Saturday, 26 January 2019

South Sikkim Journals! (Part 2)

We visited Namchi in South Sikkim on Day 2 of our Sikkim & Darjeeling tour. We could only get 4 days’ booking at Gangtok which is why we couldn’t do the North Sikkim tour which includes Lachung, Yumthang Valley, Zero Point & Gurudongmar Lake. Now, I must tell you, these points are worth visiting! They are very far from Gangtok & it takes 3-4 days to cover all of them. Even if we would have included these, the chances of visiting them were slim because of heavy snowfall in the North. So, instead we went South. Going to King’s Landing to evade the White Walkers’ Army in the North!

On the left, you can check out the beautiful view we woke up to!

Namchi is 3-4 hours from Gangtok. We took a different route while going there. The condition of roads was terrible & it took 4 hours to reach. I originally had about 6 to 7 places to visit in Namchi. But, because the drivers there are extremely rigid & rude, we could only go to 4 places & we didn’t even get to go to the restaurants I had shortlisted. But, rants about drivers will be in the later posts. So, we basically went to 4 places, 3 of which were temples. Nothing scenic or extraordinary, so it wasn’t worth travelling for so many hours to & back. But, here we go!

The popular Temi Tea Gardens were on our way to Namchi. We stopped there for a while. It was good to get out of the car & stand in the sun. The view was amazing with the snow-clad mountains above & tea plantations beneath. It felt really satisfying to look at the view.

Time Taken to Explore: 20-30 minutes.
Timings: 24 hours. Preferable: 7 AM to 1 PM.

After a few hours, we stopped at Samdruptse. It’s a 45 meter tall statue of Guru Padmasambhava, the patron saint of Sikkim. It is at 7000 feet offering the magnificent view of Kangchenjunga on one side & the statue on the other side. We were able to see the Samdruptse statue when we were on the opposite mountain on our way to Char Dham. So, you can imagine how big it is & how incredibly it shines because of the golden colour.
From the 1st level, you can see the entire statue. And once you go around it to go upstairs, there you can find 2 huge praying wheels. They were twice my height & so gorgeous. They lead us to the stairs & up to the 2nd level from where we could see the status a bit closer.

Time Taken to Explore: 20-30 minutes.
Timings: 9 AM to 7 PM.

Char Dham is basically a complex of temples spread around 29 hectares on the Solophok Hill in Namchi. It is also known as Siddheswar Dham. It’s a huge space with many temples devoted to many deities.
There is a huge statue of Lord Shiva at the topmost point which can be seen from all the temples within the premises. It is about 87-ft tall & the main Shiva temple is 108-ft in height. I think you can view it from far away as well, just like Samdruptse. The inside of the Shiva temple is incredibly detailed with articulate architecture. On all 4 sides, there are huge marble carvings on which are various highlights from Lord Shiva’s life. And the ceiling is amazingly detailed as well. Unfortunately, photography was prohibited inside any of the temple so I couldn’t capture it.
Other than the Shiva temple, Sai Baba’s temple was another beautiful sight from inside & out. There were also 12 Jyotirlingas. Some of the most colourful temples were Badrinath Dham & Rameshwaram Dham.

Entry fee: Rs. 50 per adult. Parking fee: Rs. 30 per car.  
Time Taken to Explore: 1.5-2 hours.
Timings: 9 AM to 9 PM

Sai Baba temple is very close to Char Dham. It is yet another huge temple with white & golden colors. There is a marble statue of Sai Baba and paintings of Lord Vishnu inside.

Time Taken to Explore: 15-20 minutes
Timings: 6 AM to 8 PM

Ngadak Monastery:
Ngadak monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim which is why I wanted to visit. But after the disappointment at Rumtek Monastery & the lack of time, we decided to skip it.

Namchi Ropeway & Rock Garden:
Once you exit Samdruptse, you will find a Ropeway booth ahead of the parking lot & also small restaurants. I had read about it. The Namchi Ropeway connects Samdruptse & Rock Garden. We didn’t do this because there was no one doing it so we didn’t take the risk.

Tendong Hill Top:
Tendong Hilltop is about 30-50 minutes away from Namchi, towards Gangtok. It is very highly spoken of when it comes to stunning views & sunsets. We couldn’t cover this because it didn’t fit in the driver’s mindset. But, do visit it!

You can check the first post about Gangtok Journals here. I will come up with the third day in Sikkim soon!
Until next time,

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