India
Sikkim

Here you’ll find travel reports about Sikkim. Discover travel destinations in India of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

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9 travelers at this place:

  • Day43

    I'm Sikkim in the rain ...

    April 22 in India ⋅ 🌧 22 °C

    Of course you might not notice it from the pictures because I could not take any in the rain... But I can assure that this day was very wet. It was also long and full of unexpected adventures.

    First, the itinerary : instead of going down directly to the city I was aiming at (Jorethang), 26 km from Darjeeling, I had to ride 70 km, with lots of slopes, to go through Melli : as a foreigner, i have to register at this checkpoint when entering or leaving Sikkim.
    So I started early in the morning. The small road indicated by Dawa was first barred to me by the military. As a foreigner, still, I find out that I'm not allowed to use this road... Since I did not want to turn back - I had already cycle up half an hour on a steep slope - I stood there with my bicycle. This sit-in strategy was a winner : at some point a sergeant - plump and proud Rajesh Gurung - got interested in my case and decided to escort me along a side road that turned around the military premises. It was very steep but in the right direction (downhill !) and it led me to a nice stupa and to a monastery, where I was kindly offered some cakes and tea and invited to attend a ceremony. 3 monks were leading it, to the pious attendance of 9 old ladies. One of the monks in particular was indistinctly chanting and mumbling, with a pace that could easily challenge Snoop Dog's best beat. Also lots of bending, strange gestures - the young monk moving his hands very quickly in successive symbolic postures while chanting, another pouring water into my hands and asking me to splash it over my face (!?)- the old ladies constantly mumbling while turning their praying wheels... Like the ceremony we attended to at Namobudha with Marie, it put me in a day-dream state that I found both soothing and inspiring.
    These were probably the last easy moments of the day, before getting back on my bike and soon being soaked with heavy rain and hail. I had to stop at times, and sometimes got offered more cups of tea...

    At the Melli checkpoint, I would discover later that the officers forgot to give me a permit that is essential for any activity in Sikkim (sleeping in hotels, visiting, trekking, etc.). They probably got distracted by the fact that I was riding a bicycle and in these weather conditions ! So I received all kind of recommendations and the usual questions (where are you from, where are you going, are you travelling alone, why are you travelling alone, you should not cycle in the rain, etc.) But... not the precious permit !

    I finally reached Jorethang at 6:30, where Rohit (one of Dawa's friends) was waiting for me. He nicely invited me to his family house. But... It is only after having had a warm shower, hanged out all my wet clothes in the room and put on some dry ones, around 9 pm, that he tells me that I cannot stay anymore : some relatives are coming and they will sleep in "my" room.... Well, I took all my things and went to a hotel instead ! At the hotel they first did not want to take me in nor to serve me food, because I did not have the "permit"... Negotiations again. It was a long day ! But well.. Even in the rain and without having the right to be here, Sikkim is incredibly beautiful ...
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  • Day25

    On our way to Gangtok

    May 25 in India ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    We continue driving to our next destination Gangtok which is only 110km away but it takes 4 hours from Darjeeling. It was a pretty drive going up and down the hills through the fog on the very narrow roads.

    We stopped to take in the view of the river which forms the border of Darjeeling and Sikkim. On entering Sikkim we had to get another visa even though we had an Indian visa, I do not really understand why but even our driver we have had for the next few days is not allowed to work in this state so we get a new driver tommorrow.

    To add to our list of experiences that only happen to us, there was a rock slide across the road so we were again stuck with nowhere to go for 1 hour.
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  • Day25

    Sonam Delek Hotel

    May 25 in India ⋅ 🌧 19 °C

    Today's drama continues. We pull up out the front of what look like a descent hotel only to find that they did not have our booking and no vacant rooms. So our guide suggested the hotel that they usually stay at. We went to this hotel to check out the room, as we did not like the rooms we were given in Darjeeling. The hotel right from the start was going to be a worry but we looked at the room in case the outside was misleading. Once inside it was as expected, it was more like a kids room with 2 very low single beds and looked terrible so we declined and proceeded to another hotel suggested by the guide. It is now getting late and I was getting cranky and upset so we had to take whatever was now on offer. This is another dreadful hotel but as it is the holidays and the Indian people are escaping the heat to the cooler places and apparently Darjleeing and Gangtok on on their lists. Not sure why as they are both dreadful places dirty, smelly, crowded and not much to do.

    The only plus of this Hotel is apparently from the balcony right outside our room we can view a sunrise which is a little different. We will not see the sun actually rise but it glows over the moutnains.

