Sikkim is a beautiful destination and we need not say it again and again. In our last blog on places to visit in North Sikkim (If you haven’t read it yet, go right now and read it!) we culminated a list of places that are truly worth witnessing in the Sikkim’s North District. This time we are covering, South Sikkim, and it turns out this comparatively smaller district has some of the most amazing places to see and things to experience. South Sikkim is an ideal destination for adventurists as well as nature lovers and of course for those who are seeking a getaway from the touristy places and bustling city life. The region offers bountiful opportunities for angling, rafting, camping, trekking and wildlife exploration along with obtaining complete peace of mind, body and soul. Indeed South Sikkim tour can prove to be a healing agent and thus it should go unmissed.
Known for a large statue of Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche, Namchi is the identifier South Sikkim. Some 78kms from state capital Gangtok, Namchi is best associated with Buddhist monasteries and scenic locales. And not only are this, the view of the Rangeet Valley and the Kanchenjunga Peak the additional charming assets of the place. Also the closely located Temi Garden, which by the way is known for producing best quality tea in the world also make a tour to Namchi worth it. A holiday in Namchi would revolve around sightseeing of naturally beautiful places, Buddhist pilgrimages and witnessing bio-diversity. Apart from sightseeing and contemplating wildlife, Namchi gives opportunity to enjoy few adventure activities in South Sikkim. There are angling opportunities at Rangeet River and a trail from Namchi to Tendong-Ravangla-Maenam-Borong spanning 5-6 days and is a trekkers’ delight.
Best Time to Visit: March to October
Best Places to Stay: There are several mid-range budget hotels that provide good facilities like spas and 24-hour travel information counter.
How to Reach:
Located on a ridge between Maenam and Tedong Hill, Ravangla is yet another attraction in South Sikkim. How do we know this place better? By its vantage point that offers incredible views of the Greater Himalayas. Ravangla is an ideal place to visit if you are seeking peace of mind and some fantastic panorama to be etched forever in your memories. At a short distance of about 8kms from Ravangla is Rayong, which is THE BEST place to be if you are an early riser. It is a place from where you can witness the falling of first rays of the sun on snow peaks, not to mention the view is simply to die for. Apart from it, Ravangla is known for its Buddhist Monastery and the salubrious climate that can be enjoyed immensely during your summer vacations. Ralong Monastery, Ravangla Monastery, the holy cave of Shar Chok Bephu are some of the places to see in Ravangla. You can also trek to the Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home of lush green forest of magnolia, chestnut oak and rhododendron. Also, do not forget to visit the market, where you can buy traditionally designed and woven carpets at best prices.
Best Time to Visit: April (Tourism, Culture and Crafts Festival), August-September (Pang Lhabsol Festival), Summer (April-June)
Best Places to Stay: Ravangla has several mid-range and budget hotels that provide good facilities round-the-clock.
How to Reach:
Situated on the bank of Rangeet River, Sikip is a perfect place for a holiday in South Sikkim. Away from the bustles and cradled in the lap of serene nature, Sikip is an angler’s paradise. And not only this, one can be able to avail the facility of rafting down the Rangeet River from here. Sounds interesting, eh? Adding to the allurement is the fact that you can visit Sikip anytime of the year and can obtain maximum fun by including camping in your plan. Enjoy the scenic landscape and the tranquility and come back home as a better person.
Best Time to Visit: All through the year, however, to make the most of rafting opportunities, the months of March to May and October to December is the best time.
Best Places to Stay: At present, Sikip does not offer any hotels. Accommodation at Sikip can be available at some home stays, which also offer moderate dining facilities. Camping is the ideal accommodation option.
How to Reach: Sikip can be reached from Gangtok via the Legship on a motorable road in about 5 hours. One can hire a car and reach here from Darjeeling and Siliguri via Jorethang.
A major town in South Sikkim, Jorethang sprawls on the foothills below which River Rangeet flows. Jorethang stands at an altitude of 300m above sea level and thus have temperate climate, which is quite pleasant. The town is situated on the way to Pelling and is known for its Akar Suspension Bridge. Some 400m north of the Bridge is a photogenic roadside that has a temple called Sisne Mandir. Jorethang is only 30kms from Darjeeling and thus make a great weekend destination near West Bengal. It is to be noted that the place is for those seeking an escape from routines and hustle and bustle of the city life.
Best Time to Visit: January (Jorethang Maghe Mela Celebration)
Best Places to Stay: There are few hotels that are managed by Sikkim Tourism Department in Jorethang. However at nearby Pelling, the range is better as along with tourism department hotels there are private ones as well.
