October 9, 2020

North Sikkim with Utsav Mamoria

Thank you New Indian Express & EdexLive for 40 Under 40 Award to The Musafir Stories!!


This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Utsav Mamoria, host of the travel podcast "Postcards from nowhere"!

Today's destination: North Sikkim!

Nearest Airport: Bagdogra airport, IXB or Pakyong Airport

Nearest Railway Station: Jalpaiguri or Siliguri railway station

Prerequisites: permits might be required for some regions, make sure to check.

Packing: Pack warm clothes and multiple layers based on the time of the year

Time of the year: Late Feb-March (shoulder season)

Length of the itinerary: 8 days

Itinerary Highlights:

- Utsav arrives in Gangtok, where he is based briefly before he starts moving north.
- If this is your first time to Sikkim, make sure to explore some of the touristy places in and around Gangtok. You can also check out our other episodes on Sikkim by Surya Raju and by Sandy and Vyjay
- Utsav and his partner head off from Gangtok towards their itinerary of Lachen, Chopta valley and Gurdongmar lake.
- It is highly advised that you hire a driver to drive you around as driving in the state is quite challenging given the weather conditions and the roads.
- Utsav spends his time in Lachen, enjoying the shoulder season with no tourists, interacting with locals as well as exploring the local monasteries.
- Make a quick trip to Chopta valley from Lachen - the valley gives a beautiful view of the snowcapped mountains and the river (depending on the time of the year).
- Utsav's trip to Gurdongmar was cut short due to the weather, since the army recommended to avoid travelling during severe weather conditions.
- On the way back, Utsav makes a stop at a Gurudwara to enjoy some good conversations and a hearty langar (meal in the community kitchen).
- Utsav also learns about the legend of Gurudongmar, about how Guru Nanak is believed to have traveled here and how a portion of the river never freezes at the point where the Guru hit his staff ('Dong' in Punjabi, 'Maar' is hit). There is also a legend about the Buddhist saint Padmasambhava with a similar story, hence the lake is considered sacred by both Sikhs and Buddhists. (Erroneously mentioned as "Sikhs and Hindus" on the podcast)
- After spending a day at Lachen, Utsav decides to move base to a small village called Dzongu and spend some time absorbing the slow life of the village.
- Slow travelling gives one the opportunity to live like a local and enjoy some authentic experiences, without having to rush from point to point.
- This includes enjoying some wholesome organic food (Sikkim is the first officially organic state in India), local beers and Sikkimese hospitality in general.
- Utsav also shares some interesting tidbits about the colourful prayer flags in Sikkim and their significance.
- Try to hire a local tour guide driver, as they have the best network in the area (which is often useful) and also helps boost the local economy. 


Link to Utsav's podcast:
Postcards from nowhere
Also available wherever you listen to podcasts

Link to the Utsav's budget traveling specials on Simblified:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/utsavmamoria
IG: https://www.instagram.com/whywetravel42


Photo by Abhishek Singh on Unsplash

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