Grandeur of Sikkim and Darjeeling
14 Days/13 Nights
In this trip you will visit the remote North Sikkim district which is a restricted area and requires a special permit. North Sikkim borders on Tibet and is mostly untouched by the outside world. You will enjoy its superb natural beauty as well as witness the traditional lifestyle and culture of aboriginal Lepcha and Bhutiapeople.
For nature enthusiast’s northern Sikkim is a true paradise. Untouched rhododendron jungles, bloomingfrom May to June in riot of red, pink, yellow, purple and white and dispersing a concert of beautiful fragrances. The ever-present majestic mountains whose snowcapped peaks mark the border to Tibet surround the sparse Bhutias and Lepchassettlements of northern Sikkim.
You will take interesting walks, explore the countryside, visit monasteries and a nunnery, and visit traditional Lepcha and Bhutia families, giving you deep insights into the culture and traditions of Northern Sikkim’s Bhutias, as well as the opportunity to enjoy authentic Sikkimese cuisine.
In this tour you will visit the main attractions of Darjeeling and Sikkim, including monasteries, temples, viewpoints, and flower nurseries. You will ride the 100 year old British steam train, take walks through the local villages and drive through the famous tea plantations of the area.
Day 01: Arrive Darjeeling
Upon arrival at Bagdogra Airport, you are met by your guide and driven to Darjeeling (100km/65 miles. 3 ½ hrs). It’s a scenic drive through the coniferous forests and terraced tea plantations. Darjeeling, situated at an altitude of 2,134m, has moderate temperatures and was developed by the British as a Hill Resort in order to avoid the heat of summer. On a clear day, we can enjoy spectacular views of the Himalayas including the third highest mountain on earth, Kanchendzunga, which the Sikkim people regard as their guardian deity. Upon arrival, check in to the hotel and after arest, take a stroll in Chowrastha or town square.
Day 02: Darjeeling
We awake early in the morning and driven to Tiger Hill (11km/7 miles) for the sunrise and a magnificent mountain panorama view. Tiger hill (2590 m.) is the highest point in this area and famous for breathtaking sunrise view on Mount Kanchenjunga. Mount Everest (8,848)-the highest mountain in the world is also visible on a clear day. Return to the hotel and after breakfast; we embark on sightseeing of the highlights of Darjeeling. We visit the Mountaineering Institutewhich houses a considerable collection of items used by the early Everest explorers, and the Darjeeling Zoo housing several interesting Himalayan species including snow leopards and red pandas. Wetake a short train ride on the 120 year old steam train, the Darjeeling Hill Railway, and stop to visit the New Ghoom monastery. Overnight hotel in Darjeeling.
Day 03: Darjeeling to Pemayangtse (132km, 5 hrs)
Today we drive in the morning to Pemayangtse, a fascinating journey that winds through steep descent down through tea estates and across the river Teesta. We enter into west Sikkim winding along the river Rangitwith its panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga and the entire row of peaks. Check in to the hotel and after some rest, we pay a visit to the Pemayangtse monastery- one of the finest Monastery of Sikkim and the second oldest, built in 1716. It is an impressive and beautiful building which houses the unusual SangdokPalri "Temple of Heaven" which contains a wooden figure that took 7 years to carve single handedly by the late Dugzom. The monastery preserves the priceless Rinpoche. Overnight hotel in Pemayantse.
Day 04: Drive to Yuksom (22km, 3 hrs).
Early in the morning we trek to Sangacholing monastery where the sunrise over Kanchenjunga and the adjoining peaks can be seen on a clear day (optional).
Late morning, we leave for Yuksom-the first capital of Sikkim where the first Chogyal (king) of Sikkim was crowned on a stone throne, next to the Norbugang Monastery. Close to the throne, we can see the footprint of the Lama LatsumChenbo who consecrated the king. On the way to Yuksom, we visit Khecheopari Lake-the sacred Buddhist Mountain Lake-which has crystal clear waters. Local myth says that when a leaf falls on the placid crystal water of the lake, it’s picked up by a bird to keep the waters clean. The lake is also famous as a “wish fulfilling lake”. If you wish for something with a good heart by this lake, you will get it. Overnight in Yuksom..
