Visiting the Himalayan state of Sikkim in August is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The monsoons, which are in full force at this time of year, breathe fresh life into these mountains, shrouding them in melancholy shrouds of mist that, when cleared, provide some of the most breathtaking vistas of the Himalayas you’ll ever see. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On rain-washed slopes, trees gleam with a renewed brilliance, while the loveliest of wildflowers blossom in little patches all around. Sunsets are one of the nicest parts of monsoon season in the highlands. The sun’s beams are broken by rain-soaked clouds, which paint the sky in vivid colours that remind you of a painting.
The Moody Mists of East Sikkim
During August, the temperature in Gangtok, Sikkim’s capital, ranges from 17 to 21 degrees Celsius. Begin your Sikkim adventure with a stroll down MG Marg, Gangtok’s main thoroughfare. Numerous cafés, bookshops, gift shops, restaurants, and bars line the picturesque street. You’ll be reminded of European towns by the lovely fountains and Victorian lampposts. Hike up to Do Drul Chorten, a magnificent stupa in the heart of town. It is claimed to safeguard Gangtok from all types of bad spirits after being blessed by a respected monk. Explore the state’s rich history and culture at the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. A museum at the institution includes some of the world’s most valuable collections of coins, thangkas, and holy texts.
If you wish to learn more, visit the institute’s library. The Tsuklakhang Palace Monastery offers a glimpse into the lives of Sikkim’s nobility. Coronations, weddings, and other major rituals for the erstwhile kingdom’s royal family were held at the magnificent complex, which included a royal chapel, assembly hall, and monastery. The Flower Exhibition Centre on the Ridge is around 20 minutes away from M.G Marg. Check out this incredible exhibition of some of the world’s most unusual flower and plant kinds. The Banjhakri Cascade, about 7 kilometres from the city centre, is a must-see during the monsoon season, when the waterfall is at its most beautiful.
The famed Rumtek Monastery, the solitary home of the Black Hat Order of Buddhism headed by the Karmapa, is located around 23 kilometres from Gangtok and offers a taste of Sikkim’s rich cultural legacy. The monastery features some of the rarest thangkas and holy texts on exhibit, making it one of the outstanding examples of Tibetan-Buddhist architecture. If the rain gods are on your side, you could enjoy a spectacular view of Gangtok city from this vantage point.
Wait for a clear day before hiring a cab to Nathula, which is 56 kilometres from Gangtok. This mountain pass, which rises to a height of 14,000 feet, was formerly part of the historic Silk Route, which connected India and China via Tibet. The weather here in August stays between a nice 8°C and 11°C. Don’t miss Baba Harbhajan Singh’s temple at Nathula, which is the guardian saint of the Indian Army. This martyred soldier is the subject of several tales. When you visit the Baba Temple, you’ll learn more. Lake Tsomgo is located on the road to Nathula. This glacier lake, which remains frozen throughout the winter, melts fully by August, creating a spectacular picture.
The Harsh Monsoon of North Sikkim
North Sikkim is likely to be one of the most popular places for adventurers and environment lovers visiting Sikkim. However, because of their high altitude (almost 9000 feet and above), it is advised to avoid these areas around August, when the monsoon is at its most intense. Traveling to these locations is dangerous owing to landslides and obstacles caused by the constant rain.
The Drizzly Delights of South Sikkim
If you are planning a trip to South Sikkim, Namchi, the district headquarters, should not be overlooked. The weather here varies from a lovely 19°C to a delightful 25°C in August, which is an 80-kilometer trip from Gangtok. As you approach the main town, the gigantic statue of Guru Padmasambhava on top of Samdruptse Hill is difficult to miss. The view of Kanchendzonga and the Rangit Valley from here is breathtaking on a clear day. Sikkim is home to some of the world’s most unusual bird species. During the monsoons, they are at their most active, making it an ideal time for bird-watching aficionados to come.
The Kitam Bird Sanctuary, 20 kilometres from Namchi, is home to over 200 different bird species, including the Grey-crowned Prinia, Rufous-throated Wren-babbler, Yellow-vented Warbler, Wedge-billed Wren-babbler, and a variety of butterfly species. Temi Tea Garden, Sikkim’s sole tea-producing region, is approximately 18 kilometres from Namchi and is a great day excursion. You may even spend the night in the tea garden’s ancient colonial British cottage if you desire. The Namchi Rock Garden is also worth seeing. It’s ideal for a quiet stroll, with landscaped gardens, gorgeous gazebos, and lily ponds. While you’re here, you may also go to the Ngadak Monastery.
The Magical Moss-land of West Sikkim
Pelling, located 113 kilometres from Gangtok and 75 kilometres from Namchi, serves as a base for exploring West Sikkim. The weather in August is ideal, with temperatures ranging from 18 to 25 degrees Celsius. The 300-year-old Pemayangtse Monastery, located just 8 kilometres from the main town, is well worth a visit. The monastery belongs to the Tibetan Buddhist Nyingma sect. The Rabdentse Ruins are a short walk from the monastery. This 16th century capital of the ancient kingdom of Sikkim is reached through a pleasant stroll through a chestnut wood. During the rains, the ruins of the old palace complex are covered with moss, making the entire region look like something out of a fairy tale.
The holy Khecheopalri Lake, located 32 kilometres from Pelling, is also a must-see. Yuksom, about 40 kilometres from Pelling, is another little town in West Sikkim worth seeing. On the way, don’t forget to stop and admire the thundering Kanchendzonga Falls. Yuksom, the kingdom of Sikkim’s first capital, has a lot to offer the discriminating tourist. Take a stroll around Norbugang Park, which still has the Chogyal’s original coronation throne. Hire a cab to transport you to the Dubdi Monastery, the state’s oldest. It was founded in 1647 by the Chogyal himself.
If you don’t want to be part of the tourist horde, August is an excellent season to visit Sikkim. However, during this time of year, it’s better to keep your plans flexible and go with the flow. Landslides and blockages are common when it rains nonstop. Before going there, make sure you have enough information. Inquire of the locals for advice and direction, since they are the most knowledgeable, and who knows, you could wind up discovering some great pearls in the process.
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