People usually skip the South district in favor of the more famous and beautiful north and west districts of Sikkim however South Sikkim has plenty to offer. In this blog, I write about things to do in South Sikkim and how to reach different places.
How to reach?
The most prominent city in the South district is Namchi. We took a cab from Pelling in West Sikkim to Jorethang. To read about West Sikkim, read my blog 14 places to visit in West Sikkim here. 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 listed below.
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. The gardens around the statue and the monastery are planted with many different flowers.
How to reach Samdruptse
You can either book a cab from Namchi taxi stand or you can take the ropeway from Namchi city or rock garden to Samdruptse. We took the ropeway from rock garden which cost us Rs. 173/person both ways.
2. Rock garden
Rock garden is a step garden with lush green lawns and lots of flowers. There is also a small playground that would keep the children entertained. It has the ropeway station mentioned above. The entry to the rock garden is free.
How to reach Rock Garden
You can either hire a cab or walk from Debrung, which is 10 minutes walk away from the Namchi main square. The path is lined with trees on both sides and offers great views. You can reach rock garden in 45 minutes at a leisurely pace.
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 from rock garden to Samdruptse and back for 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 an old world 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 (reverred pilgrimage centres for the Hindus). Set amidst sprawling lawns, you can easily spend 2-3 hours here.
How to reach Siddheshwar Dham/Char Dham
It is about 5 km from Namchi. You can take a cab for Rs.400-Rs 450 both ways or Rs. 200 to drop you there. It will wait for an hour 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. If you have time, you can just walk there.
6. Rose garden
Entrance fee: Rs.20/person
This is the best place to visit in Namchi and so I decided to include it in things to do in South Sikkim. It offers stunning views of the mountains and has an open air cafe. They have a variety of flowers here. I loved this place and wish 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.
7. Tendong Hill trek, Damthang
The Tendong hill trek 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.
8. 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.
How to reach Ravangla?
Ravangla is located about 28km from Namchi.
- Reserve a cab from Namchi to visit Ravangla.
- Take a shared cab from Namchi shared taxi stand. The first shared cab 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.
The tour for North Sikkim can be booked through tour operators in Gangtok. To read more about North Sikkim, read my blog post A two day conducted tour to North Sikkim.