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Why Sikkim is the ideal getaway for long weekends

Soak in the sunrise with the Kanchenjunga in the background, lose yourself amid smoky wifts of clouds across tea gardens or watch the river Rangeet snake past fern-covered valleys. If a long weekend beckons, Sikkim makes for the ideal trip

Pray
For those seeking spiritual exploration, Sikkim has a lot to offer and the beautiful locations of prayer places add to the experience. Solophok (29 km from Baiguney) has a re-creation of the Chardham temples and a majestic Shiva statue.

Pemayangtse Monastery
Pemayangtse Monastery

Namchi also houses Sikkim’s first Sai Baba temple, that looks more like a monastery.

Shiva statue at Chardham temple, Solophok
Shiva statue at Chardham temple, Solophok

Your next halt should be Pemayangtse monastery in Pelling, an 18th century monastery, which is the second oldest in Sikkim. If you believe in wish fulfillment, visit the sacred Khecheopalri Lake (20 km from Baiguney).

Saidham at Namchi
Saidham at Namchi

Eat
Our exploration of Sikkim’s food-scape began on a simple note by visiting a local bar called Hotel Nirvana at Namchi
(22 km from Baiguney). A must-try at the location are their Pork Momos (Rs 50 for a plate) and if available, one can try the Beef Chilli too. An interesting find at the beginning of our trip was Sikkim’s version of masala chai that contains pepper that helps keep one warm and decongested.

Glenary’s offers one of the best views while you have your beer or eat a cheesecake.
Glenary’s offers one of the best views while you have your beer or eat a cheesecake. Pics/Dhara Vora

Another must-do on your list should be a visit to a local market. You will find only organic produce, a variety of chillis (preserved in oil) and herbs that are grown (and treated with fermentation) especially for preparing soups. If you are flying back home, pick up fresh churbhi, the local cheese that is similar to feta. You you get soft and hard types as well as a sour version. This costs just Rs 30 for 250 gm. With the help of a guide, visit the bars to sip on Chaang, the locally brewed alcohol. And if you are a beer person, try Hit that is produced in a brewery owned by actor Danny Denzongpa!

A local bazar
A local bazar

Darjeeling is roughly 32 km from Baiguney, and a visit to Darjeeling calls for a bite at Glenary’s. This bakery/restaurant/bar opened in 1935, and serves delicious baked goodies, chocolates and home-made non-vegetarian pickles. In the basement is a vintage-looking bar complete with an old cash register and an ad of Brylcreem featuring mountaineer Tenzing Norgay. We like.

Pork Momos at Hotel Nirvana
Pork Momos at Hotel Nirvana

Explore
Rabdentse is the ancient capital of Sikkim and the ruins of the fortification of this capital lie at the site. One can undertake this trip on the same day as visiting the monastery, since these ruins lie on its south-west.

Rabdentse is one of the ancient capitals of Sikkim
Rabdentse is one of the ancient capitals of Sikkim

Interestingly, Sikkim has had four capitals, Yuksom (the meeting place of three monks who crowned the first king of Sikkim), Pelling, Tumlong and the current capital, Gangtok. Tea gardens dot several locations, especially en route to Darjeeling (32 km).

Tea gardens are a common sight
Tea gardens are a common sight

You can also take the ropeway for amazing views of tea gardens near Darjeeling. Also, close to the border of Sikkim and West Bengal is Kitam Bird Sanctuary.

Beautiful flowers dot the scenery
Beautiful flowers dot the scenery

Several locations in Sikkim are usually cloudy but if you are lucky you can catch the sunrise from Chakung (24 km) with a panoramic view of the mighty Kanchenjunga.

Rangeet river
The Rangeet river

Once back from the walk to the location, pamper yourself with the deep tissue spa treatment at the resort.

British-era Capital Clock Tower at Darjeeling that was made famous in the movie Barfi
British-era Capital Clock Tower at Darjeeling that was made famous in the movie Barfi

One of the places that we couldn’t pack into our trip was Kalimpong, of which we had read and dreamt about, all thanks to Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss.

Baiguney
From Bagdogra 120 km
Overview Baiguney lies on the west of Sikkim and is at a distance of 120 km from Bagdogra airport. Mumbai has flights to Bagdogra via Guwahati. Close to Baiguney are destinations such as Darjeeling, Namchi, Pelling and Samdruptse. Other than the monsoon, one can go rafting at river Rangeet or even trekking at nearby mountains.

Club Mahindra at Baiguney
Club Mahindra at Baiguney

Stay
Club Mahindra at Baiguney offers a good location with several travel spots within a distance of 30 km from the resort. They also offer to organise lunches at the bed of the river Rangeet that runs around
the property.
Log on to: clubmahindra.com
The Chumbhi Mountain Retreat is a good option in Pelling. After a trip to the Pemayangtse monastery, do have a meal at their restaurant.  
Log on to: thechumbimountainretreat.com

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