    This Hotel also has a powerpoint in the shower recess which is very weird. To make it worse there are heaps of very loud children and parents hanging around outside our room. One plus is the dinner menu does not look that bad so fingers crossed.

    Maybe tomorrow will be better.
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  • Day25

    Dinner

    May 25 in India ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    What can I say.

    We decided we would have some alcohol with dinner. Guess what, it is "Dry Day" so we had water. Dinner was so so. The entree and mains came out together. Just as well we did not pre order dessert as well.
    By the time we had finished entree one of the mains was cold. We asked if they could heat it up and they obliged and reheated in the microwave located in the dry day bar. Then dessert came out. We had ordered vanilla ice cream and a banana fritter. The ice cream was for the fritter. The ice cream came out first and started melting while we waited for the fritter. Banana fritter then came out except it was a bowl of fruit covered in custard. The waiter said it was a banana fritter. John went to the manager who understood english a little better to sort out our order. The ice cream was nearly a puddle when the banana fritter finally arrived covered in chocolate sauce (not what we ordered) which was yum for me but not John. We poured the Ice cream over the fritter, it tasted Ok.

    Now back in our room to watch a movie
    Oops the power went out and the bed is so hard we may as well be on the floor.

    Come on tomorrow.
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  • Day26

    Checking Out

    May 26 in India ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    We have decided to change the itinerary and move Hotels closer to the airport tomorrow. Two reasons our concern of more landslides as last night there was heavy rain and the second this place is horrible and now that a few things are closed why stay in Gangtok
    What sort of tour company uses as items on their itinerary that are closed on a Sunday.

    We will do 4 hours around Gangtok. Along the way I will research Hotels and pick one rather than rely on the tour company
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  • Day26

    A few different view points of Gangtok

    May 26 in India ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Sightseeing around Gangtok has started. Not much to see around here as I mentioned most things are closed in a Sunday. We tried going to one of the attractions but we could not get through as the locals are still celebrating the change in government and the roads were blocked.

    We then continued to a few different view points which were lovely, just a shame that the cloud cover was still blocking the view to the Himalayas.Read more

  • Day26

    Rumtek Monastery

    May 26 in India ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Originally built under the direction the 9th Karmapa Lama in the mid-1700s. Rumtek served as the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage in Sikkim for some time. When the 16th Karmapa, arrived in Sikkim in 1959 after fleeing Tibet, the monastery was in ruins. Despite being offered other sites, the Karmapa decided to rebuild Rumtek. To him, the site possessed many auspicious qualities and was surrounded by the most favorable attributes. For example, flowing streams, mountains behind, a snow range in front, and a river below. With the generosity and help of the Sikkim royal family and the local folks of Sikkim, it was built by the 16th Karmapa as his main seat in exile.

    After four years, construction of the monastery was completed. The sacred items and relics brought out from Tsurphu Monastery, the Karmapa's seat in Tibet, were installed. On Losar in 1966, the 16th Karmapa officially inaugurated the new seat, called "The Dharmachakra Centre, a place of erudition and spiritual accomplishment, the seat of the glorious Karmapa..

    The monastery is currently the largest in Sikkim and is home to 300 monks and where they perform the rituals and practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage. A golden stupa contains the relics of the 16th Karmapa. Opposite that building is a college, Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies.

    Again this monastery was different to other's we have seen, I am still not getting a clear understanding, all the different Lama's are very confusing but everything the guides tell is very interesting.
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  • Day26

    Driving to Siliguri

    May 26 in India ⋅ 🌧 25 °C

    The drive was very pleasant we pasted through some areas we had already seen when travelling from Darjeeling, no landsides but we did have rain on occasion. All through as we have arrived at our selected hotel and ready to close this chapter of our itinerary.

  • Day55

    Perfect hosts, until the end

    May 4 in India ⋅ 🌧 21 °C

    For my second and last night at their home, Santoosh made me a morning surprise by taking me to the neighboring Krishna temple.There, a priest took time to explain the gurus' history and the differences between their way of worshipping Krishna and that of the ISKCON followers for instance (international society for Krishna's consciousness). Well, I have to say i did not get all the subtilities but I'll do some research later on...

    To thank them, I could only share some of my food but in return, Santosh's mother, who took care of me like a Grandma, filled my bags with fruits, nuts, pistachio, etc. And.. a hand-knitted puppet. My laughing buddha has found some company and me.. a soft toy to sleep with !

