Hemmed by Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal, this North Eastern state holds its own on account of its distinct personality. From dramatic valleys and picturesque lakes to snow capped mountains, Sikkim will wrap your soul in nature and leave you wanting for more.
We chose November because it’s that beautiful time where ‘Winter is Coming’ but not yet come. So, you get to experience the snow but just enough so that you are still warm.
We took a train from Kolkata to NJP or you can fly to Bagdodra from any major city in India. Though trains let you experience India in a way that flights can’t. Standing at the door, staring at the endless fields and small towns, passing stations with funny names and waving back at little kids. The small joys of life 🙂
From NJP we hopped on to the jeep where the group was waiting for us and drove to Gangtok. It’s around 5-6 hours by road. We had come with The Doi Host and couldn’t be happier that we chose to travel with them. Subba Daju who drove us around Sikkim was a firepower and kept us in splits with his antics and infectious energy.
Gangtok is a base camp even if you are not a trekker. It’s where everyone starts their Sikkim trip.
We stayed the night at Tag Along Backpackers hostel. With a cozy cafe and tastefully designed rooms, this was a great beginning to our trip.
Gangtok to Lachung
While in Sikkim, we learnt to enjoy the long drives and bumpy roads. With an amazing playlist (Thanks to Sambit from The Doi Host), we turned on the music, rolled down the window and enjoyed the drive.
Gangtok to Lachung was a 4 hour drive where we crossed bridges, rivers and prayer flags. We stopped for a while, clicked a few pictures and made a wish.
We then stopped at Kabi Lungchok, it’s a small place with great historic significance. This is where the original inhabitants of Sikkim, the Lepchas and the Bhutias signed the treaty of blood brotherhood. They invoked the spirits of the valley as a witness and swore to brotherhood as long as the Kanchenjunga snows and the river flows.
Then we made a quick stop at Labrang monastery at Tumblong – historically the 3rd capital of the kingdom of Sikkim. This Buddhist Shrine is quite unique retaining its original architecture which is a mix of Tibetan and Indian style.
Homestay In Lachung, Sikkim
What a pleasure it was to arrive at Lachungpa homestay in Bichu Village at Lachung! Dorjee, our host, was there to greet us and show us around. He was so warm and friendly and took care of the smallest requests from us. The homestay was a little further from the main Lachung area which made it quiet and peaceful. It was rustic and cozy with an amazing view.
We all hustled into the kitchen to get ourselves warm. Dorjee’s mom was making us hot, scrumptious momos. Delighted, we asked her if we could help too and spent the rest of the day chatting with Dorjee about life in Lachung, exchanging stories and making memories.
The next morning, as I looked out of my room window, I was mesmerized. It felt like the snow had gently wrapped itself around the mountains. I could have stayed there forever but the plan was to visit Zero point and so we began.
Yumthang Valley in Sikkim
The road to Zero Point is where you will drive along Yumthang Valley. Yumthang valley is nature’s paradise. In every season it is completely different but stunningly beautiful. Also called the Valley of Flowers, it’s home to over 25 species of Rhododendron. To see the valley of flowers in all its glory, it’s best to visit in Summer.
In November we see autumn receding and winter setting in, which made for a beautiful site with splashes of autumn colours of red and yellow amidst the snowy peaks of mountains.
And in Winter it’s a Disney-esque drive through the snow.
Whatever season it may be, just stop here and wonder about nature’s bounty.
Shortly after, at an altitude of 15,300 feet with slight winds and a temperature of 4 degrees we were at Zero Point. This is where civilization ends and at a short distance, China begins.
If you ask me what does one do at Zero Point, the answer is nothing much. But if you ask me how did it make you feel and what was the experience like, I could go on and on. So ask your mind to take some rest and just breath, feel the moment. Let every other sense of your body experience the place.
Lachung to Lachen
It was around a 2 hour drive from Lachung to Lachen. On the way we stopped at the Teesta river and just lazed around.
We had an unexpected stop at Chumthang, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. One of our friends wanted to go to the Gurudwara there to pay her respects and we ended up having langaar for lunch. Extremely humbled by the love and generosity we received.
Homestay In Lachen and Gurudongmar Lake
By evening we arrived at Lhakim homestay, where after being greeted by our host Dathup, we were taken straight to the warmest corner of his home, the kitchen. What a lovely kitchen, it was so artistically done with the cutlery and furniture and earthen furnace that it kept drawing us to it throughout our stay. Suffice to say that we spent a lot of our time in this beautiful kitchen.h
It was such a delight to spend time with Dathup’s mom, she still makes hand woven blankets from walnut dyes. They showed us her blanket collection and I was in love. I have a weakness for anything handmade.
The home cooked meal by aunty was simple and yummy. It was the perfect complement to the cold weather and constant road drives. Just made our day, each day 🙂
Because you need to pass through the Army area, only Indian Tourists get permits to visit the lake.
We started at 5:00am and it took us around 3 hours to reach. The lake closes by noon due to the high winds and hence you need to start early.
Once we reached the lake, I just stood and stared in awe. It’s nothing like anything I’ve seen before. No picture does justice to actually being there. The blue colour of the sky, the snow capped mountains encircling the lake, the crystal clear icy water of the lake and the prayer flags fluttering in the wind. I was just absorbed by the place.
At an altitude of 18,000 feet, Gurudongmar is amongst the highest lakes in the world.
On our way back we stopped for a hot beverage and momos at the army cafe, the highest cafe in India. They also had a small store selling merchandise and the walls were filled with stickers and pictures of biker groups, travel groups and individuals who ever passed from there.
Back to Base
The 7th day we came back to Gangtok. We spent the last day visiting Enchey Monastery, chilling at Rachna book store, walking down mall road and playing Cards vs Humanity at the hostel. A lovely end to an amazing trip.
While we visit most places for history, nature and scenery it’s the people we meet and the stories we share that we take back with us. Homestays have a warmth and character that I will always remember. Conversations and laughter that will always stay with me. Homestays are little gems that give you a local experience. BNB Nation curates such homestay experiences all around India.
About the Author
Khadija is an enthusiastic traveller, passionate artist and digital marketer. She loves to explore new places at her own pace, spend time with the locals and walk off the beaten track.