Namchi, located at an average elevation of 1,315 metres, is the capital of the South Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim. The place has derived its name from two words; Nam meaning the â€˜skyâ€™ and Chi meaning â€˜highâ€™ that translates as the top of the sky.
Historical facts state that the entire state of Sikkim was once under the reign of the Chogyals. In addition, it is also believed that the Chogyals were the main emperors of Sikkim as well as Ladakh. As per legend, it is said that the Sikkimese Princess, Pende Ongmoo, cheated a Sikkimese Chogyal. The supporters of Chogyal after knowing this got angry and killed her. The place where the princess was killed is believed to be present day Namchi. In addition, it is also believed that her spirit still haunts the foothills of Ghurpisey.
HOW TO REACH
Bagdogra is the nearest airport which is 124 km from Gangtok and 190 km from Mangan. Gangtok and Bagdogra are connected through helicopter services. From Gangtok to Namchi jeep and buses services are available.
Nearest station is New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri that is 125 km and 114 km respectively. New Jalpaiguri connects major cities like Jammu, Guwahati, Chandigarh, Delhi, Amritsar, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Puri, Ranchi, Patna, Varanasi and Gaya.
Namchi is accessible from Gangtok, Yukosom and Pelling through NH 31A. Buses and taxis ply at regular intervals in all weather conditions.
WHAT TO SEE
Temi Tea Garden:-
Namchiâ€™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.
At an altitude of 5000 feet, the Helipad is the perfect place to get a view of Mt. Kanchanjunga, Kalimpong and the hills on the border of Bengal. You can view Temi Tea estate, the only tea plantation in the state. The misty surroundings, cool breeze and silence in the hills, is a very calming experience.
The rock garden of Namchi is located between Namchi Town and Samdruptse. The garden has different species of plants, flowers and trees. There are several waiting sheds, view points and water bodies, alongside the footpaths. The garden has a cafeteria facing the hills and the valley of Namchi serves tea and coffee to travellers who stop by for rest.
Char Dham 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 oneâ€™s sins. According to legends, during the Kurukshetra war between the Kauravas and Pandavas; Arjuna used to worship Lord Shiva here. 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.
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 â€˜The hill of the raised hornâ€™. 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.
Ralong Monastery is located at a distance of 6 km from Ravangla. Ralong Monastery was built to commemorate the successful pilgrimage of the fourth Chogyal to Tibet. According to legends, when the fourth Chogyal returned to Namchi from his pilgrimage in Tibet, he performed the ‘Rabney’ (traditional blessing) ritual, during which, he tossed some grains from the Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet. The Ralong Monastery is said to be erected at the site where the grains fell.
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. Besides the statue, there is a rock garden at the foot of Samdrupste Hill, which is known for its views of Mt. Kanchenjunga.
Souvenir and craft items are the best things to buy in Namchi. Thanka paintings, carpets, handlooms, wooden carved and painted items, wooden masks, cane and bamboo items, traditional hats and caps, embroidered products and stuffed dolls can be bought in Namchi.
Namchi is still developing as a tourist resort and options to eat are limited. Namchi is predominantly non vegetarian. Pork is a favourite with the locals. One can find noodles, momos and other meat items.