Ravangla and Namchi are two different towns in the lap of Sikkim. Both of these towns are located in the southern part of the state. Ravangla is located at an altitude of 8000ft whereas Namchi is located at an altitude of 5500ft. Both Ravangla and Namchi are 120 KMS and 90KMS away from NJP respectively. From Gangtok, Ravangla is at a distance of 65KM whereas Namchi is at a distance of 82KM.
Ravangla is also known by the name of Ravongla or Rawangla. It is an exquisite state in Sikkim bounded by mother nature and with the surreal view of the third highest mountain of the world Mt. Kanchendzonga. The temperature of this quaint town remains cool throughout the year giving you a reprieve from the scorching heat of the plains. With various Rhodrodrendons and Orchids blooming the town turns colourful during the Spring. The upper parts of Ravangla sometimes even receive snowfall during the winters. The town of Ravangla also lures bird enthusiasts as the forests around Ravangla serves as a home to various species of birds. The natives of Ravangla belong from the Tibetian Community thus preserving the cultural and religious heritage of Buddhism. According to your budget and availability of time, you can club the tour of Ravangla with that of Pelling or else can make a separate tour to this glamorous town.
Namchi is a little town in the Southern part of Sikkim. It is widely known as the Cultural capital of the state as it promotes the cultural and religious values of the same. The word Namchi denotes ‘Sky High’ and is the capital of the state’s Southern District. One can visit Namchi directly from NJP or Bagdogra Airport or can club it with the tour of Gangtok according to your time availability and budget. Namchi is renowned for the replica of Char Dhams built on one ground and for the enormous statue of Guru Padmasambhava.
How To Reach
Ravangla and Namchi being two well-known towns are well connected by air, train and roadways. The ways through which you can get into this beguiling towns are pointed below.
- You can choose to directly fly to Pakyong (PYG). Pakyong is the one and only airport in Sikkim. Pakyong Airport is at a distance of 74kms from Ravangla and 64kms from Namchi. However, being an airport bounded by mountains and clouds flights are not that regular to this airport.
- You can opt to fly to Bagdogra International Airport (IXB). Bagdogra is well connected with flights from Kolkata and other metro cities. This is the best way to reach Ravangla and Namchi by air as flights are more often to Bagdogra rather than Pakyong. Bagdogra airport is 100kms away from Namchi and 125kms from Ravangla. From Bagdogra, you need to hire a shared cab or your own private vehicle to Ravangla or Namchi.
- New Jalpaiguri (NJP) is the nearest railway station. NJP is well connected with trains from Kolkata and other major cities of the country. From NJP you need to hire a shared cab, taxi or private vehicle to reach Ravangla or Namchi.
- From NJP you can also hire an auto up to Siliguri and board the bus operated by SNT (Sikkim Nationalised Transport) that trots up to Ravangla and Namchi.
- Ravangla and Namchi are well connected by motorable roads. If you wish then you can also opt to drive to both the places. However, drivers need to be firm-handed as driving in plains and hills are completely different.
Within Ravangla and Namchi:
- To travel within Ravangla and Namchi you need to hire a private taxi. Using shared vehicles for sightseeing is not convenient as the points are scattered throughout the town.
Best Time To Visit
Ravangla and Namchi being a mountainous town offers you with different views during different times of the year. Depending on the view you want to catch off the best times to visit Ravangla and Namchi are noted below:
- One of the best times to visit Ravangla and Namchi is during the months of March – June. During this time the weather remains soothing with temperatures ranging between 15-degree centigrade to 25-degree centigrade at Ravangla. At Namchi the temperature ranges between 4 degrees to 12 degrees centigrade. It is one of the best times to catch a glimpse of Mt.Kanchendzonga from both the places.
- You can also opt to visit Ravangla and Namchi during the months of October – November. The weather during these two months remains pleasant during the day and turns colder at night. Though it is bit chilly during this time, you can visit in these two months and have a beautiful sight of blue sky with white cottony clouds floating in it and a clear view of Mt. Kanchendzonga.
- If you do have a preference for cold weather and want to have a sight of snowfall then visit this charming town of Ravangla and Namchi during the months of December – February. If you are planning to visit during these months don’t forget to carry thick woollens as temperature may drop below zero degree celsius.
