It was around nine years ago that we had travelled to Sikkim. As a young couple, we were really excited to go to this popular tourist attraction in the North East of India and explore its scenic beauty. Given that I come from Chandigarh, which lies in the foothills of Shivaliks, I have always loved hill-stations. And as is known, the best part of going to hill stations is that one has to traverse through roads. So three days of road trip it was for us.
Because as youngsters we were impulsive travelers, we didn’t want to kill the adventure by making advance bookings. I know you might think how foolish of us. But we had our research in place and figured that due to the off-season in August we would not have too much of a problem getting a hotel booking. And so we made a list of 3-4 hotels and resorts and decided to explore each of them before finalizing a booking on arrival. Some of the resorts that we on our list were Summit Golden Crescent Resort Hotel, Club Mahindra, The Elgin Nor-Khill , The Orange Resort. Personally I had loved The Orange resort, (with its cottages that overlooked the dense forests down the hill) but the husband wanted to stay somewhere closer to the main city. And thus Club Mahindra too was struck off. We finally zeroed in on The Elgin Nor-khill.
The Mall Road
Every hill-station, yes every hill-station has a mall road, which makes up for the main tourist hub of the centre of the city. We spent our evenings through all three days on the mall road. It is a good place to buy souvenirs and gifts for yourself and your family. The restaurants here are good and cater to multiple cuisines. Our favorite was one joint called Shanghai. It helped that the owner was actually a Punjabi and we were treated with a complementary Chinese Tea on a cold Gangtok evening.
We went to Gangtok in the month of August and thus the onset of monsoons caused a continuous drizzling around the clock, which made the weather absolutely how I like it. The one in which we were able to roam around for hours on the mall road without getting wet, but the feather light droplets on your face did wonders to our tired spirits. Yes we had been tired from the day long roads trips. All three days.
Other Attractions To Be Covered In And Around Gangtok
This one is around 20km from Gangtok and is one of the most picturesque monasteries in the state. We learned that it is also the one preferred by a lot of bollywood filmmakers for shooting. I think, its large and open premise has a lot to do with this decision.
By Subhrajyoti07 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69435942
In close proximity to the Lingdum Monastery, Rumtek Monastery makes for another eye pleasing view. This 3-storied monastery needs you to walk half a kilometer to its entrance. It has a very scenic botanical garden alongside, which I think will be extremely appreciated by nature lovers and kids (for its well maintained colorful topography)
By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40240416
Banjhakri Falls and Energy Park
This is a recreation centre near Gangtok. Our cab-driver was very enthusiastic about us visiting the park and getting clicked in the traditional outfit of Sikkim.
This is the world’s tallest statue of the Buddhist Guru Padmasambhava. This one is near Namchi, South Gangtok. The statue is visible from quite far away and makes for a majestic view. We were in awe of the architecture and design of the entire premise which had a monastery beneath the statue. From the front of the premise, one could spot Chardham.
By Subhrajyoti07 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69748835
The Sri Siddheshwar Temple, popularly known as the Chardham holds the replicas of the actual Char Dhams of India (for the uninitiated they are the Kedarnath, Dwarka, Rameshwaram and Puri). For someone like me, who has no hope of ever making it to any of these places (for my sheer lack of enthusiasm for too many pilgrimages) this place has a novelty factor. And with a gigantic statue of Lord Shiva to overlook the rest of the structures this place did tickle my spiritual muscles.
By Ankit Darsi – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51941341
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
If you are fond of walking down the lanes and by lanes of history (which we both are, only to a little extent) you will enjoy spending time at this museum. But the spiritual me has to confess that the air around this place really is extremely calming and does wonders to your spirits.
By KaranKapoor1314 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49235001
Sikkim Handicraft And Handloom Emporium
Now this is the kind of place I really love. With real people at real work creating pieces of artwork and handloom, the section that made paper from recycled paper and cloth in process were a major draw for me. We spent a good 3 hours in that place. My husband though was a little perplexed at how I was jumping around in awe like a kid.
The Mysterious Hill Top Resort Near Ravangla
Now this is an experience that the husband and I laugh over till date. So we had hired a cab right from the Siliguri station for the duration of our stay in Gangtok. And the cab driver promised us that he would take us to all the most coveted tourist attractions during our stay there. Which I have to give credit to him, he did. On our last one day, while driving back from Namchi South Sikkim, we thought that we should stay at a different place than The Elgin Nor-khill, so he drove us through to Ravangla (which is also South Sikkim) and took on a up-hill route. The route I must tell you was hardly a lane made due to repetitive traversing of vehicles. And at the end of very spooky 2 km we reached a hill top resort. Not one soul was visible, in the huge premise that had cottages sprinkled around at distance. The allofness of the place sent a chill down my spine. I still persisted and asked to see the arrangements for dinner and breakfast. One lone man came over to us, “I am the only person taking care of this place right now. And I can only provide you with Maggi or may be Wai-Wai and some tea.” I and my husband exchanged looks and decided to drop the adventurous stay and descended down to go back to our previous hotel.
We figured that the resort was a hit with foreign travelers, who spent the entire winters doing ‘Stuff’ there. And we also figured that our driver had relatives (in-laws (sasural), to be specific) in Ravangla and was extremely dis-heartened by our decision to head back to Gangtok, for obvious reasons ofcourse.
By avishek ghosh – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19379654
So, this was our stay in Sikkim in a jist. A couple of more pointers for you, if you are visiting Gangtok.
When you are in a North East hill station, you are bound to come across tea plantations. So did we. And we took a break, and enjoyed a sumptuous cup of green tea while absorbing the beauty of large expanses of the Tea Plantation Gardens.
During winters, you might be lucky to come across snow or even a snow fall. Pelling in Northern Sikkim is known to be the Switzerland of the East. You might as well wish to make a day trip there.
We skipped the Nathula Pass, for one I wasn’t too enthusiastic about dedicating one full day to travel by bus to have a sight of snow. But if you decide to go, you need to get your pass done by submitted your photograph and identification documents a day in advance.
Sikkim, will always be a special trip for me, as it is the lone trip to a hill station that we have taken alone as a couple. Thereafter, Shimla, Chail and Dharamshala.Mcleodganj have all happened with family and kids. Tell me in the comments, if you found this travelogue useful. OR also if you have more places to visit to add to this list. Because I am sure to make another trip to Sikkim a couple of years down the line with the kids.
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