by - December 09, 2017

Day 1

I took a flight to Kolkata from Hyderabad and then made use of the airport shuttle service to reach Howrah. I had a few hours until the departure of my train to Sikkim from Howrah, so I went around the city a little. After I spent some time visiting the two main bridges on Hooghly, Howrah and Vidyasagar Setu, I took the ferry across Hooghly to reach the station on time to catch my train.

Day 2

I reached NJP station in the morning. There are shared jeeps available from right outside the railway station to reach Sikkim. The route is very scenic but pretty bumpy and it took about 4-5 hours to reach Gangtok. After checking into the hotel, I spent the rest of the day at M.G Marg, and arranging for my tour to North Sikkim.

Day 3

There are many places to spend time at, in and around Gangtok. You can easily get taxis arranged from one of the tourist offices in MG Marg, or simply walk into the taxi stand that is very close to MG Marg, and ask for one. There are standard one-day or half-day sightseeing tours to choose from. I took the one day tour and covered Bakthang waterfall, Tashi view point, Flower show, Botanical garden, Lingdum monastery, Ganesh Tok, Ropeway, Namgyal institute of Tibetology, Do Drul Chortan.

Day 4

I had already arranged for a 2N/3D tour to North Sikkim with a tour operator at MG Marg. They take care of travel (mostly in a shared jeep with other tourists), food, stay, and permits. Considering the bad roads and the hassle involved to obtain permits, this is best done via a tour operator. Since I was planning to return back to the same hotel in Gangtok after the tour, I left my luggage there and carried only the things essential for the 3 day trip with me. This was the first day of the tour and we spent it travelling from Gangtok to Lachen and got to see the Seven Sisters' waterfall en route. This is not an easy journey since the roads are bad throughout and you can expect delays due to landslides. But considering the splendid views all through the journey, it is totally worth taking. It was sundown by the time we reached our hotel in Lachen.

Day 5

We started early in the morning at 4 AM towards Gurudongmar Lake. Again, the roads are bad but the views make it worth the effort. We reached there by around 10 AM and a beautiful snowfall welcomed us. It is usually very cold and windy up there and you will not spend more than 15 minutes near the lake due to low oxygen levels. Make the best use of the little time you get here, this place is as pristine as pristine can get. We then returned back to our hotel, and soon left for Lachung and spent the night there. Both Lachen and Lachung are small towns and the stays are pretty modest home stays.

Day 6

We first went to Zero point to witness a stunning snow-covered emptiness where you look like a speck of dust on a white sheet of paper. Let your inner child run wild in the emptiness to your heart's content. The next stop was Yumthang valley, where river Teesta flows through, flanked by a bed of flowers on both sides. After spending some time at both these places, we made a short stop at our hotel, and then left for Gangtok. It was night by the time I reached my hotel in Gangtok.

Day 7

I made a day trip to Tsomgo lake and Nathu la. You need permits for these as well and most drivers can arrange this for you.

Day 8

I took a day tour to Namchi in South Sikkim and visited Temi tea garden, Samdruptse monastery and Char Dham before returning back to Gangtok by evening. I spent the rest of the evening (and many other evenings whenever I had some extra time) at the lively MG Marg.

Day 9

I hired a taxi for the day and first went to Rumtek monastery. It turned out to be a lucky day, I got to see the Cham dance, a traditional Buddhist dance form, along with localites. I then went to Ban Jhakri falls and spent some time. I made the last stop at the Himalayan zoo before returning back to my hotel in Gangtok.

Day 10

I checked out and left early to catch a bus to Siliguri. Again, the roads are bad and you can expect a landslide anytime to set you back in time. So leave earlier than usually required. On reaching Siliguri, I took an auto to Bagdogra and then flew back to Hyderabad via Kolkata.

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