Sikkim Weather in August

There is a certain novelty to visiting the Himalayan state of Sikkim in the month of August. The monsoons that are in full swing at this time of the year give a new lease of life these mountains, covering them in moody shrouds of mist which on clearing offer some of the most spectacular views of the Himalayas you will ever see. It is an experience of a lifetime. Trees glisten with a newfound brilliance on rain-washed slopes while the prettiest of wildflowers burst into bloom in little patches all over. One of the best things about monsoons in the hills are the sunsets. The rain-soaked clouds break the sun’s rays, painting the sky in hues so extraordinary that you will get reminded of a vista by Monet. Arm yourself with an umbrella, a pair of gumboots and a raincoat and you are all set to go! Why should rain spoil all the fun?

The Moody Mists of East Sikkim

The mercury fluctuates between 17°C to 21°C in Sikkim’s capital Gangtok during the month of August. Begin your Sikkim experience with a stroll along MG Marg, the heart of Gangtok city. The lovely boulevard is lined with numerous cafes, bookstores, souvenir shops, restaurants and bars. The beautiful fountains and Victorian lampposts will remind you of European cities. Hike up to Do Drul Chorten, a splendid stupa in the middle of the city. Blessed by a revered monk, it is said to protect Gangtok from all kinds of evil spirits. Visit the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology to delve into the state’s rich history and culture. The institute has a museum that houses some of the rarest collections of coins, thangkas and sacred manuscripts. If you want to know more, go to the institute’s in-houses library. Get a peek into the lives of Sikkim’s royalty at the Tsuklakhang Palace Monastery. The gorgeous structure complete with a royal chapel, assembly hall and a monastery served as the venue for coronation, marriages and other important ceremonies for the erstwhile kingdom’s royal family. About 20 minutes away from M.G Marg is the Flower Exhibition Centre near the Ridge. Check out the amazing collection of some of the most exotic varieties of flowers and other plants on display here. The Banjhakri Waterfall located about 7 km away from the main city is definitely a must-visit during the monsoons the waterfall is at its best.

Get a glimpse of Sikkim’s rich cultural heritage at the renowned Rumtek Monastery, the sole seat of the Black Hat Order of Buddhism headed by the Karmapa, located about 23 km away from Gangtok. One of the best specimens of Tibetan-Buddhist architecture, the monastery has on display some of the rarest specimens of thangkas and sacred manuscripts. If the rain gods are in your favour you might get a brilliant view of Gangtok city from here.

Wait for a clear day to hire a cab to Nathula, located at a distance of 56 km from Gangtok. At a whopping 14,000 feet, this mountain pass was once a part of the old Silk Route that connected India to China via Tibet. In August, the temperature here remains between a pleasant 8°C to 11°C. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the shrine of Baba Harbhajan Singh, the guardian saint of the Indian Army at Nathula. A number of legends revolve around this martyred soldier. Find out more when you visit the Baba Temple. On the way to Nathula is the Lake Tsomgo. This glacial lake that remains frozen during winter melts completely by August and it is a sight to behold. Surrounded by lush forests and snow-capped mountains, it is almost a kilometer in length. The lake is considered sacred by monks who predict the future based on its changing colours every season.

The Harsh Monsoon of North Sikkim

North Sikkim is probably one of the most favoured destinations among adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts during their Sikkim visit. However, owing to their altitude at almost 9000 feet and above, it is best to avoid these places during August, when the monsoon is at its peak. Continuous rain makes travelling to these areas unsafe due to sudden landslides and roadblocks.

The Drizzly Delights of South Sikkim

If you are planning to visit South Sikkim then there is no way you can miss Namchi, the headquarters of south district. An 80 km drive from Gangtok, the temperature here fluctuates from a pleasant 19°C to 25°C in August. The giant statue of Guru Padmasambhava on top of Samdruptse Hill is hard to miss as you near the main town. On a clear day, the view of Kanchendzonga and the Rangit Valley from here is spectacular. Sikkim is home to some of the most exotic species of birds. They are at their most active during monsoons making it the perfect time for bird-watching enthusiasts to visit. The Kitam Bird Sanctuary, located 20 km away from Namchi is home to more than 200 varieties of birds including Grey-crowned Prinia, Rufous-throated Wren-babbler, Yellow-vented Warbler, Wedge-billed Wren-babbler, etc apart from a number of butterfly species. Temi Tea Garden, Sikkim’s only tea-producing region is just 18 km away from Namchi and makes for a perfect day-trip. You can even stay the night if you wish at the old colonial British bungalow in the tea garden. The Namchi Rock Garden is worth checking out too. Landscaped gardens, beautiful gazebos and lily ponds make it perfect for a relaxing walk. You can also visit the Ngadak Monastery while you’re here.

The Magical Moss-land of West Sikkim

About 113 km from Gangtok and 75 km from Namchi, Pelling acts as the base for exploring West Sikkim. The weather in August is perfect with temperatures ranging between 18°C to 25°C. Just 8 km away from the main town, the 300 year old Pemayangtse Monastery is worth visiting. The monastery belongs to the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. At a walking distance from the monastery are the Rabdentse Ruins. A lovely hike through a chestnut grove will take you to this 16th century capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Sikkim. The ruins of the old palace complex are covered in moss during the rains, making the entire area seem straight out of a fairy tale. The sacred Khecheopalri Lake, about 32 km away from Pelling is a must-visit too. Another little town in West Sikkim you should visit is Yuksom, just 40 km away from Pelling. Don’t forget to stop to savour the beauty of the roaring Kanchendzonga Falls on the way. Yuksom, the first capital of the kingdom of Sikkim has plenty to offer to the discerning traveller. Walk around the Norbugang Park which still has the original coronation throne of the Chogyal. Hire a taxi to take you to Dubdi Monastery, the oldest in the entire state. It was established by the Chogyal himself in 1647.

August is a great time to visit Sikkim if you are not too keen on being a part of the touristy crowd. However, it is best keep your itinerary flexible and go with the flow at this time of the year. Non-stop rains often cause landslides and roadblocks. Make sure you collect adequate information before you visit any place. Ask the locals for guidance and advise, for they do know best and who knows you might end up finding some true gems in the process.

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