The Eastern Himalaya Darjeeling & Sikkim

10 Nights/11 Days

Darjeeling – Pelling – Gangtok - Lachung – Yumthang - Gangtok – Kalimpong
September - March

Darjeeling nestles coyly among steep mountains that fill the horizon for as far as the eye can see. The glistening Mt. Kanchenjunga towers into the azure sky. It is home to the famous Darjeeling tea – revered by connoisseurs across the globe, and the World Heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Sikkim is a land of peace and tranquility. Also known as the Land of Orchids, it is home to more than 600 varieties of orchid. Its sublime Himalayan skyline make it an ideal destination for trekking. With an area of just 7096 sq. km., and situated in the eastern Himalaya, Sikkim boasts of a rich biodiversity and high mountain ranges. Mt. Khangchendzonga, the 3rd highest peak in the world and the guardian deity of the Sikkimese people, lies along its western ramparts.

Day 1 Arrive Darjeeling
Touch down at the airport in Bagdogra. Meeting and assistance on arrival, and drive immediately onwards to Darjeeling, perched at a height of 7100 ft. amsl (98 kms.; 4 hrs.) Check-in at your hotel. The rest of the evening is at leisure.

Overnight is at hotel.

Day 2 Darjeeling
Leave very early in the morning (at around 04:00AM) and drive to Tiger Hill to get a ringside view of the majestic sunrise over Kanchenjunga Peak, if the clouds don’t play spoilsport on that day. On your way back to the hotel, visit the Batasia (rail) Loop and Ghoom Monastery.

Partake of a hearty breakfast at your hotel and immediately thereafter, proceed on a fascinating city tour of Darjeeling. Visit the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (closed on Thursdays), Happy Valley Tea Estate, Tenzing Rock and Gombu Rock and the Tibetan Refugee Self-help Center (closed on Sundays.) Post lunch, visit the White Pagoda, admire the Lalkothi (D. G. H. C. Assembly) from outside, and go on to visit the Ava Art Gallery, Dhirdham Temples and the Natural History Museum.

Return to the hotel for dinner and an overnight.

Day 3 Darjeeling – Pelling
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and drive to Pelling at 7000 ft. amsl. (118 kms.; 4 hrs.) Arrive late in the afternoon and check in at your hotel. Pelling is situated atop a ridge that straddles a well-forested hill facing towards Kanchanjunga, offering excellent views of this majestic peak of the eastern Himalaya. By midday, clouds tend to roll in and completely and hide Pelling from view. It is a beautiful experience.

The rest of the day is at leisure to enjoy the bracing high-altitude air and the magnificent mountain scenery.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 4 Pelling
Start early on a full day excursion that covers the Rimbi Waterfalls, Rimbi Hydel Project, Khecheopalri Lake and Kanchenjunga Falls.

The Rimbi river hurtles down a steep and verdant hillside, and dives into an inviting pool, from where it turns into a sedate, but fast flowing stream. A small hydel power plant located on its left bank harnesses and provides power to Pelling and other nearby villages and towns. Also located here on the banks of the river is the Sewaro Rock Garden, developed and maintained by the department of tourism. The park affords a feast for the eyes with wildflowers growing everywhere in gay abandon, the Rimbi River flowing past and the majestic hills completely covered with lovely forests on either side of the park. Drive onwards to visit legendary Khecheopalri Lake, located at 6000 ft. amsl and considered to be holy by the local Lepcha tribal communities that inhabit the area.

Legend has it that many years ago, the lake was miraculously created through divine forces to fill a grazing ground that was previously full of thorny nettles. The lake has since been recognised as the abode of ‘Tshomen Gyalmo’, the chief protective deity of the dharma and blessed by the goddess Tara. The path to the lake snakes through a verdant forest that is alive with beautiful wild flowers, ferns and huge trees standing erect and proud. The lake itself is hidden behind colourful prayer flags. A long jetty allows pilgrims to reach a fair way out into the lake. As you walk up to the lake, you are accompanied by local pilgrims carrying incense sticks and other worship paraphernalia, jostling each other on the narrow path. At the end of the jetty, witness the devout praying and offering ‘prasad’ to the deity. This is quickly gobbled up by a school of enthusiastic fish, that are frequently to be seen thrashing about in the waters near the jetty.

Return to the hotel for lunch. Later, visit the Pemayangtse Monastery. The Pemayangtse Monastery is affiliated to, and draws guidance from, the Mindoling Monastery in Central Tibet. The monastery contains numerous antique idols and objects of worship and is filled with traditional wall paintings (thangkhas) and buddhist sculptures. An outstanding feature of the Monastery is its seven-tiered, painted wooden structure on the top floor portraying the Guru Rimpoche’s Heavenly Palace ‘Santopalri’ which was completed single handedly by the late Dungzin Rimpoche in a span of five years.

