By Neha Hegde
Here are some places to visit and cherish in the gateway of the Himalayas for all the travel enthusiasts who have Sikkim in their bucket list.
Once a year it is pleasing to go to places which you've never been to before. It is an adventurous therapy for your mind. A state embellished with snowy hills, lush forests, flora and fauna, sacred lakes, gentled streams, pristine waterfalls, and holy monasteries.
Although to reach Sikkim by air, there is no airport inside the state. The nearest airport lies in Bagdogra, West Bengal. The capital city of Sikkim, Gangtok is 124 kilometers from Bagdogra. It takes about 5 hours to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra by Cab or Bus service. As you enter, nature begins to smile. The tiniest yet the most exciting part of the journey through the north-eastern states are eating sizzling Wai-Wai and Maggie noodles on the roadside stalls witnessing snow-capped mountains.
The unique and restricted area, Nathula Pass will give you the true feeling of standing on the India-China border. It is a 2-hour journey from Gangtok. You need to take permission from District Headquarters in Gangtok the day before and not everybody will get it. Nathula is the trade border between India and China at an altitude of 14,140 ft above sea level. Photography is prohibited in this area as it is a military coverage area. It is covered with snow for most of the year, the gates open only in summer for trade, and the "Kailash Manasarovar" visitors. On the way to Nathula Pass, you can witness Tsomongo Lake, through the journey you will come through Yaks and food places on the valleys.
Lachen, a scenic village in the north of Sikkim. The 110km stretch from Gangtok is the hardest as the roads are narrower, water falling from every mountain onto the road, heavy vehicle density, and bridges that have no confidence in their existence. Permission to enter Lachen is necessary and this place is a completely no plastic zone. A huge carton with plastic bottles overflowing laid on the side just before entering Lachen.
This is the view of the great Kanchenjunga Mountain range in Sikkim taken in the morning at a freezing temperature. Wikimedia Commons
Next comes the Gurudongmar Lake situated at 17,800 ft is one of the highest lakes in the world. This place is frozen in winter, it is a beautiful lake with freezing water, snow-capped mountains, and sandy plains. On the way here, you can witness military camps with tankers and trucks parked inside. There are hoardings of "photography prohibited"
Another breath-taking experience is in Zero Point, Yumthang. The road to this runs parallel to the Teesta river on the valley, where every mountain has different trees. The assorted flowers in Sikkim make any person fall in love with them. On the way, Vehicles stop and people play in the snow. There are stalls of Maggie, liquor, light refreshments, and snacks.
It's recommended to spend your evening in Pelling Skywalk which is 4 hours away from Gangtok. A 137 ft Buddha on the top of a hill with a man-made glass-bottom bridge in the complex gives a skywalk view. Reaching the top to the Buddha and then till the Buddha's seat gives a magnificent view. The skywalk gives a completely different experience of looking down the bridge as you walk.
During your travel make sure you experience eating all the fresh and mouth-watering fruits like Plum or Aruchi in local terms, Litchis, Mandarin or Oranges, Apples, etc. The delicious and signature fast foods like Momos, Thukpas, Wai- Wai, etc will make your taste buds satisfied.
However, these are the few places which you can't miss when you're planning to visit Sikkim. There are other cultural centers, pleasing Monasteries, and much more to enjoy in Sikkim.