The Himalayan Wonderland
Tucked away in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas, in the shadow of the towering Mount Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest peak which is worshipped as the principal deity, Sikkim is a Himalayan wonderland. Its' mountain peaks, lush picturesque valleys, terraced hills, pine forests, fast flowing rivers offering excellent river rafting, mountain lakes, lovely views, unpolluted air, forest-trails, monasteries and incredible floral wealth make it a virtual Shangrila, with something for the stressed out city executive, the adventure sports enthusiast and those interested in Buddhism and Tibetology.
Having international borders with Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan on three sides, and a national border with the state of West Bengal on the fourth side, Sikkim is a strategically significant state. It is entirely mountainous, with one-third of the land covered with dense forests of sal, sambal and bamboo, which are mostly inaccessible and unexploited.
The population of Sikkim comprises
three main groups of people, the Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese, who make up
75% of the population. The Sikkimese, are devout Buddhists, and the state
has many fine old monasteries rich with frescoes, religious paintings on
silk and statues of the Buddha's various incarnations. Gangtok, the
delightfully quaint capital, has many buildings with pagoda like roofs, and
you cannot miss the presence of crimson robed monks in the bazaars.
Fast Facts of Sikkim
Places to Interest :
Facing the snow-capped mountains is Borong, motorable from Ravangla or a trek away from Menam. A picturesque village with beautiful landscapes and magnificent views, it is also host to the hot-spring 'Borong Tsa-Chu'.
This monastery is situated near the orchid sanctuary.
Chungthang, on the confluence of the two passes, Lachen and Lachung Chu, and the starting point of the River Teesta, is the nodal junction for Lachen and Lachung. Visit the Holy Guru Lhedo to see the foot and palm prints left behind by the Patron Saint.
The Deer Park provides a commanding view of the expansive valleys surrounding the city of Gangtok.
Directorate Of Handicraft & Handloom
This institute has been setup to keep alive the traditional arts and crafts of Sikkim.
Do-Drul Chorten Stupa
This stupa was built in 1945 by Trulshi Rimpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism. The Chorten is surrounded by Chorten Lakhang and Guru Lhakhang, where there are two huge statues of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmassambhava).
The first monastery established soon after the consecration, it is located on a hill top above Yuksom surrounded by verdant forest.
Set in a forest on a hill, the monastery, an important seat of the Nyingma order, is built on the site blessed by Lama Druptob Karpo, a tantric master known for his power of flying. It offers one of the best views of the mountain range of Kanchenjunga, and is also popular for the religious masked dance called 'Chaam' which is part of a two day festival here.
Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary
Located at a distance of 25 kms from Gangtok, this sanctuary is spread over an area of 51.76 sq. km. Apart from wild orchids and rhododendrons it is also home to various species of wild animals and birds.
Only 7 kms from Gangtok this place offers a bird's eye view of the sprawling Gangtok town down below while across the hills Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt. Siniolchu loom over the horizon.
Government Cottage Industries Institute
Situated near the Tourist Office, the institute specializes in weaving, wood carving and paintings having typical Sikkimese designs. The most popular items are handwoven carpets, blankets, shawls and tables.
Situated 11 kms from Gangtok town, it has a Hindu temple and its beautiful locales present an excellent view of the mountain ranges especially on a clear sunny morning.
This historical place, 17 kms from Gangtok on the North Sikkim Highway, is where the historic treaty of blood brotherhood between the Lepcha Chief Te-Kung-Tek and the Bhutia Chief Khey-Bum-Sar was signed ritually. The spot where the ceremony took place is marked by a memorial stone pillar amidst the cover of dense forest.
Hike to this, the third highest mountain in the world (8598m)
Considered to be one of the sacred lakes of Sikkim by both Hindus and Buddhists, this lake remains hidden in the forests. It is believed that birds do not permit even a single leaf to float on the lake surface.
The soaring popularity of the Yumthang valley, just 25 km from Lachung, has led to the emergence of this Bhutia village as a tourist destination. It manages to retain its unique traditions and culture.
Menam Hill towers above Tendong Hill on the other side overlooking the Ravangla bazar settlement. Situated at an altitude of 10,300 ft. the scenic view is, perhaps, unmatched in this part of the world.
The name means "Sky High", and Namchi is nestled among the hills at an elevation of 5,500 ft., commanding a panoramic view of the snow-capped mountains and vast stretches of valley.
Located within the premises of the Research Institute of Tibetology, is the famed orchid sanctuary where 500 species of orchids indigenous to Sikkim are cultivated.
