Uttarey / Varsey / Namchi / Samdruptse - One of the upcoming and newly developed regions. This is a virgin area with very few tourists coming in. Gradually gaining popularity is Namchi for its Chaar Dhaam. Uttarey and Varsey is tourist paradise.
Uttarey – This small settlement is located on the lap of the Singalila Range, Phoktey Dara in the West and Neydham (Dichenphu) in the north, Uttarey is a small but beautiful and a virgin paradise amidst pristine valley. It is surrounded by hill tops, waterfalls, frothing rivers, evergreen forest, medicinal herbs and mountains hamlets.Five hours drive from Gangtok or from Siliguri / Bagdogra Airport (IXB) / New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP) is Uttarey. It is three hours drive from Darjeeling and Kalimpong and one and a half hours drive from Pelling – Uttarey in extreme West Sikkim is the Virgin and Hidden Paradise on Earth. It is popularly known as the Base Camp of Adventure Tourism for the Singalila Range. Uttarey is derived from the Nepali / Hindi word uttar which means the North. Just in the midst of South Part of valley, there is a holy perennial source of water stream floating out towards the North, it is called as Uttarey. There is a holy Durga Mandir in the valley and in the extreme North-East corner of the lake in the forest there lays a Jalpa Devithan which is believed to be the guard of the lake. It is an ideal place for eco-tourism, adventure tourism, educational tourism on botany, zoology, ornithology , ethnology and also an ideal place for the quite holiday home-seekers, village-tourism, nature lover, bird watchers with rewarding walks and trekking trails with the nature’s panoramic view.
Varsey - Situated near Hilley in West Sikkim between Singalila National Park in the south and Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve in the north is Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary. The area supports a wide variety of bio diversity and the attractions of the sanctuary is rhododendrons which bloom in April - May coloring the Sanctuary in wild abandon.
It is spread over 100 square kilometers and altitude ranges from nearly 2200 meters to above 4100 meters. The bio-diversity includes sub-tropical forest, mixed broadleaf forest, conifer forest and alpine meadows.
Mid April to Mid May the entire forest turns into a riot of red. Renowned botanist Sir JD Hooker, one of the first Europeans to travel to this region, is known to have said: The super abundance of rhododendron is the glory of the Singilila Range. The region is generally covered with the flowers, sometimes to the exclusion of other vegetation.
Several species of rhododendron bloom in this area. The popular red variety, as well as the pink and white varieties is found in abundance. An extended weekend is all you need to visit the "garden of the Gods". Hilley, a small hamlet surrounded by rhododendron trees and the last motor able point before Varsey. A four kilometer leisurely walk on fairly even ground help you reach the final destination. On the way one passes through beautiful pine forests. Within an hour one can reach Varsey / Barsay. Dotted along the trail are rhododendron trees, flaming in season. The bright white flowers of the occasional magnolia tree create a striking contrast against the deep blue background of the sky. Last but not least are the snow peaks that tower above the treetops. The entry permit for the rhododendron sanctuary can be obtained from Hilley. Bunking down in a dormitory with fellow travelers is a unique experience.
There are several short walking paths. The best time to visit is in spring when the but if it is a glimpse of the Kanchenjunga you want, then its clear weather from mid October to November end. The area is surrounded with snow from December to March. Start the next day with a gorgeous sunrise on Kanchenjunga. The image of the first golden rays striking out from beyond the mountain is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on your mind, and a smile on your face and a spring in your step on the way back home.
Namchi - Namchi is the capital of the South Sikkim district in the Indian state of Sikkim is situated at an altitude of 1675 meters / 5500 feet. The appellation Namchi means Sky (Nam) High (Chi) in Bhutia. It has an average elevation of 1315 metres / 4314 feet. It is situated at a distance of 94 kilometers from the state capital Gangtok and nearly 95 kilometers from the town of Siliguri and is nearly three hours drive , the nearest railhead and airport. Namchi lies off the road between Melli and Jorethang. Namchi is well connected to other towns in Sikkim and West Bengal. Jeeps and buses regularly ply between Namchi to Gangtok, Pelling, Jorethang, Kalimpong and Siliguri. Namchi commands panoramic view of the snow capped mountains and vast stretches of valley. It is also headquarters of South district. The area is fast growing into a tourist destination with its enormous potential for all round tourist activities.
Most of the people of Namchi are Hindus and Buddhists. Languages spoken are Nepali, English and Hindi. Namchi is fast becoming a major tourist spot and pilgrimage centre. The Namchi monastery, Ralong monastery and Tendong Hill are important Buddhist pilgrimage centres. A statue of the Buddhist Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim, is on the Samdruptse hill or popularly known as the Wish Fulfilling well i.e. opposite Namchi. The statue of Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim. The statue in Namchi is the tallest statue of the saint in the world and is nearly 36 meters / 120 feet.
Samdruptse - It is also said that the Samdruptse hill is actually a Dormant Volcano. Myths say that the buddhist monks have been going on top of the hill and offering prayers to the volcano to keep it calm. There is also a Rock Garden just few kilometers up from the town on the way to Samdruptse. The Rock Garden displays a wide variety of Flora and is a local recreation and picnic spot. It offers a magnificent view of Mount Kanchandzonga.
Recently inaugurated (November 2011) Siddhesvara Dhaam is a unique pilgrimage tourism venture of the Sikkim Government developed as “ Pilgrim cum Cultural Centre” having a 108 ft statue of Lord Shiva and replicas of four Dhaams of the country at one place at Solophok hilltop in Namchi. The four most revered Dhams of the Hindus Jagannath, Dwarika, Rameshawaram, Badrinath have been replicated in this fantastic complex to benefit the devotees and tourists.Breath taking surrounding of Solophok hill, befitting the mythological setting behind the es tablishment of the original Dhams. For the consecration of the Dham Shri Jagadguru Sankaryacharya Swami Swarupananda Saraswati did the “Pran Prastisha” of the Dham. There are replicas of the “Dwadash Jyotirlingas” (the twelve jyothirlinga) of Somnath, Mallikarjuna, Mahakaleswar, Omkareshwar, Kedarnath, Bhimashankar,Viswanath, Triambakeshwar, Vaidyanath, Nageswar, Rameshwar at Rameswaram and Grishneshwar surrounding the statue of Lord Shiva and the Char Dhams. There is a grand statue of Kirateshvar Mahadev and a temple of Shirdi Sai Baba too. One can have a breath taking view of the Mt Kanchenjunga, Statue of Guru Padmasambhava at Samdruptse, Darjeeling and other such locations from here.
The real home of man is not his house but the road. Life itself is a travel that has to be done by foot ………. Bruce Chatwin