When is the best time to visit Sikkim?
What are the things to see?
These are the constant questions I am asked because I am from there/here. I have lived a little over twenty years outside of home and not always the best person for this question. Or perhaps that makes me the best person? I always have to check on the seasons, the latest happenings, festivals before I answer, because I know that’s what people want to know. But here’s what I believe they need to know.
Flood of memories
Every time someone asks me about Sikkim, my mind gets flooded with memories in images –
The valley of flowers in Yumthang, a stream running in between and you can see river trout in the clearest, purest mountain water. Far away in the vastness are the Yaks, grazing on the sparse grass. The rhododendrons usually red in trees, here there are in bushes of purple and yellow.
The cold of Chungthang, that wind striking your face and yet making you feel, real, alive. The hills surrounding Tsangu lake where you can take an hour long hike and see Tsangu from the top and have that sense of achievement.
A quiet walk in the woods that surrounds Khecheoperi Lake, West Sikkim, and suddenly the lake surprises you with its pristine almost pious beauty. I see Gurudongmar Lake, the sound of the strong winds that sweeps stones off grounds and into the mountains, that you have to rush and leave within two hours. Only, you can’t really rush there, due to lack of oxygen.
The colours, the smells, the unforgettable beauty of nature. And the deafening silence that stops you to wonder.
All the times I have been to these places, I always remember being a little preoccupied, thinking about my relationships, my career, my family. Me. Me. Me.
And every time I have left these places, I’ve noticed how I grow. How cathartic it is to be in nature and realise the spec of dust you really are, just one more thing among gazillion things the world is made of.
I recently met a young architect from Madurai who has been living in Sikkim for over five years. As we got talking, he told me about this catharsis he experienced in Chungthang valley, north of Sikkim.
In an unhappy relationship, he travelled to Sikkim as an intern. One day, on an advice from the local, he took his bike and went on a ride to Chungthang. As he was ruminating his relationship and thinking ‘why me?’, he suddenly looked up and saw the vastness before his eyes, that while taking his breath away, somehow managed to make him not think, almost forget and he said in his words ‘clean his spirit’. He suddenly felt the smallness of his problems and worse still that he was crying over it.
John of the Mountains, John Muir said,
‘And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul’
So, if you ask me, the best time to visit Sikkim or any place of natural boundless beauty, is when you need some healing, some soul-searching and some catharsis, but in silence.
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