at the Jelep La Pass. The complete trail from Jelep La Pass to the Kupup Lake is visible. The route is quite spectacular, admired with forests of rhododendron, which in spring are in full bloom. A number of pristine hamlets dot the panoramic surrounding. On the Tibetan side, the path stretches towards Chumbi Valley of the Tibetan Plateau.
From ancient time, Jeep La Pass is playing a major role as a trade route with the flourishing trade relation, between India and Tibet. When British started to rule India, they built roads in Sikkim around 1884. In the year 1886, a small Tibetan armed force occupied the area around the pass. In May 1888, the British were attacked by the force but were warded off. However, late in the same year, in the month of September the British reoccupied the area around the pass. With the rising influence of Russia in Tibet, the British sent an expedition in 1904, via Jelep La to Lhasa, headed by Colonel Francis Younghusband. This expedition was confronted by formidable Tibetan forces. However, the British defeated them. In the absence of the 13th Dalai Lama, who had escaped to Mongolia, a trade agreement was forced on the Tibetans.
In 1947, when India gained independence, Sikkim was a monarchy. During this time, Sikkim was granted a special protectorate status and India owned the status of a suzerain nation. From that point onwards, the defense and foreign affairs of Sikkim are managed by India. After the invasion of Tibet by China in 1950, the passes in Sikkim were used by the refugees coming from Tibet. However, after the Sino-Indian War in 1962, the Jelep La Pass was closed down permanently. In the early phase of 1975, following a referendum, Sikkim became a part of India. Again, with the recent development in relation between India and China, there are possibilities in reopening the Jelep La Pass (following the reopening of the Nathu La Pass on July 6, 2006). There is a huge expectation that the opening of the pass, will lead to an economic boom in the region.
If you do not like Gnathang Valley, you would not like paradise. Located at an altitude of 13,500 feet, this lush valley was the home to traditional yak herders who came from Tibet. Few
streams crisscross the valley, and prayer flags flutter on the mountain edges on this vast plain of nothingness. Gnathang Valley appears in different colours in different times of the year. In autumn it looks golden when the grass dries up, in rainy season it’s covered in flowers and in winter it is buried in 5 feet of snow. Gnathang Valley is also visited by migratory birds just before the onset of winter. There’s a monastery, a temple and a small bridge over a small stream in the distance dotting the valley. Gnathang falls in the middle of the Silk Route circuit and is the most scenic place to stay. It is also nearest (just 20 mins) to the best sunrise viewpoints like Lungthung , Salami view point and Eagle’s Nest Bunker.
You would find a Hindu temple and a small Buddhist Monastery in the valley on the fringes of a small village. You would also find few streams snaking through the valley and makeshift bridges built on the stream. And there is nothing more except endless stretches of grassland, surrounded by high mountains. The valley is devoid of any trees and it seems out of this world. Just 5 kms away, you would find the famous Eagle’s Nest Bunker from where you can get a 360 degree view of the whole range of Mt. Kanchenjungha, West Bhutan, plains of Bengal, China, Tibet and the beautiful River Bramhaputra meandering across in the horizon. Sunrise over Mt. Kanchenjungha from Eagle’s Nest Bunker is beyond human description. Another nearby sunrise point Salami View Point is just 20 mins away from Nathang Valley. While staying at Nathang you can cover Padamchen, Genmochen, Thambi View Point, Kupup Lake, Tukla Valley, Baba Mandir and all other spots in the Silk Route circuit in day trips.
Laxman Chowk is wrongly called Luxmi Chowk by most. From Laxman Chowk, the RN Road divides into two – one goes to Old Baba Mandir and the other goes to Nathang Valley. Located at 12800 feet, Laxman Chowk was built in the fond memory of Lt. Col. Laxman Singh (Commanding Officer, 5 Mahar Borders) under whose command the unit pre-emptively secured the water shed opposite Chinese in General Area Dokala in 1965.A memorial was inaugurated by the Commander, 164 Mountain Brigade on 23 Mar 2013 here on the 65th Raising Day of the Battalion during Unit’s Second tenure in Nathang. You would get a panoramic view of Mt. Kanchenjungha from Laxman Chowk.
India Lake in the Silk Route is located very near to Laxman Chowk at around 12500 feet, the water of this lake is so dark that it has earned its name Kalpokhari. Kal means Kaala or Black and Pokhari refers to pond or lake in Sikkimese. Kalpokhari is tucked within a valley which is a yak grazing land. From an angle. this lake looks somewhat like India’s Political Map, so some prefer to call it India Lake too.It is a sacred lake, which is said to contain sacred fish within its deep waters. The surrounding valley of this lake makes a sheer drop of thousands of feet from where the clouds peep and then slowly cloak this lake.
Gnathang Valley looks beautiful in every season, so you can visit the place from June to September when the valley is veiled behind wild flowers. From September to January, the valley gains back a golden hue after the snow thaws from the grassland. From January to April the valley remains under the cover of snow, so if you are looking forward to experience snowfall in winter, this is the ideal time for you.
