NAMCHI TRAVEL GUIDE
Namchi is one of the main cities, and district headquarters of south Sikkim. Though just as developed as Gangtok, it retains its local colour, and is less touristy and crowded than Gangtok. It is located at an altitude of 1675m. The people of Namchi are mostly Nepalis, Bhutias and Sherpas. The word “namchi” literally translates to “the top of the sky” in Bhutia. As such, the city has splendid views of the hills, especially Kanchenjunga and the Rangeet valley, and is a great place to wander around and reconnect with nature. Fewer tourists makes the experience more refreshing. Namchi is one of the more populous cities of Sikkim. Revered by Buddhists for some of its grand sights, there are several legends floating around the many Buddhist sights around Namchi – some bizarre and some amusing.
Climate And Best Time To Visit
Namchi is pleasant most of the year round, and not as cold as many other cities in Sikkim. The best time to visit is from March-October. Winter is not advisable as commuting in the mountains is treacherous in the winter.
Getting There & Getting Around Namchi
Namchi is well connected by road to all the major cities and towns of Sikkim. The closest airport is Bagdogra airport, and the closest railway station is New Jalpaiguri railway station. Direct taxis ply from the airport and railway station; the alternative is to reach Gangtok or Pelling and book a taxi from there. It is best to book a taxi via a travel agent to go sight seeing around Namchi, as there are few options for public transport.
SIGHTSEEING & ACTIVITIES
Namchi has both, natural, as well man-made tourist attractions which make it an intriguing place for travellers. Though the greatest charm is of the location of the city itself, which gives beautiful views of the Himalayas, there are other places and activities you can indulge yourself in while in Namchi.
This is a tourist spot constructed by the Sikkim government under the Chief Minister of Sikkim. It is also known as Siddheshwar Dham, and was inaugurated in 2011. It is located on top of the Solopok Hill, a beautiful and ethereal location for the temple cum cultural complex. The complex features a recreation of the four sacred places of pilgrimage for Hindus – Badrinath, Jagannath, Dwarka and Rameshwaram – and a giant Shiva deity, which is 108 ft tall. The Shiva deity is accompanied by a Nandi. Twelve Shiva lingas representing the sacred jyotirlingas are also found in this complex. Opposite to the Shiva deity is another deity of Kirteshwara, who is another incarnation of Lord Shiva, who blessed Arjun with divine weapons to win the Mahabharat war. It also includes a Sai Baba Temple. The space is very quiet and gives a spiritual experience to anyone who visits.
The entire complex is maintained very well, and is always found to be clean. Restaurants serve delicious pure vegetarian food. It is accessed via paid parking, and there are facilities for the differently abled.
An imposing 26 ft high deity of Guru Padmasambhava is built on the Samdruptse Hill near Namchi. This is another grand attraction that pulls crowds in large numbers. Located on a mountain top, the place is calm, and offers beautiful views of neighbouring mountains. The soft chants of “Om Mani Padme Hum” can be heard reverberating the entire space. The foundation stone of the statue was laid by H. H. Dalai Lama himself in 1997, and it was inaugurated by the Chief Minister in 2004.
An old monastery near Namchi, it was built during the reign of Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal by Tensung Namgyal. After some damages during the earthquake of the 17th century, a new Gompa was added to the monastery. The word “Ngadak” means “promise” in Tibetan, and legend has it that whoever visits the monastery must promise to visit it again.
Nestled in the hills, with tall trees all around, it is a beautiful monastery with typical Tibetan architecture. It is an ideal place for being in a meditative space.
TEMI TEA ESTATE
The only tea garden in Sikkim, it was established in 1969 by the government of Sikkim. It is one of the best tea estates in India, and produces tea for international markets. It covers 177 hectares of land, and is a beautiful sight to behold. Those interested in the process of tea production can take a tour through the tea processing units. The tea is grown on the Tendong Hill, and is a fine variety of organic tea.
Namchi is a delight for the travellers who like to explore places, and makes for a leisurely spot with beautiful vistas all around.