How to Reach:
Rabong is situated at the base of Maenam Hill and is reckoned to be the transit point for tourists’ attractions like Chozo Lake, Ralong Monastery, Manilakhang, Sakyamuni Cultural and Pilgrimage Centre. Rabong is also an ideal base for trekkers setting out for Maenam Hill and Borong. The place is One can enjoy numerous short nature trails like the one down to the sacred cave ‘Shar Chok Bhepu’, which is one of the four holiest caves in Sikkim, is indeed a memorable experience.
Best Time to Visit: March to June and October-November
Best Places to Stay: Ravangla would be an ideal place to stay if one is visiting Jorethang, as there better options for accommodation.
How to Reach: The best way to reach Rabong is via Ravangla. One can take a shared jeep or book a cab from Ravangla.
A scenic village, Borong is an ideal trekking destination in South Sikkim. Overlooking the mighty mountains, this village is blessed with a beautiful landscape and spectacular views. The trek begins from Namchi and then crossing Tendong, Rabong and Maenam, it reaches the final destination of Borong. One can catch a glimpse of some the majestic Mt. Kanchenjungha and peaks like Sinolchu, Narsingh and Pandim and a spectacular sight of sunrise from the snow-covered mountains is also a guarantee.
Best Time to Visit: Borong can be visited throughout the year. However, if one would like to see the festival taking place by the bank of Rangeet River, then February is the ideal month to visit Borong.
Best Places to Stay: There are few hotels available at Borong that are located amidst beautiful tree-covered site.
How to Reach: The nearest railway station to Borong is New Jalpaiguri. Then from the station, one can hire a car. One can also reach Jorthang or Singtam from Siliguri bus stand and then head to Borong. Borong can also be reached from Pelling, Gangtok or Rinchenpong by car.
Tendong again is a trekking destination in South Sikkim. Situated above the Damthang, Tendong Hill is a small flat stretch of land that is surrounded by lush green forest. It is believed that Lepcha Tribe of Sikkim offer worship in the forests of Tendong. Historically, this place was a hermitage for the Buddhist Lamas who spend years in meditation amidst the scenic grandeur. It is an ideal place to enjoy the nature’s beauty and view of the parts of the plains of West Bengal. One can trek Tendong Hill by seeking some guidance from the locals. Borong, Maenam, Temi Tea estate are few places close to Tendong.
Best Time to Visit: March-June
Best Places to Stay: Accommodation is available at Ravangla as Tendong is a short trek from there.
How to Reach: Tendong can be trekked from Ravangla
Located at a short distance from Tedong and Ravangla, Maenam is known for offering unmatched views of the area. The Maenam hill has to be trek and it takes about four hours from Ravangla for the trekking expedition to accomplish. The hill towers above the Tedong hill and offers a lovely view of Ravangla Bazar. A day’s hike here can rejuvenate the nature lovers and provide them some knowledge about South Sikkim.
Best Time to Visit: March-June
Best Places to Stay: Accommodation is available at Ravangla as Maenam Hill is a short trek from there.
How to Reach: Maenam Hill can be trekked from Ravangla.
Solophok is known as the pilgrimage centre in South Sikkim. Situated some 5kms from Namchi, Solophok has a main temple of 108 feet height on which is based the 87 feet high statue of Lord Shiva in the sitting posture. Apart from Shiva statue, Solophok also has replicas of the twelve Jyotirlingas making it a must-visit place for Shiva devotees. The complex covers an area of approximately 7 acres and is accessible by a smooth road. Apart from providing a unique religious and cultural ambience, the Pilgrimage-cum-Cultural Centre conducts cultural activities, seminars, religious discourses, nature study and passive recreation.
Best Time to Visit: Throughout the year.
Best Places to Stay: Accommodation is available at Namchi as Solophok is at a short distance from there.
How to Reach: Solophok is well-connected by road from Namchi. One can book cabs or take shared jeeps.
Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary is situated above the Tendong Hill and can be reached from Ravangla, which is at a distance of 26 kilometers. The Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary occupies an area of 36.43sq. km. The altitude of the sanctuary ranges between 2300 meters to 3263 meters. This sanctuary is famous for two reasons, trekking and rich forest with alpine Himalayan species of animals. This temperate forest is the home to Red Panda, Goral, Serow, Barking Deer, Marbled-Cat, Leopard-Cat, Civet-Cats, Blood Pheasant, Common Hill Partridge, Magpies, Black Eagle, Blue necked Pitta, Sunbirds and different other types of animals and birds.
Best Time to Visit: Throughout the year.
Best Places to Stay: Accommodation is available at Ravangla.
How to Reach: Maenam is well-connected by road from Ravangla. One can book cabs to reach.
Like it is said Big Things Come in Small Packages and so is the case with Sikkim. Small yet majestic, this region of the beautiful North East state of Sikkim is a truly worth exploring. If you think that we have missed on some destinations that are worth exploring in South Sikkim, please feel free to suggest us in the comment box below.