Experiencing Sikkim's Diverse Weather and Events Throughout the Year
Nestled in the Himalayas, Sikkim is a north-eastern state of India that has experiences of great diversity in weather and events. The state is highly rich in vegetation allowing it to have a diverse range of weather conditions throughout different months of the year. Ranging from blistery winders to lush green summers with lots of festivals, this state has it all which makes it a great travel destination for many.
Here’s a closer look at what you should expect while being in Sikkim in different months and weather conditions.
When it comes to Sikkim’s weather, you would not want to miss the month of January as it is one of the coldest. The average temperature in this month is around 10 to -4 degrees Celsius and as you move to the Himalayan side, snowfall becomes more regular here. In the lower valleys of Sikkim, you will experience chilly weather conditions with a decent amount of rainfall. With the snowfall, you can have a winter activity adventure.
Some of the best places to visit in January include:
Yumthang Valley: Known as the “Valley of Flowers”, Yumthang is transformed into a snowy wonderland in January with opportunities for skiing and snowboarding. The natural hot springs here provide warmth after a day full of winter adventures.
Gurudongmar Lake: This is the lake that is totally frozen in the month of January and you can walk across it with no fear of drowning in it. There are various scenic spots and green mountains around this beauty.
Tsomgo Lake: You will be nothing less than amused at Tsomgo Lake in the month of January and there are many snow-capped mountains surrounding it. If you are a photographer, there is no better place for you to get some clicks, other than this lake in Sikkim.
There is a high possibility of roads being blocked by snowfall and you may consider it to be a hazardous situation. Do not forget to carry chains and drive cautiously while avoiding travel when there is a heavy snowfall warning on the weather forecast.
Major events in January include:
Sikkim Winter Carnival: You will get to see various festive performances, and food stalls along with other snow sports competitions at Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim.
Maghe Sankranti: on 14th of this month, longer days begin the harvesting seasons and it is celebrated by the Nepali people. Families gather to feast on Khichdi and sweet treats.
Another one of the coldest months in Sikkim’s weather is February. During this month, the weather is no better than January and it is important to be cautious when you are on the roads. The temperature is somewhere around 13 degrees Celsius and nights can get even more extreme.
Top destinations to visit include:
Nathula Pass: The drive through the rugged mountain terrain to Nathula Pass, an old trading route between India and China, is extremely scenic in February. With towering snow-covered peaks, it’s worth braving the cold!
Khecheopalri Lake: Considered sacred, this peaceful lake is surrounded by rich forests. Migratory birds start arriving in February, making it a haven for birdwatchers.
Ravangla: Home to the famous Buddha Park, Ravangla offers spectacular views of snowy peaks like Kanchenjunga. The town comes alive with traditional Lepcha dances during the annual Rabongla Festival.
The conditions on the roads are a bit improved as compared to the hazardous January but always being alarmed and cautious must be on your checklist. With high chances of precipitation, some roads and passes may still be closed during the month.
Key events and festivals:
Losar Festival: Marking the Tibetan New Year, Losar brings colorful festivities and customs to monasteries around Sikkim in February.
Saga Dawa: An important Buddhist festival, Saga Dawa commemorates the enlightenment of Buddha. On the full moon, devotees offer prayers and candles.
March brings the beginning of spring to Sikkim, with temperatures rising to average highs of 18°C during the day while nighttime lows remain around 5°C. While snow starts clearing from lower areas, the mountains still have plenty of snow.
Top spots to visit in March include:
Gangtok: The capital unveils its lush greenery and blooming rhododendrons in March. Enjoy scenic hilltop views and explore quaint monasteries around the city.
Lachung: This village transforms in springtime, with apple orchards and rugged snow-capped vistas surrounding it. Use it as a base for treks to Yumthang Valley and beyond.
Goecha La Trek: Starting in late March, this popular high-altitude trek through rhododendron forests and past mountains like Pandim offers mesmerizing views.
The warming temperatures open most mountain roads by March, but some higher passes may still have some blocks. Check conditions before driving through remote areas.
Festivals and events:
Holi: The vibrant Hindu festival of Holi brings colorful parades and parties to the streets of Sikkim in March.
Saga Dawa: This important Buddhist festival continues through March on the full moon day.
April is springtime from different Sikkim Weather in Jan to Dec, with flowers blooming and pleasant daytime temperatures around 20°C on average. However, evenings and mornings remain quite cool with lows of 8°C on average. The high mountain areas still experience snowfall.
Top attractions in April are:
MG Marg: Wander the pedestrian streets of Gangtok’s main thoroughfare, lined with restaurants, shops, and historic buildings like the royal palace. Enjoy the pleasant spring weather.
Rumtek Monastery: One of Sikkim’s most sacred monasteries, Rumtek has grand architecture and scenic views. The forested hike up to it blooms with flowers like orchids in April.
