Sikkim, May 19: Sometimes gushing down forested slopes, sometimes tumbling over rocky boulders, sometimes taking a sharp leap, the waterfalls are a picturesque addition to the many wonders of Sikkim.
Although you are likely to find many torrents flowing down the slopes, especially after a sharp shower, as you drive along the mountain roads, some of the waterfalls have made a permanent name for themselves.
Located about 7km by road from Gangtok, this 100-foot waterfall is located in a landscaped park. Take the pathways and footbridge, go paddle boating on a manmade lake with a dragon at the centre, or spend some time at the gazebos that let you soak in the flowing stream at the bottom of the waterfall. The park is open between 8 am and 6 pm. Ticketed entry and paid car parking facility. Café and gift shops near the car park.
While there, do not forget to pick up some details of the indigenous culture. The word ‘jhakri’ means ‘jungle priest’. The park has several statues of jhakris and of the ancestors of the Lyam Lymay, Mangpas, and Lepcha people of Sikkim.
The park is also known as the Energy Park. The museum set up by the Sikkim Rural Energy Development Agency (SREDA) exhibits models of renewable energy. Solar-powered lamps light up the park after sunset.
Seven Sister Falls
The waterfalls, which consist of seven torrents falling from a great height, flows down in three distinct tiers. From the car park cross the small footbridge over the stream to go near the waterfalls. A short climb will take you to a viewpoint.
But to catch a sight of all the seven torrents you have to climb up further to reach a vantage point hidden behind the huge rocky boulders surrounding the waterfalls. An imposing Buddha statue has been carved on the rock near the falls.
A little ahead of Singhik (about 65 km from Gangtok) on way to Lachen in North Sikkim, you may stop at Menchu for a look at the eponymous waterfalls. Falling from a great height, the water gushes down a stepped wall. On a sunny day, you will find the droplets throwing up an array of rainbows.
Just 4km ahead of Menchu is a small village called Naga, known for its splendid waterfall. Expect a tight traffic jam in the area during peak tourist season. Clamber up to the raised cemented platform to catch a panoramic view of the waterfalls located right next to a bridge.
Also called Bhewma Waterfalls, this Amitabh Bachchan of waterfalls lies halfway on the road connecting Chungthang to Yumthang valley in north Sikkim. One of the longest waterfalls in Sikkim, it is affectionately called the Amitabh Bachchan waterfall by the local people. A small wooden bridge in front of the waterfall is a convenient place to photograph the waterfalls.
Lying in the Dzongu region to the north of Sikkim, these waterfalls can be combined with a trip to the Upper Dzongu area.
It requires a slight detour from the Upper Dzongu-Mangan road. The road winding towards the waterfall is interesting and adventurous.
Depending on where you are coming from, you will be passing through hamlets, driving across riverbeds, and may even require a boat ride across a lake. The waterfall shines like a silvery cascade as it falls through the deeply forested slopes.
The waterfall takes its name from the Lingzya village where it is located. Mangan, the headquarters of North Sikkim district, is about 25km from here. Mangan is a little over 60km from Gangtok.
About 12 km by road from Pelling, the popular tourist town in west Sikkim, this waterfalls flows out as the Rimbi River. Located next to the motorable road, the white water cascades down a forested hillslope gather in little pools at the base and then flows out beneath the road bridge to be lost among the rocks.
This popular waterfall is often included in the day-long sightseeing itinerary from Pelling, about 25km away. It consists of twin cascades.
One of the cascades can be seen from the road but to see the second one, you have to go up a few steps and cross a small bridge. The cascades jump over the rocky ledges to collect among the boulders before flowing out on the other side.
Visitors are not disallowed from clambering over the boulders to get near the falling water but can be a dangerous act. Private operators are known to set up zipline rides with the waterfalls in the background. An array of food stalls line all the way to the bridge. Ticketed entry.
Both Rimbi and Kanchendzonga waterfalls can be seen while driving between Pelling and Yuksom (the starting point of the trek to Dzongri).
Said to be the highest waterfall in West Sikkim, it is 7km from Yuksom on the road to Gerethang. Initially, the water descends in a free fall and then travels over the boulders to flow beneath the bridge and continue on the other side as a stream.
There was a small deck higher up but it was destroyed in a landslide. Adjacent to Phramrong, there is another waterfall, which, according to local villagers, was earlier hidden from view by the trees and has now become exposed.
Most people stop briefly at this waterfall, about 32km from Gangtok, on their way to and from north Sikkim. But if you want to catch the true beauty of these waterfalls, you have to budget some extra time in your itinerary.
The car parking area doubles up as a tourist facility with a cafeteria, food stalls, souvenir shops, and public toilets.
Before planning, check with the local Sikkim Tourism offices, if permits are required to visit the areas where the waterfalls are located.
At many of the waterfalls, you can go near the water but do be careful as you clamber over the rocks and boulders, these can be slippery and dangerous. Do be cautious while taking selfies.