Namchi–Sky High–in South Sikkim Offers a Heavenly Experience Beyond Comparison
Time for Unwinding, Family Bonding, and Rejuvenation
Long meetings, grueling schedules, deliverables, and targets got better of me. I was yearning to leave the city life behind and find solace in the lap of nature.
I was in want of rejuvenation and nothing can better than relaxing amidst the mountains, spending quality time with my family, and strengthening our bonds.
Namchi (a beautiful town in South Sikkim) and some others places in Sikkim (Ravangla, Pelling, Yuksom, Rinchenpong, Aritar, Zuluk, and Rongli) perfectly fit the bill.
What are we waiting for then?
8 Days, 8 Destinations by Road—an Exciting Experience
Places in Sikkim
Districts of Sikkim
Zuluk or Dzuluk & Rongli
Why Sikkim Topped Our Favorite Destination List?
Sikkim was our obvious vacation destination for the year because of the following reasons:
- Our affinity toward hill stations;
- Its proximity from Kolkata (the capital of West Bengal)
- Its mesmerizing scenic beauty
Your Favorite Place for Rejuvenation
Where do you prefer to go for rejuvenation?
Exploring the Beauty of Sikkim
This northeastern state of India is considered to be the only brother of seven sisters (the seven northeastern states of India).
Sikkim is famous for breathtaking scenery, lofty mountains, gurgling waterfalls, lavishing lakes, gushing rivers, wandering clouds, beautiful flowers, and magnificent monasteries. The land is home for people of different cultures, such as the Lepchas, Bhutias, Nepalese, and people from the different parts of the country.
The beauty of Sikkim whether the breathtaking view of Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim or the captivating view of the landscape of Namchi in South Sikkim is alluring.
Seven Sisters of India and Their Capital
Flora and Fauna of Sikkim
The land is a paradise for botanists and never stops to amaze animal lovers and birders, as one can find various species of plants, animals, and birds.
Sikkim is also rich in vegetation that includes ferns figs, sal trees, oaks, and bamboos.
Several species of birds, including quail, golden eagles, and snow cock, and animals, such as the Blue Sheep and yaks, are the inhabitants of its forests.
Areas that Need Attention Before the Trip
Certain areas demand a lot of attention and we need to handle them carefully in order to have a hassle-free trip. Train tickets and hotel rooms were booked online in advance to get best deals on hotels and train tickets.
We booked our cab for the trip from a registered tour operator. We did not opt for a shared vehicle rather hired a cab only for us to enjoy more comfort and spend more time as a family.
Remember Before Hiring a Cab
Always hire a cab from the registered tour operators approved by Ministry of Corporate Affairs - Government of India. Check the list in its website.
Day 1: Our Trip Flagged Off–NJP Station to Namchi
We boarded the train from Sealdah (Kolkata) in an October night and reached New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Station next morning.
Our guide drove us from NJP Station to Namchi. The unforgettable trip kicked off and we were basking in happiness.
Administrative Capital of South Sikkim
Namchi or Namtse (meaning “Sky High”) is the administrative capital of South Sikkim nestled at an altitude of around 5,500 ft above the sea level.
We crossed Melli, the border town of West Bengal and Sikkim, to enter Namchi, Sikkim. Melli is the entry point of South Sikkim when entering from West Bengal.
On the way to Namchi, we had scrumptious breakfast in an eatery with lush green hills at the backdrop. We had hot chapattis and potato curry, and the taste was delectable.
The landscape and temperature were gradually changing as we started ascending. We reached Namchi after around a 4-hour drive.
Our hotel was near Char Dham or Siddheswar Dham. We had a quick lunch, as the Char Dham ticket counter was about to close.
The complex has opening and closing timings, and tourists need to pay entry and parking fees.
Char Dham or Siddheswar Dham–The First Place to Visit on Day 1
Char Dham or Siddheswar Dham
Char Dham or Siddheswar Dham is constructed on the Solophok hill.
The major attractions of the complex are Shiva statue, 12 Jyotirlingas, replicas of Char Dhams (Char, meaning four and Dhams meaning pilgrimage centers: Badrinath, Jaganath, Dwarka, and Rameshwar), Sai Baba Temple, Kirateshwar (Lord Shiva incarnated as Kirateshwar) Statue, Nandi Bull (a humped bull considered to be Lord Shiva's vehicle), and Shiv Dwar.
With closing time was approaching soon, there were only a few visitors inside the complex. We took a tour of the complex at our own pace, there was no crowd at all.
The complex has a car parking zone and a cafeteria. As we had late lunch, we did not try any dish there.
