Information about travel to Sikkim

A former Kingdom and a fascinating Himalayan Jewel, Sikkim is situated in Eastern Himalayas spreading below Mount Kanchenjunga (8,534m), the third highest mountain in the world. Lying between 27 to 28 degree North latitude and 88 to 89 degree East longitude, it is barely 7,096 sq. km in size yet has an elevation ranging from 224 m to 8,540 m above sea level in a distance of 110 km from North to South and 64 km from East to West. The state’s about 64 km width is squeezed between the mountainous kingdoms of Bhutan and Nepal to the east and west respectively. The high plateau of Tibet lies 40 km to the north India’s and state of Bengal to its south.

The various ethnic group has their own nomenclature for this enchanting land – the Nepalese call it Sukhim or new home, while Tibetans refer to it as Denzong or the valley of rice and to the Lepchas, the original inhabitants of Sikkim, it is Nye-al-Ale or heaven.

Shrouded in heavy mist, the guardian deity Kanchenjunga protects the inhabitants of Sikkim. Omnipresent and mystical, Kanchenjunga finally yields to nature’s power and sheds its monsoon veil in autumn. Sikkimese celebrate this re-awakening with great pomp and ceremony during the Pang Lhabsol festival. Locals belief that great god created, from beneath the slope of this sacred mountain, the original man and woman from whom all Sikkimese descended.

Sikkim is conveniently divided into four regions – east, west, north and south. The most populated area is the eastern part which includes the capital town of Gangtok, followed by southern and western districts and finally the sparsely populated northern area with its inhospitable climate and steep ridges.

By Air plane

Nearest airport for Sikkim is Bagdogra, near Siliguri in North Bengal, which is 124 km and approximately four hours drive from Gangtok. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, Go Air etc. service Bagdogra linking it with other major airport in India (including Guwahati). Druk Air flys twice weekly from Bangkok, stopping in Bagdogra before continuing to Paro in Bhutan. You can also take a helicopter from Bagdogra to Gangtok.

By train

Construction of a 50-km rail link from Sevoke, West Bengal to Rangpo, Sikkim started in 2009, but is not expected to be ready until 2015, and it’ll take another few years until it reaches another 40 km to Gangtok.
Meanwhile, the nearest railway stations are Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri. Both of these have a number of trains connecting them to Kolkata. You should be able to get pre-paid taxis to Gangtok outside the railway stations easily.

By bus

The Sikkim government has fixed rate (and fixed schedule) buses plying between Siliguri and Gangtok.After 44 years of closure, the Nathu La pass to Tibet, China – a part of the historic Silk Road – opened again in July 2006. There are plans for a Gangtok-Lhasa bus service.

TREKKING IN SIKKIM

Kanchendzonga Trek

Day 01 : Arrive Siliguri / Bagdogra / New Jalpaiguri – Darjeeling (85 km, 3 hours)
Meeting & assistance on arrival and transfer to Darjeeling. Overnight at the hotel in Darjeeling.

Day 02 : Darjeeling – Gangtok (98 km, 4.1/2 hours)
Early morning drive to Tiger Hill for sunrise view of Mt. Kanchendzonga and the great Eastern Himalaya. Then visit Yiga-Choling Monastery at Ghoom which enshrines the statue of Maitreya Buddha.

After breakfast, visit Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the house of Late Tenzing Norgay, the sherpa who first climbed Mt. Everest with Edmund Hillary in 1953. Then visit Natural History Museum, Lloyd Botanical Garden established in 1878 and the Zoo, specializing in high altitude species.
Afternoon drive to Gangtok for overnight stay.

Day 03 : Gangtok
This morning, the tour begins with the visit of Rumtek Monastery. Later visit Do-drul Chorten, Enchey Monastery, Government Institute of Cottage Industries and Research Institute of Tibetology. Overnight at the hotel in Gangtok.

Day 04 : Gangtok – Tashiding
Drive to Tashiding Monastery (7 hours), through beautiful contryside. Tashiding Monastery belonging to Nyingmapa order of Tibetan Buddhism was built in 1717 and lies nestled on the top of a hill that looms up between the Rathong river and the Rangit river. Overnight camp at Tashiding.

Day 05 : Tashiding – Yuksom
Morning visit to Tashiding monastery. The chortens of Tashiding are deemed to be extremely holy. The central one is considered to be the holiest one of all and is said to cleanse its beholder of all sins and is known as Saviour by mere sight. After lunch a drive of one and a half hour brings you to Yuksom, the site of first Chogyal (Monarch) of Sikkim’s enthronement. Overnight camp at Yuksom.

Day 06 : Yuksom – Tshoka
From Yuksom the trek trail runs north and undulates through forests of oak, walnut and cedar. After an hour walk, the climb begins. A four hours walk on a path lined with tall trees, brings you to Bakhim. One hour further and you are at Tshoka, a small village for overnight camp. In a distance of 16 km from Yuksom to Tshoka, the altitude gain is from 5,850 ft. to 9,000 ft.

Day 07 : Tshoka – Dzongri
Today’s trail passes through a wonderland of tangled rhododendron branches and misshapen firs draped in spanish moss and during May, between Tshoka and Dzongri, the hillsides are painted in all colour of the rainbow as different varieties of flowers are in bloom. After lunch, the trail continues climbing steeply to Deorali and then descends slightly to Dzongri. Overnight camp at Dzongri.

