If you’re going to a popular tourist destination, you will, without doubt, get caught in the run-of-the-mill sightseeing tour of the usual attractions that have been splashed across your social media pages or in magazines and TV ads. If you’ve been to Cherrapunjee and not seen the living root bridges, visited Assam and missed the national parks, or visited Sikkim without going up to Nathu La Pass, then your trip, according to the “travel experts” is to be scoffed at.
Then there are others who show disdain for such banality and yearn for offbeat places that will push them out of their comfort zone, keeping everyday uncertain and open to new discoveries. If your head is in that offbeat space right now, then read on to know how you can satisfy your restlessness with a road trip to offbeat places in Sikkim that we’ve explored and wanted to share with our travel community.
The following 6-day itinerary is a suggested route for those of you who are seeking nothing more than to connect with nature because any other form of entertainment is out of the question.
Day 1: Gangtok – Temi Tarku – Namchi – Jorethang
Start from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, towards Temi Tarku early in the morning and stop at Tarku Zero for breakfast. The restaurant there isn’t fancy but the proportions are huge; so can’t complain. The drive is refreshing, with long winding roads, cool breeze, and beautiful hill views that spring up on you at every turn. You may notice a lot of yellow signboards on the main road announcing the names of homestays. These are owned and run by the most hospitable, simple-minded folk and provide a great offbeat stay option for those wanting to spend time near Temi’s tea gardens (the largest tea garden in Sikkim). Stop at Temi Tarku Tea Point for lunch. The view from there—tea gardens overlooking the mountains and a long stretch of fluttering prayer flags—is spellbinding, which more than makes up for the food.
Drive on to Namchi in South Sikkim before halting at Jorethang for the night. At Namchi, stay offbeat by skipping the usual sightseeing places and making a halt at Shirdi Sai Mandir instead. You will most probably reach in the early evening, which is the best time to be here as the setting sun illuminates the golden temple is a dazzling light. As night falls, head to Namchi’s helipad for a scenic view of the surrounding hills, rose-hued clouds, and a star speckled sky. You can also catch a glimpse of the 87 ft statue of Lord Shiva and the 118 feet statue of Guru Padmasambhava from here.
You should reach Jorethang by 6 pm. Jorethang is a well-planned town in South Sikkim, though a bit crowded. Unwind with a walk inside Green Park (it shuts at 7 pm), which is beautifully lit in the evenings. There are a few good hotels to stay in Jorethang, so check into any for the night.
Day 2: Okhrey – Bhareng
Early morning drive up to Okhrey on a serpentine road with the scenic mountains in the foreground. You will pass the beautiful fields of Daramdim and Sombarey. Okhrey, a small village in West Sikkim, will welcome you with the cheerful flushed faces of school children making their way back home. Okhrey is laid back and afternoons make the place seem desolate. Okhrey is a destination for hikers to the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, but head on to the offbeat village of Bhareng, a bit away from Okhrey, for a total mental detox. Stay at the Amakhangpa Homestay and later walk across the farmland behind it towards Latteytar. It is quite a long walk, and if you can’t make it to the top, then stop short at Latteytar gumpa and then at some midpoint to get the majestic view of Sandakphu, Phalut, Darjeeling, and Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary.