The captivating charms and hypnotising scenes of the peacefully settled East District of Sikkim is a flawless destination to explore. East Sikkim is one of the four districts of this Himalayan state and is a prime destination for travellers. Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim, is also one of the major places to visit in East Sikkim.
Besides being the centre point of tourism activities, East District is also the regulatory centre point of the state. Its green surroundings, cool climate, undulating valleys, pristine lakes, and old monasteries and temples draw a large number of visitors every year.
East Sikkim can be visited at any time of the year, but there are some places where you will need an Inner Line Permit to travel due to its close proximity to neighboring countries like China. One of the best times to visit East Sikkim is during spring, summer, and winter. (Blog post: The best time to visit Sikkim)
In winter, some parts of this district experience low to heavy snowfall, and the views are just mesmerising.
Top 8 places in East Sikkim
(1) Gangtok – The Heart of Sikkim
Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim and is one of the most happening places in the state. This small town is clean and pollution-free. Gangtok has numerous local and fancy restaurants in the state, great places to shop, a great nightlife, and a lot of spots to visit.
Typically, anyone visiting Gangtok first visits the famed MG Marg – a boulevard with pretty plants, flowers, and bushes with lovely shops and cafes lining the walkway. MG Marg also has benches for people to sit, rest, and hang out; it is also a litter and spit free zone with no vehicular movement.
Other places that cannot be avoided in Gangtok are Tashi View Point, Hanuman Tok, Ganesh Tok, Enchey Monastery, White Hall, Flower Exhibition Centre, Ridge Park, Bakthang Falls, and Himalayan Zoological Park. These places are in close proximity to Gangtok town and can be visited and explored in a single day.
Do Drul Chorten, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, and Deorali Ropeway are also some of the popular places to visit in Deorali, Gangtok. Similarly, not very far from the main town is the famous Ban Jhakri Falls at Ranka in Gangtok.
(2) Tsomgo Lake – The Dazzling Lake
Tsomgo, locally called Changu Lake, is about 38 km from Gangtok in East Sikkim and is a popular place of attraction. Perched between the mountains at an altitude of 3753 m, Tsomgo Lake is a part of every tourist’s itinerary for a good reason; it hass jaw-dropping scenic beauty.
This glacial lake freezes every winter when its surrounding hills are covered with white fluffy snow. One can take a tour in and around the lake on a yak, do some shopping in the mini market at Tsomgo, and take a cable car ride above the beautiful lake.
To travel to Tsomgo Lake in East Sikkim, you will need an Inner Line Permit from the Permit Office in Gangtok.
(3) Zuluk – The Old Silk Route
Zuluk in East Sikkim is a whimsical tiny village that is nestled at an altitude of 2865 m and is guarded by the Himalayas. Travelling to Zuluk also requires an Inner Line Permit. Zuluk is also known as the Old Silk Route as it was a trade route between India and Tibet in the olden days.
Anyone who knows about this Old Silk Route automatically thinks about the 32 sharp turnings and the narrow roads. These 32 turnings are carved on the beautiful hills that can be seen from Thambi viewpoint. Thambi viewpoint is also a popular viewpoint to watch the early morning sunrise, which looks absolutely stunning.
(4) Nathu La – A Beautiful Mountain Pass in the Himalayas
Situated on the Indo-China border at an altitude of 4301 m above sea level, Nathu La is one of the open trading border posts between India and China. Nathu La is approximately 56 km from Gangtok and is popular for its picturesque landscape and beautiful environment.
The temperature at Nathu La Pass remains low throughout the year but drops down drastically during the winters. It is a popular tourist hotspot in East Sikkim, and an Inner Line Permit is required to visit this place.
Some other places to visit nearby are Sherathang Mart, VC Ganju Lama War Memorial, Yak Golf Course, and Memencho Lake. Memencho Lake is a beautiful mountain lake and can be visited while visiting Zuluk in East Sikkim.
Note: According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Yak Golf Course at Kupuk in the Indian military base near Nathu La Pass is the highest golf course in the world at an altitude of 3970 m.
(5) Nathang Valley – A Beautiful Valley Settled Amidst the mountains
Home to customary yak herders, Nathang is a beautiful valley at an elevation of 4023 m in East Sikkim. This beautiful valley is literally nestled in between many gorgeous rocky hills, which are covered with snow during the winters. There are several homestays in Nathang Valley where travellers can halt for a night.
During the winters, the water freezes at Nathang Valley, and you can ski around the hills covered with snow during the months of March and April. On the way to Tsomgo from this valley, you can also see the beautiful Elephant Lake.
Located a few kilometers from Nathang Valley, there is an abandoned army bunker called the Eagle Nest Bunker located at an altitude of about 4175 m. You can watch the stunning sunrise over Mount Khangchendzonga from here.
Not very far from Nathang Valley is a place marked as “Younghusband’s Track,” which is a beaten track used by the British Army to conquer Tibet. This army was led by Lt. Col. Francis Younghusband in 1903-1904, and the board of this track can be seen at Kupuk.
(6) Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir – A Must-Visit Place in East Sikkim
Baba Mandir is a temple (a samadhi) dedicated to Baba Harbhajan Singh who was a sepoy in the Indian Army. Legend has it that more than 35 years ago Baba Harbhajan Singh went missing while leading a pack of mules at Tukla from his division to Deng Dhukla, East Sikkim. In the search operation, his body was found by the army after three days.
He was an extremely dedicated sepoy and true to his duty. Though his lifeless body was discovered by the army, it is said that his presence is still felt today. After his death, many soldiers reported that he had been coming in their dreams. People believe that Baba Harbhajan comes to the temple every night and still does his round after putting on his uniform.
His belongings, uniform, and shoes can be seen at Baba Mandir in East Sikkim. The locals worship him as a saint who guards the Indo-China border and the lives of the soldiers. An Inner Line Permit is required to visit Baba Mandir.
(7) Rumtek Monastery – Dharma Chakra Centre
Perched on top of a hill, 22.3 km from Gangtok, Rumtek Monastery is one of the largest monasteries in Sikkim. Originally called as the Dharma Chakra Centre, this monastery was inaugurated in 966 by the 16th Karmapa.
Rumtek Monastery is surrounded by verdant green mountains and its architecture is one of the finest. You can meditate, pray in the prayer hall, or spend time with the monks and the locals there. If you climb on top of the monastery, you can witness the beautiful view of the town Gangtok right on the opposite hill.
(8) Lampokhari Lake – Aritar
Under Rongli Sub-Division in East Sikkim lies the beautiful Lampokhari Lake, also known as Aritar Lake. Aritar Lake is one of the oldest lakes in Sikkim and is a mesmerizing boot-shaped emerald lake. Surrounded by green pine forests, this lake attracts many visitors all year round.
Other places to visit in East Sikkim are Martam Village, Assam Lingzey, Rhenock, and Singtam Bazaar.
Geographically, East Sikkim occupies the Southeast corner of this mountainous state; it is the hub of all the administrative activities in Sikkim. Many places in East District of Sikkim contribute towards the tourism of the state, and most tourists who come to Sikkim for a day or two prefer staying in East Sikkim.
Sikkim Tour Packages