Sightseeing at Ravangla:
Buddha Park, widely known as Tathagata Tsal, is located at a distance of 1KM from the main bus stand of Ravangla. It is one of the most famous places for sightseeing in Ravangla. It is basically an eco-park that is finely maintained by the Sikkim Government.
The Buddha Park of Ravangla has derived its name from the 130ft tall Buddha Statue that is constructed at this place. The construction of the statue commenced in the year of 2006 and went till 2013 when it was finally completed. The Sikkim Government decided to construct this place as sightseeing in Ravangla during the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha in the year of 2006. Buddha Park was inaugurated by the 14th Dalai Lama on 25th of March, 2013. The park was formed by the state government to boost tourism.
Buddha Park is finely landscaped with ample gardens, walkway and space for the visitor to relish nature. Inside the park, there is a prayer hall, meditation hall and a museum that depicts the life story of Lord Buddha.
The Buddha Park is open from 9 AM to 5 PM and has an entry fee of Rs 50 per person.
Ralong Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Ravangla. 10kms away from the main bus stand of this quaint town, Ralong Monastery is the second most visited place for sightseeing in Ravangla after Buddha Park. Ralong Monastery belongs to the Kagyu Sect of Tibetian Buddhism and thus is one of the sacred monasteries of this state.
One should have the information that this is not the actual old Ralong Monastery. The original old monastery is located at a 3KM distance from this new one. The route to the ancient old monastery is a difficult one and can only be accessed by a hard trek. As a reason, the 12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche in the year 1995 constructed this new monastery for the tourists as a place for sightseeing in Ravangla. Ralong Monastery is one of the largest monasteries in Sikkim. There is a huge collection of Buddhist thangkas and paintings in this monastery.
There are two well-known festivals that are celebrated by the monastery authority. One is Pang Lhabsol, in which the Mt. Kanchendzonga is worshipped. This festival is celebrated from the 15th day of 7th month of Buddhist Calendar (August – September) and ends on 29th day of 10th month of Buddhist Calendar (December). Another well-known festival of this monastery is Mahakala Dance that ensues in the month of November.
Ralong Monastery is open from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Rayong Sunrise Viewpoint:
Rayong Sunrise View Point is located at a 9KM distance from Ravangla on the Ravongla – Damthang Road. It is one of the most spectacular viewpoints and is a must-visit place for sightseeing in Ravangla. The viewpoint is situated at an elevation of 6700ft offering you with the most glorious sunrise on the snow-capped Singalila Range and the Chola Mountains of Bhutan. In addition to these two ranges, it also helps you to catch a glimpse of the sunrise on the peak points of Mount Narsing, Mount Jopuno, Mount Kabru, Mount Rathong, Mount Pandim and other Himalayan ranges. To reach the viewpoint one needs to hike a little on their foot. This is also the place from where the trekking trail to Deorali Dara, Gholey Bhir and Tinkitam (famous for its rhododendron fields) starts.
One can visit this viewpoint from 6 AM to 6 PM. However, it is best to visit this point before the sunrise hour to behold your eyes with the vivacious sunrise over the white peaks.
Maenam Hill is located 12KMs away from Ravangla under the Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary. It is one of the best places for sightseeing in Ravangla and is one of the best trekking trails in Sikkim. Located at an elevation of 10000ft the place offers an exquisite view of the whole Kanchendzonga Range and the surrounding Himalayas that are dwarfed by the dense forests. On a clear day, one can spot the Bengal Plains overlooked by the hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong from the South of Maenam Hills and the Indo-China border in the North.
The trek to Maenam hills starts from an altitude of 7000ft and goes uphill to 10500ft. It’s a total 12km trek through the Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary. The path of the trek is well steeped making the trail more difficult. For the experienced trekkers, the total trek for the upward journey takes around 4 hours and the downward journey takes around 2 hours. However, for a normal person or a city dweller like us, it would take much more time than the experienced trekkers. So, keep a complete day in your hand when you are planning for Maenam Hill.