A Serene Moment
With the daylight gradually fading into dusk, the mesmerizing view of the landscape and the riot of colors in the sky created a magical ambience.
We sat near the complex until the evening slipped into night and our first day ended with a quiet dinner.
Day 2: Sai Mandir–The First Stop
We started the second day early, as we had to visit quite a few destinations within the stipulated time.
The beautiful Sai Mandir (mandir meaning temple), near to our hotel, was our first stop of the day. The two-storied building has an amazing decor with the ground floor built mainly for praying and performing religious activities. The first floor has a marble statue of Sri Shiridi Sai Baba (on a high platform) and paintings of Lord Vishnu (a Hindu god) depicting his ten different incarnations and other Hindu gods and goddesses around the wall. The ceiling resembles that of a planetarium.
Day 2: Next Stops–Ngadak Monastery and Samdruptse
1. Ngadak Monastery
Next in our itinerary list was Ngadak (meaning promise) Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries of Namchi. No cars were allowed inside the monastery, so we walked a little into the monastery. We were spellbound by the spectacular beauty of the monastery.
Close to the monastery is the Samdruptse (meaning wish fulfilling hill in the Bhutia language). The counter and the covered car parking zone are close to the entrance gate. We payed both entry and car parking fees.
To visit the statue of Guru Padmasambhava sitting on a lotus, we first ascended the hilly road (walkway) with Buddhist prayer flags fluttering on one side of the road. We then reached an area under the statue and enjoyed the panoramic view of the landscape from there. Next, we climbed the stairs that led to the statue kept on a high platform. The place also has a monastery.
This is the highest statue of Guru Padmasambhava in the world. The intricate design, grandeur of the statue, and engineering involved left us awestruck. The vista of the surroundings from there was breathtaking.
We grabbed breakfast in one of the food stalls near the car parking zone before heading to our next destination.
Temi Tea Garden—an Indescribable Beauty
The enchanting view of the tea garden would not only remain ingrained in our memories but also allure us to visit it again.
I think the photograph below gives a glimpse of the beauty.
Festival and Flower Show
The land is not only famous for its stunning lakes or waterfalls, meandering hilly roads, snow-capped high mountains, rich flora and fauna but also for its people who are simple and friendly, its festivals, and the flower shows.
Namchi Mahotsav (Mahotsav meaning festival) is organized every year to showcase traditional skills; ethnic handloom and handicrafts, and traditional houses and food of the ethical groups of Sikkim; host dance performances and flower exhibitions; organize tours to different tourist attractions; and conduct multiple activities, such as trekking.
Each year flower festivals are organized in Namchi. Sikkim is known for its wide variety of species of flowers, specifically rhododendrons and orchids.
Domestic tourists do not require any permit to visit South Sikkim. However, foreign nationals need RAP (Restricted Area Permit) and other documents to enter Sikkim.
Some More Interesting Places–Yet Pending in Our Travel Wishlist
With not much time left before heading to our next destination, Ravangla, these places remained unticked in our list:
- Rock Garden: It is close to Samdruptse, houses various plants and trees, and has a cable car facility to reach the garden.
- Tendong Hill: Trekking enthusiasts can trek from Damthang to reach Tendong Hill. The trekking trail passes through a forest that is a home to several birds and wild animals.
- Tarey Bhir View Point: The cliff is known for offering amazing views of forests, river valleys, and the confluence of the two rivers of Sikkim Teesta and Rangit. An ideal place for ridge walkers to get some wonderful views from here.
Which Months Are Best to Visit Namchi? How Accessible Is Namchi?
Namchi can be visited any time of the year, but the temperature is quite low during the winter. But if one loves to visit Namchi in the winter, he or she should carry adequate woolens. Hill stations are better to be avoided during the monsoon.
Namchi can be accessed from West Bengal, Gangtok, Pelling, and other places of Sikkim.
Tourists can also avail Helicopter service provided by Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC), a division of Sikkim state government, to visit Namchi and Gangtok. Different categories of the helicopter service can be availed at varying rates.
The service may be suspended depending on the bad weather condition, so keep this in mind while planning the trip.
To know about the time, number of people allowed, when to make reservations for availing the helicopter service, weight limit of the baggage, fare, and mode of payment, visit the website of STDC.
Transportation and Accommodation
How to Reach Namchi by Road
Best Time to Visit
From NJP Station/Bagdogra Airport: Shared or private taxis, buses from Siliguri, cabs hired from registered tour operators
From Gangtok: Shared or private taxis, buses, cabs hired from registered tour operators
Temperature is low during the winter season
From other parts of Sikkim: Buses and cabs
Avoid to visit during monsoon
We met our guide and driver here.
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