ARITAR

Why To Go

Aritar, in East Sikkim is a Himalayan hamlet in the lap of Mother Nature situated at an altitude of 4915 feet. It is a beautiful village with lush green forests, mountains and lake and waterfalls. You can also view the mighty Kanchenzunga, India’s highest and the third highest mountain peak in the world (28169 feet). As you drive up the slithering road (Sevoke Road) from New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Railway Station or Bagdogra Airport (approximately 4 hours), you can feel the cold breeze on the cheeks and your eyes can relax by looking at the lush green forests and mountains. You will have the Teesta River meandering by your side. You should cross the Coronation Bridge and grab some food and use the refreshment rooms at Lohapool. Don’t be in a hurry. Even here you can chose a table by the window and keep nibbling at your food while admiring the flowing river. After crossing the bridge, you take NH31 from NH10 and there is Sevok Kali Mandir on the left hand. Then through Rangpo, the village bordering Sikkim with West Bengal, you enter the state of Sikkim and drive till Aritar.

Travel Tips

October to May is the best season to visit Aritar even though December to February is extremely cold, temperatures reaching subzero at times. The skies are clear and you can get the best view of Kanchenzunga during these months. Monsoons have enough rainfall and there are chances of landslides and road blockage, so it is not advisable to visit Aritar from July to September. Carry warm clothing. Be careful of leaches and carry salt in your hand bag or back pack.

Things To Do

Lampokhari or Aritar Lake is one of the oldest natural lakes in Sikkim. It is Sikkim’s only lake with boating facilities at a height of 4600 feet. The serene green water of the lake amidst green forested mountains is the greatest attraction of Aritar. You can feed puffed rice and/or biscuits to fishes in the lake and the swans on or around the lake. Just be careful not to leave plastics or wrappers around. There is a cemented pavement all around the lake and walking around the lake takes time as it is pretty widespread (1120 feet long and 240 feet wide). You can hike uptoMankhim view point, a hill top with panoramic view of Mt. Kanchenzunga, the boot shaped lake surrounded by pines, the valleys and the helipad, on a well maintained trail. AritarGompha, a small Buddhist Monastery, of the Kagyup order, is an important site on the way to Mankhim view point as it is one of the oldest and most sacred monasteries in Sikkim. Even though small, the traditional architecture, wood carvings and mural paintings are iconic. The Mankhim Temple is a Hindu temple of the Rai or Khambus , the most ancient ethnolinguistic group. The environment around makes it all the more serene. There are some guest houses on the hills above the lake from where you can enjoy a splendid view of the emerald colour lake and the amazing Kanchenzunga. The DakBunglow of 1896, used as a temporary health centre for injured soldiers by the British, in the 20th Century, later became Sikkim’s first site for treasury and Sikkim’s first police post, is also situated near the Aritar Lake. This heritage pinewood building with extensive balconies, wood panelling, wide glass windows and sprawling green lawns and gardens, amidst the rolling Himalayan hills, is worth a visit. The building has been completely renovated with a blend of its old world charm and modern amenities and serves as a guest house. The charm of staying here is definitely unparallel. Kali khola Falls or Lonely Falls is situated nearby. The 100m plunge of water from the forested mountain is spectacular. ParbateswarShivalayaMandir, a Shiv Temple with a majestic shrine andNirmalDham, abode of NirmalGuruji or Kopchey Baba, a miraculoushealer,near Rhenock Bazar are of religious and/or spiritualsignificance. Ever green nursery & Ram Gauri Sangrhal, at Rhenock Bazar, is privately owned and has drift wood collections, srtistic stones, old documents and manuscripts and stamps and even orchids and other varieties of flowers. You can soak into the splendour of this place not only with its unique and natural exhibits but also by the nature around – the rolling green hills and the beautiful flowers.

What to Eat & Where
to Eat

Aritar comprises of basic home stays and guest houses, providing simple and regular home cooked Indian and Tibetan dishes. However, hot smacking momos should be tried. Chhan, a unique millet based alcoholic drink, indigenous to the people of East Sikkim is also available.

Getting Around

There are cars available for site seeing. Most of the major destinations are near the Aritar Lake and can be visited on foot. The splendour of hiking amidst nature on a well-defined trail and with the majestic Kanchenzonga in view is memory bound to last forever.

How To Reach

FLIGHT

Bagdogra Airport, Siliguri, has prepaid taxis. Share taxi are not available.

TRAIN

New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Station with availability of numerous cars, shared shuttles and buses is well connected to various places in North Bengal and Sikkim.

ROAD

The Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus on Hill Cart Road, Shiliguri, and 6kms from NJP Station is the most important bus stand for North Bengal and Sikkim.

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Surrounding Attractions

In less than 2 hours’ time you can reach the beautiful old silk route with its slithering roads on the enchanting mountains. You can visit Zuluk, Gnathang Valley to Kupup and Padamchen. Reshi, situated on the banks of the Rangit River has a hot spring with medicinal properties and is a popular pilgrim spot in Sikkim as there is theLhoKhandro Sang Phug (the cave of occult fairies), a small monastery and a holy cave situated adjacent to the river.

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