Mangan mostly serves as a gateway to North Sikkim and travellers usually ignore this place. However, we had the good fortune of staying in Mangan for a couple of days and experience the beauty of this place. In this blog, I shall be discussing about the best places to see around Mangan.
I have a separate post on North Sikkim which you might want to check. Please click here.
Must see places around Mangan
Mangan is a small town in the North district of the hilly state of Sikkim. The district HQ of North Sikkim, Mangan is also known as the Cardamom Capital of the World, as it is the worlds largest producer of large cardamom. Mangan can be reached from Siliguri by passing through Rangpo, Singtham, Dikchu and Makha. In fact, the town lies in the route which connects Gangtok with the extreme northern towns of Sikkim, like Lachen, and Lachung.
Just being in the place offers some nice view of Teesta flowing below and the Himalayan ranges all around.
The awesome sunrise at Mangan
Staying in Mangan, the astounding view of Mt. Kanchenzongha is something one should try not to miss, especially the sunrise and the plethora of colours that are on display during the one hour early morning show. The entire phenomenon starts just a few minutes before sunrise, as the sky starts brightening up. The first glimpse of the snow clad great mountain through the dark early morning sky gives a feeling of excitement and fulfillment that I cannot really explain here. Slowly as the sun starts brightening up the morning sky, and the first ray hits the tip of the peak, an amazing drama starts unfolding. The ice on the peak starts reflecting the sun rays, and a deep yellowish light starts emitting. Slowly, as the sunlight starts falling on the entire mountain, it changes colour to goldern yellow, then to a pale yellowish shade and finally, the white majestic mountain emerges with all its grandeur.
The hills directly opposite Mangan is the place reserved for the Lepchas, the original inhabitants of Sikkim. This Lepcha reserve (Dzongu) is one of the last remaining places where one can find traditional Lepchas in their own surroundings, still unaffected by the mad-rush which is so typical of the 21st century. Dzongu is divided into two regions, North Dzongu and South Dzongu. Travelers can get permission to reach up to South Dzongu only.
This place is called Sankhalan. Sankhalan has a small museum, designed in the shape of a Lepcha Hut. This museum, inaugurated in January 2005 at Namprickdang, Dzongu houses the typical items that are present in a typical Lepcha hut, like utensil, weapons of daily use, baskets used by the people, and a worship room dedicated to the local holy man.
Sankhalan is also the place where river Teesta meets the river Sanaka. This confluence point provides a breadth-taking landscape, and the sound of the rivers flowing turbulently only adds to the awe of the place.
Another place of interest in Mangan is the Mangan monastery. And if your visit coincides with the annual festival at the monastery, then it becomes one of the must see places in Mangan. Located in a hilltop near the town, and surrounded by bamboo trees, it offers a fabulous view of the mountains, and if weather gods permit, Mt. Kanchenzongha is visible from there.
The annual Buddhist dance festival takes place once a year, in the last week of December, in this monastery. One can observe dancers in colourful attires, some dressed like demons, some like gods, and others like deer and lions, participating in this ceremony. A couple of jesters add fun and merriment to the event. This two day ceremony is of great importance to the local people who gather in considerable number to witness the prayer ceremony being performed by the head priest of the temple, which is followed by the dance.
Tinchim, located about 10 KM from Mangan on the Gangtok Mangan road is a place worth a visit by any traveler visiting Mangan. Tinchim houses a small monastery for the local people and the radiant faces of the lamas greet you as you enter the place of worship. A mini 300m trek from the monastery through the mountainous jungles lead to the Tinchim lake.
From the main road, one can hardly imagine that such a wonderful place lies in the hills. The crystal clear lake water, accompanied by the surrounding woods cast a spell on the visitor. One can easily sit here for quite sometime, enjoying the place and the silence works like a balm to the battle-ravaged city dwellers mind.
Local villages are treks around Mangan
The nearest habitat to Tinchim is the small village of Mangshila of the local Subba tribe. The village is a picture-perfect example of how a local Sikkimese village can be. For all those people who love traveling, the locals of Mangshila provide fooding and lodging at their own houses at astounding cheap rates. Mangshila also gives the outsider a ring-side view of how simple, yet how tough life in a hilly village can be.
There are also a few treks like trek to view point of Pakshak Dara, or the trek to Samar Tek. They pass through nice little villages and offer magnificent view of the surrounding hills.