Day 05: Yuksom to Martam
After breakfast we leave Pemayantse and drive towards Gangtok. About 9km before Gangtok, the road forks and we take a left towards Rumtek and Martam. It is a lovely drive as the road snakes through typical Sikkimese villages and a great many paddy fields. The entire area resembles a green carpet from July to Sep. Later, during Oct-Nov, which is the harvest season, the entire place is a sight to behold with golden paddy swaying in the breeze. From December onwards, the paddy is harvested and the hill takes on a brown hue. We arrive at Rumtek, which is about 12 km from the main highway. We stop here to visit the famous Rumtek Monastery which was built by the 16th Karmapa Lama-the supreme head of the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The 16th Karmapa, along with his followers, fled Tibet in 1959 after Chinese takeover of Tibet and built this monastery with the help of Sikkim’s Chogyal (king) TashiNamgyal to preserve the wealth of his lineage and house the spiritual treasures and relics. We also visit the Karma Nalanda Institute for higher Buddhist studies. After an hour in this monastery, we drive to the little village of Martam and check in a beautiful cottage resort. If you have still energy left, you can hike 10 minutes up to the hill just above the resort to visit a small monastery called Mani. The view from here is beautiful and you can see the Tinjure Hills looming over the charming paddy fields that make up Martam. Return to the cottage.
Day 06: Martam Village Walk and drive to Gangtok.
There is a small cluster of villages near the resort. We walk through the village and chat with the locals and learn more about their lifestyle. We also visit the St.Joseph's Convent School, which is quite successful and a lot of families have turned their homes into small hostels where the students stay. We return to the resort, bid farewell to the staff of the resort and drive to Gangtok-the capital of Sikkim. We retrace our drive and join the main road at Ranikhola. Gangtok-the capital of this lost Himalayan Kingdom lies on a ridge overlooking the Ranipool River. Gangtok which means a High Hill, lies at an altitude of 1760m. Upon arrival, check into the hotel and after some rest; we visit Tsuk-la-Khang, the royal chapel which is standing on a high ridge. This is a major place of worship and has a large and impressive collection of scriptures. We also visit the institute of cottage industries which is major attraction as a wide range of local handicrafts in Lepcha style are produced here. We also visit the There is a small cluster of villages near the resort. We walk through the village and chat with the locals and learn more about their lifestyle. We also visit the St.Joseph's Convent School, which is quite successful and a lot of families have turned their homes into small hostels where the students stay. We return to the resort, bid farewell to the staff of the resort and drive to Gangtok-the capital of Sikkim. We retrace our drive and join the main road at Ranikhola. Gangtok-the capital of this lost Himalayan Kingdom lies on a ridge overlooking the Ranipool River. Gangtok which means a High Hill, lies at an altitude of 1760m. Upon arrival, check into the hotel and after some rest; we visit Tsuk-la-Khang, the royal chapel which is standing on a high ridge. This is a major place of worship and has a large and impressive collection of scriptures. We also visit the institute of cottage industries which is major attraction as a wide range of local handicrafts in Lepcha style are produced here. We also visit the Enchey monastery which is believed to be 200 years old. The monks of this monastery belong to the Mahayana Buddhism.
Day 07: Gangtok Sightseeing
Today we visit the unique Research Institute of Tibetology on a hilltop, established in 1958 to promote research on Tibet and Mahayana Buddhism. Here we will see the largest collection of Tibetan scripts and an excellent collection of rare Thangka, bronze and cultural objects. We also visit Orchid Sanctuary which is south of the institute. This sanctuary contains over 450 indigenous orchid species. Sikkim is considered paradise for orchid lovers. After the visit to the sanctuary we walk through the bazaar of Gangtok.
Day 08: Gangtok to Lachung (115km, 6 hrs)
Today, we begin our drive to North Sikkim-the main focus of this trip. As we leave Gangtok, the road curves onto the Tashi View Point which offer fine views of 28,168 ft. Mount Khangchendzonga off to the northwest as well as a host of other high and largely unclimbed 6,000m peaks. The route continues to meander through villages and is flanked by fields until we reach the forest grove of KabiLongstok. At this place was the historic swearing of blood brotherhood between the Lepchas and Bhutias - an event which underlines the ethos of even present day Sikkim. Stone markers were erected to keep the promise alive and stand to this day. After the magnificence of Kabi, we arrive at the Karma Kagyu Monastery of Phodong built in 1740. The monastery is famous for the intricate murals that adorn its walls. Singhik comes next with its promise of one of the most glorious views of Khangchendzonga. For those with time, a half an hour's walk uphill takes one to an ancient monastery suspended in time.
Straddling the confluence of the Lachen and Lachung rivers liesChungthang, a small town full of legends. One such legend claims this to be the place from where the world Demazong (the Hidden Valley of Rice) first originated for Sikkim.
In the evening we arrive atLachung, one of the most exquisite valley towns, resplendent in its crown of snow-capped mountains, breathtaking waterfalls and sparkling streams. Situated at a height of 8,610ft., Lachung has been described as the "most picturesque village of Sikkim" by none other than Joseph Dalton Hooker in his definitive, The Himalayan Journal (1855).
