Last Updated on January 8, 2022 by asoulwindow
About Uttarey in West Sikkim
While we were visiting Pelling in West Sikkim, I and my co travelers made a last-minute plan to visit the offbeat Uttarey village nearby. It was an impulsive decision and a good one. We passed through the massive Singshore bridge to arrive at Uttarey.
The Singshore bridge is the highest suspension bridge in India and second highest suspension bridge in Asia. The lovely Uttarey village is punctuated with numerous gushing waterfalls, evergreen dense jungles, charming hamlets, voluptuous rivers, mountainous terrains, hill tops, rich fauna and flora including medicinal herbs and Rhododendron trees.
Here is all you wanted to know about Uttarey Sikkim.
Uttarey: Offbeat place to visit in Sikkim
Uttarey, the last Indian village in West Sikkim charmed me with its unpretentious beauty. Not many people who visit Pelling know about this secret offbeat place to visit near Pelling.
Uttarey is located just a few hours of hike from the international border of Nepal and India. Located just 30 kilometers away from Pelling, Uttarey is off the beaten track.
Many tourists miss it due to lack of awareness or lack of time. Despite being small in size, Uttarey has so many places to see and so much to do. You will be occupied on entire day in Uttarey, which makes it a great day trip from Pelling.
Uttarey: unusual place to see in Sikkim
Uttarey is a hidden gem of Sikkim. It is totally unexplored and away from the crowds. This lesser-known place must to missed by discerning travelers. Old school traditional guide books will never mention and offbeat place like Uttarey.
I am sharing some lesser-known facts in this well researched and detailed travel guide on Uttarey. Do share this most comprehensive travel guide on Uttarey Sikkim.
Top things to do in Uttarey
You can expect to see snow enveloped mountains in Uttarey in winters. Some of the exciting activities you can do in the virgin paradise of Uttarey are nature camps, experiencing village home stays, day hikes, eco-tourism, bird watching, long walks, treks, visiting cheese factory or just sightseeing.
Altitude of Uttarey
Perched on a height of 6,600 feet, the small Uttarey village impressed me with its serenity, lack of crowds, natural beauty and unpolished terrains.
As is common in many places in Sikkim, you can have grand views of Mount Kanchenjunga from high ridges on a clear day.
Nomenclature: Meaning of Uttarey
In Limboo language, the verbal meaning of Uttarey or ‘Utey Tarey’ is ‘Call and bring together’. As per the old people, around 100 years ago, the Limboo chief in this region invited people from different communities, settled them here and gave shelter.
As per other theory, Uttarey stands for Hindi or Nepalese word Uttar, which means North. Some people claim that Uttarey was called so due to the sacred perennial water source which flows towards the North direction.
Top Places to see in Uttaray
I was surprised to discover that there are so many exciting free things to do in Uttarey village near Pelling in West Sikkim. The major points of attractions in Sikkim are worth a visit! Here is the list of top places to visit in Uttarey, Sikkim.
The Singshore bridge
Not many know that the Singshore bridge is the highest suspension bridge of India. Singshore bridge is also the second highest suspension bridge of entire Asia. This 200-meter-long bridge measures over 100 meters in height.
Singshore Bridge is located just 25 kilometers away from Pelling. Expect picturesque surroundings, voluptuous waterfalls and a winding stream. It is one of the most popular places to see near Uttarey and Pelling.
Perched on a height of 1,500 meters or 4921 feet, Dentam view point offers best view of Mount Kanchenjunga on clear days. Popular with nature lovers and bird watchers alike, Dentam is also an offbeat place to visit in Sikkim.
You will see lots of colorful butterflies and Rhododendron flowers in full bloom in the month of April and May in this picturesque village. The bird’s eye view of the Rhododendron jungle or locally called Gurasey Danra is worth it.
During the month of October, you can expect to see Cherry blossoms. It is also possible to do mountaineering, hiking and trekking in Dentam. Dentam is situated in West Sikkim, just 10 kilometers away from Varsey. I bought local Lozenges at Dentam view point. I had to throw it as I was unable to chew it because it was so hard.
The Titanic Park
As we were returning from Maney Bong Kagyu Chorten, I saw a huge structure made like a ship. Apparently, it is modeled after the famous Titanic ship. The quirky building stood out like a sore thumb in the quaint village.