Aritar Lake or Lampokhari lake This 1120 feet long and 240 feet wide boot-shaped lake is one of the oldest natural lakes in Sikkim. A pathway has been recently constructed all around the lake for the tourists. You can also do boating in the Lampokhari lake. Located at an altitude of 4600 feet, Lampokhri lake also known as Aritar Lake is surrounded by verdant green pine forests. Although Mt. Kanchenjungha is not visible from Lampokhri or its adjacent village – Aritar, still Lampokhri holds its charm as an emerald green lake amidst an untouched pine forest. Children can feed the fish and swans of Lampokhri too. The jungle path that connects Mankhim to Lampokhri Lake is a very popular bird watching trail. This two-kilometer walk with viewpoints is an ideal place to rejuvenate with nature. There is a small temple dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava on the banks of Lampokhri Lake. Boating is also allowed in this lake.
A narrow jungle path connects the lake from the nearby mountain top called Mankhim. This 1.5 km trek from Mankhim to Aritar Lake (Lampokhari) through forests is perfect for first timers, birdwatchers and even children. This downhill trek starts from Mankhim and passes through some forested areas with glimpses of the Lampokhari lake and Mt. Kanchenjungha accompanying you. Mankhim Rai Temple is a main attraction here. Temple Located at an elevation of 1982 m, the temple is situated at Maity Village, Kheselakha. The temple comes under the ordinance of the Rai community, who were the believers of nature and wildlife. Twice in a year, Mankhim temple celebrates Sakewa puja in order to sow more plants. During the puja, colourful dance and musical recitals are performed in the temple premises. Near to Mankhim temple is the Hattipailay village which is famous its numerous rocks which carry footprints of elephants. Mankhim temple offers panoramic views of Mt. Kanchenjunghaand the "boot-shaped" Lampokhri Lake at the same time. Among the other attractions of Aritar, Aritar Monastery is the prime. It is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim, Aritar Gumpa is the perfect epitome of the finest yet traditional architecture.
The monastery belongs to the Kagyuapa order of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery houses someof the most best craved architecture, painted murals artefacts, ancient manuscripts, and monastic arts. Aritar Gumpa is famous for its beautifully carved traditional architecture. Another attraction here is Aritar Dak bungalow, which was built by Sir James Claude White, the 1st political officer of Sikkim in 1895. The mansion is renowned by the name of Ari-Bangla and was constructed during the reign of the British rulers. This is the place where Sikkim's first treasury was built, Sikkim Police was raised, and the first outpost started functioning in the year 1897.
The true beauty of the Tibetan Highlands can be experienced at Tukla Valley. Located at an altitude of around 12500 feet above sea level, Tukla Valley in Sikkim offers a majestic panoramic view of Mt. Kanchenjungha and its allied peaks.
You would also find a war memorial built in memory of the British soldiers who fell at the Battle of Tukla. The Tukla Valley is covered in snow during winter and in September-October, the whole valley becomes red due to the growth of a local flowers. Tukla Valley is around 16 kms from Kupup Lake. The Jelepla Pass is also located nearby.
At a distance of 60 km from the majestic Gangtok city towards the legendary Nathula, you will find a road leading towards the Kupup valley up to Tukla. A bifurcated road from Tukla would connect to the Old Baba Mandir (Bunker). At this place; the samadhi of Baba Harbhajan, famously known, as Old Baba Mandir has been built.
Harbhajan Singh was born in the Sadrana village of Gujranwala district (Presently in Pakistan) into a Sikh family on August 30, 1946. On 9th February 1966 he got enrolled into the Punjab Regiment of Indian army as a sepoy. The year 1968 brought havoc misfortune for the states of Sikkim and North Bengal, as they were under the fury of natural disaster. Floods, landslides and heavy rainfall claimed thousands of lives in the two states. Sepoy Harbhajan Singh made an immense contribution during this time in helping the sufferers to sustain. On October 4, 1968, while he was escorting a mule column from Tuku La, his battalion headquarters to Donguchui La, Harbhajan Singh suddenly slipped and fell into a fast flowing nullah and unfortunately drowned. Strong water current carried his body for about 2 kms from the site of the accident. He was searched with all efforts, but his body went missing. On the fifth day of his missing, his fellow Pritam Singh had a dream, where Harbhajan Singh himself informed him of his tragic death and he also mentioned that his body is lying underneath the heap of snows. Harbhajan Singh also expressed the strong desire to have a samadhi made after him. However, Pritam Singh did not pay much importance to his dream. But later, when Harbhajan Singh’s body was discovered at the very place, which he had mentioned in the dream, all were taken aback. And, to honor his wish, a samadhi was built near Chhokya Chho at an elevation of around 4,000 meters, which gained popularity as the Old Baba Mandir. This samadhi is less visited by tourists. Visitors need to climb 50 stairs to reach the bunker, the site where the samadhi has been built. This was the place where Baba was posted during his service period in Indian army.
