Category Archives: West Bengal

Best Places for StarGazing in India

Have you ever slept under an open sky? In my childhood days, we used to sleep on the terrace & I would keep my eyes open for a long time counting the zillions of twinkling stars in the pitch dark sky. When tired, I would stop counting marking the hypothetical spot, thinking to restart back from the same point tomorrow. In between sometimes could spot a shooting star which in the morning we would claim ourselves lucky to see “Tutta Tara” (breaking star). The innocent thought was that one day I will be able to count all of these stars. Crazy! Right! I am still crazy about stargazing. Indeed, now we both are. We love the vastness and grandeur of night sky & have multiple apps like Night Sky lite in our phones for stargazing in India! But why we city dwellers are crazy & can’t see them every day just like before? Where have those days gone now?

The pollution, light spill, clouds, city noise have changed the nature of the skies in cities. Now to have that insignificant feeling of standing or lying under the starry shimmery night i.e. for stargazing in India, we need to get away from our dreary life, we need to travel to the remote places where there are no concrete jungles, where nature is still protected, where there is no pollution, where dark spaces still exist and where the materialism is still far away.

Stars Sites in India

 Gyalwang Drukpa once said “Each of us is connected through the heart to the entire universe – and so if you get into the mind, you will see the universe”.

In this post, we have clubbed some of the best stargazing sites of India as suggested by some of India’s top Travel Bloggers & Photographers.

Best StarGazing sites in India

Starry Nights at Meghalaya


By – Agni & Amrita from Tale of 2 Backpackers

Kongthong in Meghalaya is located about 60km from Shillong in the pristine east Khasi Hills. It is a small village consisting of merely 700 people. The place is extremely peaceful and pleasing to the eyes and is all about nature and gorgeous vistas. Interestingly, the village is also known as the whistling village as each people have a tune to call them apart from their names.

The day ends early for the villagers and they dwell inside their homes, leaving the place dark against the lush landscapes.  The skies are just like a canvas here as it opens up to the vistas of shining stars and constellations at their best.

Kongthong Meghalaya - Star Gazing in India
Kongthong Meghalaya – Star Gazing in India

How to reach: From Shillong, hire sumo to Kongthong. But remember only one sumo runs during the day and it is better to book it in advance. Otherwise, you can hire a car from Shillong or Cherrapunjee to reach Kongthong.

Best Time to visit: From October to April

Places to stay: The only place to stay at Kongthong as of now is Kongthong Travellers Nest.

Galaxy at Karnataka

Stargazing at Kabini

– By Abhishek & Neha from A Revolving Compass.

Kabini, a small village is located by the banks of the River Kabini, just 60 km from Mysore, Karnataka. The place is a forest reserve area and is abundantly rich in wildlife, flora & fauna. It is famous among tourists and travelers not only for wildlife sighting and relaxing holiday but for stargazing too. When the lights are turned off you can see absolutely sky filled with millions of stars, twinkling and smiling at you.

Stargazing in India - Kabini, Karnataka
Stargazing in India – Kabini, Karnataka

How to reach: Kabini can be best reached through self-drive cars or hired taxis from Bangalore, Mysore and other nearby towns.

Best Time to visit: Kabini can be visited throughout the year. For stargazing, summer and winter months are idle, as the sky is clear. For wildlife, observation summer is considered as the best time as due to the low level of waters, animals tend to flock to the river bank for satisfying their thirst.

Places to stay: There are several eco-lodges and resorts around the river bank to stay. We recommend staying with the Peepal Tree Boutique Homestay, which too is located by the banks of the river backwaters. Its vast farmlands are the best places to observe, the beautiful night sky filled with stars.

Shooting Stars at Maharashtra

Lonar Crater Lake

By Tanushree and Yaswanth from UnboundOutbond

Lonar Crater Lake, a National Geo Heritage Monument, is located in the Buldhana district of Maharashtra. Around 52,000 years ago, a hyper-velocity meteor struck the land here, creating a 150 meters deep and nearly 2 kilometers wide crater. And over centuries, a lake (both saline and alkaline) too, is formed here which by itself is a mystery. The dense forest surrounds the crater and is dotted with temples that have a mention in the Ramayana too.

The place has left both the scientists of NASA and Geographical Survey of India intrigued. Also, the Earth’s Magnetic Field seems to be nonfunctional here. Such is the mystery of the Lonar Crater. Lonar Lake sits on a white facade of land. During the day Lake is filled with geologists who wish to study the surface of Mars and at night the stars, the reflection of the moon in the lake is pure bliss and leaves the stargazers completely amazed.

Stargazing at Lonar Crater Lake, Maharashtra
Stargazing at Lonar Crater Lake, Maharashtra

How to reach: Lonar Lake can be reached by private cars and hired taxis or by buses from Aurangabad (4 hours’ drive) via Jalna. Aurangabad is also the nearest airport and has daily flights flying from Delhi and Mumbai. Overnight buses also ply from Mumbai and Pune to Aurangabad. Another option is via rail with plenty of trains plying to Aurangabad from different parts of Maharashtra.

Best Time to visit: Lonar is extremely hot from March to May, which is the summer season in Maharashtra. Rains begin from June on and last till September, which would not be the best time for stargazing as the skies are likely to be filled with clouds. We’d recommend sometime between October to February when the weather is pleasant and the skies are clear.

Places to stay: The MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) Holiday Resort is the best choice for stay as it is budget-friendly, is located near to the crater serves decent meals, and has pleasant service.

Stargazing at Thar Desert Rajasthan


By Tanayesh form Shoestringtravel & Soujanya Rai from TheSpicyJourney

Jaisalmer, popularly known as the “Golden City” of Rajasthan, is crowned by the ancient Jaisalmer Fort, also known as Sonar Quila. The town is a heart of Thar desert and is the most accessible spot for desert camping, jeep safari, camel safari, and stargazing.

Just imagine, lying down on the mattress in the world’s 17 largest deserts, with eyes pointing towards the sky and suddenly spotting multiple shooting stars. Wow!  Interestingly, the vast alluring sand dunes around Jaisalmer, are an ideal spot for Astrophotography and gives the ultimate pictures too.

Star Trails in Jodhpur
Star Trails in Jodhpur

How to reach: The place is well connected by rail, road, and air. There are trains directly from Delhi and other prime places in India. Bus and car facility is also available from Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur directly. However, there is no direct flight to Jaisalmer so the nearest airport is Jodhpur.

Best Time to visit: Ideal time for stargazing is during winters i.e. from October to March, when the temperature lies between 7-8 degrees. We recommending spending at least 2 days in Jaisalmer.

Places to stay: Jaisalmer has beautiful economic hostels, hotels & homestays. My recommendation is Zostel Jaisalmer, located just a kilometer walk from the Jaisalmer Railway station which has a relaxed rooftop café showing the panoramic city view. Another one is Moustache Jaisalmer, a wonderful hostel with all modern facilities available. The Hotel Tokyo Palace Jaisalmer is quite famous for its rooftop restaurant as you get the views of the fort too.

Astrophotography at Jodhpur

-By Mainak Biswas from Places in Pixel

Jodhpur, too set in the stark landscapes of Thar desert is known as the Blue City of India because of the blue-painted houses around Mehrangarh. The city is a cultural treat and has unending charms. It is one of the best places to savor the colors & flavors of Rajasthan and experience camel’s safari .

The nights at Jodhpur are no less than those in Jaisalmer. When you look up, you can see a silver-white sky and if you are lucky you too can capture a star trail with the Mehrangarh Fort as a background.

Star Trails in Jodhpur, India
Stargazing in Jodhpur, India

How to Reach: Jodhpur is well connected by road and rail to all the major cities of India. The city has its own railway station & domestic airport with flights from Delhi, Mumbai, and a few other cities. 

Best Time to visit: The best time to visit Jodhpur is from October to March when the state enjoys pleasant weather and also you get a clear sky for stargazing and astrophotography. In fact, you should plan your Rajasthan trip in a way that you can get the best of the state while keeping the heat aside -the winters.


By Kunjal from Unpluggedmoments

Sariska or Sariska Tiger Reserve being a restricted area too falls in the category of best-stargazing sites. Indeed, the reserve zone has India’s first astronomy and adventure camp – Astoport Sariska. This astronomy & camping site is surrounded by Aravalli hills and welcomes stargazers for an incredible experience.

Astroport Sariska is situated barely 5km from Sariska National Park is one of the darkest regions of India far from the bustling city lights. Every night the trained educators along with their telescopes, sky charts, and other special equipment help you navigate the gazillion stars. Sessions on astrophotography are also part of the experience. The place is popular amongst astronomy lovers especially kids as there are other adventure activities like trekking, cycling, sun gazing too available in the day time.

