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.
We followed tea pluckers as they started their day
Plucking the finest tea in India with their nimble fingers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Walking along the bamboo forest between Sikkim and Darjeeling
Our feet made music on fallen dried leaves and bamboo branches.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 😉
Would you ever hike from Darjeeling to Sikkim?
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Welcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, “sustainability influencer,” social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes that travel – if done right – has the power to change us and the world we live in.
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 🙂
I know 😉
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!
Amazing, what an interesting journey. I’d love to make it. I love the nature tattoo as well. 🙂
Haha, thanks Mani! The nature tattoo faded away too soon though 😉 Hope you get to make this journey soon.
Did you walk walk across the tea garden to reach Jorethang?
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.
Love it 🙂
Thanks Ro Han! Going soon then?
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.
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.
Wonderful. I would like to go solo.
Do it soon! It’s very safe, and the people really go out of their way to help you 🙂
Beautiful pictures Shivya. 🙂
Exhilarating it must have been! So did you cross that suspension bridge??
Yes! Tip-toed across it, such fun. It was exhilarating to “walk” into Sikkim indeed.
I would love to experience this part of India.
I’m sure you’ll love it, Scott! Plan a trip soon.
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 🙂
Another great post Shivya… looks like a beautiful hike.
Thanks Pete! It is a great hike, and not a very strenuous one at that.
Lovely post.. Put a smile on my face .. and sure need to try out this beer very soon 😀
I’m glad to hear that Krit! And yeah, you have to try the beer. It’s SO good.
Lovely write-up and pictures. Especially love the imprint of the leaves of the wild plant on your hand!
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Wonderful photo essay! Sounds like a great trip.
Added to my bucket list.. Amazing pictures 🙂
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Hey i need to ask.. Ist darjeeling and sikkim like quite far.. So what sections did u exactly treck from?!
You’ll find all details at http://indiauntravelled.com/itineraries-darjeeling-sikkim-northeast-himalayas.html 🙂
This is quite awesome.. Iv read all ur posts on shooting star.. Real cool.. Dont stop the good work.. Cheers 😀
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Great photo tour. Loved it.
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.
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.
I need this trip.
Lovely pictures. Last year me too had an opportunity to visit Darjeeling … do give it a read ! https://travellingstepsblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/north-east-the-pride-of-india-a-hell-of-a-journey-to-gangtok-pelling-darjeeling/
Hey Shivya ! Nice one. I have had a chance to visit this place too … heaven it is!
Do read my experience here –
& do check out my blog too :-
All inspired by you!! Would love to see you liking & commenting !! Your views would be precious.
Thanks so much 🙂
Great journey!! Thanks for nicely drafting it!! 🙂
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!
What a wonderful experience Shivya. You inspire me so much!! Wish you many such wonderful moments. 🙂
Nice pics !