Spread across the South-East corner of Sikkim region is the hub of cultural, economic and tourism activity of the unflustered Himalayan state Sikkim, the east district or the East Sikkim. East Sikkim is blessed with temperate weather and can be visited throughout the year. East Sikkim is enclosed by the verdant forest area which is blessed with most exquisite Himalayan flora and fauna. Connected with well paved routes, venturing upon the heart of Sikkim region is comparatively easier than other district. Nathu La the trading point with China and the ancient silk route is situated in East Sikkim.
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Aritar located at a distance of 63 km from Gangtok is a scenically blessed place. Situated at an altitude of 4,914 ft, Aritar is endowed with rich flora and fauna. Sited on the edge of Himalayas, Aritar with its verdant forested area and lofty mountains has entranced the heart of nature lover travelling to Sikkim. Offering the unhindered view of Mt Kanchenjunga, Aritar also is a new found jewel of East Sikkim. Plunged in the abundance of Nature, one of the main attractions of Aritar is the Lampokhari Lake, an emerald green boot shaped lake. It is one of the first places in Sikkim where visitors can partake in boating and horse riding. The thick wooded forest surrounding Aritar is sketched with numerous nature trails which lead the visitors towards some of the most pictorial and historic sites like Dak Bungalow of Aritar that was built in 1895 under the commandment of Sir James Claude White. Housing the first treasury of Sikkim Ari bungalow still holds the essence of British era. One of the nature trail leads towards Mankhim hill with the sacred temple dedicated to the gods and goddess of Rai cult. Visitors can also hike toward one of the oldest and hallowed monastery of Sikkim, Aritar Gompa. It is the monastery of Kagyu sect order where visitors can observe the ancient painting, masks and carvings adorning the wall of the Aritar Monastery. The nature trails along the Lampokhari Lake, is known for housing an exquisite collection of Himalayan Avifauna, making Aritar a birding paradise for avid bird watchers. While visiting Aritar traveller can also witness the majestic 328 ft high waterfall called Kali Khola fall or Lonely fall. It is situated on the Rorathang-Rongli road. Engulf your lungs with the musky fragrance of thick woods of alpine trees while fill your ears to the melodious chirping of various birds. Far from the urban cacophony, Aritar has become a place to find solace for the nature lovers.
Cuddled in the foothills of majestic mountain range is a sacred glacial lake called Tsomgo Lake. Tsomgo Lake also popularly known as Chhangu Lake is an oval shaped lake in East Sikkim. Tsomgo Lake is located at a distance of 40 km from Gangtok. Perched at an altitude of 12,313 ft the emerald blue colour Tsomgo Lake remains frozen during winter season. Associated with many myths and rituals, Lake Tsomgo is referred to be a revered destination. This oval shaped lake is 836 meters long and the maximum width is 427 meters. The maximum depth of this lake is 49 ft and the average depth is about 15 ft. During summer and autumn, you will find Primulas and other Alpine vegetation around the lake. According to one of the legends, monks in olden times used to forecast the future by studying the colour of the sacred lake. Till date on Guru Purnima, Jhakris, the faith healer, congregates in Tsomgo Lake to offer their prayers. Fed by the melting ice, Tsomgo Lake has attracted pilgrims from around the world. Visitors can take a tour around the lake Tsomgo whilst riding on the colourfully decorated Yaks, the burden beast. During spring season the frozen lake thaws and showcases a dazzling display of emerald blue colour. Tourist can relish in the vibrant vista of blooming flora covering the surrounding valley of Tsomgo Lake while spotting some exquisite species like the migratory Brahmini ducks and shy red panda. Tsomgo Lake is the stopover place for many different migratory ducks like Brahmini ducks. Travel upon the spiralling roads through the rugged terrain of East Sikkim to reach the serene and scenically blessed glacial lake.