It was perhaps an attempt to draw more tourists to the place. It is located right opposite the main market of Uttarey. Though bizarre, it is still a nice thing to do with family and kids. The children are surely going to enjoy this offbeat place.
The Kagyu Gumpha or Maney Bong Kagyu Chorten
Kagyu means monastery in the local language. We arrived at the Kagyu Gumpha after multiple help for directions from local people. As our car climbed up the hilly terrains, we saw a massive white chorten in the middle of a garden, facing the Kagyu monastery upon our arrival.
We explored the place at our own pace, often craning our necks to admire the beautiful Buddhism themed paintings that adorned the walls of the Kagyu Gompa.
Located near dense forest, the Kagyu Gumpha is one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries of Sikkim. The original building constructed in the year 1711 C.E. is nowhere to be seen today. The current building of the Kagyu Gumpha is modern and renovated over the years.
I found it to be one of the quietest places in Sikkim. We were the only tourist or travelers present during our visit despite the fact that it is a highly revered place for Buddhist people. In fact, we didn’t even see any local authority or monk during our visit.
The Kagyu Gumpha is one of the most important places to visit in Uttarey. The best part is that it is possible to see the river and the Dentam peak from Kagyu Gumpha. This hill top Buddhist monastery can be accessed via a rough road, just 10 minutes away from the bizarre Titanic Park.
Within the campus of the Kagyu Gumpha, I saw an unusual Hindu temple. The first thing which struck me was why a Hindu temple was built within the campus of a Buddhist monastery. I had never seen anything like this before. The Hindu temple was locked when we visited. I peeped inside through the window and saw a strange pyramidal white structure inside.
I have never seen such a structure inside a Hindu temple ever. Outside Hindu elements such as a trishul associated with Shiv Bhagwan, Hindu bells, incense sticks, kalash, fresh marigold flowers, confirmed that it was a Hindu temple. However, since the place was empty, there was no ne to answer my questions. Do let me know in the comment section if you know more about this unusual Hindu temple.
It is a free thing to do in Uttarey.
Interestingly, Hinduism co exists peacefully with Buddhism in Uttarey. Another Hindu place apart from Yuma temple is the Durga temple. The locals believe that the temple watches over them and blesses the Uttarey village and showers the locals with prosperity and peace. Also visit the Jalpa Devithan, which guards a lake located near the forest.
Herbal plant known as Bhojo in Limboo language in found near the lake. As per the folklore, the lake was much larger but shrank over the years to its current size. Durga Mandir and a Shiva Mandir are located in the heart of Dentam market.
You can visit the gorgeous Mainebass waterfall from Uttarey. It can be accessed by foot only. Many people enjoy camping overnight near the Mainebass waterfall. You can reach the Mainebass waterfall via a 5-kilometer hike through a jungle path. Keep your eyes peeled because the elusive Red Pandas roam the jungles surrounding the Mainebass waterfall.
Mainebass waterfall is located 7 kilometers away from Uttarey. You can also visit Chewyabhang Pass, which is a gateway to Nepal. It is often also spelt as Chewabhanjyangla pass. It is an important international border trade route. It is located 10 kilometers away from Uttarey. Mainbus waterfall is also nearby.
Visit Cheese Factory in Uttarey Pelling
You can visit the Sikkim Dairy Product Pvt. Ltd., born out of an Indo Swiss collaboration for a unique experience. You can request for a tour to see how cheese is made. I and my co travelers, bought many blocks of different varieties of cheese such as Alpine Gouda cheese, Emmental, Cheddar etc.
I used the assorted cheese in delicious sandwiches, pastas, salads and what not. After opening the plastic wrap, the cheese of Pelling Sikkim lasted for many months in fridge. The Cheese factory is located right in the heart of Uttarey.
The cheese factory tour is the top thing to do in Uttarey Pelling.
Tenzing Hillary Memorial Park
Devoted to the great mountain climbers, the Tenzing Hillary Memorial Park is a new attraction in Uttarey Village. Inaugurated in 2015, the park offers sweeping views of the area. Apart from the statues of the most celebrated mountain climbers Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, you can even see nice views of Mount Kanchenjunga from here on clear days. You must visit the Tenzing Hillary Memorial Park despite imperfect road conditions.
Tinjurey or three hills
Located at a height of 8,200 feet, Tinjurey is rich in flora and fauna. In old days, Buddhist monks used to meditate in a cave which still exists here. Tinjurey offers breathtaking views of Mount Kanchenjunga and West Sikkim. Located near the Liching village, Tinsurey is collective name for 3 hills located next to each other.
Do visit Tinsurey viewpoint. You can arrive at Tinjurey via a 10 kilometers long trek from the Bongten-Dentam road.
History buffs will enjoy visiting Ranidhunga which means Queen’s Rock. Dhunga is the local word for rock and Rani means Queen. More than a pretty place, Ranidhunga has religious and historical significance. Associated with the much-respected Namgyal dynasty of Sikkim, devotees visit this place and offer coins and other religious things at the 5 holy caves located here. During Ramnavami (March-April) every year, pilgrims come here in large number to offer prayers.
Ranidhunga is known for the massive 40 feet tall rock. Ranidhunga is situated just 4 kilometers away from the Chhangay village and Bongten. You need to cover this distance by an easy walk. If you are coming from Pelling via Sangacholing monastery, then you need to walk for 6 kilometers to reach Ranidhunga. Ranidhunga is one of the best offbeat places to visit in Uttarey, Sikkim.
Do read my detailed blog on A Soul Window – best travel blog across India, if you are interested in the dramatic history of Sikkim. A Soul Window has also been ranked as the number one travel blog in India.
Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary
Also spelt as Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, this forest looks gorgeous in the month of March and April as it is entirely carpeted with deep red color of the different species of Rhododendron flowers which grow in abundance here. Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary shares its borders with Nepal and West Bengal.
Sprawling across 104 square kilometers, you can reach Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary from Soreng, Dentam or Hilley. Hilley is the easiest and most popular route. You can drive up to Hilley, followed by an easy 4 kilometers long trek. You can even stay on the top of a hill here. You can find home stays at the entrance gate and Okhrey, a Sherpa village. Also watch out for the Rambong Khola stream near the West Bengal border.
Keep your eyes peeled for rare wildlife such as Red Pandas, Tibetan Serin and Spotted laughing Thrush when trekking in Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary.
Trekking in Uttarey
Talking of famous mountaineers, you can also trek in Uttarey. In fact, trekking is the top things to do in Uttarey village of West Sikkim.
There are around 22 recognized trekking trails in Uttarey. Some of the gorgeous treks that begin from Uttarey are Varsey trek, the famous Goecha La trek, Dzongri trek and Singalila trek etc. Porters for treks are also available. Do carry warm clothes on treks as it can get very cold on some days and night.
The local people vouch for the sunset and sunrise at Singalila range and the panoramic views from here. While Neydham (Dichenphu) is located towards the north of Singalila, Phoktey Dara is located towards the west of the same.
It would be a good idea to trek in the month of April and May as this is the time the valleys are carpeted with deep red color of rhododendron forest. I remember trekking through breathtaking rhododendron jungles during the high altitude Roopkund trek in Uttarakhand.
How to reach Uttarey
We arrived at Uttarey from Pelling in our private hired cab via Singshore Bridge. You can also take the Dentum – Uttarey route. Located in West Sikkim, this charming tranquil village is also a great option for extended stay. However, do not expect luxury stay or modern cafes in Uttarey.
You can reach Pelling easily from Gezing, Gangtok, Namchi or Yuksom via a road trip through the mountainous terrains. You can also arrive at Uttarey from Jorthang via shared jeep. You will need to change the cab though.
If you are arriving in Uttarey from Rinchenpong, you will pass through places such as Bermiok, Hee and Dentam. Whether you take the Pelling route or Rinchenpong route, you will pass through the Singshore bridge to enter Uttarey. Another route is via Kaluk Soreng. You can stop for a waterfall if you are arriving at Uttarey from Pelling.
Distances from Uttarey
Below are the distances from Uttarey to nearby places of interest in West Bengal and Sikkim.