Reshikhola is a riverside destination just 37 km from Kalimpong and very near to Pedong. The little village of Reshikhola received its name from the Reshi River running along this small place. In Nepali language ‘Khola’ means ‘small stream’. The place falls in between West Bengal and Sikkim creating a division between the two states.
Like all other rivulets crisscrossing the sub-Himalayan range, the Reshi river coast is strewn with rocks and boulders with stream waters gushing around them. The river valley is surrounded by forests which are home to numerous birds and occasional bigger visitors like bears. Some basic homestays with nice modern facilities have come up along the Reshi riverside. These homestays overlook the river and promote eco-tourism where tourists can enjoy fresh caught fish and short treks around the forests. Reshi River is also believed to be a part of a popular travel route where, caravans used to stop for water.
Take a dip in the Reshi River and drown yourself in the sound of gushing water. At Reshikhola, you can do some basic angling too. If you are a birdwatcher, then you can take a walk in the surrounding forests too. The nearest tourist destinations of Reshikhola are Pedong, Sillery Gaon, Kaagey Village, Mankhim, Aritar, Lingzey and Kalimpong. As Reshikhola is a much warmer place just 2000 feet above sea level, it is favoured by some tourists as the final retreat in the Silk Route.
It’s a perfect stopover for tourists intending to visit "The Silk Route"; as it is a nice picnic and camping ground for tourists to have fun and chill out on the banks of the river rishi. It is also an idyllic spot for romancing the moonlight with a light barbecue and bonfire. Tourists can also indulge in luxury of bathing in the crystal clear river water and to cast the net for a light barbecue. Tourists can also get a feel of staying in pitched tents and test their wilderness streak.For trekkers and adventure lovers, Reshi offers innumerable opportunities for rock climbing and light treks.
Enveloped with tranquility, Sillery Gaon is a picture-perfect Himalayan hamlet, which nestles at a height of around 6000 feet. Sillery is located 96 kms from New Jalpaiguri via Kalimpong [25 Km from kalimpong, 25 Km from lava]. The scenic beauty of the place is undoubtedly eye appealing. Gorgeous view of the mighty Mt. Kanchenjungha can be savored from Sillery Gaon. The music of wilderness, the chirping of the birds and the fragrance of nature of this pristine hamlet will soothe your senses and refresh your mind. This intimate village adorned with pine trees is nowadays lovingly called New Darjeeling. This charming village is the haven of varieties of exotic bird species, which makes it an ideal place for passionate bird watchers. Enjoy a nature trail, while enjoying the beauty of the picturesque landscape of the destination.
An excellent and outstanding tourism spot, Sillery Gaon boasts immense travel potential. There is a fascinating hilltop near Sillery Gaon, famously known as Tin Chuley. You can enjoy a 360-degree view of the mighty Himalayas from this site, along with the town of Sikkim, Jeep La and Nathu La. This place can be reached by car or you can also trek to Tin Chuley. Another amazing site near Sillery Gaon is Ramitey Dara, a famous vantage point, which offers a panoramic view of the winding River Teesta, with around 14 turns along the legendary Himalayas. A visit to the Damsang Fort, located 4 km away from Sillery Gaon is also worth a visit. The fort was constructed in 1690 by the Lepchas. However, only the ruins of the fort exist now, since it was destroyed by the British, post Anglo-Bhutan War of 1864. Wind up your day by appreciating the breathtaking beauty of the Silence Valley, a small stretch of forest with grassy land, shrouded with ultimate serenity. There is another Pins covered beautiful hidden Green Valley,locally known as Silent valley.
Sillery Gaon is encircled by Pedong, Rishi and Aritar. The village is the home to the highly revered Sanghen Dorjee Monastery, located near Pedong. The origin of the monastery can be traced back 300 years ago, during the rule of Bhutanese in Pedong. The old section of the monastery is decked with some beautiful wall paintings, depicting Tantrik Buddhism. The center of attraction of the monastery is the mummified body of a holy Bhutanese priest.
If you are visiting the place in April-May, do not miss the “Chyam” dance held at this place. Tourists also visit Cross Hill near Pedong, built by Fr. Augustine Desgodins in 1882. It is highly revered as a site of Pilgrimage for the local Christian community. Shahid Park is another “must visit” location of the destination, located 2 km from Pedong bazaar. A memorial stone has been laid at the park, to honor the memory of a local young soldier of Indian army, Late Palender Raj, who sacrificed his life at Thangdhar Jammu & Kashmir sector (Kargil War). Panoramic view of Sikkim can be viewed from this park.
