Snow covered peaks; Gompas (Tibetan Buddhist monasteries) and tea estates are the best way to describe the regions Sikkim and Darjeeling in Northeast India.
Sikkim and Darjeeling
Sikkim and Darjeeling are in the Northeast of India between Tibet, Nepal and Buthan. Sikkim was a former Kingdom and is quite small. It is just 100km von north to south and 80km from east to west. On our way we could see the first coloured prayer flags beside the roads. Tibetan Buddhism influences the regions.
Ravangla – the Kanchenjunga
We must start our trip in Rangpo. Here in the border town we can apply for a permit to enter Sikkim. Foreigners need an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit Sikkim. However, it is somewhat easy to get it. With copies of our passports and Indian visa and pictures we go to the tourist office in Rangpo and get our ILP within minutes. Now finally we just need to register at the border and get stamps in our passport. That’s all. Now we are in Sikkim.
Our next destination is Ravangla. There we shall get a first view on the Himalaya and the third highest mountain in the world the Kanchenjunga.
The roads in Sikkim are quite narrow and sleepy, so it takes some time for us to get there.
The town itself is small and the houses are built into to the hills. We cannot really find a place to stay. The helipad outside of Ravangla seems to be the only place, where we can park and get a nice view on the mountains. So we do. The next Morning is incredible: Our first view on the Himalaya and the Kanchenjunga.
Pelling and around
However Pelling is nice, but very narrow as well: No parking space. The Lonely Planet tells us the helipad is the best place to see the sunrise und the Kanchenjunga. So we park Loki here, again on a helipad.
Just a stone throw away of Loki is the second oldest Gompa of Sikkim. We are awake and so we decided to go there. Later we visit the oldest Gompa of Sikkim the Pemayangtse Gompa. This gompa was built in 1705 and is the most important Nyingmapa-Gompa of Sikkim and very colourful.
Khecheopalri – The Holy Lake
The best time to visit the lake is early in the morning or late in the evening.
Tiger Hill and Darjeeling
Darjeeling itself is not so spectacular. However you have the Himalayan-railway and the tea estates around, but the city is not as charming as we expected.