Sikkim and Darjeeling

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

Our next destination is Pelling around the town are two old Gompas and the view on the mountains is said to be even nicer, because now we are only 20 miles away from the 3 th highest mountain in the world.
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.
The next morning we wake up by some Indian tourists. It is 4:30am and the sun starts to rise. Last night it was raining, but now the sky is clear. The view is incredible.
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

Just some kilometres away from Pelling is the Holy Lake Khecheopalri. The Buddhists believes that the birds collect all leafs from the lake. Normally during the daytime it is very busy here. Many tourists from Pelling are doing day trips to the lake. But they are all gone at 4 pm. If you come here stay overnight in one of the nice homestays, 20 minutes up the hill. The road is really narrow. So that it can take hours to drive the 28km from Pelling to Khecheopalri.
The best time to visit the lake is early in the morning or late in the evening.

Tiger Hill and Darjeeling

The Tiger Hill is well-known for an amazing view on the Himalaya. It is a place to go. However we nearly regret it. Loki is too high for the road. The last kilometre to the top of the Tiger Hill takes more than one hour. Colourful prayer flags everywhere, but very low over the ground. Astrid has to lift them many times, so Loki could pass. But finally on top of the Tiger Hill we are at a spectacular place. Next morning around 4am the queue of jeeps from Darjeeling arrives for the sunrise, we can see out of the bed.
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.