Sikkim & Darjeeling 8 Days

Sikkim, a former Himalayan kingdom, now a state in India, is richly endowed with a prominently Buddhist culture dating back to the 7th century AD. It’s unique location in the Himalayas and elevation ranging from 1,970 ft. to over 26,250 ft. spread over an area of 7000 sq. km. offers diverse flora and fauna ranging from sub-tropical to the alpine.

Mt Kanchenjunga (27,371 ft.), the third highest mountain in the world and the guardian deity of Sikkim looms majestically throughout the trip. Darjeeling-“The Queen of the Himalayas” is a bustling tourist town renowned for its tea gardens, the Himalayan mountaineering Institute, the sunrise over the Himalayas from the Tiger Hill and imprints of the British Raj are the  highlights of the trip.

  • Day 01 Arrival in Bagdogra or Phuentsholing border to Kalimpong (200 KM.)
  • Day 02 Overland Kalimpong to Gangtok (85 Km)
  • Day 03 Tour of Gangtok
  • Day 04 Excursion to Tsongmo (Changu) Lake
  • Day 05 Overland Gangtok to Pelling (135 Km)
  • Day 06 Pelling to Darjeeling (122 Km)
  • Day 07 Full day tour in Darjeeling
  • Day 08 Drive to Bhadrapur in Nepal ( 145 km.) or Bagdogra Airport

Day 01 Arrival in Bagdogra or Phuentsholing border to Kalimpong (200 KM.)

MEAL: Dinner

Upon arrival in Phuntsoling, the border between Bhutan and Sikkim, you will me met and transferred to Kalimpong. Arrive Kalimpong and check in at hotel.

Situated at an altitude of 4078 ft., in the lap of the Eastern Himalayas, Kalimpong used to be one of the important trading point of Silk-route. Bustling markets, flower nurseries, panoramic view of the mountains are some of the highlights of this town.

Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Overnight at Kalimpong.

Day 02 Overland Kalimpong to Gangtok (85 Km)

MEAL: Breakfast/Dinner

Morning take a short sightseeing tour of Kalimpong visiting Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Gompa - built in the mid-1970s on Durbin Hill and sanctified by His Highness the Dalai Lama monastery houses relics of Buddhism brought from Tibet after Chinese took over Tibet. This monastery is famous for its traditional Tibetan wall paintings. This site also commands panoramic view of the mountains in a clear day. Flower Nurseries - Kalimpong is very famous for horticulture, hence many flower nurseries located here.

Visiting a nursery is interesting as one gets an idea of what kind of flowers locales are growing. Continue  to local market in Kalimpong which is a very ethnic experience, surrounded by many farming villages. The farmers come here to trade their produce in the market as well as  local craftsmen come here to sell the local crafts of the area.

Early afternoon depart for Gangtok by road. Arrive Gangtok and check in at hotel.

Situated at an altitude of 5,500 ft., Gangtok the capital of mountain state of Sikkim and is very charming town. This bustling city is dotted with old Tibetan Monasteries, where history has seamlessly given space to modern lifestyle. 

Overnight at Gangtok.

Day 03 Tour of Gangtok

MEAL: Breakfast/Dinner

Morning proceed on a full day sightseeing tour of Gangtok and surrounding area, which includes  Rumtek Dharma Chakra (20 Km one way) – a replica of original Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet, Rumtek is the seat of HH Karmapa head of the Kagyupa one of the four major order of Tibetan Buddhism. Built in traditional Tibetan architecture Rumtek is the headquarter of Karma Kagyu order. Monastery has a collection spiritual treasures, relics, and texts that had been collected at Tsurphu for 700 years that Karmapa brought along with him when he left Tsurphu monastery in 1959 to take exile in the then Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim.

Later return to the city to visit Enchey Monastery, the Solitery Temple is built on a site blessed 200 years by Lama Druptob Karpo a trantic master famous for his flying power. Legend has it that karpo Rimpoche has landed on the spot after he flew from Maenam Hill in South Sikkim and established a small hermitage. However during the reign of Sikyong Tulku in 1909 monastery started taking its present form. One of the important seat of the Nyingmapa order the oldest order of Tibetan Buddhism monastery has impressive murals painted on the walls depicting mandalas and other religious objects.

The next is Do-Drul Chorten - it is believed that the place was haunted by evil spirits and anyone dared wandering would suffer and die. Trulshig Rinpoche a revered monk of Nyingmapa order from Tibet built his hermitage here on 1945 and subdued all the demons. Chorten or the Stupa is surrounded by 108 prayer wheels (Mane Lhakor) and inside it contains a complete set of Dorjee Phurba mandala, a set of Kangyur or the holy books, complete mantras and several other religious objects. The Chorten is surrounded by Guru Lakhang and Chorten Lakahang with two huge statues of Guru Rimpoche or Guru Padamsambhava.

Continue to Research Institute of Tibetology – apart from being premier institute for studying and learning Buddhist religion and philosophy it is a treasure trove for those who are looking for information on Buddhist religion. Institute has a large collection of literature along with rare Lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts, over 200 Buddhist icons and rare Thankas and other relics of Buddhism. Also visit Directorate of Handicrafts & Handloom - started with an objective of preserving and promoting traditional arts and crafts of the region. It houses many items of traditional crafts and hand looms.

Also, explore the bustling M. G. Road which is the nerve center of activities in Gangtok.

Overnight at Gangtok.

