People usually skip the South district in favour of the more famous and beautiful North and west districts of Sikkim. But South Sikkim is full of surprises as well. To know more about South Sikkim, read on.
How to reach?
The most prominent city in the South district is Namchi. As we came to Namchi from Pelling, we first took a cab from Pelling to Jorethang. We took a shared cab for Rs. 200/person, booked through a tour operator. From Jorethang, we took a shared cab to Namchi that cost us Rs. 70/person.
We made Namchi our base to explore South Sikkim. We did the Tendong hill trek that starts from Damthang and went to see the Buddha park in Ravangla. Ravangla is beautiful and I highly recommend spending a few days there if you have time to spare. The places of interest in Namchi are
Entrance fee: Rs. 30/person
A 118 feet high statue of Guru Padmasambhava (also the highest statue in the world), the patron saint of Sikkim is built here. A monastery has also been built there. It is believed that the hill is a dormant volcano and Buddhist monks have long visited to offer prayers to keep it calm.
The hill is quite high and the surrounding views are beautiful. Gardens with many different flowers have been planted around the statue and the monastery.
You can either book a cab from Namchi taxi stand or you can take the ropeway from Namchi city or rock garden to Samdruptse.
2. Rock garden
Rock garden is situated in steps with lush green lawns and lots of flowers. There is also a small playground that would keep the children entertained. It also has the ropeway station. The entry to the rock garden is free. We took the ropeway from here to Samdruptse which cost is Rs. 173/person both ways.
You can either hire a cab or take the walking route from Debrung, hardly 10 minutes walk from the Namchi main square. The walk is through trees and offers great views and takes between 45 minutes to an hour to take you to the rock garden.
3.Cable car or ropeway
The ropeway in Namchi is quite steep. You can take the cable car either from Namchi, close to the district hospital till rock garden or Samdruptse. You can go one way or both ways and you will be charged accordingly. We took the ropeway to Samdruptse from rock garden and back to rock garden and paid Rs. 173/person.
4. Ngadak Monastery
There is more than one monastery in Namchi but apparently Ngadak monastery is of historical importance. It was originally built during the reign of Chogyal in the 17th century. The monastery has since been renovated and is as good as new. We reached there around lunch time so it was closed. You can see many little monks playing around. It’s located in a tranquil place and exudes a certain charm.
You can hire a cab to go there or you can walk there from Rock garden. The journey is just as beautiful as the destination.
5. Siddheshwara Dham
Entrance fee: Rs. 50/person(adult) Rs.25/person(senior citizen)
More popularly known as Char Dham, the Siddheshwara Dham is a replica of Char Dham and 12 Jyotirlingas, important pilgrimage places for the Hindus. Set amidst sprawling lawns, 2-3 hours can easily be spent here.
It is about 5 km from Namchi. You can either book a cab. The cab will charge you Rs.400-Rs 450 both ways, and wait for an hour for you or Rs. 200 to drop you there. The other way is to take a local shared cab to Rose garden and walk to Char Dham from there. The Rose garden is very close to Char Dham.
6. Rose garden
Entrance fee: Rs.20/person
A beautiful garden with many other flowers apart from roses is situated about 5 km from Namchi. It offers stunning views of the mountains and has a cool looking cafe, which I didn’t try. The varieties of flowers that they have here is insane. I can’t tell you how much I loved this place and how I wished I could have spent more time here. I recommend going there in the evening when it cools down a little.
We covered all the above mentioned places in a single day.
Tendong Hill trek, Damthang
The next day we decided to go for Tendong hill trek which starts from Damthang, 14 km from Namchi. This trek was one of the highlights of my trip to Sikkim and to read more about the trek, read my blog post An enchanting trek through the forest to the sacred Tendong Hill from Damthang.
Buddha Park, Ravangla:
Entrance fee: Rs.50/person
The Buddha park is spread over a huge area and is surrounded by mountains on all sides. A beautiful and serene statue of Gautam Buddha sits on a hilltop amidst sprawling lawns. There is a monastery below the statue where the twelve deeds of Buddha are depicted. One can easily spend at least a couple of hours here. There are prayer wheels surrounding the statue and the park itself.
Ravangla is located about 28km from Namchi. You can either reserve a cab from Namchi to visit Ravangla or you can take one of the shared cabs from Namchi shared taxi stand. The first shared cab however starts only after 9:00AM and costs Rs. 80/ person.
The route to Ravangla is breathtakingly beautiful and I recommend spending a couple of days here. It gives a tough competition to North Sikkim. It is much more beautiful than Namchi.
From the shared taxi stand in Ravangla, you can either reserve a cab to Buddha park for Rs. 100 or take a shared cab for Rs. 20/person. On your way back, you can only find a shared cab until 2:00PM or 3:00PM.
Apart from the Buddha Park, Ravangla has a lake as well but we couldn’t visit it due to lack of time, as we had to leave for Gangtok the same day. To read more about Gangtok and East Sikkim, follow the link below:
The tour for North Sikkim can be booked through tour operators in Gangtok.
To read about things to do in Gangtok, read my blog post Sightseeing in and around Gangtok.
To read more about North Sikkim, read my blog post A two day conducted tour to North Sikkim.