Expect spectacular panoramas of the surrounding mountains, frozen lakes that glisten in the sunlight, and frequent snowfall as the dawn gives way to the day as the dove-grey twilight sky of Sikkim in January is a preview of things to come as the dawn gives way to the day. A visit in January is sure to be a frigid, but enjoyable, trip.
Sikkim’s Eastern Frosty Delights
The mean temperature in Gangtok(5,840ft), Sikkim’s capital, fluctuates between 2° and 11°C in January. Expect bright, sunny days and chilly evenings. The cold is acceptable with a heavy jacket, and the city sparkles in the sunlight, making it an ideal time to see the monasteries and other sights in east Sikkim.
Although the Tsuklakhang Royal Monastery is located in the centre of bustling Gangtok, just a short distance from the Flower Exhibition Centre, the mood is serene to say the least as you reach its front gate. The altars are ornamented with sculptures of Bodhisattvas and numerous Tantric deities, making this opulent monastery the ideal introduction to Sikkim’s gompas. A morning trip from Tsuklakhang to Rumtek Monastery, 23 kilometres distant, is an excellent way to begin your journey.Rumtek, positioned on a hill overlooking Gangtok at 5,500 feet, offers an excellent view of the city’s roofs in January. Don’t miss the magnificent paintings representing the Four Guardians of the Universe at the main temple’s entrance. The Phodang Monastery, built in the 1700s and having historic frescoed artwork, located around 40 kilometres from Gangtok. Rumtek and Phodang are both part of the Tibetan Buddhist Kagyu sect and may be visited on the same day if you hire a car from Gangtok.
While significant snowfall has forced border security to block Nathu La Pass in January on occasion, visitors have been able to make the trek in the past.
Tsomgo Lake, also known as Changu Lake, is 40 kilometres from the capital city and is virtually frozen over in January. Imagine a vivid blue, oval-shaped waterbody surrounded by snow-capped mountains at an elevation of 12,310 feet, and you know you have to visit.
The corkscrew road to Baba Mandir is about 15 kilometres from Tsomgo Lake on a beautiful January day. This memorial, located at 13,000 feet, is dedicated to Harbhajan Singh, a soldier who died on these slopes. His soul, according to legend, guards army men on the Sino-Indian border. The sub-zero temperatures in January make for an exciting experience, and the snow-covered landscape is a sight to behold.
Kupup Lake is a must-see destination for anybody interested in seeing a totally frozen waterbody. This elephant-shaped lake is frozen in place and is located 60 kilometres from Gangtok, right before Baba Mandir. Kupup Lake is not on most itineraries and is ideal for people searching for off-the-beaten-path places in east Sikkim.
Zuluk (10,000ft), 31 miles from Kupup, is another lesser-known January destination in eastern Sikkim. The road through Zuluk’s little settlement includes a lot of hairpin twists and looks like a snake winding through the snow. The Thambi Picture Point, 14 kilometres distant, offers a panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga Range on a January day. For those looking to spend a few days away from the hustle and bustle of Gangtok, Zuluk offers homestays and residences.
The Frozen Northern Sikkim
The weather in the eastern Himalayas is very hard to forecast. In the month of January, several tourist sites in north Sikkim are closed. If you’re looking for something more daring, there are a handful that provide breathtaking views.
Lachen (8,800ft) begins to see the first hints of snowfall in November, and by January, the northern Sikkim town is blanketed in white. While Gurudongmar Lake is closed to visitors, you may immerse yourself in the winter atmosphere of a Sikkimese hamlet. Take a trip to Lachen Monastery, which is only a short distance from town, and relax in the monastery’s tranquilly. Make sure you’re prepared for sub-zero temps as a traveller.
If you truly want to see northern Sikkim in January, Lachung is the place to go. This village is located at an elevation of 9,000 feet and is 47 kilometres from Lachen. Because temperatures might range from -7° to 10°C, two tributaries of the Teesta river will be frozen over in this attractive town. While you’re waiting for the weather to clear so you can go to the nearby sights, check out Lachung Monastery. A little gompa with a prayer chamber that can temporarily make you forget about the cold. Gangtok is four hours distant by car from Lachung.
While Gurudongmar Lake has a ten percent probability of being visited, Yumthang Valley and Zero Point have a forty to fifty percent chance of being visited. Yumthang, 25 kilometres from Lachung, is best visited early in the morning or late in the day. The entire valley is blanketed with snow, making for a once-in-a-lifetime sight. The Teesta is surrounded by snowy peaks, and the alpine vegetation is stark but attractive. Zero Point, 25 kilometres from Yumthang, is reached after a bumpy automobile trip through the snow. It’s worth the effort because Zero Point sits at an elevation of 15,000 feet, and you’ll get to see snowfall if the roads are open.
Wintery Western sikkim
The hill village of Pelling (7,200ft) is an excellent choice for January visitors. Pelling, in western Sikkim, is a 130-kilometer drive from Gangtok in the east, with temperatures ranging from 4 to 15 degrees Celsius. This mountainous village is about 9 kilometres from the Pemayangtse Monastery, which dates from the 17th century. Mt. Kanchenjunga can be seen in all its splendour from the grounds of this gompa when the sun shines brightly in January. The mountains that surround Khecheopalri Lake, 90 minutes from Pelling, reflect off the azure waters of this sacred waterbody. Rabdentse Ruins, a few kilometres from Pemayangtse Gompa, offer a glimpse into Sikkimese history.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to go on a January hike? A walk to Dzongri through Yuksom is a necessity if you can withstand the bitter cold. Yuksom, located 40 kilometres from Pelling, is historically significant as the first capital of Sikkim in the mid-1600s. Since then, Yuksom, also known as ‘the entrance to the Kanchenjunga,’ has become a trekker’s paradise, since it is the starting point for a variety of paths. Not all of them are open in January, but if you’re up for it, look for one that passes via Pandim, Jhopuno, and Thenchinkhang. If you’re looking for a short hike, head up to the Dubdi Monastery.
Southern Sikkim’s Snowy Paradise
Southern Sikkim’s weather is ideal for a January expedition. Namchi, the southern district’s seat, comes alive in the winter with snow-covered vistas. This city, 80 kilometres from Gangtok, is home to a massive Padmasambhava monument sitting atop Samdruptse Hill (7,000ft). The surrounding panoramas of snow-capped peaks and greenery make for the ideal January stroll in Namchi, where temperatures average 11°C during the day and drop to around zero as the sun sets. Ngadak and Sherdup Choeling gompas are also in Namchi if you’re interested in religious architecture.
Borong village is a must-see trip in January if you want to see the rural beauty of south Sikkim. Maenam Hill has the greatest views of the southern mountain ranges, and Ralang Monastery is an essential stop on the Tibetan Buddhism circuit.
Jorethang, which is located in the south, holds Sikkim’s Maghey Sankranti Mela, a major three-day cultural event. Local artists present their wares, creating the ideal setting for people interested in learning about Sikkimese heritage and culture. Maghey Sankranti, which began as an agricultural fair in the 1950s and has enormous religious importance, allows visitors to observe Sikkim’s age-old rituals while having a wonderful time.
Don’t miss out on the chance to visit Sikkim during the first half of the year.
Do not hesitage to give us a call. We are an expert team and we are happy to talk to you.