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3 Offbeat Destinations in Sikkim—Ravangla, Zuluk, and Gnathang

Updated on June 7, 2020
Prantika Samanta profile image

Educated as a microbiologist, trained as an editor, a quintessential nomad soul grounded to the earth. Loves anything that touches her soul

Vacationing in the Lap of Nature

If the lesser known roads beckon you or the thrill of unknowns fascinate you, head out to Sikkim that has many offbeat vacation destinations.

These locations are ideal for spending a few days amidst lakes and mountains far away from the fast-paced city life and reviving the soul.

Sikkim is a northeastern state in India blessed with abundance of nature. Bordering with Tibet in the north and northeast, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west, and the state of West Bengal in the south, it is also close to India's Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh.

The thrill of getting a glimpse of Mount Kangchenjunga, the third highest peak on Earth, and the highest peak in India, is indescribable.

Offbeat Destinations in Sikkim

Whether you would intend to meditate, indulge in spirituality, or explore the land, these destinations in Sikkim would not disappoint you.

These three offbeat destinations boast breathtaking views and are dominated by serenity and tranquility:

1. Ravangla

2. Zuluk

3. Gnathang Valley

1. Ravangla

If you prefer to escape to mountains, listen to the whispers of the lush greenery, soak in the nature, and rekindle your spirit, Namchi and Ravangla in South Sikkim must be in your wish list.

These places are away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the perfect choice for unwinding. If you are yearning to spend some quiet moments with nature, these places help you fulfill your wishes.

My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.

— Claude Monet
Buddha Park, Ravangla, South Sikkim
Buddha Park, Ravangla, South Sikkim

Places to Visit in Ravangla

1. Buddha Park

The park is also known as Tathagata Tsal and leaves a long lasting impression because of its location amidst the mountains and greenery and the serenity.

The park has a 130 feet high statue of Buddha in the sitting position, seven bowls of water, a conclave, and a museum meditation center with a meditation hall.

The museum has a spiral gallery that depicts the life of Lord Gautama Buddha.

The carvings on the platform on which Lord Buddha's statue is placed is an artistic marvel.

The statue of Gautam Buddha and the beautiful design
The statue of Gautam Buddha and the beautiful design
The enchanting view of Buddha Park with snow-clad mountains in the backdrop
The enchanting view of Buddha Park with snow-clad mountains in the backdrop

Ravangla or Rabong is a small township in South Sikkim located at an altitude of around 7,000 feet above the sea level.

More About Buddha Park

While strolling in the park, enjoy the mesmerizing view of the idyllic surrounding and the calm ambience that add to the beauty of the place. The lush green park is quite spacious and has designated walkways. The snow-peaked mountains can be viewed from the park on a clear day.

Travelers can opt for the EV (electric vehicle) service to enter the park from the ticket counter. An additional payment is charged for opting this service. It is a one-time payment for both ways (to and fro).

The lush greenery of the park helps rejuvenate
The lush greenery of the park helps rejuvenate
Taking a stroll inside the park amidst the greenery is a blissful experience
Taking a stroll inside the park amidst the greenery is a blissful experience

2. Ralang Monastery

New Ralang Monastery or Ralong Palchen Choling is a must visit point. Near to this monastery is the old Ralong “Karma Rabtenling” Monastery (a monastery of Kagyupa lineage) built by the fourth ruler Chogyal (King) Gyurmed Namgyal in 1730 AD. It is considered to be one of the important and sacred monasteries of the state.

During 1975 and 1981, the old monastery was reconstructed. The new monastery was built by the 12th Gyatsalb Rimpoche and has precious paintings and thangkas.

The beautiful monastery
The beautiful monastery

Distance and Time to Reach Ravangla from Various Places by Road

Place
Distance (approximately in kilometers)
Time (approximately in hours)
Pelling
52.2
2.5
NJP Station
122.0
4.5
Bagdogra Airport
126.0
4.5
Namchi
26.0
1.0
Gangtok
68.0
3.0

2. Dzuluk or Zuluk or Jhuluk or Jaluk

Zuluk is a picturesque destination in the lower Himalayas in East Sikkim and located at an elevation of 10,000 feet above the sea level. A high altitude, beautiful, small, quiet hamlet on Old Silk Route is ideal for unwinding and connecting with nature.

Along with beauty, the place is also important historically. Both India and Tibet traders in the past used this route (starting from Pedong in India to Lhasa in Tibet) for trading silks, wool, and other materials.

Even though the trade has stopped long ago, but Zuluk has remained popular among the tourists for the mesmerizing beauty it offers.

