It was that time of the year. When you decide to make whatsapp groups to finalize the vacation spot. With too many nays and less yet firm yays, we decided to go to Sikkim.
When you search Sikkim in Google images, you see frozen lakes, colorful town, clear skies, snow clad mountains and yaks. If these images don’t convince you to go to Sikkim, then this article will 😛
So here is a detailed write up about my visit to Sikkim in November, 2017. Before we move ahead, you can also check my Sikkim vlogs here. (If you’re more of a video person than a blog)
I took a flight from Mumbai Airport to Bagdogra. The flight was around 10:30 am and we reached Bagdogra at 1:30 pm. Cameras are prohibited at Bagdogra airport. Since it is more of a military area than an airport, you will find army men and a lot of guards. We found a cab outside Bagdogra airport and left for Gangtok. We stopped in the middle to have our lunch and at a few places to witness the beauty. As you move towards Gangtok, you are accompanied by the view of beautiful Teesta river running along with you. The temperature was very pleasant. It took 4.5 hours to reach Gangtok. We were too tired to move out. So we decided to grab some rest and prep up for the next day.
Where we stayed: The Golden Crest
Cab charges from Bagdogra to Gangtok: 2000 INR
We start out day quite early. We asked the same cab driver to be with us for the rest of our trip and he agreed. We quickly got ready and had breakfast in hotel. We were supposed to go to Tsogmo lake (aka Changu lake), Baba Mandir and Nathu La. However, you require permits to go to a majority of places in Sikkim as they are covered by military area and borders. Since we weren’t aware about this, we had to almost cancel our plan to visit Nathu La. We spoke to our hotel staff member and the driver if they could do something as we were more interested in going to Nathu La than local sightseeing. Our driver arranged the permits (YAY) and we paid some extra bucks. So if you plan your visit there, make sure you sort out permits beforehand. You would require passport size photographs and identity proof for the same. You could get it done in tourist information centre in Gangtok or talk to your driver.
We left for Nathu La. It is a mountain pass in the Himalayas. Our driver said you could see Tibet from there as it is a border between Indian and China. The temperature was 2 degrees on our way but the view made the temperature tolerable. Clouds on earth, beautiful ghats, a lake running in the valley and every sight with huge mountains. We stopped on our way to have maggi and chai. There is nothing better than having a cup of chai and hot maggi when the temperature is low and the view is of mountains and lakes.
We reached Nathu La and we could hardly breathe. It was the first time I was at a place with such a high altitude (14216 ft.) and less oxygen. I couldn’t walk further as my BP went low due to lack of oxygen. It was funny but I had never been at such a place with extreme weather conditions. I just sat there, saw the blue building of Tibet and ate some popcorn while reading about the pass. Cameras are not allowed so be very careful.
We then went to Baba Mandir where I was an idol of Shiv. It is said that it is the only Shiv idol in the world which is situated at such an altitude. We went to Tsogmo lake in the end. A very beautiful lake where I took a stroll by sitting on a yak. I was very scared but it was all worth it. If you come to Sikkim, you must sit on a yak.
We went to MG Marg in the evening to eat some local food. We had some momos (I am not too fond of momos) and noodles. They were pretty decent. MG Marg is like a small city in Gangtok itself. Many food options and a paradise for people who want to shop. And this was the end of Day 2.
You can watch these 2 days of my trip here.
We left from Gangtok for Lachen. Lachen is a small town in North Sikkim. It takes 5 hours from Gangtok to reach Lachen. Before leaving for Lachen, we went to Tashi View Point in Gangtok. You can see half of the Gangtok from there along with Kanchenjunga peak.
There are so many waterfalls on the way to Lachen and all of them are so beautiful. We stopped at a majority of them. I have never witnessed such ethereal view and no cameras could do justice, quite literally. Even though the roads were quite bumpy (you’re going to hear that a lot), I wished the road never ended.
We reached Lachen at 6 pm and it already looked like it was midnight. We had dinner in the hotel itself and slept early as we had to leave for Gurudongmar lake next day at 4 am.
Where we stayed: Hotel Blue Pine
We started out day at 4 am for Gurudongmar Lake. We went to Lachen only to go to Gurudongmar Lake. It is more like a pit-stop to go the lake. The moment I decided to go to Sikkim, I wanted to go to Gurudongmar Lake. It is one of the highest lakes in the world situated at a height of 18000 ft.