Gurudongmar Lake , Situated at a height of 17,800 feet, it is considered one the most sacred lakes by the Buddhists and Hindus alike. The beautiful and awe inspiring lake (190 kms from Gangtok) remains milky in colour throughout the year. According to a legend, since the lake used to remain frozen most of the year, it was not possible to use its water for drinking purposes. When the Guru Padmasambhava passed by, while returning from Tibet, the local residents are reported to have approached him for providing source of water.The Guru obliged. A portion of the lake touched by him does not freeze in extreme winter. Since water of the lake is considered sacred, visitors carry the 'blessed' water in bottles.
There is no proper tourist accommodation beyond Lachen. So almost all tourists, visiting Gurudongmar Lake stay at Lachen overnight before proceeding to the lake next morning. And along with the lake, a typical tour also combines a visit to Chopta Valley, a beautiful valley located in-between Lachen and Gurudongmar which gets covered with flowers in spring and with snow during winter.
Lachen is a small village located in north Sikkim at an altitude of 8,838ft with about 250 village families and few hotels & small shops. Its original inhabitants are known as Lachenpas who are a Sikkimese Buddhist community. They are mostly ship and yak herders. Although the distance to Lachen is only 121kms from Gangtok, it can easily take 6 to 7 hours to reach the place by car depending on road conditions. Tourists usually come to Lachen on the way to the famous & picturesque high altitude Gurudongmar Lake which is located further up at an altitude of 17,800ft near Indo-China (Tibet) border.
From Gangtok, you need to take the North Sikim Highway. The road passes through villages like Phodong, Mangan, Tong etc before reaching Chungthang a village which is about 95kms from Gangtok and takes about 5 hours or more to reach. The road at Chungthang bifurcates. The one towards right goes to Lachung which is about 22kms towards north and onward to Yumthang Valley. The road on the left known as Lachen road goes to Lachen which is about 26kms from Chungthang and takes over an hour. Since boath Lachen and Lachung are close to each other, many tourists make a combined a visit of Lachen/Gurudongmar lake with Lachung & Yumthang Valley.
Lachen means "Big Pass". This small village at an altitude of 8,838ft is a valley with grassy land and scattered forests of Rhodendrons and conifer. The mountain stream Lachen Chu flows through it in deep gorges and on the other side of the river are large mountains with pine forest and snow peaks. While tourists get to Lachen mainly to visit Gurudongmar Lake, there are reasons to spend some time in Lachen itself. Lachen Monastery is one of the oldest in Sikkim and built in 1858. It was then a small hut like structure with only 6 monks. But later in 1977 with financial aid from Sikkim Government, it was reconstructed to its current form. The Monastery follows Nyingma Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Couple of noteworthy artifacts in the monastery includes a stone in a casket having footprint of Kham Gomchen who stayed at the monastery, another stone looking like a decorative container which has been kept on the altar and preserved by the monks as a religious artifact. You should also visit the Handicraft Center of Lachen located in the market area. The original residents the Lachen pas have been weaving carpets, shawls, blankets, bags etc since ages. They are made of yak and ship wool. This is a great place to see many such samples and watch some of the local ladies weaving them. There are wood crafted items as well like Buddha's idol. Gurudongmar Lake , the largest lake in Sikkim, one of the highest in the world and considered very sacred by both Buddhists and Hindus. You should start from Lachen early in the morning (by 4am) because you need to be back by lunch time. The weather near Gurudongmar usually starts becoming bad as the day progresses, so you need to leave the lake area and start for Lachen by around 9:30am. But the early start is not a problem because the daylight here breaks very early too.
Your first stop is at Thangu, a tiny hamlet with only handful of villagers and a large army base. Thangu is a valley with lush meadows located at an altitude of 13,000ft and about 27kms north of Lachen. It takes about 1hour 15 minutes to reach Thangu from Lachen. Within an hour or so the altitude changes by over 4,000ft. So you can imagine how steep the road is. There are a few stalls here where you can take tea and have your packed breakfast. You can distinctly see the change in foliage as you get to Thangu. From green forests or large trees, the foliage changes to mostly smaller bushes. If you visit during May/June, you can see the valley full of beautiful alpine flowers. From November onwards, the valley gets covered with snow till March.
From Thangu the distance to Gurudongmar is about 40kms (i.e. 67kms from Lachen). Although the distance looks short, it will require about 4 hours to reach Gurudongmar from Lachen (so about 3 hour from Thangu). From Thangu onwards you are on high alpine plateau, there is hardly any vegetation and you will see rocky mountains all around other than some scarce rhododendron bushes. Thangu in fact is the last Civilian Settlement along this route.