How to Reach: Sarika lies 11o Kilometres from Jaipur city & 220 km from Delhi. It can be reached via train, bus, flight till Jaipur, and from there hire a vehicle to reach Sariska. 

Best Time to visit: The best time to visit is Winter months i.e. September to March)as the sky is clear and the weather is cold/pleasant. 

Stargazing in Ladakh

Ladakh is considered as the most incredible place for stargazing due to its high altitude & pollution-free skies, especially when all the mindless, loud music playing tourists goes off to sleep.


By Divyakshi Gupta from Quirkywanderer

Hanle, a tiny village at 4500-meter altitude in the Changthang region of Ladakh, close to the Indo-China border is well known for an Indian Astronomical Observatory. It is the world’s highest observatory & is operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru. The observatory has an installed telescope of about 2.01 meters (6.5 feet) diameter. 

After what seemed like an endless drive from Pangong Lake, we reached Hanle. We were surprised to see how tiny the village was. A few of my friends even wondered if it was worth spending the night here after that bumpy ride. But the homestay owner told us how epic Hanle is for stargazing and I was all ready to stay up at night. It was freezing cold when we climbed up a ladder to go up to the terrace and then, in the silence of the night, all of us were left spellbound. There were shooting stars every five minutes in the sky and we could see the Milky way from our eyes, without any equipment.

How to reach: Hanle can be reached from Leh as well as Pangong in almost 9 hours by shared cabs or personal vehicle

Best Time to visit: May to September

Places to stay: Multiple Homestays but my recommendation is Padma Homestay

Stok Kangri

-By Umang Trivedi from Travelmax

Stok Kangri, located near the village of Stok can be reached only by trekking. The trek is extremely beautiful, challenging making one really appreciate the beauty of the region. The expedition to the Stok Kangri peak takes you to a height of 20,000 feet if the peak is scaled successfully.

At night, while camping in the open, the sky becomes clear sailcloth with the twinkling stars and enchanting galaxies. Of course, not as clear as the camera can capture! I wish our eyes also had flexible settings of exposure and shutter speed to see this just like a shot.

Star show on Stok Kangri Trek, India
Stargazing on Stok Kangri Trek, India

How to reach: The Stok Kangri trek starts from village Stok. Trek is for 5-7 days depending on how well the trekkers are acclimatizing. In our case, it went on for 6 days. The entire trek is not really around permanent establishments and during winters, nobody treks this route.

Best Time to visit: The best time to go is around June-August. Due to the altitude, the snow accumulates throughout winters and takes a couple of more months to melt. So, by May mid the trek opens up for trekkers to embark on an enthralling journey to Stok Kangri peak.

Places to stay: Throughout the trek, one needs to stay in tents at various campsites.

Shooting Stars at Zanskar Valley

– By Shubham from travelshoebum

Zanskar, a little kingdom in Ladakh lies at an altitude above 3500 meters. It is an extremely remote valley, where the road leading to it is closed for more than 7 months in a year.  Along with the natural beauty, dark nights and minimal pollution makes the place ideal for stargazing.

Shooting stars in Zanskar Valley, India
Shooting stars in Zanskar Valley, India

How to reach: Padum is the district headquarters of Zanskar and can be reached by shared taxis or personal vehicles. The alternate way is via trekking through Lahaul or Ladakh.

Best Time to visit: July to October is considered as the best time to go, when Pensi La road is open and one can travel via Srinagar to Kargil to Padum.

Places to stay: Homestays are available in almost every village in Zanskar. Padum has few guesthouses and hotels too.

Starry Nights in West Bengal

Mousuni Island

-By Ruma Dey from Theholidaystory

Mousuni is a small island near Bakkhali and GangaSagar Island in West Bengal. The beauty of the place lies in the confluence of the Bay of Bengal with the River Bhagirathi and its white beach. The golden sunshine on the sands makes it glisten extremely during the day and on full moon night.

Electricity has not reached the Island yet. So, one can enjoy a stay in the tents just beside the sea beach, laze and do stargazing in the pitch dark sky for hours.

Mousuni Island, West Bengal - Star Gazing site in India
Mousuni Island, West Bengal – Star Gazing site in India

How to reach: For Mousuni island you have to first reach Namkhana railway station from Sealdah. It is 3 hours of a local train journey. After getting down to the Sashmol bus stop only 7 km from Namkhana station. From there cross the Chinai river and take a Toto car to reach Mousuni island. The bus service is available from Dharmatala / Espnalade Kolkata area.

Best Time to visit:  October to March is the best time to visit Mousuni island.

Places to stay: There are multiple Eco tourism camps and mud houses on the Island


By Trijit Mallick from BudgetTravelBuff

Buxa Jayanti is located in the eastern part of Dooars in West Bengal. Buxa is famous for the Buxa Tiger Reserve where Jayanti is a forest village inside the reserve, blessed with a lush green tea garden, beautiful hills, and mountain rivers. It is located along the Jayanti River, forming a natural border with the Bhutan hills. So, being a completely reserved area, it is pollution-free and makes up for an ideal destination for stargazing in India.

How to reach: Alipurduar Junction railway station is the closest station to Jayanti. Kanchankanya Express is the best option to reach Alipurduar if you come from Kolkata, else you have to board on a train that goes to New Jalpaiguri (NJP). NJP is well connected with Jayanti by road.

Best Time to visit:  November to March is the best time to visit Buxa-Jayanti. Especially in December month, this place is perfect for wildlife photography and jungle safari. The average temperature remains between 10 to 22 degrees centigrade during this time.

Places to stay: There are several private and government-run lodges in the area. I will recommend you to stay in Jayanti River View Homestay which is situated just beside the Jayanti river. It is quite reasonable (INR 1100/-) & also offers stunning views of the Jayanti river bed with Jayanti hills in the background.

Shooting Stars & Meteor Show in Himachal


By Sundeep Bedabrata from Delhifundos

Chail, an offbeat spot in Himachal Pradesh is known for its salubrious beauty and virgin Pine Deodar forests. It is an ideal place to relax, engulf in nature, take long walks, and enjoy slow travel.

At night, the sky here can leave one spellbound. It just looks like a dark blue sequined fabric in which one could identify a couple of popular constellations. The place is perfect for night walks, camping & stargazing in India. Along with it one can also witness, thousands of fireflies in the night when all the lights are turned off.

Night at Chail, Himachal India
Stargazing in India – at Chail, Himachal

How to reach: Chail lies 106 Kilometers from Chandigarh and 336 Kilometres from Delhi. It can be reached via public bus, shared cabs or personal cars from Chandigarh.

Best Time to visit:  Chail can be visited throughout the year but for best stargazing experience visit it during summers or winters, when the sky is clear.

Places to stay: The HPTDC hotel is the most sought after accommodation here but because one needs prior booking. Another option is Sunrise Homestay which too is quite cozy and affordable. Apart from all this, for a wonderful stargazing experience in India, one can opt for camping too.

Stargazing at Spiti Valley

-By Samantha from Intentionaldetours

Just like Ladakh, Spiti Valley too is known as one of the best places for stargazing in India.  The high-altitude, desert-scape of Spiti, Himachal Pradesh has very little pollution and plenty of elevation, making its skies light up with stars on clear nights. Though stars are visible in all of Spiti, the villages of Dhankar, Nako, Tabo, Langza, Hikkim, Chicham Khas, Komic, Tashi Gang tend to offer exceptional views.

How to reach: To get to the Valley, one can take a self-drive Spiti valley road trip (beware of narrow scary mountain roads!) or take public transport, the latter of which gets crowded during peak season. Though the valley can be entered from either the Manali side or the Reckong Peo side, it’s easier to acclimate to the altitude if you enter from Reckong Peo. Buses are very easy to catch from either New Delhi or Chandigarh

Best Time to visit: If you want to be somewhat comfortable, plan your Spiti Valley itinerary in either May-June or  September. July and August tend to see more rain and the rest of the year is way too cold to even enjoy what you’re seeing!

Places to stay: In Dhankar, the Bendurya Hotel is a super comfy yet affordable stay with an epic view of both the sky and the village. Dhankar is also home to a beautiful lake with a great camping spot- perfect for stargazing. For Langza & Tashigang, you can stay at homestays in the villages itself or in Kaza.

Stargazing at Andamans and Nicobar Island

Neil Island

-By Debjani Lahiri from thevagabong

Many of us like to count on the famous mountainous regions of Ladakh, Spiti, or somewhere isolated regions of Uttarakhand for stargazing because of high altitude & the idea of pollution-free clearer skies. But, the idea of stargazing by a peaceful beach beside the vast ocean could be one of the most exhilarating experiences too. And, for it there is no other place better than Neil Island in Andamans and Nicobar regions.

