\’Sky High\’ is what the meaning of Namchi, and is completely synonymous as it is located at an elevation of 5,500 ft. and is the capital of South District of Sikkim. While you can come directly from NJP (90kms) or Bagdogra (96kms), many also combine a trip of Gangtok with Namchi.
The Namchi Helipad area is a wonderful open space with a large round about. The road from here goes towards Namchi town which is about 5kms away. look up on your right and you can see the large statue of Lord Shiva on a hilltop (looks tiny from here) - that is the famous Char Dham. The helipad area is also very popular for getting panoramic views of Kanchenjunga snowpeaks. From here you can get sweeping views of Darjeeling and Kalimpong hills as well as the lower plains of Bengal.
In about 10 minutes from here you will reach Shirdi Sai Baba Mandir & Pilgrimage Centre located at Asangthang, Namchi. This is the first Shai Baba temple in the whole of Sikkim. It was built by Shirdi Shai Baba Trust of South Sikkim under the patronage of Government of Sikkim Tourism. Upstairs there is a wonderful statue of Shirdi Shai Baba kept on an elevated platform at the end of a huge hall.
Downstairs is the large prayer room where devotees offer prayers. There is also an elevated stage at the end where kirtan and other religious functions take place that are organized by the trust.
Next is the Pilgrim Center Char Dham which is undoubtedly the most popular and the best tourist attraction in Namchi. It is located on a hill top and about 5kms from the town center. This large complex has been conceived to take Sikkim to new heights of pilgrimage & religious tourism. The complex comprises of the main temple of Shiva on which the imposing statue of Shiva has been set up.
Additionally there are replicas of twelve jyotirlingas to offer one platform to all devotees of Shiva, as well as replicas of the four dhams (Badrinath, Jagannath, Dwarka dedicated to lord Vishnu and Rameshwar dedicated to lord Shiva).
Samdruptse Monastery which is about 7kms from Namchi town and up on Samdruptse hill. Before Char Dham, this used to be the main attraction of Namchi, Samdruptse means \’Wish fulfilling Hill\’. The locals believe that the hill is actually a dormant volcano. The Buddhists lamas have been regularly offering prayers so that the volcano does not erupt. It has stayed calm so far. There is a fairly long uphill walkway (some 200 yards) that leads to the monastery. Buddhist prayer flags flutter on one side of the pathway. Take off your shoes before you climb the flight of steps to reach the upper platform. Now look up and you will be awestruck with the mammoth 45-meter statue of Sikkim\’s patron saint Guru Padmasambhava set up on an elevated platform. The face is coated with gold that glitter in the sun. Walk around the platform and you can get magnificent view of the mountains and forests. The foundation stone here was laid by Dalai Lama on 22nd October 1997. This tall and large statue overlooks the town of Namchi and the surrounding areas. It can be seen from many different places in Sikkim and Darjeeling as well
Namchi Rock Garden (about 10 minutes from and below Samudruptse , is another good spot to relish nature.The landscaped garden below is quite beautiful. There are waterbodies, a gazebo, tiny arched bridges over lilipools, many different rare flowers and plantations, slides & swings for children, benches to relax & soak in the views - all make a wonderful experience. It\’s calm and quiet out here and a great opportunity to blend with the nature. A highlight at the rock garden are the Orchids. You will also see here a rare plant known as Timbur which is a sour citrus plant having a great medicinal value and used in liver ailment and lung congestion.
From Rock Garden your final destination will be Ngadak Monastery which is about 2kms from Namchi town. This is one of the oldest monasteries of South Sikkim built in 17th century by Tensung Namgyal during the reign of Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal. However the old building has been destroyed by earthquake and a new structure has come up in its place.
A football stadium named Baichung Stadium is coming up in Namchi which is named after the popular Sikkimese footballer Baichung Bhutia. It is still under construction and you can see it as you pass by.
Temi Tea Garden is about 18kms from Namchi town and located in Ravangla, South Sikkim. This is the only tea garden of Sikkim and owned by the State Government. It spreads across 440 acres of land on gradual hill slope originating from Tendong Hill. The tea garden produces one of the finest tea in the world and commands high prices in the world market. There is also a factory here. You can visit the factory to see tea processing and buy packaged tea at the Sale Outlet. While visiting from Gangtok, you will pass through the 21km stretch of famous Temi Tea Garden which is the only tea garden in Sikkim producing finest quality of tea. You will need to negotiate 21 hairpin bends while crossing the tea garden.
Another lovely place is Buddha Park in also known as Tathagata Tsal, 30kms from Namchi town. Spread over 23 acres of area this parkland has a towering sitting statue of Buddha which is 137ft 22inch tall. The face of the statue is coated with 3.5kgs of gold. It is the tallest metal statue of Buddha in the world.. Buddha Park project started in 2006 and was inaugurated by Dalai Lama in 2013. The park area is donated by the nearby Rabong Monastery.
IHCAE (Institute of Himalayan Centre for Adventure & Eco Tourism) is located at Chemchey Village at an altitude of about 6,500ft. From Namchi town the distance is about 16kms via Damthang. Opened in December 2009, the Institute offers training courses to the youth in the area of adventure activities and eco tourism. The courses include Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking, Trekking, Para Gliding, White Water Rafting, Trekking, Skiing etc.
You don\’t usually plan a trip to Namchi keeping shopping in mind. However, there do exists several stores and art & craft centers that are worth visiting and you won\’t return empty handed for sure. Kanchenjunga Handicrafts Center located near Serdupcholing Monastery has exquisite handcrafted items. Another place for great local hand crafted items is Technical Handicraft Center which is located about 2kms from Namchi town.