Day 09: Yumthang Excursion
After breakfast we leave for Yumthang which lies very close to the Tibetan border, Yumthang is a unique place where the tree line ends, but rhododendrons and alpine and Primula flowers still bloom covering the whole area in a surreal shade during Spring. Yumthang is renowned for its Hot Spring, which is rich in sulfur. In fall and winter, you can enjoy the scenic and panoramic views of the valleys and surrounding mountain ranges with snow-capped peaks. Another hour's drive beyond Yumthang takes us to Yumesamdong (15,300 ft.), an area where the sweet fragrance of Azalea (a plant used as incense by locals) permeates the air. Heady, invigorating and exhilarating, but words still fail to explain the experience of being at Yumesamdong. We retrace our drive to Lachung in the late afternoon and visit its monastery and waterfalls.
Day 10: To Lachen (51km)
We retrace our drive to the confluence of the Lachen Chu &Lachung Chu Rivers at Chungthang and follow the road heading to Lachen. Lunch is served at Namok (A Wayside Inn). Lachen stands on a grassy flat surrounded by the pine-clad mountains with their snowy peaks and black cliffs. The village comprises of barely 150 houses. Earlier inhabitants used the homes only in winters and spent the summer on the alpine pastures along the Tibet border tending to their flock of yaks. Upon arrival, check in to the Gurudongmar Lodge.
Day 11: Thangu, Chopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake excursion (Subject to permission).
After breakfast we leave for ThanguandChopta Valley. Thangu valley occupies a very broad valley at the junction of the Thangu Chu, Chopta Chu, &Lassur Chu rivers. It is situated at an altitude of 14000ft. Both the valleys erupt in riots of colors in the months of June and July. In the months of December and January you can play in the snow or even walk across the meandering frozen Chopta River. If weather permits and permission is granted, we leave for Gurudongmar Lake (17,200ft). After spending half an hour to one hour there, we drive back to Lachen. Overnight at lodge.
Day 12: Return drive to Gangtok (120km, 6 hrs)
On the way if the weather is clear we may get to see mighty Khangchendzonga from Singhik. Upon arrival at Gangtok, check in hotel and take rest.
Day 13: Drive to Kalimpong:
After breakfast, we leave for Kalimpong (2 hrs). The road winds its way along the hillside following the Teesta River and passes through some of the most beautiful villages in the region. Kalimpong is a bustling and rapidly growing town, though relatively small. It is set amongst the rolling foothills and deep valleys of the Himalayas. The culture and lifestyle of locals reflect the influences of neighboring Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Check in to the hotel and after some rest, embark on a tour of the highlights of Kalimpongincluding Dr. Graham's Home, started in 1900 by a Scottish missionary, Dr. John Anderson Graham, who along with his wife, dedicated their lives in building up this beautiful complex for the education and care of orphans. We also visitThapaCholing monastery- which houses a library of Tibetan manuscripts and Tankhas. It belongs to the yellow Hat sect. We will also visit the Thongsa monastery and DurpinDara the highest point in Kalimpong with superb views of the rollingplains down to Siliguri. Overnight at hotel.
Day 14: Kalimpong - Bagdogra (about 80 km) - New Delhi (by air)
In the morning we drive through the wild Teesta valley to Bagdogra. In the afternoon we drive to the airport for the flight to New Delhi or Kolkatta or to Kathmandu.
- Trip Duration: 14 Days
- Difficulty Level: Sikkim and Darjeeling Classic Circuits
- Accomodation: Hotels, resorts and lodges
- Activities: Toy train ride, Hiking, Visiting monasteries and temples, Village visits
- Trip Starts In: Bagdogra
- Trip Finishes In: Bagdogra
- Best Time for Travel: October to May
3 meals a day
All transfers and sightseeing by private vehicle
English speaking local guide.
Sightseeing admission fees
Necessary inner line permits
Airfares to and out of Bagdogra.
Extra expenses caused due to nature and unforeseen events
Toy train experience in Darjeeling
Ghoom Monastery and Mountaineering Institutes
Yuksom-the first capital of Sikkim
Rumtek Monastery-the principal seat of Karmapa outside Tibet.
Martham Village-a typical Sikkimese Village.
Enchey Monastery, Institute of Tibetology, Orchid Garden etc in Gangtok.
Forest grove of Kabi Longstok and Phodong Monastery.
Lachung, Yumthang Valley, Lachen, Thangu, Chopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake
Dr. Graham’s Home, Durbin Dara Monastery and flower nurseries in Kalimpong.
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