Andaman and Nicobar are blessed with pristine beaches, azure blue waters, and unadulterated clear skies, which gives a brilliant opportunity to stargaze at night. Neil Island is one of the famous and the most popular ones and has got three beaches mainly Bharatpur Beach, Sitapur Beach, and Lakshmanpur Beach. Out of which, Lakshmanpur beach is the most secluded one and has a long secluded shoreline. Hence, on a clear night, imagine a scene of countless stars shimmering in the sky with dozens of hermit crabs crawling underneath with sounds of waves crashing on the shores. The view and the feeling both are beyond mystical.

Stargazing in India – Andaman Nicobar

How to Reach: Port Blair (capital of Andaman and Nicobar Island) is well connected with major airports of India. From Port Blair, daily private and government ferries run between the islands. Just one has to check the exact timings.

Best Time to visit: Between Nov-Feb (Winter season have clearer sky)

Places to stay: There are a couple of luxury and as well as budget stay options in the Neil Islands. Sea Shell Samsara (Luxury) hotel, Coconhuts Beach Resort (Budget category)

Starry Nights at Gujarat

Rann of Kutch

-By Bhushavali from TravelBhushavali

Dholavira, located on the Tropic of Cancer in Kutch District of Gujarat is locally known as Kotada Timba. The site contains the ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization. It is one of the five largest Harappan sites and most prominent archaeological sites in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. Just 40km from Dholavira, on the other side of the Rann of Kutch is Pakistan.

While the whole of Rann of Kutch itself is an amazing place to stargaze but Dholavira is just the perfect destination. The night sky is just excellent here. It is the sky, I saw years back when I was a little kid, along with my grandfather; when The Hindu, newspaper had the monthly Night Sky section which we would cut out and figure-out the constellations using it! We could see the gazillion stars of the night sky

Galaxy in Kutch , India
Stargazing in India – At Kutch

How to reach: Dholavira is well connected to the rest of India by roadways. Regular bus services ply to and fro the city of Dholavira. From Radhanpur the distance to Dholavira is about 200km, which goes across the incredible white sands of the Rann of Kutch. There is no direct flight or rail connectivity to Dholavira. Nearest airport and railway station at Bhuj.

Best Time to Visit: Winter season is the ideal season i.e. from October – March. Monsoon is not an ideal time for stargazing.  Summers are hot and are the least advisable time for a visit.

Places to stay: The best place to stay in Dholavira is the Govt guesthouses of either the tourism department or the forest department. In either case it is in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely no light or air or sound pollution which makes the sky crystal clear. In fact, Dholavira is a tiny island surrounded by the Rann of Kutch.

Shooting Stars in Uttarakhand


Binsar, a small scenic valley, sits on the top of Jhandi Dhar Hills, at an altitude 2412 meters in the Kumaon region of the Himalayas. In 1988 Binsar became a Binsar wildlife sanctuary, to conserve and preserve the shrinking broad oak leaf forests of the Himalayan region. Today, it is spread over 46km2 and is highly rich in flora and fauna. From here, the complete 300 km stretch of famous peaks like Kedarnath, Chaukhamba, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot, and Panchchuli are visible on clear days and nights are dark, clear and make up an ideal destination for stargazing.

Being a reserved area, lights are turned off by 9:00 pm and the pitch dark sky is just illuminated with the shimmering stars. After adjusting your eyes, you get to witness some of the shooting stars and constellations too. The sky amidst the tall conifer and oak trees is a sight to admire for.

Stars in Uttarakhand, India

How to reach: Binsar lies 23 Kilometers from Almora, 88 kilometers from Nainital in Uttarakhand. It is well connected by road, rail or by air. The nearest airport to Binsar is at Pantnagar (140 km from Binsar) whereas the nearest railway station is at Kathgodam (105 km from Binsar). The further journey from both Pantnagar and Kathgodam stations can be covered by bus or cabs.

Best Time to visit: Summer & winter is an ideal time to enjoy stargazing. In monsoons it’s mostly cloudy.

Places to stay: There are plenty of resorts, hotels, and guest houses in Almora, Kasar Devi, and outside the Binsar wildlife sanctuary. But within the sanctuary, there are limited options, which varies from heritage luxury homestays to resorts to Government guest house i.e. KMVN (Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam). Our recommendation is KMVN, which has a huge terrace and is a perfect spot for stargazing in India.

10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Travel India

India the land of 1.3 Billion inhabitants is a cacophony of contrasts, sound, colors, smell, and taste. Mother India as we Indians say it, has a rich history, heritage, traditions, unbelievable landscapes, lush beauty and exotic architecture to overload your senses. It is the Birthplace of Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, and other religions. Guests are treated as Gods and each Indian live by the saying “Atithi Devo Bhava”. Not only this, but the variety of lavish cuisines of every state of India is also unique and completely mouthwatering. So, in the post, we will be quoting reasons, that why everyone should travel India, at least once in their lifetime. Also, we will brief the Indian visa and its application process.

10 Reasons Why Travel India

Why Travel India?

History & Architecture

India, also known as Bharat is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It has a history dating back to the Neothilic period. The land has been ruled by several rulers, dynasties and has gone through several wars and conquers. Each of these rulers during its era built unique massive forts, palaces, mosques, temples, etc. So there is a lot of history behind each of these structures along with unique architecture and an interesting story. Apart from this India is also known as the land of epics and legends. The two epics Ramayana and Mahabharata belong to this nation.

Haunted Bhangarh fort
Bhangarh fort in Rajasthan

Today, 38 ancient sites (cultural and natural) of the nation are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, making it a treasure trove for history buffs and design enthusiasts.

Culture and Traditions

The country is known throughout the world for its diverse cultures. And the same manifest well in its religions, traditions, languages, festivals, fairs, values, dresses, art and craft. India is dominantly a Hindu state but has a lot of Muslim population too, making it to one of the largest Muslim nations in the world.

Pushkar in Rajasthan- Travel India

The country has multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious society i.e. the total 29 states of country have its own communities, culture, traditions, festivals, dressing style and food. People speak different languages and have diverse lingual tones. The traditional culture and lifestyle in Indian villages symbolizes the true essence of India. But overall, it is an amalgamation of various cultures influenced from thousands of year’s old history. The phrase Unity in Diversity sums up the true India.


The word “Himalayas” means a house of snow or snow abode in Sanskrit. The Indian Himalayas spread over the northern frontiers and the north of it is known as roof the world. The Himalayas span Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Bay of Bengal in India.

View of Chau Chau Kang Nilda from Fossil Village Langza
View of Chau Chau Kang Nilda from Fossil Village Langza Spiti Valley

The Himalayas have some of the highest peaks like Kanchenjunga, which is the third-highest peak in the world. Many of these peaks are considered sacred by Hindus and Buddhists. The Himalayas too are rich in extensive flora, fauna, and medicinal herbs. The mighty rivers like Ganges, Indus, Satluj, Brahmaputra have their origin from the Himalayas. The River Ganga is sacred of all rivers and runs for 2500 Kilometers from Northern Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. It is a source of fishing, agriculture and many other activities. Hindus also believed that the River transports the prayers of believers to heaven and a dip in the river purifies your soul.

Devprayag - Confluence of River Bhagirathi and River Alaknanda
Devprayag – Confluence of River Bhagirathi and River Alaknanda

Another thing, not to miss in the Himalayas is Himalayan Toy Train of Shimla, Darjeeling, Ooty. These colonial trains are a part of UNESCO Heritage sites and they provide a mesmerizing experience. The scenic beauty around the lush green landscapes and blue sky from the speeding train looks just out of the world.

Darjeeling Toy Train Steam Engine- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Darjeeling Toy Train Steam Engine


If you are an adventure lover and like an instant adrenaline rush, then travel India. In India, adventure follows everywhere – be it while hiking or driving in the Himalayas in Leh Ladakh and Spiti Valley, riding around the beaches of Goa; while doing a safari in Sariska Tiger Reserve, Ranthambore National Park or checking the haunted Bhangarh fort of Rajasthan, while checking the wildlife in the Himalayas or jungle, while passing the highest motorable passes in Ladakh or ridging the double-humped camels in Nubra valley or moving endlessly in the chaotic streets of Old Delhi, while hitchhiking or boarding the public transport. In every nook and corner, you will find an endless adventure and it is extremely fun.

View of Khajjiar Meadows form Hotel Devdar - Dalhousie Chamba Khajjiar
View of Khajjiar Meadows form Hotel Devdar

High Altitude Lakes

Indian Himalayas are home to plenty of high altitude lakes, out of which many are still undiscovered. These high altitude turquoise blue water Lakes nestled between the snow covered mountain peaks looks completely ethereal and surreal in summers whereas remain completely frozen in winters.

Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim - Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim

The Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim, located at 5430 meters i.e. 17,800 feet is the highest lake in India. Its changing colors with the daylight can leave anyone spellbound. The other high altitude lakes which one should check are – Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Tso Kar, and Suraj Tal in Jammu and Kashmir. Foreign Nationals need a special PAP (Protected Area Permit) and Indians need an Inner line permit to visit many of these.

Religious and Spiritual Tour to Temples & Monasteries

Religion and spirituality are intertwined in the daily lives of Indians. India is a birthplace of various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and others. Visiting temples (Badrinath, Kedarnath Temple, etc), Buddhist monasteries like Hemis Monastery, and looking into their relics and stories gives one a better picture of Indian culture. Witnessing the people worshipping and praying in their own ways is not less than a treat to eyes. Spirituality here is not just about praying but it’s about finding one’s inner peace and spiritual self.

Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh- Travel India
Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh – Travel India

The Buddhist Gompas in the North India, exemplify the rich traditions and simplistic life Monks lead, the Ashrams spread throughout the country gives you an idea of slow peaceful life with the consumption of organic food whereas the ancient Temples of South gives you the insight of wealth of the country. Apart these, there are some amusing and unique temples too, set up on the beliefs, likelihood or on the fan following For e.g. – motorcycle temple in Rajasthan, Amitabh Bachhan Temple in Kolkata, Dog Temple in Karnataka, Visa Temple in Jalandhar Punjab, Narender Modi Temple in Gujarat and Bharat Mata Temple in Varanasi.  


Indians have diverse culinary habits throughout and their food style is influenced by Mughlai, Persian and many others. Most importantly Indians take their food quite seriously.

Pao Bhaji at Orange Festival Dambuk
Pao Bhaji – Indian Street food

The diverse variety of lip-smacking delicacies range from the Thukpa in North to the Idly-Sambar in the South, including the Dal Baati Churma in the West and the various dishes of pork in the East. Chapatti with the thick curries also makes to the staple food in North India whereas rice with the seafood, prepared in coconut curry, is for South. Apart this there is no end to the street food here. So, overall India is a gastronomical paradise and the aroma of food can easily trigger up your taste buds.

Festivals & Fairs

India the largest democratic country with diversity in religion, culture, and topography is diverse with its festivals and fairs too. Each month there is some or other festival or fair and it is celebrated on a large scale. Some of these festivals have a religious affair whereas others are celebrated for fun and seasonal change. The main motto of each is to bring people of all religions together for bonding and humanity and unite the whole of India to a single bunch. For the month-wise details of Indian festivals of India check Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Holi Festival Travel India
Holi Festival – Travel India

The festival of Lights Diwali, where the whole sky gets illuminated by fireworks and the festival of Colors are the two most important festivals of India. Apart from festivals, the endless fairs or melas celebrated across the country, highlights the local culture of the land in most colorful and expressive ways, emphasizing the prevailing folklore and history of the region. The must-visit fairs while travelling to India include the Pushkar Camel fair, Khumb Mela, Rann Utsav, Goa Carnival, Khajuraho Dance Festival, Elephant festival of Jaipur, Dambuk Orange festival, etc.

4-4 Fury adventure at Dambuk Orange Festival - Travel India
4-4 Fury adventure at Dambuk Orange Festival – Travel India

Yoga & Ayurveda Treatment

Yoga and Meditation originated in India and today it is practiced throughout the world for stress relief, physical fitness, and relaxation. So, Yoga might belong to the world but its Home is India only. Therefore, to learn or practice yoga, travel India and it’s the best place to lean it. Yoga is not just about physical fitness and being flexible, it is a repository. It means to connect- Connect to yourself and maintain harmony with nature. It is a way to recognize self, increase self-consciousness and coordination, to open yourself to new things and ideas. The best places to learn Yoga are Rishikesh, Dharamshala, Haridwar, Mysore, etc.

View from Ayurvedic Spa Room of Chariot Beach Resort Mahabalipuram
View from Ayurvedic Spa Room of Chariot Beach Resort Mahabalipuram

Ayurveda, the 5000 years old natural medicine system, too has its origin in India and today its variants are used everywhere in the world as alternative medicine. The traditional system focuses on treating and eradicating the problem right from the root cause of it, by taking the account of diet, lifestyle, routine, exercise and circumstances of a patient. Ayurveda purifies the mind, body and soul. Indian forests being rich in herbs and flora, have multiple medical concoctions. So, India is an ideal place for availing Ayurveda Treatment. The best place to experience Ayurveda treatment, spas and massages in India is Kerala.


Last but not the least is always smiling, and hospitable people. Be it the extreme village of Spiti Valley or the desert, people are kind enough to invite you to your home for a cup of tea with local bread. Even if they have one room and you are in shortage of space, they will be more than happy to accommodate you. Still in the remote villages, you can see the innocent children playing in the puddles or climbing the trees, much away from the facts of internet and technology.

Children playing cricket on the way to chanshal pass
Children playing cricket on the way to Chanshal Pass

How to get Indian Visa

All tourists need to apply for Indian visa before traveling. The visa can be applied through Indian Post or via the most convenient option i.e. e- visa. The e- visas should be applied at least four days before the travel date and the traveler can enter the country within a period of 120 days from the issue date. For Example: If you are applying on 1st Sept then the applicant can select the arrival date from 5th Sept to 2nd Jan.

From 2019, the newly issued tourist and business e-visas for India are valid for 365 days. Within this period, the tourist can make an unlimited number of trips to India. However, this does not mean that you can stay in India for one consecutive year. UK, USA, Canada or Japan passport holders can stay for max. 180 days whereas other nationalities can only stay for a maximum of 90 consecutive days.

From the web browser open the site for applying for an India visa. Fill all the required details like contact information, place of residence, travel dates, passport information, and passport photo, and wait for 4 days to get the approval. In case of emergency, visas get approved within 24 hrs.

10 Reasons Why Travel India
10 Reasons Why Travel India

Important Points to Remember before traveling to India

  • Give yourself enough time to enjoy every location in India
  • Prepare a rough itinerary encompassing accommodation and transport, to avoid unavoidable Indian mishaps and adventurous detours
  • Hindi is India’s mother tongue still it isn’t spoken by everyone and everywhere in India. In fact, there are more than 20 languages spoken throughout the country and English tends to serve as a common lingo
  • Learn few Hindi phrases to break the ice with locals like “Namaskar” (hello), “Dhanyawaad” (thank you), “Aap Kaise hai” (how are you), “Kitna Dena hai” (how much to pay) and “Naam kya hai” (what’s your name)
  • Credit cards, Debit cards, and money wallets are accepted throughout the country. But still carry some cash while traveling in the remote areas and in the Himalayas
  • There are plenty of street food options in India but consume it from a good food joint only to avoid food poisoning
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Wear comfortable clothing and dress appropriately according to the location. In mountains, it is usually cold even in summers so always remember to carry windcheaters and a light jacket
  • Toilets are still a big-time challenge in many remote parts of India. So, carry Pee safe with you always to avoid infection
  • Public transport as well as cab service is good in the country but make sure to take complete information about the route before traveling
  • Inform the concerned person about your travel plans and locations in India for safety and security
  • Bargaining is possible in the street and flea markets of India, so remember to do it before making a purchase

Travel Guide for 10 Days Darjeeling Sikkim tour

We (AllGUDTHINGS), known as the unplanned travelers, are quite random in our travel plans. If one hour we are at home, another hour we will be packing and leaving for some destination. Exactly the same happened during our anniversary. The plan was to go somewhere in Himachal from Delhi, then came Munsiyari in Uttarakhand and by night the whole plan changed and we opted to go for a Darjeeling Sikkim Tour. Most people, don’t trust us on this, but yes we booked our tickets at midnight for Bagdogra Airport, Siliguri in West Bengal and boarded our flight next morning at 11:00 am. So, without any schedule, plan or bookings we left to explore the tea estate land Darjeeling and the smallest state of India, Sikkim.

Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

About Darjeeling Sikkim

Darjeeling, a hill town is located in the lower Himalayas in West Bengal at 6700 feet. It is well known for its Darjeeling tea, the world’s third highest mountain Kanchenjunga, and the UNESCO world heritage site the Darjeeling Himalayan Toy Train. Darjeeling is 68 Kilometers from Bagdogra and 80 Kilometers from Siliguri via Hill Cart road and can be reached in almost 3 hours.

Darjeeling Toy Train Steam Engine

Whereas Sikkim, the least populous and second smallest state of India is divided into North, South, East and West Sikkim. It is known nationally as the most environmentally conscious state, having banned plastic bottles and polystyrene products. The state is a host for the highest peak of India i.e. Kanchenjunga and 35% part of the state is covered by Kanchenjunga National Park. Its capital is Gangtok. Interestingly, Sikkim was earlier not on every tourist’s radar but thanks to social media for giving it glamour.