The driver told us about how you couldn’t stand there for more than 15 minutes due to lack of oxygen and it made me even more sick. I was scared to death thinking I will be able to handle the cold and condition up there. The way towards Gurudongmar Lake is one of the worst roads ever. Pathetic and horrible would be an understatement. If you’re someone who has road sickness, you might want to think twice before going up there. We reached Gurudongmar Lake at 8 am.
The moment I saw the lake, I said to myself “It was all worth it”.
No words or picture could do justice to this lake. Surrounded by snow covered mountains, coloruful prayer flags and clear skies, this surreal lake will surely take your breath away. Gurudongmar Lake is considered to be the sacred lake. It is said that one part of the lakes never freezes no matter how low the temperature gets. I am going to be honest here. I couldn’t stand there for more than 5 minutes. I had to get back in car and sit in front of the heater to be warm. It was an experience of a lifetime and you could only do justice by seeing with our eyes.
There are a lot of dos and don’ts if you’re planning to visit Gurudongmar Lake and you can watch them all here.
The return journey took 4 hours to reach Lachen. We had our lunch and left for Lachung. The journey was Lachen to Lachung is again 4 hours and we reached Lachung at 5 pm.Hence, the significant reason to visit Lachen was to make the commute towards Gurudongmar lake easy.
We stopped at Amitabh Bachchan waterfalls (named as such because of the height) on our way to Lachung. Yes! Again, there many waterfalls on the way when you are going to Lachung.
Where we stayed: Apple Valley Inn
We started our day at 8 am. We had to visit, Zero Point and Yumthang Valley. Unfortunately, I was down with fever and headache. I think it was more like after effects of visiting Gurudongmar but it was worse. The temperature in Lachung was not making it any better. However, we didn’t cancel any of our plans.
It took 1 hour to reach Yumthang Valley. We stopped at a small café to eat quickly eat something and rest for a while as my health was getting worse. I sat in front of the stove and had hot cup of coffee to make my body warmer. One thing that I haven’t mentioned till now is about the people in Sikkim. The people in Sikkim are so generous, helpful and courteous. From our driver to boss ladies who ran cafes, everyone was welcoming, had stories to share and a smiling face. Oh! I was in love with Sikkim.
The roads again were rough. However, they were better than Gurudongmar so it was tolerable. The sight of tall pine trees, small streams and flying flag colours gave me a real high. It was like how a postcard of Sikkim would look like. Yumthang valley was picturesque to another level altogether. The shops at Yumthang valley provide winter jackets and gum boots on rent as it’s snowy and cold at Zero Point.
We left for Zero Point and were amazed by the view that accompanied us. How can it be so beautiful? Zero Point was just an hour away from Yumthang Valley. I was in the car most of the while (except when I had to take a picture lol).
Zero Point is situated at a height of 14000 ft. and it is the last outpost of civilization. You could see the gigantic peaks of Himalayas, snow and some breathtaking views of clouds coming so close to mountains. The word heaven would be a synonym of Zero Point.
Note: All these places require special permits.
We left from Zero Point and got back to Lachung. We had a quick lunch there and came back to Gangtok again on the same day. It was a tiring day.
Where we stayed: The Golden Crest
It was so better to be back under the sun. We came back to Gangtok as we had to go to Pelling and Gangtok was more like a pitstop for us. Earlier, we decided to do a bit of local sightseeing in Gangtok but due to bad health condition, we instead went to The Coffee Shop in MG Marg, had some nice breakfast and left for Pelling.
Pelling was 5 hours away from Gangtok. We reached Pelling in the evening and chilled there for the rest of the day.
Where We Stayed: Magpie The Chestnut Retreat Resort (Totally recommended)
The best part about my trip to Sikkim was how I could mountains everywhere I went and Pelling was an icing on the cake. You could see Kanchenjunga mountains from every nook and corner of Pelling (even from our room). Kanchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world. I woke up at 4 am to witness the first light falling on the snow clad peak of Kanchenjunga and it was so beautiful. Pelling was more of a chill spot for us. We visited Pemayangtse Monastery, a sanctuary near our hotel and Khecheopalri Lake.
Majority of the day was spent sitting in the balcony or some restaurant and watching the gigantic Kanchenjunga peak.
We left from Pelling early in the morning to go to Bagdogra airport. We had out flight at 1:30 pm. We could see Kanchenjunga mountains even from the plane as it took off from Bagdogra, aah what a view! We reached Mumbai in 3 and a half hours with memories that would never fade.
You can watch more about my trip here.
If you have any questions about my trip, leave them in the comments below.