Day 04 Excursion to Tsongmo (Changu) Lake

MEAL: Breakfast/Dinner

Morning take an excursion to Changu (Tsongmo) Lake. Drive along Rhododendron forest of Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary which is home to elusive Red Panda, Blood Pheasant, etc. Situated at an altitude of 12,310 ft. Changu Lake is covered most of the year by snow. Lake is revered by locals, however, apart from religious importance, it is very important piece of habitat for many migratory birds.

Return to Gangtok in the late afternoon.

Overnight in Gangtok.

Day 05 Overland Gangtok to Pelling (135 Km)

MEAL: Breakfast/Dinner

Morning depart Gangtok for Pelling. On your way, visit Yung Drung Kundrak Bon Monastery at Kwezing en route. A small monastery established in 1980s by Yung Dung Tsultrim is the only Bon monastery found in whole of Sikkim which is training 50 odd Bon monks. Bon is one of the oldest surviving religions in the world. One can see how Thankas (religious scroll art) are painted if monks are on the job.

Today's drive is picturesque and  you can take stops at places like Ravangla and Temi.  

Arrive Pelling and check in at hotel.

Pelling is one of the historical places in western Sikkim, located at an altitude of 6,800 ft., Pelling is special in more than one ways. Apart from being in a close proximity to Kanchenjunga range, it is second capitol of Sikkim and boasts of one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim. It is nature lover’s paradise, botanist’s delight and birder’s dream.  

Overnight in Pelling.   

Day 06 Pelling to Darjeeling (122 Km)

MEAL: Breakfast/Dinner

Morning tour of Pelling. Visit Pemayangtse Monastery and Rabdentse.

Pemayangtse Monastery - 17th century monastery belonging to red hat sect is one of the oldest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Sikkim. Along with a very impressive architecture monastery houses idols, objects of religious rituals and scriptures most of which are precious because of their antiquity. However, highlight of the visit here is ‘Zandopalri’ or the imaginary heaven of Guru Rimposhe (Guru Padmasambhava referred by Tibetans). Kept on the upper most floor of the monastery, this seven tired wooden sculpture with colorful paintings depicts the image of heaven.

Rabdentse - which served as capital of Sikkim for almost 150 years is a historical site. It was the second capital of erstwhile Kingdom of Sikkim from 1670 to 1814 AD after Yuksom (the first capital). Though the place is in ruins now, it commands stunning views from the deep valleys to the majestic heights of Kanchenjunga mountain range.

Leave for Darjeeling in the afternoon. Arrive Darjeeling by early evening and check in at hotel.

Situated at an altitude of 7,000 ft., often referred as “The Queen of Hills”, mother nature has bestowed Darjeeling with full of natural beauty. Lush green hills covered with carpet of slopping tea gardens, panoramic views of the snow capped mountains (Mount Everest, Kanchanjunga to name a few), 150 years old Toy Train (A UNESCO World Heritage Site), Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) which is associated with Tenzing Norgay and unique local bazaars are some of the highlights that makes Darjeeling a must see destination in Eastern Himalaya.

Overnight at Darjeeling.

Day 07 Full day tour in Darjeeling

MEAL: Breakfast/Dinner

Early morning drive to Tiger Hill (11 km/ one way) and enjoy sunrise. A short drive from the town through Oak and Magnolia forest takes one to Tiger Hill the highest point of Darjeeling town area located at an altitude of 8000 Ft. Tiger Hill commands a panoramic view of Kanchenjunga range and summit of Mt. Everest, Lhotse and Makalu. On a clear day, you can  see four of the 8000 meter peaks including the highest and third highest peaks. These mountains perform an opalescent display of colors. As the first ray of rising sun hits the tip of the mountain, it starts changing its moods manifesting riots of colors from red to golden and silver, magical experience.

Later visitGhoom Monastery en route,  said to be built in 1875 by Lama Sherab Gyatso, a monk from Chumbi valley in Tibet and blessed personally by renowned Tomo Geshe Rimpoche of Tibet. It is considered one of the holiest monasteries in the area. Ghoom monastery is one of the oldest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Darjeeling. The monastery houses statue of the ‘Maitreye Buddha’ believed to be coming Buddha and it is believed that it houses rare scriptures of learning.

After breakfast, sightseeing tour of Darjeeling visiting Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre - started in 1959 to rehabilitate hundreds and thousands of Tibetan refugees who left Tibet along with HH Dalai Lama after Chinese aggression. Today this center has over 700 workers producing traditional Tibetan handicrafts like carpets, Khada (scarf), carved wooden items, meta and leather works.  The next is Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Everest Museum – associated with the legendary Late Tenzing Norgey,  one of the first people to reach the top of Mt. Everest along with Sir Edmond Hillary. This institute has produced many of the ace mountaineers of the country.

The next is Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park , the only zoo in the world to successfully breed Tibetan Wolf in captivity and the first South Asian Zoo to breed Snow Leopard and Siberian Tiger in captivity. This unique high altitude zoological park is internationally recognized for its work in the field of conservation of fauna of Eastern Himalayas and captive breeding of highly endangered animals including Red Panda. Highlight of the visit here will be observing some of the these rare faunas.

Later take joy ride on an over 130 years old narrow gauge steamed powered Darjeeling Himalayan Rail which is popularly known as “Toy Train”. It is an engineering marvel and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An 8 Km journey from Darjeeling passes through Batasia loop to reach Ghoom. Take a same train back to Darjeeling.

Overnight in Darjeeling.

Day 08 Drive to Bhadrapur in Nepal ( 145 km.) or Bagdogra Airport

MEAL: Breakfast

Depending on your itinerary, drive to  Bhadrapur airport in Nepal, or go to airport in Bagdogra and fly back home or extend your trip to India.

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