Namchi is the headquarters of South District of Sikkim which is the second most populated district in the State. It is situated at an altitude of 1675 m above sea level and is around 78 Km from the state capital Gangtok. The Namchi literally means ‘Sky High’. Namchi is also the closest major Sikkim city to West Bengal. Namchi is just 100 Km from Siliguri. The district headquarter is fast becoming an important tourist destination in Sikkim for some of the best trek routes around. It is also an important pilgrimage destination as it has the revered Namchi Monastery. Namchi hosts the very popular Namchi Mahotsav, a Tourism, Culture and Food Festival, every year in October. A flower festival is also held annually.
Tourist places in Namchi:-
Temi Tea Garden:-
Namchi’s Temi Tea Garden is the only tea estate in Sikkim. The tea garden was established in the year of 1969 and is spread over in an area of 435 acres on a hill slope, originating from the Tendong Hill. It produces around 100 million tonnes of tea, every year. There is an old British bungalow that lies below the tea garden, providing an option to stay close to nature.
Samdrupste Hill is 7000 ft high hill, located at a distance of 5 km from Namchi. The meaning of Samdrupste, in the Bhutia language, is ‘The wish fulfilling hill.’ Samdrupste has the largest statue of Guru Rinpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava, which is largest in the world. The height of the statue is 135 ft and is located on the top of the hill, it is the World’s Largest Statue of Guru Rimpoche. Besides the statue, there is a rock garden at the foot of Samdrupste Hill, which is known for its views of Mt. Kanchenjunga. The meaning of Samdruptse in the Bhutia language, is ‘Wish Fulfilling Hill.’ The foundation stone of this statue was laid down by Dalai Lama in October 1997. It took around three years to complete the statue. Apart from that, there is a wall painting in monastery of Dakini, with three eyes, wearing tantric ornaments and standing naked in a dancing posture.
Chardham is a pilgrimage destination situated at Solophok Hill, which is at a distance of about 5 km from Namchi Town. Solophok Hill has a historical and religious significance, as it is believed that visiting this place washes away one’s sins. According to legends, during the Kurukshetra war between the Kauravas and Pandavas; Arjuna used to worship Lord Shiva in this place Lord Shiva, pleased with Arjuna, appeared in the form of a hunter.and his blessing is said to have helped the Pandavas win the war against the Kauravas.
Ngadak Monastery is an old monastery, which was built by Tensung Namgyal, during the Chogya Gurmed Namgyal regime. The monastery is located near the Ngadak Town and attracts tourists through out the year.
It portrays the true spiritual side of Sikkimese people. Located at a distance of 6 kms from Ravangla, Ralang Monastery is easily accessible from Namchi via Ravangla in South Sikkim district. Ralong Monastery is regarded as the one amongst the most significant and most consecrated monasteries of Sikkim. The Monastery was built to commemorate the successful pilgrimage of the fourth Chogyal to Tibet.
Tendong Hill is around 8530 ft high and is considered to be a dormant volcano. The name of this hill, derived from the Lepcha dialect, means ‘The hill of the raised horn’. According to legends, when the land was drowned due to floods, the horn rose miraculously to rescue people. This hill was a place of rest for Buddhist Lamas, who spent years in meditation. Tourists come to Namchi for trekking and the view from the top of the hill. Damthang, located at the foot of the Tendong Hill, is a starting point for trekking and is located at a distance of 13 km from Ravangla. The trek to the hill top is 6 km long and goes through dense forest, rich in flora and fauna, home to 90 species of birds, Himalayan bears, leopards and red pandas. The Tendong Hill is also considered as a sacred place and Lepchas worship it on the occasion of Lho Rham Faat. A small monastery and a three storied watch tower are situated on the top of hill.
Tendong State Biodiversity Park:-
Located around 16 km from Namchi, it has the best of varieties of medicinal plants from the Himalayas. The Forest Department of Sikkim takes care of this. Rare species are found here and the Biodiversity Park is a conserved zone. A tourist coming here likes to know more about plants he has not seen and species he hasn’t found.
What to eat and buy:-
Tasting all types of momo (steamed dumpling), Thukpa/Gya-Thuk (Noodle Soup), Gundruk & Sinki (fermented vegetables), Chhurpi (traditional cottage cheese), Masaurya (fermented black gram) and Pakku (Mutton curry). You get all kind of food at gangtok but in north sikkim its mostly rice, potato, dal, chicken and noodles. You can buy the handicrafts, canvas wall hangings, thankas, prayer wheels, Tibetan carpets, rugs and jewellery can also be picked as return gifts for your friends and family. One of the most unique items to be bought from Sikkim is a Dragon set. You can also bring home the popular tea of Sikkim and cardamoms.
Best time to visit Namchi:-
Summers in Namchi are during the months of March, April, May and June. These months will experience a maximum temperature of around twenty eight degrees (28°C) and a minimum temperature of around ten degrees (10°C). This is the best time to visit the town, due to the pleasant weather. Winters in Namchi are during the months of October, November, December, January and February. These months will experience a maximum temperature of around sixteen degrees (16°C) and a minimum temperature that falls around minus five degrees (-5°C). Carrying woolen clothing during this time is important.
How to reach Namchi:-
By Air:- The nearest airport Bagdogra, near Siliguri in West Bengal, is connected by air to New Delhi, Kolkata and Guawahati.
By Rail:- Siliguri (114 kms) and New Jalpaiguri (125 kms) are the two closest railway stations connectingKolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati and other important cities in India with Sikkim.
By Road:- The state is connected by road to Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri and also to all the DistrictHeadquarters within Sikkim also a bus service is offered by The Sikkim Nationalized Transport (SNT) from all major cities and towns in North Bengal to Gangtok.