Backpacking Sikkim: Where beauty redefines itself

Backpacking Sikkim: Where beauty redefines itself

When I entered Sikkim by road, I felt I was entering a different world, in a good, awesome way..  Endless arid deserts stretched before my eyes, through a vast, wide valley, with high walls and cliffs on either side. I had never seen anything like these landscapes before. Yet another alibi to the diversity that India offers, Sikkim is a land where beauty redefines itself. Backpacking Sikkim, another indescribable Himalayan kingdom, rich in natural beauty and colour – definitely recommended!

A Backpacker’s map of East Sikkim; pic courtsey theydrawandtravel.com

A turquoise-blue river flowing through white sanded and white rocked valley, manicured roads, is just the beginning. With colourful monasteries rising out from scenic, virgin landscapes, and snow-capped mountains, every waking moment in Sikkim is a visual treat. For the adrenalin junkies, Sikkim houses Mt. Khangchendzonga the 3rd tallest mountain in the world, a variety of colour changing high-altitude lakes, and numerous treks and hikes.

Backpacking Sikkim: a high altitude desert
Backpacking Sikkim: a high altitude desert

Visa & Permits

While it is extremely rewarding to be able to experience backpacking through Sikkim, a few formalities must be completed before you can enter Sikkim. For non-Indians, in addition to an Indian visa, a 15 day inner line permit (ILP) is required to visit Sikkim. The permit is free of cost, and can be obtained on arrival at the Sikkim border office. Or, if you don’t want to make a stop to take the permit (takes half an hour) get one in advance from any Indian missions, Tourism Office, New Delhi, Sikkim Tourism office, Calcutta and Sikkim Tourism Office, Siliguri on the strength of an Indian Visa.

Carry your Passport & two passport sized photographs. ILP can be extended for further 30 days at FRO at Gangtok, Superintendent of Police of North, South and West Districts.

If you wish to visit the interior regions, you also require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) OR Protected Area Permit (PAP) which is obtainable in Gangtok from the Police Check Post and Department of Tourism.

Prayer flags, Sikkim
Prayer flags, Sikkim

Weather and best time to visit

 The weather in Sikkim is cold as it is located at high altitude. The ideal time to visit Sikkim is from March to October.
Riverside by Sikkim
Riverside by Sikkim

Gangtok

Start at Gangtok, to ease into the awesomeness that lies ahead. A day of shopping and tasting amazing Indian foods (try the samosas) at the hill station shopping street (Mall Road) should give you a great kick start. The variety of colours, foods, and the peace loving, friendly locals are the cherry on top.
From Gangtok, you will need further permits if you are to travel further into Sikkim.
Sikkim is astoundingly beautiful, and diverse place with lovely, helpful people. The monasteries lend to its peaceful ambience, as do the scaling mountains around. Hope you find warmth and joy here, as I did.
Bon Voyage!

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