Adventure, India, Offbeat, Photo Essays, Sikkim, West Bengal
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Hiking from Darjeeling to Sikkim!

On one crazy adventure from Darjeeling to Sikkim, we ditched the Darjeeling to Sikkim train and Darjeeling to Sikkim bus, and hiked across the border through tea estates, forests and remote villages!

We impulsively decided to venture into the remote north-eastern Himalayas of India. At an organic tea farm an hour’s ride from Darjeeling, sipped the finest hand-rolled tea. Drank the local thomba brewed from fermented millets on chilly nights. Got a first hand perspective on the separatist Gorkhaland movement. And reminisced with the hill folk about the times gone by.

Then we hiked in the mountains, through dense forests, past charming hill villages, along tea estates that dotted the landscape, barefoot across the Rangeet River… to cross the border into Sikkim!

In Photos: Hiking from Darjeeling to Sikkim

The Darjeeling Sikkim hike began along the tea estates of Darjeeling

Organized by our hosts at Tathgata Farm. Carpets of green stretched into the horizon, as far as the eyes could see.

Darjeeling tea estates, Darjeeling photos, darjeeling to sikkim

We followed tea pluckers as they started their day

Plucking the finest tea in India with their nimble fingers.

Darjeeling tea estates, Darjeeling photos

The Darjeeling to Sikkim distance by road is nearly 60 km

But we took the mountain paths, along charming hill villages precariously perched, and often isolated on hill slopes far from the nearest road. The adults and kids both walk long hours to work and school, on hill terrain that can tire any experienced walker.

Eastern Himalayas, Darjeeling villages, sikkim hiking

We quickly ditched the map of Darjeeling and Sikkim

Instead, our local guide Dhuraj, who grew up in these mountains and knows them like the back of his hand, led us through narrow, signless, winding trails.

Indian Himalayas, Darjeeling to Sikkim hike

Far from tourism places in Darjeeling and Sikkim, we spotted people smuggling local beer from Sikkim!

I would soon find out that the Sikkimese Hit Beer, made in Danny Denzongpa’s brewery, is possibly India’s finest beer – yet not permitted to be sold elsewhere in India. It’s a pity that his lobbying with the government isn’t as powerful as Vijay Mallya’s, so the rest of the country is deprived of such high quality (and cheap, at 60 rupees a bottle) beer.

Himalayas walks, smuggling route sikkim

Something I could’ve never expected on this Darjeeling Sikkim Gangtok trip – a jungle tattoo!

Textured from the leaves of a wild plant, this temporary tattoo on my arms felt like a new connection with nature and its wild marvels.

sikkim forest, darjeeling forest, darjeeling hikes

Walking along the bamboo forest between Sikkim and Darjeeling

Our feet made music on fallen dried leaves and bamboo branches.

bamboo forest sikkim

Close to the Sikkim Darjeeling border, we cooled off in the Rangeet River

Four hours into the walk, the cool pure water was a balm for my tired feet.

Rangeet river, Darjeeling to Sikkim hike

Even if we did use a Sikkim Darjeeling map, I doubt it would have led us to the shallow river we had to cross barefoot…

From the base of one mountain to another, we felt the rocks, soft sand and cool water on our feet as we slowly crossed the Rangeet River at one of its lowest, calmest points. Local boys tried to catch fish with their bare hands!

Darjeeling river, Darjeeling pictures, rangeet river

After 5 hours of trekking in Sikkim and Darjeeling, we finally got our first glimpse of Sikkim!

The southern industrial village of Majhitar, which has more immigrant workers from Bihar than Sikkimese people, and more alcohol shops than I could have imagined.

Majhitar

A rickety suspension brige connects Darjeeling & Sikkim

Over the Rangeet River, this hanging bridge is made of wooden planks, some of which have already fallen off! It feels more like crossing into another country.

Rangeet river, suspension bridge

The first taste of momos and the local Hit Beer in Sikkim

That made the 5 hours of hiking totally worthwhile! The beer was downed before I could take a picture 😉

momos

Would you ever hike from Darjeeling to Sikkim?

ALSO READ:

Sikkim Travel Blog: Exploring a Lost Kingdom

Eat, Pray, Love: Offbeat Things to do in Gangtok

Sarmoli, Uttarakhand: A Himalayan Village That Runs Marathons and its Own Instagram Channel

darjeeling to sikkim, sikkim hiking, darjeeling hiking, offbeat sikkim
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53 Comments

  1. Loved it! Beautiful pictures. Would be going to Darj for a mountaineering course in few days time… I’m all jittery and excited but this post reminded me how much I’m really looking forward to it!.. In love with the place already! 😀

    • Wow, that sounds so exciting, Tanmayi! I’m sure you’ll love the majesty and serenity of these mountains. Tell me how it goes 🙂

  2. bladenomics says

    Wow! refreshing pictures!! I’ve been meaning to go to North east India for a long time!

    • It has been on my list for long too, glad I finally made the trip. Hope you do soon too!

    • Haha, thanks Mani! The nature tattoo faded away too soon though 😉 Hope you get to make this journey soon.

    • I didn’t go to Jorethang, near enough though. This walk ended at the border town of Majhitar in South Sikkim. Took shared taxis further into the state.

  3. Reminded me of my recent visit to Sikkim. Once you visit a place then you get a better perspective of problem there like Gorakhaland in Darleeling.

    • I agree Makrand. Same with Sikkim. Before I went, I read about how the incumbent party was doing such great work in sustainable tourism. Turns out that’s not the case at all. Only some individuals trying to do things differently.

  4. Yash Chaturvedi says

    How to get a guide who could assist in taking the hike?

    • You can get in touch with Pravin/Navin from Tathagata Farm. Better still, stay with them 🙂 Shall be writing all about that experience soon too.

    • Do it soon! It’s very safe, and the people really go out of their way to help you 🙂

    • Yes! Tip-toed across it, such fun. It was exhilarating to “walk” into Sikkim indeed.

  5. Simply Wow girl!! Mesmerizing our East is…I have yet to go! This was a fantastic photo journey. Thanks! 🙂

    • Thanks Aditi! Plan a trip soon. They say October / November are the best times to see the snow-capped peaks 🙂

  6. krit92 says

    Lovely post.. Put a smile on my face .. and sure need to try out this beer very soon 😀

  7. Life is about travel says

    Lovely write-up and pictures. Especially love the imprint of the leaves of the wild plant on your hand!

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  9. Kara Freedman says

    Wonderful photo essay! Sounds like a great trip.

  10. Pingback: Eat, Pray, Love in Gangtok. | The Shooting Star

  11. krit92 says

    Hey i need to ask.. Ist darjeeling and sikkim like quite far.. So what sections did u exactly treck from?!

    Regards!

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  14. Hi Shivya,
    This is so beautiful. I’m going to Sikkim this weekend and would love to start my trip with this hike.
    Could you please shed some light on how to go about this? What are the starting & ending points? I’m on a budget and cannot afford to stay in Tathagata farm and use their resources for the hike. Was wondering if the hike could be done without a guide?

    Awaiting your reply.
    Cheers.

    • Thanks Vinay! Unfortunately it can’t be done without a guide since it’s a signless mountain path that only the locals know. You could try contacting Tathagata farm to arrange only the hike for you.

      • Thank you so much for the reply Shivya. I’m going to call them and see if they can arrange only the hike. Your posts on Sikkim are one of the prime inspirations for me to travel there.

        Cheers.

  15. We took a car to take us from Darjeeling to Gangtok, Sikkim. Guess what? It took 4.5 hours whereas you hiked in a total of 5 hours! We should’ve hiked too. next time may be!

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