This 7-days tour mainly covers the most famous tourist destinations in the Eastern Himalayas. Darjeeling – the Queen of Hills with its prime Tea Gardens, Heritage Steam Trains, Tiger Hill and Colonial Heritage; Pelling in West Sikkim with scenic landscape, tranquillity and ethnicity, Gangtok – the capital of Sikkim with a mixture of modern and ethnic cultural, exotic shopping.
We receive you at Kakkarbhitta Immigration in Nepal and take you to Darjeeling. (Please note to cross the land border you will need the regular visa embedded in the passport)
Darjeeling, “The Land of Thunderbolt’ is regarded as one of the best Hill Retreats in the world for its pleasant climate, great views of the highest mountains, beautiful tea gardens producing the world’s finest brews, Himalayan Heritage Steam Train, colonial Raj heritage and charming people.
On arrival, we assist you in Check-In at the Hotel.
In the evening you can go for a short walk to the Mall or Chowrasta to get a feel of the daily buzz of local life. This is an important social gathering place in Darjeeling where the tourists as well as the local people come, meet, shop and dine.
Today we go for a city tour in Darjeeling and cover the following places.
Darjeeling is known worldwide for its high-quality orthodox tea. Today we will take you for a guided tea garden tour in Darjeeling where you will have firsthand exposure to learning the different processes the tea leaf passes through before it reaches you in your morning cup. During this tour, we will take you to one of the finest tea-producing gardens in Darjeeling and you will have the opportunity to walk through the beautiful lush garden and pluck tea with the garden workers before you reach the factory. Here you can see the various method of tea processing from the collection of tea leaves until it is taken to its final grade. You can also go through the tea testing session with the garden manager. (Tea Factory and Garden activities are closed from November to March and each Monday. However, a walk in the garden and meeting with workers is still possible)
DHR (Darjeeling Himalayan Rail) Joy Ride
A ride in the heritage Himalayan toy train run by 100 years old steam engine is perhaps the most lucrative experience in Darjeeling. The ride starts from Darjeeling and takes you to Ghoom with a stop at the picturesque Batasia Loop and Ghoom Station with a visit to the museum. The train runs 4 times a day but the morning shift is most attractive as it gives a nice view of the mountains passing through the tea garden, market and village houses. The train returns to Darjeeling in 1.5hrs covering a total distance of 18kms.
The oldest temple of Lord Shiva, locally known as Mahakal Temple is located on the observatory hill above Darjeeling Mall. It takes about 15 minutes uphill walk to the temple from the mall and you can see the coexistence of Buddhist and Hindu religions. A walk through the thickly wooded hills is rewarding on a clear day when you can see a vast panorama with several snow peaks on the horizon. Walk down a few steps and you can see the primitive cave with several Hindu idols placed inside it. (Be aware of monkeys in the temple and the pathways)
Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre
During the Chinese invasion of India, many Tibetan families took refuge in Darjeeling and to give them financial and social security the Govt of India established this Refugee centre, where many Tibetan families earn a living by producing Tibetan handicrafts. You can see the family engaged in making garments, carpets, jewellery, and paintings and can purchase them from the fair price shop attached to the centre. (This centre is closed on Sunday)
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
The oldest museum on the mountaineering in India is HMI and a must to visit place for all tourists coming to Darjeeling. It holds a rare collection of photographs and equipment used in the earliest expedition to Mt Everest by legendary climbers including Tenzin Norgay, Edmund Hillery and John Mallory. The institute also aims to promote the technique of climbing mountain peaks. (This centre is closed on Thursday)
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
This is one of the most popular zoological parks in India and is known for its rare collection of high altitude alpine mammals and birds. The most important hosts of this park include Siberian Tiger, Snow Leopard, red panda, clouded leopard, wild yaks, blue ships Tibetan fox and many rare birds and reptiles. This is also a captive breeding centre for Snow Leopard and Red Panda. (This centre is closed on Thursday)
The Mall or Chowrasta
Take a stroll on the Mall or Chowrasta in the heart of Darjeeling town. It is a must to visit place for all tourists who want to take a feel of the city. The place has many old book and curio shops and some of them are more than 100 years old. Walk around the shady wooded pedestrian road and enjoy the mist and sunshine. Or just seat leisurely on the chairs lined up along the sides of the Mall watching the crowd, hills and valleys. Have a cup of coffee at Cavender’s open-air restaurant and watch a glorious sunset.
Drive to Pelling in West Sikkim. Pelling, a small peaceful village turned into a bustling tourist destination in West Sikkim for an incredibly close view of the highest peaks of the Greater Himalayas with beautiful countryside, old monasteries, sacred lakes, and waterfalls with myths and legends.