Tea Estates in Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Tea Estates in Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

Itinerary for Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

Day 1– Fly to Bagdogra airport from Delhi. Hire a Zoomcar from Siliguri and then head further to Darjeeling. Read our experience of Zoomcar from Siliguri to Sikkim

Day 2– Explore Darjeeling

Day 3- Drive to Gangtok from Darjeeling

Day 4- Explore Gangtok and surroundings

Day 5-7 North Sikkim Tour. Visit Lachen, Lachung, Gurudongmar Lake, Chopta Valley, Yumthang Valley, Kala Pathar, Katao

Day 8– Drive towards West Sikkim to reach Pelling but unfortunately, we had to come back to Gangtok because of a massive landslide on the way.

Day 9 – Explore East Sikkim (Rumtek Monastery and Surroundings)

Day 10 –Drive from Gangtok till Siliguri by Zoomcar, then to Bagdogra airport by cab, and further flight back home to Delhi

Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

Total Expense Breakup

  • Flights – Because of offseason (July – August), to & fro ticket (Delhi – Bagdogra) cost us Rs. 12,000 for two people
  • Zoomcar for the whole trip – Rs, 20,000 for first 965 Kilometers, and 5,000 Rs. as refundable security. Above this, the additional Kilometers will be charged at Rs. 15 per kilometer
  • North Sikkim Trip – Rs. 16,000 including cab, accommodation and permit + Rs. 4000/- for covering additional places like Kala Pathar, Zero Point, Chopta Valley, and Katao
  • Cab from Bagdogra airport to Siliguri – Rs.1400 to and fro
  • Hotel in Darjeeling – Due to the offseason we got Rs. 7000/- Club Room in Rs. 3500/- (Heritage Hotel); So, Rs. 7000/- for 2 nights including two meals
  • Hotels in Gangtok – Rs. 2500/- per night again due to offseason (Rs. 10,000/- for 4 nights)
  • Miscellaneous meals – Breakfast between Rs. 500- Rs.700 whereas Dinner costs around Rs. 1000- Rs. 1500. Total cost approx. – Rs. 15000/-
  • Shopping – Rs. 5000/-

Transport in Darjeeling Sikkim

Darjeeling and Sikkim both have well-connected roads and can be reached via bus, shared or private cabs. The self-drive option is also open in Darjeeling and certain districts of Sikkim, just that one needs proper permits for it. So, being road trip lovers we opted for a self-drive option and did the complete journey with Zoomcar from Siliguri.

Zoomcar Parking Lot Siliguri. - Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Zoomcar Parking Lot Siliguri. – Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

Private and shared cabs run at very short intervals from Bagdogra airport. Shared jeep charges almost Rs. 150/- per person but it moves when it is full and there are 10 people in the jeep between 7 am to 3 pm. There is another Luxury class, share ride, which carries only 5 passengers by the name Wizzride. It starts from Siliguri and takes one to Darjeeling at a fare of Rs. 475/- and Gangtok at a fare of Rs.712 per seat. Whereas the private cab charges are Rs. 1850.00 for small car and Rs. 2200.00 for a large car.

Bus, the cheapest mode of transport starts at 7:00 am from Siliguri and go up to Darjeeling/ Gangtok. Night service is not available.

Darjeeling Toy Train Track runs parallel to road from Siliguri to Darjeeling

Another exciting option is to travel by Darjeeling Toy Train. The diesel engine hauled toy train leaves from NJP station i.e. New Jalpaiguri railway station; in the morning around 9 am and it takes about 7 hours to reach Darjeeling. The train can also be boarded from Siliguri Town and Siliguri Junction stations that are 5kms and 8kms away from NJP respectively. One side fare for First Class is Rs. 1,285/-. For the Darjeeling Toy Train schedule, check here.

Permits/ Interstate Rod Taxes for Self Drive Zoomcar

From Siliguri to Darjeeling, we didn’t pay any tax but while entering state Sikkim from West Bengal, at Rangpo we paid an interstate tax of around 700 Rs for 9 days. This amount is nonrefundable by Zoomcar and you will get an alert in the Zoomcar app as soon as you enter the sate.

Note: Zoomcar cannot be taken to North and East Sikkim because the permits for the regions are issued to the Travel agents only. For Day 5-7 we parked our vehicle at the hotel itself.

Day Wise Itinerary Breakup

Day 1 – Flight to Bagdogra Airport from Delhi, Took Zoomcar from Siliguri and moved to Darjeeling

Board a flight from New Delhi airport and you will land at Bagdogra airport in 2 – 2:15 hrs. Bagdogra airport is a small airport. Within minutes, you will collect your baggage and make an exit. At the exit gate itself, you will be surrounded by plenty of cab drivers quoting random prices. If you have not booked your cab earlier, we advise you to take an exit, walk for 500 meters and book a cab at the prepaid counter.

We hired the cab for Siliguri, from prepaid taxi stand at Rs.700/-. In 45 minutes he dropped us to the Zoomcar parking lot. As, we reached the Parking lot, our Red Scorpio and the customer care executive was waiting for us. He checked our license on arrival and handed us the documents bag, which had car RC, insurance and other important documents in it. Further he asked us to do quick inspection of the car and make a note of the scratches, dents or any other issues.  To be on the safer side, we made a quick short video and took pictures of the car.

Further, the customer representative logged into the app showed us the checklist explaining all the modules, took our signatures, handed us the keys and we were all set to go. For more details check our post experience with Zoomcar from Siliguri to Sikkim.

Tea Estates in Darjeeling
Tea Estates in Darjeeling

Within 15 minutes, we were on the road to Darjeeling. The road to Darjeeling is a beautiful road with the narrow gauge track on one side and valley on others. From one point, there are continuous ascent and tea estates on another side.  We took the Hill cart road also known as the main road and reached Darjeeling in 4 hours. Clouds were pouring, there was hardly any visibility and all we could smell was freshness in the valley.

Route: Siliguri- Kurseong- Sonada- Ghoom- Darjeeling

Accommodation at Darjeeling

There are plenty of accommodation options in Darjeeling from luxurious hotels to budget ones, guest houses and heritage homes. We choose to stay at the Central heritage resort and Spa Hotel, constructed in 1905. The hotel has heritage and a newly constructed block.

Central Heritage Resort & Spa in Darjeeling
Central Heritage Resort & Spa in Darjeeling

We chose to stay at the Heritage Club room, which completely reflected the design of the Colonial era. The room had extensive woodwork, antique furnishing, fireplace, paintings, and all required necessities. In a hotel, there are two multi-cuisine restaurants and one of them has a bar too. Also, there is also a separate bar lounge with a designated smoking area. Food is good and we advise you to must try fish from their starters menu.

Restaurant at Central Heritage Resort
Restaurant at Central Heritage Resort

Note: The Central Heritage resort is located centrally right in the market area, and the mall (chowrasta) is only a 4-5-minute walk from here. Rest markets, taxi stand, railway station, and great restaurants are also within easy walking distance from here. 

Day 2Explore Darjeeling

Darjeeling, the queen of the hill stations is also the home to a Toy train and is a land of tea estates. The bustling town, towered over by the majestic Khangchendzonga (8598 m), also has many amazing attractions around it.

Darjeeling Toy Train Station.
Darjeeling Toy Train Station

But we just had one day for Darjeeling in 10 days’ Darjeeling Sikkim Tour. So, it was impossible for us to check every attraction and here is what all we checked and will recommend to you.

  • Get up early and go to Tiger Hill for catching the first sunlight on snowcapped peaks of Kanchenjunga. If the weather is clear you will also get a glimpse of Mount Everest. Unfortunately, during our trip there was heavy rain so we skipped going to Tiger Hill.
  • Go for a stroll to the Darjeeling railway station. See how till the day, the steam engines of Toy Tain are set and the train track is cleaned
  • Toy Train starts at 7:40 am from Darjeeling Railway station. Opt to go till the nearest station Ghum/ Ghoom, which is the highest altitude station on the Darjeeling Himalayan Rail track. It’s a 2-hour round trip covering a total distance of 14kms
  • Head to Batasia Loop, which is one of the greatest engineering marvels till day. The Loop was commissioned in 1919 for the toy train to handle a steep gradient of 140 feet. Just after Ghoom, there is a sharp fall as the toy train moves towards Darjeeling so this was the only way to reduce the gradient of the slope. 
  • Go to Chowrasta/ or the mall for the relaxing stroll and shopping. In August, practice for 15th August was going on mall road, so we enjoyed the perfect show in a mist
  • Enjoy delicious Thupka and momos which you can find on every corner.
  • Visit Darjeeling Tea Estates and learn about the various types of tea. We brought some flavors for ourselves from Golden Tips. Also read the guide on Darjeeling tea, before buying for yourself
  • Visit Peace Pagoda sitting atop the Charlemont Hill. It was established by the Japanese Buddhist monk Nichidatsu Fujii as a way of promoting World Peace and harmony
  • If you have more time, then do visit Kalimpong, Sandakhpu, Himalayan Mountaineering Institue, Padmaja, and Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
Chowrasta in Darjeeling- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Chowrasta in Darjeeling- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

Day 3 – Road trip from Darjeeling to Gangtok, Sikkim

Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim lies 100 Kilometers from Darjeeling and can be reached in 5-6 hours. Tea estates in the valley accompany you on the way, further taken over by River Teesta/ Tista. Roads in West Bengal are well built and starts getting narrower after some Kilometres. You will cross several small colourful villages on the way and at times expect taking detours too.

