Autumn foliage in Sikkim

Witness Sikkim’s flamed foliage in October: Best time to visit Sikkim

Author: Lily Shanker
Date: 2020-10-31

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It’s October in Sikkim and the monsoons have just abated. The winter cold hasn’t set in just yet. The air is warm, and the mornings sunny. However, by 5 pm Gangtok town is basked in golden light from the setting sun, and the sky begins to instantly darken, heralding that winter is just around the corner.

If you pay close attention to the surrounding landscape, you notice that it has taken on autumnal hues, inviting the eye to see more than it otherwise might. In between the green foliage are specks of russet reds, oranges, and yellows. Pale yellow-coloured iskush (chayote) hang heavily on branches, and bright orange pumpkin flowers dot garden patches. Gentle breezes have strewn dry yellow and brown leaves on the side of pavements and steps, which softly scrunch under your soles.  

It’s also the perfect season for forest foraging for wild edibles and medicinal plants like nakima, a rare, slightly bitter flower-vegetable with light green and violet flowers (Read: A bitter-sweet experience called nakima) and ningro, the local name for fiddlehead fern (Read: Fiddle-minded to taste the food of Sikkim). 

The best version of this sanguine landscape can be witnessed higher up the hills of Sikkim. A chance visit to Sherathang in East Sikkim towards the last week of October left me awestruck: what I had once seen carpeted in snow now came alive with mellow shades of browns and amber to deep reds and purples.

The pictures I've taken do no justice to the beauty of this seasonal landscape, but I hope it imparts the warm essence of nature during this time.

Flora found on the way to Lord Shiva Idol, close to Baba MandirFlora found on the way to Lord Shiva Idol, close to Baba Mandir

Flora found on the way to Lord Shiva Idol, close to Baba Mandir

On the way to Tsomgo Lake