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Adventure Activities in West Sikkim

West Sikkim

Squeezed between Bhutan to the east and Nepal to the west, the mountain state of Sikkim lies at the base of the mighty Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. Rumbling rivers, verdant valleys of rhododendron and orchids and (if you’re lucky) a sighting of the endangered red panda (the symbol of Sikkim), are features of this small but mesmerizing slice of natural wilderness.
The western part of this tiny state can be called Sikkim in miniature, hypnotically beautiful, and a trekker’s delight – there are trails in the uplands as well as the lowlands of this mountainous region. You’ll find cavernous river valleys and unexplored forests teeming with biodiversity. Not just nature, man has also made his mark here in the shape of the dramatically-sited monasteries. But standing above all – literally – is the mighty Kanchenjunga, a peak worshipped by the Sikkimese.
Base yourself in Gyalshing (also called Geyzing), the main town in the area. This place hums with activity, and is ideal for trekkers to stock up on supplies.


Buddhism came to Sikkim in the 13th century, through Tibet, and took on a local form in the 17th century, after the crowning of the first chogyal (“righteous king”) in 1642. At the time, the monarchy in Sikkim ruled over eastern Nepal, the north of Bengal, western Bhutan and Darjeeling. In the coming centuries, however, Sikkim lost territory to Bhutan, Nepal, as well as the British. Towards the end of the 19th century, a move by the British to bring in Nepalese labourers to work on the tea plantations set in motion a process that would slowly lead to a diminishing of Tibetan influence in Sikkim. Today, the Nepalese community forms a majority in the state. Nationally, Sikkim holds a special status (it has been designated a tax-free zone), while strategically, it is an important buffer state against the Chinese, a situation that has its roots in the 1960s, when the threat from the big neighbour up north was especially pronounced.


On Sikkim’s border with Nepal is the catchment area of the Singalila range, ascending along the Singalila ridge. Neighbouring the watershed are the peaks of Rathong and Kabru, which converge in the awe-inspiring Kanchenjunga (28169ft, 8586m). Valleys and forests are the chief features of this part of Sikkim.


The rainy season should be avoided – Sikkim’s towering mountains, her main attraction, are pretty much obfuscated during monsoonal downpours. And winters (December to February) can get uncomfortably cold. West Sikkim has a temperate climate, so the ideal time to visit here is following the monsoons, between late-September and mid-November. The months of April and May are also recommended.

How to reach

Gyalshing is the administrative centre and transport hub of west Sikkim. Shared jeeps connect Gyalshing to Gangtok (110km) and Siliguri (117km), and there’s also a daily state bus to both places.

Getting Around

There are regular jeeps and taxis from Gyalshing to Pelling, and to other local destinations (though services are less frequent). There’s also a jeep to Yuksom via Tashiding.
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