The annual Chaam or monk dance is held here on the 28th and 29th day of the 12th month, of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar. The lamas dress in costumes of rare and magnificent opulence and act out the characters of Mahakala and Guru Drag-dmar. The dance ends on the third day with the unfurling of the Ghyo-Ku’, a gigantic, embroidered Buddhist scroll.

Also visit the Changay Falls, Singsore Bridge and Dentam Village, home to the Alpine Cheese Factory.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day 5 Pelling – Gangtok
After an early breakfast, check out of your hotel and drive to Gangtok at 5500 ft. amsl. (132kms.; 5 hrs.)

Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim is home to a population of approximately 100,000+. The Sikkimese have a strong sense of tradition and are proud of their age-old history and customs.

On arrival at Gangtok, check-in at your hotel and proceed immediately for a half day tour, visiting the Jhakri Water Falls, Ranka Monastery, the Research Institute of Tibetology (which is closed on Sundays and govt. holidays), and Do Drul Chorten. Also visit the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom Production (closed on Sundays and Govt. Holidays) and the Flower Show.

The rest of the evening is at leisure.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day 6 Gangtok
Full day excursion to Tsongo Lake and Baba Mandir at 14000 ft. amsl. (54kms.; 3 hrs.) Tsongo Lake is just 8 kms., short of Nathu La which is a trading post on the border of India and China. The drive of 40 kms., and 4 hours takes you from a height of 4700 ft. to 12400 ft. Tsongo lake is considered holy by Hindus and Buddhists. It is a deep, turq0uise-hued body of water stretching for around a kilometre in length.

A further 10 kms from Tsongo Lake, on the way to Nathu-la and Jelep-la passes is the the well-known Baba Mandir, located at an altitude of around 14,000 feet, built in the memory of a soldier of the 23rd Punjab Regiment, who drowned in a stream near the spot. Local legend has it he later appeared in a dream to one of his colleagues where he requested that a temple be built in his memory.

By evening, return to Gangtok.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day 7 Gangtok – Lachung
At around 10:00AM board your vehicle and proceed to Lachung (115 Km.) located at an altitude of around 8,600 ft. Stop briefly enroute, at such picturesque locations with quaint names, such as Tashi Viewpoint, Kabi Lungstok and Naga Waterfalls. Stop also at more beautiful points like the confluence of Lachen-chu and Lachung-chu at Chungthang, Twin Waterfalls and Bhim Nala Waterfalls. Finally, a longer stop for lunch enroute at Namok.
Reach Lachung in the late afternoon and check-in at your hotel.

Before 1950, Lachung served as the trading post between Sikkim and Tibet. It is enthusiastically and widely considered to be a true manifestation of Shangri-La on earth. “Lachung” literally means ‘Small Mountain”.

It is amongst one of the most beautiful villages of the state, looking out as it does upon a stunning vista of snow-capped mountains, amazingly-picturesque waterfalls and dazzling streams. This place of incredible natural beauty has been declared the “most picturesque village of Sikkim” by Joseph Salton Hooker in ‘The Himalayan Journal’ of 1855.

Overnight is at hotel.

Day 8 Lachung – Yumthang – Lachung
After breakfast leave for Yumthang (11,800 ft.) Visit the famous hot spring, enroute. Yumthang is a large valley surrounded on all sides by mountains and lies within close proximity to Tibet. At Yumthang, you are now above the tree-line and in the higher reaches of the majestic Eastern Himalaya. In April, May and June the valley bursts into a riot of colours as Rhododendrons, Primulae and many other Alpine Flowers that go into full bloom. During the winter months, Yumthang remains snow-bound.

Return to Lachung for Lunch. After lunch visit Lachung Monastery, the Cottage Industry and the waterfalls.

Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 9 Lachung – Gangtok
After breakfast leave for Gangtok. On the way, stop at Singhik and Mangan. If the weather is clear you may get to see the Khangchendzonga Range. It is from here that you get a majestic view of Mt. Pandim, Mt. Kabru, Mt. Simvo, Mt. Jopuno, Mt. Khangchendzonga and Mt. Siniolchu.

After lunch at Namok, visit Phodong Monastery. Continue on your journey to Gangtok.

Overnight is at hotel.

Day 10 Gangtok – Kalimpong
After Breakfast, check out of your hotel and drive to Kalimpong, at 4000 ft. amsl. (79 kms.; 3 hrs.) Visit Deolo Hills, Dr. Grahm’s Homes, Flower Nurseries, Jang-Dog-Palrifro-Brang Gompa, Mangal Dham and Durbin Dara Hills.

Overnight is at Hotel.

Day 11 Kalimpong – Bagdogra
After breakfast, transfer to Bagdogra Airport (90kms.; 4 hrs.) in time to board your onward flight for home.


– End of Services –

Trip Highlights

The Eastern Himalaya Darjeeling & Sikkim

Darjeeling – Pelling – Gangtok - Lachung – Yumthang - Gangtok – Kalimpong

10 Nights/11 Days

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