Nestled on the rugged terrain of Lower Himalayas in East Sikkim is an isolated hamlet named Zuluk. Zuluk is located on the world’s first statistic superhighway, the Silk Route is situated at an altitude of 10100 ft. Located beside the iconic 32 hairpin bend road, Zuluk is the first hamlet in the whole Silk Route circuit to offer home stay facility with basic amenity. Zuluk has become the base for exploring the ancient Silk Route. Engulfed by the harsh cold winds of Himalayan range, Zuluk is one of the less trodden destinations of East Sikkim. Apart from being the base to explore the historic Silk Route, Zuluk has few places of interest with the most pictorial sights. 14 km from the sleepy settlement of Zuluk is Thambi View point, which is an ideal place to watch the mesmerizing sunrise over the snow-capped fortress of Mt Kanchenjunga along with the panoramic vista of the iconic 32 hairpin bend of East Sikkim. Further uphill journey from Thambi view point will take the traveller to a scenic natural lake called Kupup Lake, an elephant shaped lake. Locally known as Bitan Cho, Kupup Lake is one of the holiest lakes of Sikkim. The view of fluttering prayer flags and tranquil ambiance of quaint Himalayan hamlet Zuluk has created a sojourn for the travellers who are looking for solitude in the mountainous crag of Himalayas. Explore the beauty of hidden valleys of Eastern Sikkim while travelling to Zuluk.
54 km from Gangtok on the historic Silk route is an important mountain pass of Himalayas called Nathula or Nathu La. In Tibetan language the word ‘Nathu’ stands for ‘listening ears’ and the word ‘la’ for ‘mountain pass’. Perched at an altitude of 14450 ft, Nathula is the highest motorable point of East Sikkim region. Surrounded by the rhododendron trees and shrubs, Nathula is located on the road toward Tsomgo (Chhangu) Lake. Nathula is an important corridor between India and Tibet which was closed during Nathu La and Cho La clashes between India and China in 1967 and reopened after nearly four decades on 6th June of 2006. On a clear day visitors can see the Tibetan Plateau and Chumbi valley from Nathula. Located on the border line, only the visitors of Indian nationality are allowed to visit Nathula on specific days those are on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays. Travellers visiting Nathula can also visit Old Baba Mandir. It is located at a distance of 6 km from Nathula. The sacred shrine is dedicated to the Sepoy Harbhajan Singh. The view of changing landscape seen while travelling to Nathula is an added charm of the whole trip. Watch as the scene slowly changes from subtropical forest to the wet alpine region while the spiralling road leads you towards the cold tundra region. The view of adjacent valley and the scenic paved road has made Nathula a prime attraction of East Sikkim.
The capital city of Sikkim is enclosed by the thick deciduous forest of pine and conifer trees are the most populous city of the state. Gangtok is situated at an altitude of 4,435 ft. Gangtok was the 4th Capital of the Kingdom of Sikkim. Travellers can see the fine blend of ethnic diversity and natural beauty while travelling to Gangtok. Gangtok is sketched with many pictorial destinations. Among them is the most famous hub M G Marg Situated in the heart of bustling city with its long benches, café, restaurant is also a vehicular free zone become a popular hangout spot for locals as well as travellers. Gangtok caught the limelight after the establishment of Inchey Monastery. Overlooking Gangtok, Inchey Monastery was built in 1840 paved the way for this place to become a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site. It is dedicated to the protector deities of Kanchenjungha, Mahakala and Yabdean. The best time to visit Inchey Monastery is said to be during December to March which are known as the festive season of Sikkim region. Another major attraction of Gangtok is Banjhakhri Falls and Energy Park. ‘Ban’ means Forest and ‘Jhakhri’ means Shaman. The park is in a thickly forested part of Swastik about 7 km from Gangtok. This is a natural waterfall sourced from springs. Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, World’s renowned institute doing its research on Tibetan language and culture is a must visit place in Gangtok. Hanuman Tok is a Hanuman Temple. The place is famous for offering breathtaking view of world’s 3rd highest mountain peak Mt. Kanchenjunga (28,169 ft). Deorali Bazaar of Gangtok is the starting point of the Rope Way ride to catch a bird’s eye view of Gangtok. Botanical Garden portrays beautiful collection of trees and plants with their scientific names. Tashi view point, Ganesh Tok, Zoological gardens are few more destinations in Gangtok to be explore. Rumtek Monastery is the most famous monastery of Kagyu Pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism with grand Tibetan architecture is very close to Gangtok. Golden Stupa is an additional attraction here. On the way to Dharma Chakra Centre or Rumtek Monastery another attraction is a huge stupa called Dro-dul Chorten. It was built in 1946 to ward off the evil from that area.
Apart from grand monastery Gangtok with its connectivity towards the most scenic destination has become the base for exploring the unscathed beauty of East Sikkim. From lively ambiance of fancy restaurant to the simplicity of serene monastery, Gangtok the bustling city emits an aura of blissful happiness which has captivated the mind of many travellers.