Distance from Dentam to Uttarey – 10 kms
Distance from Pelling to Uttarey – 30 kms
Distance from Rinchenpong to Uttarey – 35 kms
Distance from Ravang La to Uttarey – 75 kms
Distance between Darjeeling in West Bengal to Uttarey – 136 kms
Distance from Gangtok to Uttarey – 140 kms
Distance between New Jalpaiguri to Uttarey – 160 kms
Best Time to visit Uttarey
Weather in Pelling and Uttarey is moderate throughout the year. It is neither too hot nor too cold in Pelling or Uttarey. Mentioned below is the best suitable time when you can plan a trip to Uttarey
Winter – The best time to visit Uttarey and Pelling in West Sikkim are the months of September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April and May. I visited during the month of January. You can expect snow fall in winter in Uttarey.
Summer – June is the peak of summer and can be hot on days.
Monsoon – July and August are the monsoon months which can be avoided due to torrential rains
Vegan and Vegetarian Food in Uttarey
It is possible to find great vegan and vegetarian food in and around Uttarey. Since Uttarey is located close to the Nepal India border, you can easily get delicious vegan Newari thali at many places. I liked the one they served at the Singshore suspension bridge. Their local wines and Chang are also worth a try. You can also find Tibetan and Chinese food such as Thukpa, Nenthuk, Momos, Fried Rice, Noodles etc.
Fresh local fruits such as oranges and local dry fruits like walnuts are also available at a very reasonable price. Wide varieties of locally made delicious Cheese (vegetarian, not vegan) are also available at the Sikkim Dairy Product Pvt. Ltd.
Where to stay in Uttarey
I and my co travelers stayed in Pelling and made a day trip to Uttarey. You can choose to stay in Pelling or Uttarey. Pelling is much more commercialized than Uttarey and thus has more concentrated hotels in all budgets. Most of the hotels in Pelling are located in lower Pelling, Middle Pelling and Upper Pelling.
You can find some budget accommodation in the main market of Uttarey, located in the heart of the Uttarey village on the main road. You can also find some charming home stays and modest resorts in and around Uttarey and Hee. I think it is a good idea to stay in Uttarey for a more immersive and slow travel experience.
You can consider staying in Ferek Lepcha Tribal Heritage home stay, Sherpagawn Tribal Heritage home stay or Banduckey Limboo Tribal home stay. Sikkim Cab rental Co can help arrange your stay. There are many other stay options such as lodges, guest houses, resorts and hotels in Uttarey.
Rooms in Green Valley Resort on main market road can cost between INR 500 and INR 1,500. Expect good food, bonfire and wine here.
Excursions from Uttarey
Uttarey and surrounding areas are apt for village eco-tourism, educational tourism (ethnology, ornithology, botany, zoology etc), adventure tourism and heritage walks etc. There are many places of interest in Sikkim which are located near Uttarey. You can easily make day trips to these places via private cab. You can choose to visit the below mentioned destinations and club them with Uttarey village for a longer vacation. Best places near Uttarey are as below:
- Ravang La
- Srijanga Mangheem
- Darap Village
- Chhangey twin waterfalls
- Phangdorgee falls
- Alpine Cheese Industries
- Nunthaley Jor Pokhari – Twin Lake at 8,200 feet
Souvenirs Shopping Guide to Uttarey
Do not expect many souvenir shops in Uttarey village. We didn’t buy anything expect some exotic cheese cubes from the cheese factory. However, you can pick some local weaves, dry fruits such as walnuts and oranges.
The market of Upper Pelling has better souvenirs shops. I noticed that the similar souvenirs cost much more in other Buddhist destinations of India such as Ladakh and Tawang, Dirang and Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh of North East India.
When in Uttarey Sikkim, you can also pick local shawls, cute caps, decorative items, handicrafts, cool wall hangings, notebooks, coffee mugs, tea cups, socks, winter wear, local grains and pulses and so on.
Solo Trip Tips for Uttarey Sikkim
Uttarey Sikkim is not an easy place to travel solo mainly due to lack of public transport and absence of a robust internal transport. We had met a female solo traveler at the Pelling skywalk early morning as we had just started sightseeing. She was a stranger and it was she who suggested a visit to Uttarey after we were done exploring the Pelling skywalk and Sang-Ngag Choling Monastery to our heart’s content.
She proposed the idea of going to Uttarey to us since we had a car. We liked the idea after we finished sightseeing in morning itself, we picked her up from her hotel in Pelling for a day visit to Uttarey. If you are also a solo budget traveler in Sikkim, you can also go for a similar arrangement. However, being a shy person myself, I totally understand that it is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Backpacking Budget Travel Tips for Uttarey
Backpacking is not easy in Uttarey Pelling due to the reasons stated in the above section. Though you can easily find low-cost home stays and hotels in Uttarey, what increases the cost is the non-availability of frequent public transport.