Day 08 : Dzongri
Early morning climb Dzongri peak (one hour) for an unforgettable sunrise over the Kanchendzonga range. Then set off for Lakshmi Pokhari, an alpine lake, at the base of black Kabur, a jagged which is a challenge for the rock climber. Overnight camp at Dzongri.

Day 09 : Dzongri – Bikbari
At Dzongri, the bridle path ends and bifurcates into two footpaths – one leading to the Base Camp and other to the Goechela pass. Follow the pass leading to the Kanchendzonga Base and camp at Bikbari.

Day 10 : Bikbari
After an early breakfast take along your packed lunch and proceed to Base Camp where the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling conducts a training centre. Climb to various viewpoints for Magnificent close up views of Ratong Glacier, Frey Peak, Dome Peak, Koktang Kabru and Ratong peaks. Return to Bikbari for overnight camp.

Day 11 : Bikbari – Dzongri – Thangsing
Return to Dzongri. From Dzongri the path goes over the east shoulder of Dzongri peak and crosses rambling terrain descending into a rhododendron forest ending at the edge of a broad rocky river bed. Cross the wooden bridge and after traversing a beautiful fir forest follow the creaked to Thangsing at the bottom of a long glacial valley. Overnight camp at Thangsing.

Day 12 : Thangsing – Samity
Morning free. After lunch, a three hours walk will take you to Samity. The walk is on lateral moraine of a gigantic glacier crossing high grasslands, passing through a valley, the both sides of which are mountains. Camp close to an emerald coloured glacial lake.

Day 13 : Samity – Thangsing

Day 14 : Return to Tshoka via Phedang. The trail is through rhododendron and fir forests weaving in and out through countless stream canyons and tangles of rocks. Overnight camp at Tshoka.

Day 15 : Trek to Yuksom where your transport for Pemayangtse will be waiting for you. Overnight at the hotel in Pemayangtse.

Day 16 : Pemayangtse – Siliguri
Visit the monastery at Pemayangtse meaning ‘The Sublime Lotus’ and signifies purity. Go upstairs to see encased in ceiling high glass a seven lever wooden pagoda structure of exquisite intricacy depicting paradise – Zangthopalri (the celestial palace of the Guru Rinpoche).
After lunch a six hours drive will bring you to Siliguri for overnight stay.

Day 17 : Siliguri Depart
Drive to Bagdogra airport or New Jalpaiguri Railway Station for onward journey.

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Himalayan Splendour

Day 01: Arrival at Bagdogra Airport then 3 hrs drive to Darjeeling. Overnight at the hotel in Darjeeling

Day 02: Darjeeling. Early morning excursion to Tiger Hill and Ghoom Monastery. After breakfast visit Himalayan Mountaineering Inst., Zoological Park, Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre and local bazaar. Afternoon explore the surrounding areas on foot. Overnight at the hotel in Darjeeling

Day 03: Darjeeling / Ghoom Toy Train ride. Rest of the day at leisure for acclimatization.. Overnight at the hotel in Darjeeling.

Day 04: Visit to Happy Valley Tea Estate , Botanical Garden, Dhirdham Temple and Aloobari Monastery on foot. Overnight at the hotel in Darjeeling.

Day 05: Transfer Darjeeling / Gangtok. Noon at leisure. Overnight at the hotel in Gangtok.

Day 06: Morning excursion to Rumtek Monastery and Institute of Tibetology. Afternoon visit Cottage industry, Enchey Monastery, Flower Show and local bazaar. Overnight at the hotel in Gangtok.

Day 07: After early breakfast full day excursion to Tashi View Point/ Phondong and Labrang Monastery. Overnight at the hotel in Gangtok.

Day 08: Transfer Gangtok / Pemayangtse enroute stop at the TEMI TEA ESTATE. Overnight at the hotel in Pemayangtse.

Day 09: After breakfast visit Pemayangtse Monastery and Sangha Choling Monastery . Overnight at the hotel in Pemayangtse.

Day 10: Transfer Pemayangtse / Yaksum via Kechipalri Lake Overnight camp.

Day 11: Trek Yaksum to Bakhim ( alt 3000 m.( Walking time approx 6 hrs). Overnight Camp.

Day 12: Trek Bakhim / Dzongri ( alt 4100 m) Walking time 6 hrs. Overnight Camp.

Day 13: Full day explore Dzongri. Overnight Camp.

Day 14: Trek Dzongri / Thangsing ( Alt 4000 m) Walking time 5 hrs. Overnight Camp.

Day 15: Trek Thangsing / Samity ( alt 4200 m) Walking time approx. 5 hrs. Overnight camp.

Day 16: Trek Samity/ Go-Che-La / Samity. ( Alt 4900 m) Walking time 6/ 7 hrs. Overnight camp.

Day 17; Trek Samity / Kokchiring. ( Alt 3500 m) Walking time 4 hrs. Overnight Camp.

Day 18: Trek Kokchiring / Tshoka ( Alt 3000 m) Walking time approx. 6 hrs. Overnight Camp.

Day 19: Trek Tshoka / Yoksom ( Alt 1800 m) Walking time 7 hrs. Overnight Camp.

Day 20 Transfer Yoksom / Kalimpong. Approx. 6 hours drive. Overnight at the hotel in Kalimpong.

Day 21: Morning visit the Kalimpong Bazaar as today is a special market day. Afternoon visit the Zangdhogpalriphodong Monastery and Orchid Sanctuary. Overnight at the hotel in Kalimpong.

Day 22: Visit the Violin Concert at Gandhi Ashram School . Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at the hotel in Kalimpong.

Day 23: Transfer Kalimpong / Bagdogra airport for onward journey.