Route: Darjeeling- Tista- Meli- Rangpo- Singtam- Ranpool- Gangtok

Eco Tourism project on the way from Darjeeling to Gangtok
Eco Tourism project on the way from Darjeeling to Gangtok

At Rangpo cross a bridge and there is a check post. Here, you need to pay, interstate tax for driving from West Bengal. We paid Rs. 700 for almost 8 days. For documentation take your car’s Registration Card and Driving License and the whole process takes around 15 minutes.

We reached Gangtok by 4:00 pm and the first thing was to search for a Hotel near MG Marg, as we had no prior bookings. July – August is considered the off-season period, so we were sure we will get it on a bit of a search.

Gangtok during Monsoons
Gangtok during Monsoons

Accommodation at Gangtok

Just like Darjeeling, there are plenty of accommodation options in Gangtok. We planned to stay at Chumbi Residency, located on the Tibet Road, and just 5 minutes’ walk away from the main market M.G. Marg.

Lobby of Hotel Chumbi Residency in Gangtok
Lobby of Hotel Chumbi Residency in Gangtok

The hotel lobby of Chumbi residency was well decorated with artifacts reflecting the Sikkim culture and the huge glass on one end gave the complete view of landscapes with floating clouds in between. We opted for the Jade room at Rs. 2500 per night. The room was super comfortable, cozy and well furnished. It had the perfect feel of the bedroom, as it was going to be our abode for the coming 4-5 days. The staff welcomed us with a pleasant smile and were super helpful. They guided us with all the petty details, we needed on our unplanned trip.

Jade Room at Hotel Chumbi Residency in Gangtok
Jade Room at Hotel Chumbi Residency in Gangtok

Note: The Chumbi Residency has its own parking space and lets you leave your vehicle while going for a North Sikkim tour. Also, they have one of the best restaurants of Gangtok by name, Tangerine, which serves Continental, Oriental, Indian and Sikkimese cuisine.

In the evening we went for a quick stroll at MG Garg and were impressed by the vibes of the place and food options we can enjoy here.

MG Marg Gangtok
MG Marg Gangtok

Day 4 – Explored Gangtok and Surroundings

Gangtok, the neat and clean vibrant town is full of life and is equally peaceful too. There are plenty of things to enjoy in Gangtok and its surroundings. So, here is what we will suggest to you.

Bakthang Waterfall in Gangtok
Bakthang Waterfall in Gangtok
  • Take a stroll at MG Marg. It has plenty of amazing cafes, bookstores, and restaurants to chill out
  • Visit the nearest Bakthang waterfall. Also enjoy tea, Momos, and Maggi from the tea vendors there
  • Admire the views of Kanchenjunga from Kanchenjunga viewpoint
  • Pay a visit at colorful Hanuman Tok and Ganesha Tok
  • Visit Lal market to buy Dalle (the spiciest chili in the world) and some more souvenirs
  • If you’re Skipping North Sikkim, then we would recommend you to visit the glittering Tsomgo/Changu Lake, Nathula Pass, and Tashi View Point. However, if you are visiting North Sikkim, then you can skip these sites and the Tashi viewpoint will come on your way
  • In the evening head to MG Garg and enjoy some local Momos and Thupkas or relish good food and local drinks at a café. We have explored some amazing cafes during our visit and will be writing about them soon
Ganesh Tok in Gangtok
Ganesh Tok in Gangtok

Day 5 – Drive to North Sikkim (Lachen)

The real Darjeeling Sikkim tour started here, as we will be visiting the remotest area i.e. North Sikkim. For the next 3 days, our Zoomcar was in the parking lot and we will be tripping in the local cab as one cannot drive his/her own vehicle or take Zoomcar to the restricted areas of Sikkim. Moreover, Indians need inner line permit whereas foreigners need restricted area permit for visiting these areas. For us, the last minute bookings and permits were arranged by our Hotel staff with a trustworthy driver.

Documents for Permit

Carry an identity proof (Aadhar Card, Voter ID, Driving License, Passport) of each individual along with 2-3 photographs.

Our day started with a call from a driver (Sharon Chettri) at 9:00 am. He instructed us to carry water, snacks, medicines, and other necessary stuff on the way as it is going to be a long and tedious day. We packed and left at the earliest. As soon we took an exit from Gangtok, vistas started changing. Surroundings became completely green and the roads turned narrow and winding. The journey looked like a marvel with endless waterfalls and panoramic views of Himalayas. We advise you to make multiple stops in between to sip tea with views, have food and obviously for photography.

Tea with views on the way to Lachen
Tea with views on the way to Lachen- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

Route to LachenGangtok – Mangan- Chungthang- Lachen

Distance – 110 Kilometers

Time to reach – approx. 6 to7 hrs. but in seasons this can go up to 8-10 hrs.

Note: From Mangan, the restricted area zone begins. Here, at the check post, your permit will be checked and you will be advised to purchase a plastic bottle as ahead Mangan plastic bottles are not allowed. Isn’t that wonderful? Also buy some snacks and munchies, if you are not carrying from Gangtok.

Views on the way to Lachen in North Sikkim
Views on the way to Lachen in North Sikkim

Accommodation and Meals in Lachen

We reached Lachen by 5:00 – 5:30 pm. It was raining continuously and the temperature had already dipped by several degrees. The driver took us immediately into Hotel Sinolchu (included in our package) and on arrival, the owner served us hot tea. We relaxed for some time and then left for a walk in the beautiful village.

The Colorful Dining area of Hotel Sinolchu at Lachen
The Colorful Dining area of Hotel Sinolchu at Lachen

At Lachen, there are limited accommodation options. Although, lots of new good hotels are coming up but in offseason many are closed; so just expect the basic accommodation and meals. Basic accommodation means guest house with very limited facilities. Our hotel rooms were small, had two single beds, an attached washroom, and unpredictable lighting. Meals served too were quite basic and it included Rice, Dal, Veg, and Chapatti only. One or two shops in the evening were open and were serving hot Maggi, Thupka, and Momos.

Early Morning views of Lachen
Early Morning views of Lachen- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

Day 6 – Drive to Gurudongamr Lake, Chopta Valley, Kala Pathar and night at Lachung

Lachen is the mid-point to the remotest and highest Gurudongmar Lake. From here the distance to Lake is just 67 Kilometers but it takes almost 5 hours to reach. So, start your day quite early at 4:30 am to reach Gurudongmar Lake by 9:00 – 9:30 am.

Route: Lachen – Thangu Valley – Gurudongmar Lake

The graveled road ahead Lachen turn into pebbly and muddy road with wide pot holes.  Road becomes a single lane road and your driver will be driving at a speed of 10- 15 Kms/ hr. Just think that you will be off-roading for most of the time. Your driver will make a quick stop for a breakfast before reaching Thangu Check post. It will be too early for breakfast but we advise you to have something to avoid AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness). After this, the road turns bumpier and green landscapes are taken over by barren mountains.

Road to Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim
Road to Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim – Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

Further, the last checkpoint and settlement come at Giagong i.e. at 15,000th feet. you can use public convenience and enjoy soup or tea at the café. Just, 9 kilometers before the destination, roads turned smoother and well-constructed and you start seeing the snowcapped peaks. Landscapes around will keep you hypnotized throughout and in the next few minutes, you will be standing by the glistening blue Gurudongmar Lake. For the detailed experience please read the complete post on Gurudongmar Lake.

Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim
Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim

It was already 11:30 am. Our driver was shouting for us to come back as the wind and water speed has already increased but we were not ready. Anyways we had too and started our journey back.

On the way, we took a detour to Chopta Valley and Kala Pathar. The Chopta Valley, at 13,200 feet is just 2-3 detour from Thangu. It is a valley of green carpet and flowers and it left us completely stunned by its riots of colors. The valley is still unexplored but it looked like a heaven for the nature lovers.

From the valley keep ascending further on the pebbly road, crossing multiple waterfalls till 14,850 feet to see the snow-covered black cliffs known as Kala Patthar. It is a very close point at Indo- Tibet border and there is no human settlement here.