On the way to Maenam Hill, one will spot the four resting points and an abandoned monastery at the peak of the hill. Adding 1.5KM more to this 12KM trek will take you to the Bhaley Dhunga, a rock spur that juts out from one of the ridge tops and remains suspended in the air. The full trek can be completed in a single day or you can choose to spend the night at the summit and return back on the following day.
To trek to the Maenam Hills, one needs to acquire a permit from the Forest Office Department office at Ravangla. A guide is compulsory for the trek and they are available at the Forest Barack itself. The guide helps you to follow the correct path through the jungle and also helps you to arrange the permit and further your foods, sleeping bags and all your necessary items for the trek.
The best months to take this trek are from March to May. The timings for the trek is 8 AM to 4 PM with an entry fee of Rs 100 per day per person.
Borong is a small quaint town just a few km away from Ravangla. It is a beguiling place with an abundance of nature. If someone wants to escape the towny feeling of Ravangla then they can opt for this picturesque village. One can complete all the sightseeing in Ravangla from Borong as it is not that far away from the former. The calmness and soothingness of the atmosphere of Borong along with its natural beauty pull tourists from all places of the world. One a clear day one can spot Mt.Kanchendzonga, Mt. Pandim and Mt. Narsing from this place. This place also serves as a night halt for the trekkers doing various trails from Ravangla. One night at this beautiful place, and I promise you will want to spend another here!
Borong Hot Spring:
Borong Hot Spring is located at the small village of Borong, located 21KM away from Ravangla. It is another beholding place for sightseeing in Ravangla. One can stopover at Borong or can make a day trip to this hot spring from Ravangla. From Borong one needs to trek 3kms downhill to reach the Hot Spring. However, one must keep in mind that though the distance is less still the trek is not that easy one as it has a steep slope.
Borong Hot spring is situated by the bank of Rangit River. This spring is locally known as Borong Tsa-Chu. The waters of Borong Hot Spring contain sulphur which is well known to possess therapeutic power that cures many diseases. Locals, as well as tourists, generally visit this place to take a dip in the hot water to relax. Borong Hot Spring serves like bliss for the trekkers. One can also spot various birds and colourful butterflies by the hot spring.
There are few temporary huts for a night stay by the hot spring. Mostly trekkers spent their night in these huts rather than general tourists. However, if you make your mind to experience a night stay at these huts then don’t forget to carry your own bedding and cooking utensils as these huts don’t have them. Borong Hot Water Spring is open from 7 AM to 5 PM.
Sightseeing at Namchi:
Namchi Char Dham:
Char Dham, also known as Siddheshwar Dham is one of the most prominent places for sightseeing in Namchi. Char Dham is located just 5KM away from the main taxi stand of Namchi. Char Dham is a huge site for pilgrimage and cultural aesthetics. The place is located at the top of Solophok Hill. it was constructed by the state government to promote the religious, cultural and ecological values of the place. Char Dham is spread over a quite large area of 29 hectares.
The attraction of Char Dham lies with the 108ft tall Shiva statue along with the “Char Dhams” of India. The Shiva statue is in a sitting position facing the East direction. The statue is placed above the main Shiva temple. There is a replica model of Nandi Bull facing towards the temple. The temple is surrounded by 12 Jyotirlingas that resembles the exact ones that are located at the original destination. Inside the temple, one can find wall paintings that depict the life story of Lord Shiva.
The Char Dhams of India – Badrinath, Dwarka, Rameshwaram and Jaganatha are also replicated at this Dham. Rameshwaram Dham is dedicated to Lord Shiva while the other three Dhams are dedicated to Lord Vishnu. According to Hindu mythology, one must visit all the 4 Dhams in their lifetime to attain the virtue. Thus, this sightseeing in Namchi attracts a lot of Hindu tourists as well as pilgrims as they can visit the four Dhams here at a single place.
Another well-known figure of this Char Dham of Namchi is the 17ft tall model of Kirateshwar. Kirateshwar is an incarnation of Lord Shiva himself. According to the mythological beliefs, Lord Shiva after losing Sati had secluded himself and became a hunter in one of the forests of Sikkim in the form of Kirateshwar.