Try to join other travelers or suggest the idea to visit Uttarey to them together. You can also try hitchhiking in case you wait too long to find a public transport for Utttarey from Pelling. Other than these issues, Uttarey can be enjoyed in low budget easily.
Luxury travel Tips for Uttarey
For luxury travelers, Uttarey may disappoint due to lack of 5-star hotels. However, worry not! The nearby Pelling has all the modern era frills and luxurious services available.
ATM in Uttarey
There are not many ATMs in Uttarey. It is a good idea to withdraw some hard cash in Pelling or better still Gangtok, right at the start of your journey. Uttarey is off the beaten track. It is just a small village, therefore most shops here do not accept digital payment.
Is it safe to visit Uttarey Sikkim?
Yes, it is very safe to travel to Uttarey. People of Sikkim, in general are very peaceful, quiet and non-interfering people. Uttarey is in fact one of the safest places where I have travelled to. Uttarey is safe for both male as well as female solo travelers.
Just do not venture out too far alone because most of the places in Uttarey do not have street lights unlike big cities. You may lose your way or find yourself in trouble.
Local Transport for sightseeing in Uttarey
I didn’t see many rickshaws, tuk tuks etc in Uttarey. Local Transport is very weak in Uttarey as it is a very remote location with a small population.
What to wear in Uttarey
We visited Uttarey in the second week of February. Even in winter, it was warm and sunny in the afternoon. I was able to travel in just a T shirt and Jeans. However, the nights get cold in Uttarey and Pelling of West Sikkim. Therefore, it is a good idea to carry some comforting woolen clothes with you all the time.
How many days to spend in Uttarey?
We had visited Uttarey on the same day we did sightseeing of Pelling. We had visited Sang-Ngag Choling Monastery and Pelling skywalk in the morning and headed straight to Uttarey village. We had our sumptuous Nepali lunch at Singshore bridge in Uttarey. After a satisfying lunch, we continued to visit the main attractions of Uttarey.
Yes, it is possible to visit all the picnic spots and major places of interest in Uttarey within a day. However, I recommend that you spend at least 2 days in Uttarey. If you are doing trekking in Uttarey, then of course you will have to spend at least a week in Uttarey.
Photography Tips for Uttarey
Visiting Uttarey during the Rhododendron season will leave you many stunning shots. Singshore bridge is also a great location for a photo shoot and video shooting. Another good vantage point I discovered was a little ahead of Sing shore bridge.
As you cross this suspension bridge, when the car climbs a little uphill, watch out for breathtaking views of the green valley as well as the bridge. There are many such hidden spots for photography in Uttarey.
Languages spoken in Uttarey
The Limboo language or Limbu language, Nepalese language, Hindi and English are spoken in Uttarey village. People in Uttarey village speak and understand English very well. Since Uttarey is located near the Indian Nepal border, influence of Nepal and Sherpa culture is also commonly observed in Uttarey. Hindi is the most commonly understood and spoken language in Uttarey.
Toilet facility in Uttarey
I didn’t see many public toilets in Uttarey. Some public toilets are located around the tourist attractions of Uttarey.
Conclusion: Why visit Uttarey
Uttarey is an offbeat place to visit near Pelling in West Sikkim. There are so manyinteresting things to do with family and kids in Uttarey Village.
The charm of Uttarey lies in its raw beauty. It is well maintained small village and yet not commercialized like the neighboring Pelling. Accessed via Singshore Bridge, the second highest suspension bridge in Asia, Uttarey is known for its ancient monasteries and fresh fruits, cheese etc. The views of Himalayan mountains add to its beauty. Fresh air and lack of pollution are an added bonus.
Apart from the awe-inspiring view of Mount Kanchenjunga, third highest mountain in the world, Uttarey also offers great views of rivers, gorges, verdant valleys etc. You can easily get vegan and vegetarian food in Uttarey.
Located close to the border of Nepal, expect to find delicious vegan Newari food in Uttarey. This makes Uttarey a must visit destination in West Sikkim near Pelling.
The view from my Soul Window is a secret gem!
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