    More seriously, with the lasts days' encounter, i feel very lucky and blessed. It is with these people and memories in mind that I got back to biking. After 8 days of travelling around Sikkim, it's time for me to leave this charming and rainy little state and to head down to the plains. My next big stop will be the city of Siliguri, in West Bengal.
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  • Day45

    Trekking with a missionary

    April 24 in India ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    The two following days have been busy solving my paper issues. After leaving my bicycle to Rohit in Jorethang, I took a jeep to Yuksom, the former capital of Sikkim, from where i was hoping to start the trek (a 8 to 9 days expedition that would allow me to catch a last glimpse of the Himalayas before pursuing east !).
    I was soon stopped : without the first permit I was not given when entering Sikkim - the inner-land permit, I could not get the second one - the trekking permit. I also found out that it was impossible to go on my own without a guide...

    Sikkim might be heaven for birds, trees, rhododendrons and... snow leopards, it is not always so for the uninformed foreign tourist ! And its special status (due to its late attachment to India, with the end of the monarchy in 1975, it has been granted more autonomy and is ruled by a special "act", like Jammu & Cashmere) just seems to create more administrative-hassle than in other parts of India...

    So... At 5 pm i started looking for a travel agency and met a very gentle and helpful man : Birendra Ray, who helped me sort everything out. He first took me to Pelling, where I needed to get some cash (Yuksom being the ancient capital does not mean that it has an ATM..). He also invited me to his home for a nice potato & chapati snack, made me visit one of his schools and showed me around (an old monastery, a giant Buddha statue...)

    Just like for my previous guide in Nepal, I have to write a few words about Birendra, who is quite an original and enriching person. Aside from being a guide (he only helps his "brother"- a guy from his village - at the traveling agency) , he is a maths teacher and the founder of 4 non-profit private schools, where orphans can enroll for very low fees. He is also a former theology student and "missionary" : he traveled around India for 8 years "preaching the gospel". This job actually seemed to require both analytical and surveying skills, since the missionaries would collect data from the villages, and according to the demographics and religious trends, set up targeted interviews and speeches. But how and why does a sikimese hindu man become a missionary...? When in his 20s, Birendra read the New Testament and was amazed at it (he quotes me specifically Lazarus' raising from the dead). He then had the courage (and strange idea?) to convert to Christianity, against his parents' will. When he told them about his new faith (and tried to convert them), he was expelled from home and had to take care about himself. In the end, the guy was convincing enough to convert his very young wife, a 17 year old girl he met in a village, even though she was a Lepsha, that is to say one of the 4 most ancient and respected tribes of Sikkim (usually referred to as "Lho, Mon, Tsong": "Lho" are the Bhutias from southern Tibet, "Mon" the Lepchas" from the lower eastern Himalayas and "Tsong" the Limbus. Apart from these "high-ranking" people, who still enjoy special privileges nowadays, Nepali communities stand for 60% of the Sikkimese. Birendra belongs to them !) End of the digression in the digression.

    Since then on, Birendra stopped being a missionary and dedicated himself to education and social welfare. He now dreams of opening his own travel agency in order to raise money that could be reinvested in his schools and in an orphanage. He wrote his ideas on social activities and education in two books, in Nepali and English. Busy man ! His story reminds me of how entrepreneur-minded Nepali and Indian people can be ! I am impressed. End of the digression...

    Anyway. His generosity found an opportunity to be embedded with my case... He spent lots of time and energy negotiating with another "brother" to get me the inner-line permit from Gangtok and eventually, because he could not find a guide, offered to go with me... At a very interesting price.

    The following morning, we negotiated hard at the police outpost and at the Kanchenjunga national park office. When at the police station i could see that the situation was becoming desperate and that the stern officer was just telling Birendra to go f*"' himself, I silently jumped into the conversation and gave the policeman my best naive and "ow, that's so sad, what am I gonna do with myself?" look... Five minute later, my passport was stamped and the guy let us in ! :)) Birendra still had to write a letter saying that he was taking full responsibility for me, and was not very pleased about that... But overall, we made a good team ! And that's how the trek started !!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Sikkim, سيكيم, ছিক্কিম, Сікім, Сиким, सिक्किम, সিক্কিম, འབྲས་ལྗོངས།, সিকিম, Сикким, ސިއްކީމް, Σικκίμ, Sikimo, سیکیم, સિક્કિમ, סיקים, Sikim, Szikkim, シッキム州, სიკიმი, ಸಿಕ್ಕಿಂ, 시킴 주, سککم, Sikimas, Sikima, 錫金, സിക്കിം, ဆစ်ကင်ပြည်နယ်, ସିକିମ, ਸਿੱਕਮ, سکم, سيکيم, Siquim, सिक्किमराज्यम्, සිකිම්, சிக்கிம், సిక్కిం, รัฐสิกขิม, Сіккім, 锡金

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