The exciting journey runs through the winding road cutting across the valleys, hills and villages and follows the course of the Tista River and then the beautiful Rangit River till Legship. Take a refreshing break at the viewpoint near Melli and watch the magnificent bird eye view of the confluence of both the rivers. From Legship the road takes a steep turn through Geyzing. The view of the entire surrounding widens as you proceed towards Pelling through the clouds and forests. Stop a while on the way to enjoy the scenic beauty and take some photographs.
Enroute visit Rubduntse Ruins
Surrounded by dense forests on top of a hill overlooking a large valley and mountains lays a palace which dates back more than 300 years. Rabduntse – the second capital under the Chogyals of Sikkim built in 1670 is now in ruins. The Rubduntse has also declared a bird sanctuary.
After check-in formalities, you can go for a short walk to the Pemayangtse Monastery or the lonely wooded roads leading to the valley for a close view of the Snow peaks.
Pemayangtse Monastery in Pelling in West Sikkim is perhaps the most important and widely discussed monastery in Sikkim. Built more than 300 years ago by one of the most revered saints from Tibet Lama Lathsun Chempo belonging to the Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism, Pemayangtse Monastery is regarded as a premium monastery in Sikkim.
Khecheo-palri, which means in Tibetan Language ‘A Palace of Flying Meditating (female) Deities’, is the holiest lake in West Sikkim with so many myths, legends and folklore associated with it. Set amidst dense broadleaf forested hills at an altitude of 1700m, this small lake has a very powerful presence in the mythology of Sikkim and also in the social lives of the local villagers.
Scattered in a lush green valley Darap is a small mountain village for the Limbo community in West Sikkim. At a distance of 8kms from Pelling, At 1600m above sea level, Darap, with its scenic surroundings and lovely climate, is a place to escape from the rush of so-called popular tourist hubs and to witness an authentic village life.
Today we leave Pelling and drive to Gangtok. Gangtok, the modern Capital of Sikkim – a small Himalayan State landlocked by Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet, a most happening tourist destination in India for exploring the magical landscape of high altitude remote Himalayan terrain and the unique Buddhists’ school of leaving. This is a buzzing town with a fusion of modern and traditional culture.
This journey to Gangtok will pass through some magical landscape of South Sikkim as you ride up to Ravangla a small scenic town situated on the ridge at an altitude of 7100ft (2100M) between the Maenam and Tendong hills. From Ravangla we take an uncommon route via Damtam and go to Samdruptse, where a 135ft high statue of Guru Padma Sambhava, the tallest in the world, was built recently for the Buddhist pilgrims. We continue driving via Namchi to Gangtok – the capital town of Sikkim and the earlier Himalayan Kingdom welcomes you with its typical traditional Hospitality.
Check-in at the hotel. If you are not tired you can go for a short visit to the market or walk on the M G Marg – the most popular area in Gangtok town to shop, gossip or dine.
The Institute of Tibetology and Research Center in Gangtok is one of the most important centres in India and perhaps in the world for the scholars and students of higher Buddhist study, which stores a large collection of books and scripts of Buddhist Religion and a priceless collection of rare Thanka (Tibetan scroll painting).
Cottage Industry and Handicraft Center
The Cottage industry and handicraft centre is a government institution, which was built in the year 1957 to promote the exclusive traditional handicraft and art skill of Sikkim. Apart from being an authentic shopping centre, this institute is also a good place to observe the process of learning and making the traditional handicraft and paintings by the students. (Sunday & holiday closed)
This important monastery, built by the 8th Choygal of Sikkim in 1840, follows the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism. Located at an isolated place on top of a hill over the Gangtok town the construction of the monastery resembles the Chinese archaeology and looks like a pagoda. The monastery also provides a nice view of the mountains on a clear day.
Tashi View Point
Tashi View Point in Gangtok is the highest View Point in the city. With its altitude on a top of a hill, the place offers an excellent 360-degree view of the Kanchenjunga Peak along with a vast valley including the Gangtok town. From Tashi View Point you can also get down to the Zoological Park in a 10 to 15 minutes walk on a silent forested road.
Optional Helicopter Ride in Gangtok (subject to clear weather)
Today morning you can also opt for a helicopter ride in Gangtok. There are several mountain flights of different duration. Each flight gives a majestic view of the Himalayan peaks from close up like never before. These mountain flights gave you a never to forget the opportunity to feast your eyes on the majesty and grandeur of the Great Mount Khangchendzonga, the third highest peak in the world and the symmetrical beauty of the Mount Siniolchu, considered by many as the most beautiful peak in the entire Himalayan range. You can also take a flight over Gangtok and get a comprehensive view of the layout of the town with its many winding roads and alleys.
M G Marg
The most happening place and the major shopping area and Mall of Gangtok are the Mahatma Gandhi Marg or MG Marg. This is the most popular place for the tourists and as well as the local people who have to come to this place for a walk or to spend some leisure time or for shopping or try different cuisines of Tibetan, Indian and Chinese.