There is a large paid parking area at the entrance of the Char Dham. One needs to walk a few meters to enter the main Dham. The place is open from 8 AM to 7 PM and has an entry fee of Rs.50 per person.
Just 4kms from the taxi stand of the town lies another famous point of sightseeing in Namchi, the Ngadak Monastery. This monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Namchi and is also known as Ngadak Gompa. The word ‘Ngadak’ denotes promise. According to the locals, there is a belief that anyone coming to this monastery promises to come back again.
The monastery was constructed in the 17th century as a palace for the Royal Highness, Pendi Ongmu. Later the palace was converted to a monastery. The former monastery which was constructed with woods and stones has been destroyed by an earthquake. A new monastery has been constructed just by the old one. However, the remains of the old monastery stills manifest the feeling of old Sikkim.
The monastery is open from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Temi Tea Garden:
Temi Tea Garden is the only tea garden in the state of Sikkim. The tea garden is spread over a vast area of 440 acres of land. It is one of the most picturesque places for sightseeing in Namchi. Though it can be covered as a point of sightseeing, if you wish then you can spend a night here in one of the luxurious hotels of Sikkim, Cherry Resort within the premises of Temi Tea Garden.
One needs to take a detour from the main road to reach the Temi Tea garden. Once you enter the garden your eyes will be soothed by the greenery all around you. It feels like you have been bounded by the greenery of the tea trees. The road is a complete zig zag one and you need to cross 21 hairpin bends to reach the top of the Temi Tea garden. The view from the top will mesmerise you with the lush green tea trees shaded by the pink (during blossom) and red (during the season of fruit) cherry trees.
There is a tea joint at the top of the garden where one can taste the different flavours of organic teas that are produced in this garden. If you wish you can also buy a packet of tea from this place. Temi Tea Garden is open from 7 AM to 7 PM and has an entry fee of Rs 20 per person.
Being a town rich with cultural and religious value, Samdruptse Hill is a famous spot for pilgrimage and sightseeing in Namchi. The place is located at a distance of 6KM from Namchi taxi stand. Samdrupste hill is famous for its gigantic statue of Guru Padmasambhava, a patron saint of Sikkim. The statue is 148ft tall and is the tallest statue of the Guru in the world. The statue is studded with gold that glitters as the sun rays fall in it. The backdrop of Mt.Kanchendzonga against the blue sky enhances the beauty of the place. The foundation stone of the statue was laid by the Dalai Lama in 1997 and was finally completed in 2004.
The literal meaning of Samdruptse hill is ‘Wish Fulfilling Hill’ as this hill is revered by many Buddhist monks. To reach the Samdruptse Hill one needs to hike for 250m through a steep road. A copper wheel at the gate marks the entrance of the place. According to the locals, the hill on which the monastery and the statue are built is a dormant volcano and only prayers can keep the volcano dormant.
The large statue of Guru Padmasambhava is built upon a monastery. The interior of the monastery presents you with a beautiful and tranquil environment. The place fills with peace as the monks chant mantras.
At Samdruptse Hill there is also a facility of ropeway through which the tourist can visit the Namchi Rock garden, another famous sightseeing in Namchi, and can come back to the hill. Samdruptse Hill is open from 8 AM to 5 PM and has an entry fee of Rs 30 per person.
Sai Mandir of Namchi is located 3KMs away from the Char Dham. It is a Hindu temple and is located at the Assangthang area of Namchi. It is one of the major and most visited tourist places of sightseeing in Namchi.
The temple was built in 2102 and was a gift from the Chief Minister of the state to its people. The building of the temple is two-storied and has the statue of Sai Baba on the first floor. On the ground floor, the devotees gather to sing hymns to honour the Lord. One will also find 10 paintings on the wall that denote 10 different incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The temple is surrounded by a garden along with the panoramic view of Mt. Kanchendzonga. The statue of Sai Baba looks glorious as the bright sunlight falls on it.
Outside the temple, one will find some small food joints selling teas, snacks and Indian veg foods. The temple is open from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Namchi Helipad is located 5KM before one enters the Namchi town. The area of Namchi Helipad is a wonderful space that gives you an open view of the surrounding area. While you are on the Helipad keep the Helipad to your left and look up towards your right, you will see a small Shiva statue at the top of the hill, this statue is the same one of that of the Char Dham.
