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EXPLORING SIKKIM IN WINTERS: PLACES TO VISIT AND TRAVEL TIPS

While every month of the year is said to be good to visit Sikkim, this scenic hill state is at its very best once winter sets in. From Gurudongmor, the highest freshwater lake in the world to viewing mesmerising landscapes along the Old Silk route, this second smallest state of India has some top locations to visit.

Located in north-east India,Sikkim shares its borders with the countries of Nepal, China and Bhutan. Though this has resulted in restricted movement of visitors, the exclusivity has made this destination even more intriguing to explore. Check out this carefully curated list of attractions and some travel tips for a winter holiday to this stunning region.

Getting there

Being landlocked, Sikkim is a bit tedious to access.The nearest railhead at New Jalpaiguri and the airport at Bagdogra are a good four hours drive from Gangtok, providing there are no roadblocks on the landslide prone highway.

The recently opened airport at Pakyong, which is 21km away from Gangtok is a boon for the tourists arriving from Delhi, Kolkata or Guwahati. That said, even this vital link remains unoperational at times because of the unpredictable weather conditions which prevail in Sikkim.

The drive to Gangtok is extremely scenic, with the river Teesta, the lifeline of Sikkim, constantly your companion right from the plains till the Rangpo checkpost, the entry point of Sikkim.

Travel Tips

As Gangtok is located at an altitude of 5576' above sea level, there are several things to keep in mind when traveling there in winter:

  • Depending on the place you intend to visit, keep in mind that temperatures can plunge to freezing point in certain areas. Warm woolens are a must in your packing list. Wear snow boots in specific areas where necessary.
  • If visiting areas close to the border such as Nathu La or Yumthang, plan well ahead of time to secure the permits required to visit these regions. These can be obtained from the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department in Gangtok.
  • The Mangan Music Festival is held every year between 12-14 December and is a highlight of Sikkim tourism. For a true experience of culture and art of Sikkim, this is a must-see event.
  • Indian visitors do not need a permit to enter Sikkim, except to the restricted areas. All foreign visitors require to obtain an inner line permit from the concerned authorities, beforehand, for entering Sikkim.
  • Keep a regular watch on the weather forecast and road conditions before booking a tour during winter.

Gangtok

The capital of Sikkim, Gangtok is the starting point for many exciting attractions and the top place on the list for every visitor. This charming city is the ideal amalgamation of beauty and culture and a base station for a visit to some religious sites like Rumtek Monastery and Enchey Monastery. You can catch a glimpse of the majestic Mount Kanchenjunga from the Tashi viewpoint in Gangrt.

Tsomgo Lake

Situated at an altitude of around 11,000', Tsomgo Lake is one of the leading tourist attraction in Gangtok.The place is snowbound in winter and provides captivating views of the snow-covered mountains surrounding this glacier fed lake.Tsomgo Lake lies 40km away from Gangtok and takes about two hours to reach by road.

Gurudongmar Lake

Gangtok to Lachen(8 hrs)

Lachen to Gurudongmar(4 hrs)

Lying at a dizzy height of 17,800 feet above sea level, Gurudongmar Lake is said to be the highest freshwater lake in the world. While it is good to behold in summers, it turns into an enchanting body of water in winters as a part of the lake never freezes despite the sub-zero temperatures.This results in a stunning visual of a combination of blue and white against the backdrop of the snow capped mountain peaks surrounding it.

Yumthang

Gangtok to Yumthang (7hrs)

Yumthang to Zero Point (4 hrs)

Located in North Sikkim, Yumthang is the gateway to Sikkim's Valley of Flowers. At 8,800' the weather here is freezing to say the least in winter.That said, Zero Point which is still higher at 14,000' plus, is always covered in a thick blanket of snow at this time of the year.The riot of colors, uncovered by the rising sun, are a sight to see in Yumthang.

Zuluk

Gangtok to Zuluk (4 hrs)

The tiny village of Zuluk is located at an altitude of 14,500' and lies on the ancient Old Silk Route near the Indo-China border. The serpentine drive is no less than a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs till one reaches the Zuluk Valley. Apart from the alluring landscapes, this area is blessed with fabulous views of the Kanchenjunga peak and other tall Himalayan mountains. The sunrise and sunset views from the Thambi viewpoint are said to be out of the world.


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Printable version | Jan 16, 2022 11:58:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/brandhub/pr-release/exploring-sikkim-in-winters-places-to-visit-and-travel-tips/article36835204.ece

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