Abode of clouds
Abode of clouds

Road to Zuluk—32 Hairpin Bends

The road to Zuluk is an astounding spectacle and an absolute masterpiece of engineering. The road has 32 hairpin bends and the zigzag pattern can be clearly viewed from the vantage points.

Imagine how exciting it would be to have an ocean of clouds and Mount Kanchenjunga as constant companions all the way to Zuluk? The place remains covered by snow during the winter, but various rhododendrons adorn the place during the summer.

The road remains closed during the winter, so plan your tour accordingly. Trips during monsoon are not at all advisable.

32 hairpin bends enhance the beauty of the place
32 hairpin bends enhance the beauty of the place
Serenity dominates the place
Serenity dominates the place

Zuluk—Thambi View Point

Before entering the road to Zuluk, there is an army check post to check the permits and other papers.

Next stop was Thambi View Point (around 11,000 ft) from where Mount Kanchenjunga can be viewed better. There were eateries as well. The point is close to Zuluk and well known for sunrise views.

Thambi View Point to view Mount Kanchenjungha
Thambi View Point to view Mount Kanchenjungha

Zuluk—a Restricted Area

The area is restricted for its vicinity to the Chinese border. Domestic tourists approaching from Kalimpong can get the permit from Rongli through the registered tour operator.

Documentation for adults include Passport, Driving License, or Voter Card and for minors include the birth certificate, the photocopies of the concerned original document, and recent photographs of each member traveling.

However, the place is not opened for foreign nationals owing to security reasons.

3. Gnathang Valley

Ascending further is the beautiful Gnathang Valley situated at an altitude of about 13,000 feet that remains covered with snow in winter and with flowers in summer.

The road further goes up to Old Baba Mandir.

The view point from where you can see Gnathang Valley
The view point from where you can see Gnathang Valley
Gnathang Valley at a distance
Gnathang Valley at a distance

Gangtok to Zuluk via Tsomgo Lake

Travelers can choose the route from Gangtok to reach Zuluk via Tsomgo Lake, New Baba Mandir, and Gnathang Valley depending on the month of traveling. The road may be closed during winter and rainy season due to snowfall or landslides.

Kalimpong to Zuluk via Rongli Bazar

Travelers can also reach Zuluk via Kalimpong, Algarah, Pedong, Reshikhola, Aritar, and Rongli Bazaar.

Pro Tips

Travelers can stay overnight at Algarah and Aritar before heading to Zuluk for acclimatizing themselves to avoid altitude sickness owing to higher altitude and low oxygen levels.

Distance and Time to Reach Zuluk from Other Places

Place
Distance (approximately in km)
Time (approximately in hours)
Gangtok
90.0
4.0
NJP Station/Bagdogra Airport
160.0
6.0
Kalimpong
90.0
3.5
Pelling
150.0
7.0
Darjeeling
140.0
5.0
Aritar
41.3
2.5

Pakyong Airport in Sikkim is the nearest airport and Zuluk is around 4-hour drive from the airport.

Mountains hidden in the ocean of clouds
Mountains hidden in the ocean of clouds

Summary

We wanted to make the most of our vacation and keep stress at bay. So, we did the following:

  1. Hired a dedicated private car from a registered tour operator to visit these idyllic destinations
  2. Consulted a tour expert who designed our tour plan and suggested us the following:
  • Ideal time to visit these destinations
  • Appropriate routes
  • Budget hotels with desired amenities
  • Trip duration
  • Best eateries

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Prantika Samanta

Comments

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      The photos of the places you visited are stunning! Thanks for sharing your journey and the information about these scenic sites with us.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      10 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Devika. Bhutan is beautiful and a favored destination.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      10 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Photos are stunning! I like your idea of places to travel to for it is unique and worth a try.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      11 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Sumit and I am really glad that you have found a story in each picture. Zuluk and Gnathang are the must visited places and should be in the bucket list of the travelers who love high altitudes. The sharp bends are an engineering marvel and we were spellbound by the beauty these places offer. Off the beaten tracks have their own charm and have always fascinated me. Away from the madding crowd and noise and finding oneself amidst the chirping birds, wandering clouds, greenery, snow-capped mountains, and gushing waterfalls impacts mental well-being positively. As you said that you are a nature lover, these places would never disappoint you.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      11 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Avyukth. Glad to know that you have liked these places and would love to visit with your bike. While on our way to Zuluk, I had seen many bikes going through the meandering roads and the bikers enjoying the ride. Indeed the place is picturesque with sharp hairpin bends and clouds being your constant companion. Nature has been generous and beauty is spread in every bend. The view from there is breathtaking and what eyes can capture perhaps camera lenses may not capture that. Ever wondered how fascinating it would be to wake up to an enchanting view of lush greenery with the snow-clad mountains in the backdrop. After visiting such places certainly thoughts and attitude towards life change.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      11 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thanks Prateek and I am delighted that you have liked the article. These off beat destinations are much away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Spending a few days in the quiet place rekindle our spirit and rejuvenates our soul. It is essential to visit such places and soak in the nature to connect with oneself and explore our own potentialities. I strongly believe nature heals the best and traveling definitely impacts both our physical and mental well being. So, take a pause and head towards any land that you have never visited.