This road known as Gurudongmar road eventually splits. A narrow road on the right goes uphill to the Gurudongmar lake, while the other one continues to Tso Lhamo lake which is about 5kms away. From there the main road continues further north-east to the Indo-China border (another 4kms from Tso Lhamo). Tso Lhamo lake is fed by glaciers and is one of the main sources feeding River Teesta. Gurudongmar lake is located at an altitude of 17,800ft (5,430m) and covers an area of 290 acres making it the largest lake in the whole of Sikkim. It's surrounded by snow clad mountains making it a stunningly picturesque site. During winter, the lake freezes except for one small area. The Buddhists and Hindus believe that this specific area is blessed. In fact the whole lake is considered holy and is believed to be having many healing powers. You will see Buddhist prayer flags fluttering on the sides of the lake. The Gurudongmar lake has been named after Guru Padmasambhava (an 8th-century Indian Buddhist master) who came here on his way back from Tibet. There is a legend associated with him and the lake. Since the lake used to completely freeze during winter and could not be used as a source of drinking water during such time, the locals pleaded to Guru for a solution. Guru agreed and placed his hands on one point of the lake, and it is this point where the water never freezes any longer. Since then the lake is considered holy and
devotees collect sacred water in containers. On one side of the lake there is a small temple of Guru Padmasambhava.
On your way back from Gurudongmar, stop at Chopta Valley located at 13,200ft near Thangu. It's only 2kms from Thangu towards Gurudongmar. So while returning, Chopta Valley will come first and then Thangu. This is a picture perfect valley. During summer and monsoon (May to September) the valley is carpeted with flowers such as primula, rhododendrons and several different kinds of wild flowers.
How to visit
You can visit Lachen and Gurudongmar lake only through tour operators who are registered with Sikkim Tourism Department. Being a protected area, you need to get Protected Area Permit which the registered tour operator can arrange. But you need to get that done in Gangtok at least one day before you start for Lachen. Foreigners are not allowed in Gurudungmar Lake, they can go only up to Chopta Valley. The permits are usually checked at Mangan and then again at Tong.
Suggested Tour Plan from Gangtok (Only Lachen/Gurudongmar)
Day1: Reach Lachen from Gangtok, overnight stay at Lachen.
Day2: Start early (by 4am), visit Gurudongmar lake & Chopta Valley, return to hotel, have lunch and
proceed to Gangtok. Overnight stay at Gangtok.
Combined tour of Lachen & Lachung
Day1: Reach Lachen from Gangtok, overnight stay at Lachen.
Day2: Start early (by 4am), visit Gurudongmar lake & Chopta Valley, return to hotel, have lunch and
proceed to Lachung. Overnight stay at Lachung.
Day3: Star early, visit Zero Point, Yumthang Valley, return to hotel, have lunch and proceed to
Gangtok. Overnight stay at Gangtok.
Best time to visit Lachen/Gurudongmar
April to May is a great time to go as the rhododendrons are in full bloom during this time. Beginning of December is also a great time to see snow covered Chopta Valley, walk over frozen river, and if roads are open then onwards to Gurudongmar to see the frozen lake circled with snow mountains.
Yumthang, situated at a height of 11800 feet is popularly known as "Valley of Flowers", Located at a distance of 148 kms from Gangtok, it is a paradise for nature lovers with a fascinating blend of flora and fauna and breathtaking scenic beauty. In spring season, wild flowers such as primulas and Rhododendrons bathe the landscape in rich colours, making it a tourist hot spot. The Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary over here has 24 species of Rhododendron flowers which bloom from April to May end.
hot spring located on the right side of Yumthang river is a popular tourist attraction. In addition to a vast green meadow, lush green forest abounding in Pine and silver fir trees throngs the place. While driving towards the valley, one can see cascading waterfalls and streams.
Situated further up at a distance of 16 kms, at an altitude of about 16,000 feet is Yumesamdong. The rugged vegetation- free mountains, especially in the months of November-December and March- April over here present a breathtaking scenario. The approach to Yumthang is from Lachung valley, situated at a height of 8000 feet. It is at a distance of 120 kms from Gangtok. It has a unique self-governing body called the Dzumsa, which substitutes the modern Gram Panchyat. The village, spread out on the either side of Lachung Chu, has managed to retain its unique culture and tradition. If you are visiting Sikkim and don't think that you will make it again in a long time to come, then do pursue a visit to Lachung, Yumthang Valley and Zero Point. Why? Because you may not again see such stunning views of snow mountains and rivers anywhere else.
Dr. Joseph Hooker in his "Himalayan Journal" of 1855 mentioned that Lachung and Yumthang are the two most picturesque places in the whole of Sikkim and had even compared them to valleys of Switzerland.
You should plan your visit to Lachung and onward to Yumthang valley and Zero Point from Gangtok. It requires an overnight stay at Lachung before you can return to Gangtok next day. From Gangtok, after 66kms drive you will reach the small township if Mangan, and then Chungthang which is only 22kms before Lachung and is the nearest town. Along the way the river Teesta will be by your side and you can see a number of waterfalls and mountain springs.
Lachung means the "Small Pass" (so there must be a "Big Pass" as well? Yes, it's another place called Lachen. From Chunthang a road bifurcates and leads towards Lachen). Lachung is a small mountain village at an altitude of 8,610ft and located about 118kms from Gangtok. Although the distance looks easy, it takes about 6 hours by car to reach Lachung from Gangtok, and the road although very scenic, is often not in good condition. Lachung is part of North Sikkim.