Kala Pathara is a new, less known tourist destination and is not included in the North Sikkim package. You need to pay your driver some extra money for this trip. Our driver asked us Rs. 2500/- per destination but we negotiated and paid him lump sum Rs. 4000/- extra. We left the place by 2:30 am and reached back Lachen by 4:00 pm.

Road to Kala Pathar in North Sikkim- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

Quick lunch at Lachen and we further left for Lachung. It was already pouring and we were afraid of Landslides on the way. So, we just planned to cover the distance at the earliest without taking much stops. From Lachen, Lachung is just 47 Kilometers but it takes around 3 hours to reach. 

Route: Lachen- Chungthang – Lachung

On the way, comes the Bhewma waterfall also known as Amitabh Bachchan Waterfall. Here water falls from a height of 275 meters, and it is known so because of the shooting of the movie Aankhen starring Amitabh Bachchan at this particular spot.

Accommodation and Meals in Lachung

We reached Lachung by 8:30 pm and checked in to our Hotel the Cliff View Residency, located a bit away from the main town. Quick hot water bath, followed by dinner and we were ready to sleep. The rain was still pouring and we were still literally about the journey ahead to Yumthang valley.

View from our room in Lachung- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
View from our room in Lachung

Our Hotel included in the package was very basic but had an excellent view. The room was clean, had a double bed and quilts with lots of mosquitoes. Dinner too was basic just like in Lachen and included the similar Dal, mixed Veg, Chapati, and Rice. So, we seriously advise you to inquire about the accommodation and meals with a tour operator before booking the North Sikkim Trip.

Day 7 – Drive to Yumthang Valley, Zero Point and Transfer back to Gangtok

Our day began at 6:00 am and by 7:00 am, we left for Yumthang valley, also known as the valley of flowers. In light, Lachung looked much bigger than Lachen and perfectly green with beautiful landscapes all around.  

On the way to Yumthang Valley in North Sikkim
On the way to Yumthang Valley in North Sikkim- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

Route: Lachung – Yumthang- Zero Point

As we crossed Lachung, roads became narrower with a continuous ascent. Clouds were floating in between the Himalayas and last night rain had made everything looked cleaner and greener. At times there were no roads and we were just driving on the stones and water streams but we were completely hypnotized by the views around.

Finally, we entered the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary in the Yumthang valley, from a beautiful gate. The road was lined on both sides by the flowering plants and we could see the tributary of River Teesta, (Lachung Chu), flowing in between the valley. And then came a halt! We rushed out of the car to see what has happened. It was a massive landslide because of the last night rain and there Our fear came true. We waited for half an hour but there was no scope of getting it Cleared.

River Lachung Chu Tributary of River Teesta in Yumthang Valley- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
iver Lachung Chu Tributary of River Teesta in Yumthang Valley

From there we took a U-turn and seeing our disappointment our driver took us to another place Katao, situated at 13,500 feet along the Indo- China Border. Katao too offers the panoramic view of Himalayan ranges and is known as the rival of Yumthang Valley in beauty. Just like Sonamarg in Jammu & Kashmir, it is also known as Switzerland of India.

Way to Katao in North Sikkim - Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Way to Katao in North Sikkim

We spent some good time there and started our journey back to Gangtok. Fully exhausted, we reached Gangtok back by 6:00 pm.

Day 8 – Drive to West Sikkim and Back to Gangtok

We started our day in a relaxed manner, with a good breakfast and left in Zoomcar to reach Pelling town, located in West Sikkim. The plan was to chill for the remaining days in West Sikkim and then back to Gangtok but destiny had planned some other surprise for us.

Butterfly Waterfall on the way to West Sikkim- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Butterfly Waterfall on the way to West Sikkim.

We started our journey seeing Google Maps and instead of going back to Singtam, we planned to take the other scenic route; crossing east and South Sikkim to reach West Sikkim i.e – Gangtok – Bakthang Waterfall- Samdong- Rangang- Ravangla . The route was extremely scenic with multiple detours and waterfalls. But all that starts well doesn’t end well too. After driving for 6 hours, we couldn’t cover 80 Kilometers. And just 10 Kilometers before Ravangla, there happened a massive Landslide. So, left with no other option we had to take a detour to reach Singtam and back to the base, Gangtok.

Day 9 – Explore East Sikkim and Surroundings

Gangtok lies in East Sikkim and left with just a day in hand we thought to explore the surrounding areas only. The area on our mind was Zuluk but it too needed a permit and could be explored with the local operators only. So, we gave up on it and made a visit to the Rumtek Monastery and Karma Shri Nalanda Institute.

Rumtek-Monastery in East Sikkim- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Rumtek-Monastery in East Sikkim

Rumtek Monastery, one of the largest monasteries in Sikkim is located on the hilltop and faces the Gangtok city. Many sacred objects are housed within the complex, and one of the most magnificent is the Golden Stupa, which contains the precious relics of His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa. Just opposite to it is the Karma Shri Nalanda Institute, for higher Buddhist studies.

From there we drove, further in East Sikkim, to soak our eyes with some more gorgeous views and ended our day by doing restaurant and café hopping.

Day 10 – Drive to Siliguri to hand over Zoomcar, Transfer to Bagdogra Airport and Back to Delhi

Even after spending enough time in Sikkim, we were not ready to leave and we are totally in LOVE with the state.

Anyways, we left around 9:00am. Distance from Gangtok to Siliguri is just 115 Kilometers and expected time to reach was 4:30 hrs. But we took a margin of 2 hours, to handover over Zoomcar because of the bad roads, landslides and unexpected detours in Sikkim. But unexpectedly reached within the time span, handed Zoomcar at Siliguri office in 15-20 without any damage and took a flight back to Delhi.

Flight Back to Delhi from Bagdogra Airport -  Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Flight Back to Delhi from Bagdogra Airport

Some Tips for Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

  • The closest airport is Bagdogra in West Bengal and it takes around 5 hours to reach from there to Gangtok. However, the new airport in Sikkim has opened this October 4, and this will certainly make it easier for travelers who plan to visit the city. It’s located, about 33 km from Gangtok so travel to Gangtok will come down from 5 hours to just one.
  • If you are traveling in Monsoons i.e. July- August expect a lot of change in plans due to landslides, excessive rain and detours whereas in season time there are long queues
  • Roads are really bad in Sikkim, so the traveling time can go hours beyond the expected reach time
  • Driving a Zoomcar in the state was fun and locals didn’t create any problem for us, except a big stare. All we hear about the locals creating a problem for self-drive vehicles is just a rumor
  • One cannot drive his own vehicle or take a Zoomcar to the restricted areas like North Sikkim, and East Sikkim
  • Sikkim is not just a Buddhist state. Most of the people are Hindus and they follow Buddhism
  • Smoking is banned in public and plastic too. You might just get penalized for throwing the wrappers anywhere on the road
Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Darjeeling Sikkim Tour

So, during our Darjeeling Sikkim tour, we tasted Darjeeling and all the districts of Sikkim but missed reaching many destinations too due to excess of rains and landslides. We saw a lush green beautiful Sikkim, with almost Zero tourists. Overall, it is a trip to remember forever.

If you still have any questions for us, leave in the comments. We will be happy to answer them.

Darjeeling Tea – The Gift of West Bengal

Step into the Darjeeling tea shops and you will be left completely amazed seeing the countless variety of teas. Yes! It is true. There are numerous sections and endless classification of tea in the Darjeeling tea shop shops. We are a regular tea connoisseurs, and being in the “champagne tea” city; it was must for us to purchase various types of tea. But after visiting the tea-shop, purchasing seemed like a task in itself. So, we thought to research first and purchase later. Here in this post we will be writing what we learnt on researching and you too should know before buying the Darjeeling tea.

Darjeeling Tea Shop - The gift of West Bengal

All you need to know about Darjeeling Tea

The Darjeeling Tea known worldwide for its aroma and flavor is grown in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal at an altitude ranging from 750 to 2000 meters. It is considered as one of the finest teas in the world and is made from a small leaved plant known as Camellia Sinensis unlike the large leaved Assam Tea plant. Traditionally, Darjeeling Tea was only a black tea but now they have varieties of green, white, Oolong, Matcha and many more teas.

The tea grown in this zone has unique aroma and pleasant muscatel smell due to the rich fertile soil, apt climate, the incessant rainfall and the gradually sloping terrains. Moreover, the Himalayan tea is still manufactured by Orthodox manufacturing process i.e. Labor carries out the complete leaf plucking process. Interestingly, it is also the first Indian product to receive a GI (Geographical Indication) tag in 2003.

Orthodox Manufacturing Process of Harvesting in Siliguri - Darjeeling Tea

Fact: 1 kilogram of leaf processing is carried out from 20,000 shoots plucked from slopes having 40-60 degree inclination and each bush provides a total of 40 cups of tea per year. The labor forms the 60-70% of total incremental expense.