    • Sumit273 profile image

      Sumit Chakrabarti 

      11 months ago from Kolkata

      Off-beat travel places are my personal favorite. Such places give a breath of fresh air compared to the popular and crowded travel hotspots. Being a nature lover, I particularly liked Zuluk and Gnathang Valley. Those two places have spectacular views. Every picture in the write-up is telling a story, and has captured the soul of Sikkim wonderfully. Kudos to you for putting together such a riveting travel piece.

    • Avyukth profile image

      Avyukth Krishna 

      11 months ago from Bangalore

      Such places are becoming more and more rare to find these days .The roads look amazing and I sincerely wish that one day I shall take my bike there. The very thought of riding on these narrow yet picturesque roads and hairpin bends is giving me a rush of adrenaline. Thank you for this article ! Hope you keep visiting such places and letting the world know about them !!

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      11 months ago from Kolkata, India

      These off beat locations are ideal for slow travelers who would love to know more about the rich history and culture of Sikkim and soak in the nature. If you are looking for rekindling your spirit and rejuvenation, visit these places far way from the hustle and bustle of the city. The wandering clouds, lofty mountains, lush greenery, winding roads, and peace all around relieve our stress. Before you visit these places, take care of the documentation.

    • PrateekJain24 profile image

      Prateek Jain 

      11 months ago from Madhya Pradesh, India

      Wow mam. Such a wonderful valleys and mountains are there. Also the lush greenery of park is adorable. I like the way you present your thoughts and experience. There is alot to learn from you mam. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      11 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Nitin. The beauty is breathtaking and I am sure it will never disappoint you.

    • nitinkhaire profile image

      Nitin Khaire 

      11 months ago from Mumbai

      I have heard about the pristine beauty of Sikkim and even seen some breathtaking images of the place but reading a firsthand report of the place is very interesting. You have described its' beauty wonderfully. The images are captivating too. This article has awakened the nature lover in me. Thanks for another well-written article.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      12 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Abitha. Indeed a peaceful place.

    • Abitha Deepak profile image

      Abitha 

      12 months ago from Chennai, Tamilnadu

      This place looks so pristine, so still and feels so calming and such beautiful skies! I love the details in both the pictures and the article!

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      13 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much.

    • profile image

      Priya 

      13 months ago

      Nice one

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      13 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so very much. Sikkim is blessed with mountains, valleys, waterfalls, lakes, and many more.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      13 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Arpita, please do visit Sikkim.

    • profile image

      Arpita 

      13 months ago

      Just Wow!!! to your article and SikKim..

      I Have visited only one place long back during my school days but now it's a must visit to the other places you have described so so so beautifully.

    • Niks007 profile image

      Niks 

      13 months ago from India

      I m in love with the valleys and mountains of Sikkim just by looking at those photographs. Truly, an elaborated article about Sikkim. It makes the readers visualize the place.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      13 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      13 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      13 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Murali, so much. Indeed, it is a beautiful place and worth visiting.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      13 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      13 months ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Natasha.

    • Natasha Tungare profile image

      Natasha Tungare 

      13 months ago from India

      Such an amazing and informative article! Moreover the photographs catched my eyes!

    • profile image

      Saurav 

      13 months ago

      Nice one..

    • hmkrishna profile image

      Halemane Muralikrishna 

      13 months ago from South India

      Yes, wow - Sikkim is the paradise on earth for the tourists. In your article you've given minute hints to enjoy the components of the heavenly beauty. Photos of Sikkim valleys, lakes, Zuluk, etc. are all very good eye catching ones. You've not left any stone unturned. Great contribution, Ms Prantika. Those who read your article will make it to his bucket-list. A complete article in all aspects.

    • Suchismita pradhan profile image

      Suchismita Pradhan 

      13 months ago from India

      Your writing and pics took me on a virtual tour of the place.

    • Vinita-Amrit profile image

      Vinita Amrit 

      13 months ago

      WOW! You and Sikkim both are amazing.

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