The east of India is all about rich cultural and scenic experiences. From snow-capped mountains to lush green valleys to colourful tribes, there is so much to see and so much to fall in love with. Sikkim and Darjeeling are two of the most visited tourist destinations in the east of India. While Sikkim is known for its snowy mountains and glacial lakes, Darjeeling is famous for the sprawling tea gardens and Buddhist monasteries. However, the one thing which is common when it comes to both these places is that they are both enchantingly beautiful and captivating.
So, let us know more about the natural and divine beauty of Sikkim and Darjeeling!
- Tsomgo Lake
The word ’Tsomgo’ literally means ‘source of water’. Tsomgo Lake, around 40 km from Gangtok, is a glacial lake which is situated at an altitude of 12, 310 feet. It is also known by the name of Changu Lake. One of the most visited high-altitude lakes in India, Tsomgo Lake is nothing short of visual delight for the onlookers. Known to change colour during different seasons, it is a must-visit on your Sikkim trip. While the lake remains frozen in winters, it is surrounded by flowers in summer and exudes an enticing charm.
- Nathula Pass
Also known as the ‘Silk Route’ once upon a time, Nathula Pass is situated at an astounding altitude of 4,310 m above the sea level. Located on Indo-China border, it was referred to as ’Silk Route’ as it was the connecting route for silk traders of Tibet and Sikkim. The passage was, however, closed in the year 1962. The pass is particularly enjoyable for trekkers as they get to witness and experience the stunning beauty of Himalayan ranges. It is also well-known for the abundance of wildlife and vegetation. The drive up to Nathula Pass is absolutely mesmerising as you get to see snowy mountains and glacial lakes at close quarters.
Lachung is a quaint mountain village in Sikkim that is sure to make you fall in love with its surreal beauty. One of the most exciting things you can do here is to go trekking to Yumthang Valley, which is popularly called the ‘valley of flowers’. You can find the most colourful and enchanting flowers here, including rhododendron. To find more of them, you need to visit the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary which is a bioreserve. If you are a flora lover, you will be mesmerised by the beauty of rhododendrons in full bloom. Some of the other must-visit places here are Zero Point, Gurudongmar Lake and Mount Katao.
If you are a mountain lover, then Pelling is the place you must visit on your Sikkim trip. It is situated at a height of 1,900 m and you can get the most amazing view of the Kanchenjunga Peak and the Himalayas from here. Besides these two, you can also get beautiful views of other mountain ranges such as Koktang, Kabru Dom, Pandim and many more.
More places to visit in Sikkim- Yoksom, M.G. Marg in Gangtok, Rumtek Monastery and Ravangla.
- Tiger Hill
Standing at a height of 2,590 m, Tiger Hill is the highest point in Darjeeling from where you can view the snow-peaked Eastern Himalayan Ranges in their full glory. If you love photography and have no problem getting up early in the morning, then you must visit Tiger Hill before sunrise to witness a spectacular view of the Kanchenjunga peak. Besides Kanchenjunga, you can also capture the beauty of other peaks such as Mt. Everest, Rathong and Kabru.
- Ghoom Monastery
The Ghoom Monastery was built by Larna Sherab Gyatso in 1875 and is known to be the largest monastery in Ghoom. It is considered to be one of the best Buddhist pilgrimage places in Darjeeling and is situated 8 km from the main town. Apart from the prayer hall, the central attraction here is Maitreya Buddha’s 15 feet high statue. It also has many pictures of the disciples of
Buddha, along with texts related to Buddhism. If you are a food lover, you will love the momo and thukpa outside the monastery.
- The Himalayan Railway Station
The Himalayan Railway, also popularly known as the Toy Train, was built between the time of 1879 and 1881 and it runs from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling. The Railway Station is a lovely destination to visit as it overlooks scenic beauty all around and has been rightly given the status of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (only the second railway to get this honour). It has also been used to shoot a number of films and documentaries.
- Happy Valley Tea Estate
How can you go on a Darjeeling trip and not visit the famous Happy Valley Tea Estate? Darjeeling is famous all over the world for the sweet flavour of Darjeeling tea and this very tea estate is the oldest in the region. If you are interested in seeing the plucking process, do visit between March and May. Situated at a distance 3 km from the main town, it is nothing short of a paradise for tea and nature lovers who get to feel the aura of this place along with the refreshing scent of Darjeeling tea in the air.
More places to visit in Darjeeling- Batasia Loop, Rock Garden, Peace Pagoda and Samten Choling Monastery.
It’s hard to describe the scenic places of Sikkim and Darjeeling in one article, but we have made an attempt to give you a basic idea of what to expect when you go there. These two places are known all over India for their alluring charm and beauty and you need to visit them at least once in life to get lost in their magic and bliss.