Although most come and stay at Lachung to visit Yumthang valley and Zero Point the next day before returning to Gangtok, you should not miss out on the opportunities which Lachung itself offers. Start early in the morning from Gangtok so that you can reach Lachung by 12noon and have enough time to explore the nearby area. The residents of Lachung who are mostly Bhutias call themselves Lachungpas. They have their own self governing body known as "Dzumsa" to settle all social and other disputes through consensus.
One of the nice places to visit here is the Lachung Monsatery (or gompa). It has wonderful wall murals and also several ancient statues. The monastery holds religious dance on 28th and 29th day of 10th Buddhist month (December). You should also visit the Carpet Weaving Center where you can see the local ladies weaving exquisite woolen carpets.
On your way to Lachung, you had crossed the town of Chungthang which is about 22kms away. You should take a halt here and watch the lovely confluence of the rivers Lachung and Lachen chhus which then join the river Teesta.
You should stay overnight at Lachung, and start early next morning. Yumthang valley is about 25kms from Lachung located at an altitude of 11,800ft and takes about 1.5 hours of drive. The name Yumthang Valley means "Valley of Flowers". So you know what to expect. But the name would have been more appropriate if it said "Valley of Rhododendrons". Because here as the tree line ends and the vast stretch of flowering valley exposes a dense bed of rhododendron flowers for miles and in many different colors like purple, blue, red, pink etc.
The rhododendrons bloom between March to May. Visit the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary which spans across 34 square kilometers area here near Lachung and has over 38 different varieties of rhododendrons. The sanctuary beats out its competitors like Dzongro, Barsey, Zema in Lachen because of its sheer variety and spread of colors. You can see some great species such as arboretum, grande, nivale, the state flower etc. State Forest Department holds International Rhodendron Festival here annually between March to May during the peak flowering season. Other than the wonderful views of vast valley of flowers, Yumthang also offers lovely views of the mountain peaks such as Pauhunri and Shundu Tsenpa forming the backdrop of the river Teesta.
Before entering the Yumthang Valley, a pedestrian pathway goes over a small bridge and reaches Yumthang Hot Spring. You will need to walk for few thousand yards to reach the hot spring. In such a cold climate, this surprisingly natural warm water comes as a pleasant surprise. The water is rich with sulfur and said to have good healing and medicinal value. The spring water here is directed to a hut and couple of pools inside so that one can take a healing bath here.
Further up and about 23kms from Yumthang at an altitude of over 15,000 ft is the place Zero Point (also known as Yume Samdong). It takes another 1.5 hours from Yumthang by vehicle (about 3 to 3.5 hours from Lachung). This is where the civilian road ends and you can't drive any further and hence the name Zero Point. A short distance away from here is the border with China and tourists are not allowed to go any further beyond the Zero Point.
So what do you expect in Zero Point? While the road is quite treacherous, the rewards are awesome. Zero Point or Yume Samdong is the place where three rivers meet with surrounding snow-clad mountains and offering marvelous scenic views. You can often see yaks grazing in the snow. There is hardly any vegetation in Zero point other than some stretches of grassy land which becomes visible when the snow melts. Zero Point is the place which remains snow covered for most part of the year. So if you want to see and enjoy snow, then visit Zero Point and you won't likely be disappointed. There are also Hot Springs in Yume Samdong at the river called Sebu chhu. How to visit Lachung, Yumthang Valley and Zero Point Only vehicles from tour operators who are registered with Sikkim tourism are allowed. Visit to Zero Point requires additional cost for vehicle. You need to take a tour package from an authorized tour operator of Sikkim.
Suggested Tour Plan from Gangtok (Only Lachung / Yumthang Valley)
Day1: Reach Lachung from Gangtok, overnight stay at Lachung.
Day2: Star early, visit Zero Point, Yumthang Valley, return to hotel, have lunch and proceed to
Combined tour of Lachen & Lachung
Day1: Reach Lachen from Gangtok, overnight stay at Lachen.
Day2: Start early (4am), visit Gurudongmar lake & Chopta Valley, return to hotel, have lunch and
proceed to Lachung. Overnight stay at :Lchung.
Day3: Star early, visit Zero Point, Yumthang Valley, return to hotel, have lunch and proceed to
Best time to visit Lachung / Yumthang
April to May is a great time to go as the rhododendrons are in full bloom during this time, and Yumthang valley lives up to its name - the valley of flowers. Another good time is during Losar festival (held between February to March). This is when the locals in their full traditional costumes eat, drink and perform many cultural shows. Beginning of December is also a great time as you can see the monks performing mask dance at Lachung monastery. Permits As the China border is nearby, the whole area is under army control. Visitors require protected area permits (PAP) to visit Lachung/ Yumthang/ Zero Point. It can be made at Gangtok Tourism Office, District Administrative Center at Mangan, or at Chungthang Sub-Divisional Magistrate's Office. However it's best to leave it to the tour operator. What to carry If you are heading for snow in Zero Point, then rent an overcoat, a pair of gloves and snow boots from Yumthang market. Also carry enough warm woolens in all seasons as it can be biting cold at the higher reaches. Carry all your medication particularly for any high altitude sickness. There are no ATMs here, so carry enough cash.
Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake is perched within mountains at an altitude of 12,400 ft. Located at Gangtok – Nathula Highway only 37 kms. from Gangtok, the Changu Lake is one of the most spectacular landscapes of Sikkim. The lake is highly revered by the local Buddhists and Hindus as a sacred lake. With a depth of around 48 feet and spreading over 1 kilometre, the magnificent Changu Lake romances with its picturesque surrounding. The water of the lake comes from the melting of the snow of its surrounding mountains, which is why, this lake never dries up. In fact, Changu Lake is also the place of origin of Lungtse Chu River. This azure blue lake remains completely frozen during winter.
This oval-shaped deep blue lake is a treat to the eye from a distance. You would get the best panoramic view of the lake after crossing it on the way to New Baba Mandir. During winters the lake remains wrapped in ice, along with its surrounding region. The spectacle is truly breathtaking. The lake remains frozen up to April. In late spring, the lake is surrounded with wild flowers, which create a riot of colours. The rhododendrons, blue and yellow poppies, various species of primulas, irises create a breathtaking effect. The journey to Changu Lake from Gangtok is also quite enchanting, where you can view a number of waterfalls en route.
A small bridge just at the entrance of the lake will take you to a viewpoint cum cafeteria, from where you can view the complete lake and its surrounding mountains. There is also a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva built at the lakeside. You can trek along the lakeside in deep snow during winter or even take Yak rides along the coast of the lake. There is a small rustic market before entering the Changu Lake which sells yak cheese, trinkets and local curios to the tourists. Adventure seekers can also enjoy trekking at the surrounding Kyonqnosla Alpine Sanctuary. You would also get snow boots and gumboots on hire from here. There are few eateries too selling Momos and tea in this area. The Gangtok – Nathula Highway skirts the Changu Lake and reaches the New Baba Mandir and Nathula Point from Serathang.
Changu Lake is shrouded in myths and legends. It is said that in ancient times, the Lamas (Buddhist Saints) used to predict the future by observing the lake’s colour. If the water of the lake had a dark tinge, they predicted the future to be dark and gloomy, full of unrest. The faith-healers of Sikkim, popularly known as Jhakhris also visit this lake during Guru Purnima to offer prayers. But humans are not the only visitors to this lake; it is also home to Brahmini Ducks and a favourite stopover to other species of migratory birds.
Accommodation in Changu Lake:
There is no accommodation option at Changu Lake.
Best time to visit Changu Lake:
During winters (From January to mid May) Changu Lake is complete covered in snow and you can enjoy trekking as well as Yak ride on snow along the coasts of the lake. From October to December, the lake is partly covered in sheet ice and migratory birds can be seen waddling in the lake’s water. From April to July, you can witness a good bloom of flowers. Most of the year, Changu Lake experiences a sparkling weather.
How to reach:
You can take a round trip tour package from an authorized tour operator in Gangtok. It will require a full day trip from Gangtok to visit Tsomgo Lake. It is usually combined with visits to Nathula and Baba Mandir.
Baba Mandir is a distinguished sightseeing place of Sikkim. This “mandir” or shrine is dedicated to “Baba” Harbhajan Singh, who was a soldier of the Indian Army. He died near the Nathula Pass in eastern Sikkim, India. Two shrines have been built to show reverence to Baba Harbhajan Singh. The old one has been built at the site of the bunker, where Baba Harbhajan was posted during his tenure in the Indian Army. The new one has been built at close proximity from Changu Lake.
Old Baba Mandir_______________________________
At a distance of 60 km from the majestic Gangtok city towards the legendary Nathula, you will find a road leading towards the Kupup valley up to Tukla. A bifurcated road from Tukla would connect to the Old Baba Mandir (Bunker). At this place; the samadhi of Baba Harbhajan, famously known, as Old Baba Mandir has been built. Harbhajan Singh was born in the Sadrana village of Gujranwala district (Presently in Pakistan) into a Sikh family on August 30, 1946. On 9th February 1966 he got enrolled into the Punjab Regiment of Indian army as a sepoy. The year 1968 brought havoc misfortune for the states of Sikkim and North Bengal, as they were under the fury of natural disaster. Floods, landslides and heavy rainfall claimed thousands of lives in the two states. Sepoy Harbhajan Singh made an immense contribution during this time in helping the sufferers to sustain. On October 4, 1968, while he was escorting a mule column from Tuku La, his battalion headquarters to Donguchui La, Harbhajan Singh suddenly slipped and fell into a fast flowing nullah and unfortunately drowned. Strong water current carried his body for about 2 kms from the site of the accident. He was searched with all efforts, but his body went missing. On the fifth day of his missing, his fellow Pritam Singh had a dream, where Harbhajan Singh himself informed him of his tragic death and he also mentioned that his body is lying underneath the heap of snows. Harbhajan Singh also expressed the strong desire to have a samadhi made after him. However, Pritam Singh did not pay much importance to his dream. But later, when Harbhajan Singh’s body was discovered at the very place, which he had mentioned in the dream, all were taken aback. And, to honor his wish, a samadhi was built near Chhokya Chho at the spot of his own bunker, at an elevation of around 4,000 meters, which gained popularity as the Old Baba Mandir. This samadhi is less visited by tourists. Visitors need to climb 50 stairs to reach the bunker, the site where the samadhi has been built. This was the place where Baba was posted during his service period in Indian army.