Namchi Helipad is famous for presenting you with a marvellous and a panoramic view of the snow-capped Mt. Kanchendzonga. On a clear day, one can also get to see the Darjeeling and Kalimpong hills from this place. There is a weekly helicopter service from Bagdogra to Namchi every Thursday. It is really a beautiful place in the town of Namchi.
Tedong Hill is located in between Ravangla and Namchi. The place is located 11KMs away from Namchi and 16KMs away from Ravangla. Tendong Hill is located above Damthang village and can only be reached by trekking. It is one of the most famous places for trekking sightseeing in Namchi.
The hill is situated at an elevation of 8300ft offering you a spectacular view of the mountain ranges. According to the Lepcha language Tendong means ‘upraised horn’. According to the folklore of the natives, once a flood-hit this place when the land here upraised itself on its own to save the life of the peoples. Even in the present days, the locals pray to the hill in the rainy season to save and protect them from the flood calamity. One can even spot Buddhist Lamas meditating on the peaceful environment of this place.
Tendong Hill is surrounded by dense forest and by blossoming trees of rhododendrons and magnolias. There is a small monastery and a three-storeyed watch tower present at the top of the hill. From this watchtower, one can catch a 360-degree view of the Singalila Range along with the Chola range of Bhutan, a part of Gangtok, West Bengal plains, Nathu La Pass of East Sikkim and Darjeeling town of West Bengal.
As mentioned Tendong Hill can only be reached by trekking. The trek starts from Damthang and is 6KM long. The trek route passes through thick vegetation that is bounded with various faunas and floras. The best time to trek Tendong Hill is March to June. The trek route is open from 8 AM to 4 PM.
Tarey Bhir has recently come up as one of the best places for sightseeing in Namchi. Located at a distance of 16KM from the Namchi town, Tarey Bhir is located at a high cliff upon a long ridge. This place is located near Sadam village of Namchi.
Tarey Bhir somewhat looks like the Great Wall of China and presents you with an amazing view of the magnificent surroundings. According to the Nepali dialect, bhir means cliff. Tarey Bhir is located at an elevation of 10,000ft upon a 3km long ridge. On one side of the Tarey Bhir, there is a drop-down gorge of nearly 3500ft. Pedestrian footsteps and stairs have been made on the ridge to ease the steep climbing. It is the one and only place in Sikkim from where River Teesta, Kalimpong and Darjeeling can be viewed at one eyesight. At the end of the ridge, there is a watchtower from where one can get an amazing view of the snow-capped mountains along with Teesta river, Darjeeling and Kalimpong. In addition, one can also view the Peshok tea garden from this place.
Tarey Bhir is open from 8 AM to 5 PM. However, the best time to visit this place is in the morning hours.
The Rock Garden of Namchi is located 5KM from the main town of Namchi and only 1KM away from the Samdruptse Hill. Basically the Rock Garden is located at the base of the Samdruptse Hill. It is a beautiful well laid out garden that attracts as a place for sightseeing in Namchi.
The Rock garden was founded by the Chief Minister of Sikkim in the year 2005. There are various species of flowers, plants and trees in this garden. Along the pathway to the garden, there are multiple waiting sheds, viewpoints and some finely landscaped water bodies. There is a playground for children inside this garden and it is the highest children playground in the world. Another attraction of the Rock Garden is the Namchi Ropeway that operates from Samdruptse Hill to the Rock Garden and vice versa.
Namchi Rock Garden is open from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Here are some of the best hotel recommendations in Ravangla and Namchi.
- Hotel Zumthang
- The Barfung retreat
- Mt Narsing Resort
- Hotel Meanamla
- Cherry Resort
- Seven Hills Resort
- Club Mahindra Resort
- Hotel Mayal
- Hotel Samdruptse
Well versed with Ravangla and Namchi, let me inform you that one can visit Ravangla and Namchi separately or can club both of them together. One can also club the tour of Ravangla to that of the tour of Gangtok or with the tour of Pelling.