Situated at an altitude of 6,800 ft. it offers a good view of the mountain ranges.
Located on a hill top, at an altitude of 6,840 ft., this monastery commands a magnificent panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges and the surrounding hills and countryside.
This monastery was built in 1721 during the time of Jigme Pawo. Gutted by fire in 1947 it was rebuilt in 1948 by the efforts of the lamas. It provides some of the best scenic views in North Sikkim.
This monastery, one of the six major monasteries in Sikkim, is at a distance of 38 kms from Gangtok. Just 4 kms from here is the more recently renovated Labrang Monastery, unique in its architectural design.
This was the second capital of the erstwhile Kingdom of Sikkim. Today the ruins lie hidden from the main road at a walking distance from the Tourist Lodge and the Pemayangtse Monastery.
At the base of Menam Hill is this small township, that acts as a transit point to various destinations in South and West Sikkim. Do try the trek to 'Shar Chok Bephu' cave.
Research Institute of Tibetology
The only institute of its kind in the world, this was set up by the erstwhile ruler to promote research on Mahayana Buddhism, and on the language and traditions of Tibet. A splendid example of traditional architecture, the institute is a treasure trove, with a vast collection of rare Lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts, statues and rare tankhas (tapestries used in Buddhist liturgy). The library has a large collection of Tibetan books on science, medicine, and astrology. The Institute has over 200 Buddhist icons and other prized objects of art.
Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre
About 24 kms from Gangtok, a 45 minutes drive away, is the Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre, the seat of the Kagyu order, one of the four major Tibetan Buddhist sects. It houses some of the world's most unique religious scriptures and religious art objects.
The monks at this Tibetan Buddhist monastery are very welcoming - join them in a butter tea as they go about their daily business
Located just 5 kms from Gangtok, on a beautiful hill top, this is the only monastery of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism in Sikkim.
This monastery is situated on a ridge above Pelling and the famous Pemayangtse Monastery.
Established and maintained by the Department of Forest, the garden is home to many exotic orchids and other rare tropical and temperate plants. It is an excellent picnic and recreation spot.
Sikkim Time Corporation Limited (SITCO)
Situated at a distance of 1.5 kms from Gangtok town is one of the first industrial units set up in Sikkim. Located in the beautiful campus is a showroom from where watches can be bought at ex-factory price.
The place offers one of the most spectacular views of Mt Kanchenjunga and its ranges.
The area also has a number of nature trails for 1 to 3 days along the higher ridges of the surrounding hills.
Tashi View Point
Enjoy a panoramic view of Kanchenjunga from this popular picnic spot.
This monastery is constructed on top of a heart-shaped hill with the backdrop of Mt. Kanchenjunga. It is popular for two reasons - the Holy Chorten called 'Thong-Wa-Rang-To' and the sacred water festival.
Temi Tea Garden
The only tea garden in the state of Sikkim, this produces one of the best quality teas in the International Market.
Tendong Hill is a small flat stretch of land at an altitude of 8,530 ft. surrounded by ancient lush green forests. Historically, this has been a place of recluse for Buddhist Lamas who spend years in meditation amidst the silent scenic grandeur.
Situated 40 kms from Gangtok, at an altitude of 3,780 metres, this placid lake remains frozen during the winter months upto mid-May. It offers an ideal habitat for the Red Panda and various species of birds. One can also spot a variety of flowers like rhododendrons, primulas, blue and yellow poppies, and irises.
This sacred place was built several decades ago within the premises of the palace. This royal chapel is the scene of many grand ceremonies and festivals.
It lies at an elevation of 10,000 ft. and has motorable road access upto Hilley. An easy 4 kms trek from there leads to the Versey Rhododendron Sanctuary.
16 kms south of Gangtok, this is an ideal picnic spot with a small swimming pool for children.
This was the first capital of Sikkim, where according to the historical records, the first Chogyal of the Kingdom of Sikkim was consecrated in 1641 AD by the three learned lamas, and the evidence of the consecration ceremony can be seen at Norbugan g Chorten in the form of stone seats and a foot-print of the Head-Lama on a stone. It is from here that the trek to Dzongri and to the base camp of Mt. Kanchenjunga begins.
140 kms from Gangtok, at an elevation of 11,800 ft., this paradise for nature lovers has a breathtaking blend of flora, fauna and scenic grandeur. The valley is also home for Shingbha Rhododendron Sanctuary, housing 24 species of rhododendrons. Yumthang 'Tsa-Chu' or the hot spring is immensely popular for its curative properties and healing power.
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