New Baba Mandir_______________________________
However, for the tourists’ convenience,as the Bunker of Baba Harbhajan Singh is not accessible for tourist all over the season specially during winter times for heavy snowfalls, the samadhi of Baba Harbhajan Singh has been reconstructed at the junction of Kupup Gnathang road and the trail leading to Menmecho Lake, on November 11, 1982. And this shrine is popularly recognized by tourists as New Baba Mandir.
Hoards of devotees visit the shrine of Harbhajan Singh every year. The shrine features three room structures. There is a large portrait of Baba in the central room, which has been placed with other Sikh Gurus and Hindu deity. At the right of the central room, there is the personal room of Baba. The room houses all essential household belongings, needed for daily livelihood, starting from clothes, slippers, shoes to a clean sleeping camp bed. Neatly ironed uniform and polished boots are also kept. The bedsheets are reportedly found crumbled each morning and the boots become muddy by evening. There is another small room, which is used as office cum storeroom. The room is filled with unused slippers, water bottles, toothbrushes and other items that are offered to Baba. The salary of Major Harbhajan Singh has not been stopped and he is also granted his annual leave. There is a strong belief that water kept in the shrine of Baba gains healing property and turns into sacred water that can cure all possible ailments. This blessed water is needed to be consumed within 21 day and in this period, no family members of the ailing person is supposed to have non-vegetarian food. It is also believed that the slippers kept in the temple, help to cure gout and other foot problems. Followers, who cannot reach to Baba’s temple, are allowed to send letters to Baba, which are opened by Baba’s associates. It is believed that Baba Harbhajan Singh guards the international boundary between India and China, over the last three decades and he is accomplishing this task alone. Even the Chinese army also confirms that they have noticed a
human figure, guarding the border at night, riding on a horse. It is also said that Baba Harbhajan Singh foretells any dangerous activity on the border through the dreams of the fellow army men and safeguards the force.
Baba Mandir is usually included during a day trip to Tsomgo lake and Nathula Pass.
Yakten (or Yaakten) is a small human settlement in the foothills of the Himalayas in East-Sikkim. It has marvelous views of the Kanchenjunga range and the lush green valleys. Located near Pakyong – the proposed site of the first international airport at Sikkim, Yakten is still a quite peaceful place to spend your weekend. You can also end your travel there after visiting the Young Husband Track (Old Silk Route) or the North Sikkim.
With it’s uninterrupted views of mountains and valleys, Yakten also offers rich cultural heritage of Sikkimese people. You can also enjoy the local cuisine and beverages. you can also go for a hike inside forests or trek to the historical ruin in Budang Gadi. Located in the heart of high pine trees, Yakten featured traditional houses of all the ethnic communities of Sikkim such as Lepcha, Bhutia, Sherpa, Limboo, Tamang, Gurung, Rai, Newar, Chettri, Bahun, and Manger, with a rich display of local cuisine and drinks.
Adventure enthusiasts can hike through the rhododendron trail to Jhandi Dara and Budaang Gadi, the ancient ruins of the fort with the majestic view of Kanchenjunga range. While staying at Yakten, you can walk to Bojeytaar, Bojeytaar cave, Kartok Monastery, or Tamang Gumpa.
Around 20 kms from Rongli in East Sikkim is this new-found heaven for birdwatchers and solace seekers. Here in Rolep, you can try your angling skills to catch trout in the Shokey Khola River or get wet at the 45-foot high Buddha waterfall. You can also take village walks and get closer to learning the skills of living in harmony with nature and try bird watching in the forests. Rolep is one of the most favorable destinations within the Silk Route circuit to embark on your high – altitude trip to Lungthung or Nathang. The lush greenery, the serene village life and the gushing waterfall and rivers of Rolep would rejuvenate you in your silk Route trip.
You would find a dried up lake bed of the erstwhile Chochen Lake within the terraced paddy fields of Rolep and a gushing 45-feet high waterfall across a hanging bridge. The Shokey Khola River meets the Rolep river at the foot of Rolep which originates at Menmecho Lake. Here, a viewpoint gives you a panoramic view of the Rolep Valley. You can try angling or traditional Hot Stone Bath in Rolep or spend some time introspecting at Dekiling Monastery.