History of Darjeeling Tea

Most of the Darjeeling tea owe its origin back to Chinese tea seeds smuggled by Dr. Campbell from Kumaon region in 1800’s.

By 1850, the tea consumption in Britain was nearly 2 pounds per persons, England was continuously demanding its own brew and the major supplier of tea was only China. British people were paying high tea tax to China. To end this monopoly, Britishers started looking for the alternate land and then came the name of Darjeeling which was also the perfect retire hill station of the British officials and their families to escape the brutal heat of the plains. So, in 1850 the commercial tea plantation started in Darjeeling. And by 1866, Darjeeling area had 39 tea plantations of 1000 acres producing tea and this number tripled in the next ten years.

Darjeeling Tea Gardens

And today Darjeeling alone has almost  89 tea estates out of which Castleton, Goomtee, Puttabong, Margaret’s Hope, Thurbo, Makaibari, Giddapahar, Ambootia, Tindharia are the most famous ones.

Classification of Darjeeling Teas

Today, each estate in Darjeeling produces 7-8 varieties of tea and it is majorily classified according to the harvesting season- named as first Flush, second flush and so on. As the harvesting season progresses, first flush moves to second flush and so on.

Testers of Darjeeling Tea in Golden Tips Tea Shop

First Flush i.e. Spring Flush (Late February to Mid April)

The leaves plucked during First Flush are the new, young & most tender part of the tea plant. They look extremely delicate, are light greenish in color, have floral scent, and are said to yield the purest and freshest cup of tea.

The tea prepared from the first flush leaves is light in color, have mild aroma and astringency.

Fact: The FIRST FLUSH Tea is the most premium and expensive tea as it is produced in less quantity and its demand over powers it supplies. Most of the Spring flush is exported.

Note: The first flush tea leaves should be brewed in slightly lesser temperature for the perfect aroma and flavor. The Tea connoisseurs suggest that to get optimum flavor of the leaves of this flush, brew them in water after removing it from boil. Don’t soak the tea leaves for over 2, 3 minutes.

Difference between First Flush and Second Flush of Darjeeling Tea

Second Flush i.e. Summer Flush or Summer Tea (May – June)

The summer flush tea leaves are luscious, moist, juicy and larger than first flush. The leaves are characterized by purple bloom and shimmery shiny bud.

Tea prepared from the summer flush is more vivid, copper purplish in color and have a Muscatel flavor (which resembles a sweet fortified wine prepared from muscat grapes).

Fact: Most of the Summer flush too, is exported

Note: The best way to enjoy second flush tea is by brewing leaves for 5 to 6 minutes. These leaves give a strong taste, so add a small sugar cube or a few drop of honey to complement the bitterness.

Monsoon Flush / Breakfast Tea (July to September)

The Monsoon flush leaves contain lot of water, is less withered and more oxidized than the other flush teas. The tea produced from these leaves is dark and strong in appearance. The rainy flush teas are usually blended teas and are served with milk in the morning.

Fact: They are the cheapest of all types and is rarely exported.

Autumn Flush (October to November)

The last flush leaves are different in color and texture from others. The leaves are dark green to copper brownish color, with light aroma. The infused leaves give a copperish gold hue with a fresh fragrance, fruity flavor and a sparkling character.

Fact: Autumn harvest is shortest of all the harvest types, as temperature begins to drop and tea bushes go in to hibernation state. So, the Autumn flush is tough to find, is expensive and most of it is exported.

Note: The Autumn flush is consumed all by itself i.e. without milk, sweet or honey due to its exquisite goodness. The prepared liquid has no sharpness or astringency as it is in the first and second flush and is typically described as the Balanced tea.

Darjeeling Tea Tasting Session

Apart from the flush, comes the Qaulity Grade of the Tea leaves, segregated as:

  • Whole Leaf
  • Broken Leaf (B)
  • Fanning’s (F)
  • Dust (D)

There are over 30 grades in this with Whole leaf being the best and dust being the lowest. If you find SFTGFOP (Super fine tippy golden flowery orange pekoe) it is the highest grade, followed by FTGOP (Fine tippy golden flowery orange pekoe) and TGFOP (Tippy golden flowery orange pekoe) whereas if whole leaf is getting replaced by “B” it falls into Broken category. It is classified as FTBOP (Fine tippy broken orange pekoe) followed by TBOP (tippy broken orange pekoe) and BOP (broken orange pekoe). In fanning’s B is replaced by “F” and it is available as GFOP (Golden flowery orange fannings) and FOF (Flowery orange fannings).

Flowery Orange Pekoe Darjeeling Tea
Flowery Orange Pekoe Darjeeling Tea

Note: The shorter the grade, lower is the quality. Once the OP (Orange Pekoe) is missing in the abbreviation, tea will be just a ordinary tea.

Remember, each of these Darjeeling Flushes has its own characteristic and everyone will have it own view on taste. Taste Completely depends on one’s palate liking, if some will love light and bright (First & Second Flush), others will like full bodied and dark (Monsoon & Autumn Flush). So, we cannot generalize the classification as best or worst.

Apart from this, Darjeeling estate too produces – Green Tea, White Teas and Oolong Teas.

Darjeeling Green Tea:

Many of the tea estates in Darjeeling, have entered into the segment of producing green tea too. The Darjeeling green tea is not divided into flushes like the other Darjeeling teas but the taste definitely varies with the harvest season from March to November.

It is made from the handpicked small leaves (i.e. two leaves with a bud) that are further dried and withered to make the water evaporate. The leaves are further steamed to prevent oxidation as of black tea and they retain natural green color.

The Darjeeling green tea has a nutty muscatel flavor, flowery aroma and is light yellowish green in color separating it from other green teas.

Note: Avoid over steeping of green tea leaves for best aromatic nutty flavor

Darjeeling tea

Darjeeling Oolong Tea

Every tea estate in Darjeeling doesn’t produce the Oolong tea. Only, the estates which lie above 3000 meter, having temperature between 5 -20 degree Celsius throughout the year, and more than 40% concentration of Old Chinese Bush (Chesima) produces oolong tea. The Oolong tea is made from finely plucked or withered two leaves and a bud.

The Oolong tea too is classified as First, Second Flush etc. The Darjeeling first flush oolong is lighter than the Darjeeling First flush black tea. Tea is lighter orange in color. The Darjeeling Second flush oolong is much thicker than first flush and produces as dark orange liquid with distinct muscatel flavor.

Fact: The Darjeeling Second flush is demanded worldwide and is quite expensive

Darjeeling White Tea

The Darjeeling white tea is grown in the tea estates which lie above 2000 meter and where temperature remain cold throughout the year. The white tea is made from the new unopen buds, or from the new leaves which are handpicked, rolled and then withered in the sun making it a rare tea.

On making it has a light aroma, brews to pale golden color and has bit of natural sweetness to it. It is recommended to use more quantity while making the white tea.

Fact: The Darjeeling White Tea is available in small quantities and is quite expensive like 50 gram costs around Rs. 2500- 3000.

Also Read: The virgin White Tea Estate Tour – Handunugoda in Sri Lanka

Darjeeling Scented, Flavored, Blended Tea

This includes the various other teas like rose, hibiscus, litchee, Jasmine Earls Grey etc.

Where to buy Darjeeling Tea

Darjeeling, being a tea estate land has endless tea shops too. We were super confused from where to buy the premium one. Every second guy was referring to one or other shops. After inquiring from the hotel guy, we went to the Boutique Tea shop – Golden Tips. We tasted almost 10 -15 types there and brought which our taste buds liked. The shopped list includes:

  • Lemon Grass
  • Hibiscus Tea
  • Rose Tea
  • Masala Tea
  • First Flush Darjeeling Tea

Whole Leaf HIbiscus Darjeeling Tea

Out of these, Lemon grass and first flush turned out to be our favorite whereas Hibiscus is bit sour but has plenty of health benefits. Masala Tea / Chai we love with milk and rose is what we use not very often.

The other option is to purchase these Tea online from the golden tips, tea box, Darjeeling Tea Boutique etc.

Fact: The demand for Darjeeling tea is higher than its supply so many other teas from Assam, Nepal, Sri Lanka etc are sold fake as Darjeeling Tea. So, do buy from the reputed sources or check for the certifications.

Certifications of Darjeeling Tea

Before buying, make sure to check one of these certificates on the Darjeeling Teas- ETP (Ethical Tea Partnerships); UTZ certified, India Organic, Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade etc. These certify the purity and freshness of the beverage from the Himalayas.

Darjeeling Tea Certifications


Tea gardens in the estates of Darjeeling are like a mystic message on the earth canvas. Visit some of these estates to see the women working, smiling and plucking each leave; to feel the aroma and freshness of tea. Taste it wherever you get a chance and then buy the flavors to which your tongue says WOW!

Darjeeling Tea Estate