Seven Sister Waterfalls: Fed by snowmelt, these pristine waterfalls surge in April and are accessible after a short hike through a vibrant forest.
With most passes open, traveling around Sikkim is convenient aside from a few remote mountain roads. Daily showers can bring some temporary road debris, so exercise adequate caution.
Major April events:
Sikkim Festival: Gangtok hosts this festival celebrating Sikkim’s culture and art, with folk dances, music, and food.
Chaitra Aunsi: Nepali New Year is welcomed with feasts and rituals wishing for prosperity and good health.
May brings warmer summer temperatures to Sikkim, with daily highs now rising to 23°C on average. While mountain regions remain cool, valleys become hot and humid. Thunderstorms become frequent with the arrival of monsoon towards late May.
Some top places to visit in May are:
Pelling: With panoramic views of Kanchenjunga and surrounding peaks, Pelling is perfect for day hikes like the Rimbi Waterfalls trail during May before monsoons start.
Borong: Known for its hot springs, the quaint village of Borong makes an ideal retreat with its forested hillsides and steamy thermal baths that are especially rejuvenating during rainy periods.
Ravangla: Buddhashaped statue and quaint cafes overlooking mountain vistas. The scenic drive from Pelling to Ravangla is beautiful in May.
While major highways remain accessible, landslides may block remote mountain passes temporarily after heavy rain. Avoid travel if intense monsoons are forecasted.
Festivals and events:
Saga Dawa: The Buddhist festival has its final celebrations this month on the full moon.
Guru Rinpoche’s Birthday: Marking the founder of Tibetan Buddhism’s birth, this festival sees elaborate rituals and masked dances at monasteries.
June brings in the monsoon, with persistent downpours and hot humid weather. Temperatures average around 24°C but feel much warmer due to humidity. While the monsoon makes travel difficult, the lush green foliage and ferocious waterfalls are spectacular sights.
Some top rainy season destinations include:
Maenam Hill: Explore the monasteries and trail through rhododendron forests along this hill near Gangtok. The lush foliage and valley views are magnified after the rains.
Temi Tea Garden: Visit Sikkim’s sole tea plantation, watch the tea-making process, and enjoy tea tasting. The rows of greenery are rejuvenated after the rains.
Namchi: Home to the grand Samdruptse hilltop statue, Namchi offers great views when cloud cover lifts after the rains. Enjoy local cuisine and cultural programs here.
Landslides and flooding can block remote roads for days during June. Stick to major routes like National Highway 10 as much as possible, and avoid driving at night or during heavy rain.
Annual events in June:
Sikkim Day: The state celebrates its founding on June 16th with parades and festivities across Sikkim.
Ramadan: The Islamic holy month sees Sikkim’s minority Muslim community partake in fasting and prayer.
July is the wettest month in Sikkim with daily downpours and potential flooding. Average temperatures remain mild, around 25°C since cloud cover and rain provide relief from heat. Though traveling is difficult, the lush green wilderness and roaring waterfalls are exceptional after heavy rains.
Some of the top places to experience the monsoons are:
Rinchenpong: With abundant cardamom plantations and views of Kanchenjunga, this small town offers beautiful nature walks like the Varsey Rhododendron Trail after fresh rainfall.
Waterfalls near Ravangla after the heavy monsoon rains.
Hanuman Tok: This temple complex located at a high altitude has refreshing greenery and great valley views when cloud cover clears after the rains in July.
Many rural roads become precarious to drive with possible debris or washouts. Use reliable transportation and don’t self-drive in remote areas during the monsoon months.
Key events in July:
Guru Purnima: This Hindu and Buddhist festival commemorates spiritual teachers, with chanting, prayers, and processions.
Eid-al-Adha: Sikkim’s minority Muslim community partakes in festive feasts and prayers to mark the end of Hajj.
August continues the monsoon Sikkim Weather in Jan to Dec list and has high rainfall. Temperatures remain moderate around 24°C but very humid. While major festivals occur, traveling is still quite challenging due to persistent showers and risks of landslides.
Some top places to consider visiting include:
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology: Check out the museum at this renowned monastery and institute to learn about Tibetan culture without having to brave the rain.
Rumtek Monastery: The spiritual aura of this monastery becomes even more powerful during monsoon season. The sound of rain enhances meditation here.
Phodong Monastery: An important Kagyu sect monastery, Phodong’s brilliant murals and frescoes shine after cleaning during the monsoon season each year.
Monitor landslide warnings before driving, avoid night travel, and check for roadblocks. Travel with caution this month.
Major events in August are:
Janmashtami: Hindu temples across Sikkim celebrate Lord Krishna’s birthday with processions, dancing, and offerings on this popular festival.
Onam: The harvest festival is marked in Sikkim by Kerala cultural organizations with elaborate feasts, dances, and performances.
With monsoons tapering off in September, weather becomes more pleasant in Sikkim. Temperatures average around 23°C and rainfall decreases substantially. Misty valleys and blooming wildflowers make for excellent sightseeing this month.
Some top destinations are:
Zuluk: Enjoy the scenic “Silk Route” drive to this small village, making stops at viewpoints like Kupup Lake. When the skies are clear after rain, the vista of Himalayan peaks is sensational.
Namchi Rock Gardens: This park near Namchi has beautiful sculptures and walking trails with waterfalls, best explored after rains when vegetation is lush.
Darap Village: Known for organic farming and old monasteries, Darap has a peaceful ambiance after the monsoon’s end. Trek through rhododendron forests nearby.
While the risk of landslides and mudslides reduces significantly, some damage to roads will still be present. Drive with care, especially at night.
Key events in September include:
Pang Lhabsol: This festival at Pemayangtse monastery features masked dances conveying Buddhist teachings to celebrate Mount Kanchenjunga.
Vishwakarma Puja: Held on the Hindu festival of Vishwakarma Puja, artisans and craftsmen in Sikkim offer prayers for prosperity.
October brings autumn colors and comfortable conditions from among the Sikkim Weather in Jan to Dec, with average temperatures around 18°C. While high mountain passes become cold again, lower areas have pleasant days and cool evenings perfect for hiking and sightseeing.
Some top places to visit are:
Yuksom: Regarded as the gateway to Mt Kanchenjunga, Yuksom has great hiking trails through forested areas boasting fall foliage in October. Visit historic monasteries and the Coronation Throne.
Khanchendzonga Biosphere Reserve: Explore forest trails like the Prek Chu trek and spot birds and orchids while enjoying the fall scenery.
Lachung Chu: This quaint village has apple orchards and wonderful views of peaks like Pandim to enjoy in October as winter approaches again.
Roads remain easily navigable in October, aside from possible light snow at the highest passes. No special precautions are needed for driving.
Major October festivals:
Durga Puja: Lavish pandals with large Durga idols are set up in towns across Sikkim to mark this major Hindu festival.
Karwa Chauth: Married Hindu women in Sikkim observe a fast for the health and longevity of their husbands on this festival.
As winter returns to the high Himalayan peaks, November has chilly weather with average temperatures of 12°C in Sikkim. While snowfall resumes in the mountains, places like Gangtok experience pleasant days and cold nights. Woolens become essential again!
Good places to visit include:
Saramsa Garden: Located just outside Gangtok, this garden becomes resplendent with Himalayan flowers like orchids in bloom even as winter returns to the peaks.
Khecheoplari Lake: Considered sacred, this lake remains a peaceful retreat to enjoy pristine nature in late autumn.
Singhik Viewpoint: Take in the panoramic views of Kanchenjunga and other peaks as they become snow-laden again in November.
Heavy snow can block high passes like Nathula again so drive with caution. Carry chains and avoid going during active snowfall. No other special driving precautions are needed.
Lhabab Duchen: On this sacred Buddhist festival, devotees light lamps, offer prayers, and go on pilgrimages to lakes like Khecheoplari.
Loy Krathong: The festival of lights is celebrated in Sikkim’s monasteries and homes of those with Thai heritage, with candle floats on lakes.
December is the peak winter in Sikkim’s weather with very cold temperatures averaging 6°C and subzero nights. While Gangtok remains pleasant in the day, heavy snow blankets higher elevations. Despite the cold, December offers many unique travel experiences.
Some top attractions include:
Nathula Pass: The drive to this frozen pass along the OLD Silk Route is scenic in December. Stop by the Baba Mandir dedicated to soldiers.
Phodong Monastery: Attend early morning pujas with monks at this historic monastery with ancient murals and art. The sound of chanting is mesmerizing.
Teesta River: Take a rafting expedition along the icy Teesta River, making stops at secluded hot springs along the way to warm up!
Exercise extreme caution while driving due to snow, ice, and poor visibility. Avoid remote routes, carry chains, and drive only during the daytime and good weather.
Festivals and events:
Losoong: Marking the end of the harvest season, this Sikkimese festival is celebrated with archery competitions and tasty noodle dishes.
Christmas: Gangtok dazzles with lights and festivities for Christmas, with special services at area churches.
Sikkim offers extraordinary diversity in activities and events for travelers throughout the year. While monsoons can hamper travel during summer months, the rest of the year offers pleasant to chilly weather conducive to enjoying Sikkim’s breathtaking Himalayan landscapes, sacred Buddhist sites, and charming culture. Bring the right clothing and drive carefully, and an incredible experience awaits in this Northeast gem!
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