Sikkim situated in the Eastern Himalayas, this beautiful state of Sikkim is sandwiched between the kingdom of Nepal in the West and Bhutan in the East, Tibet in the North and the state of West Bengal in the South. With an area of 7,300 sq. kms, measuring 115 kms from north to south and 65 kms. From East to West, the elevation ranging from 244 mts to over 8550 mts., above sea level, approximately latitude of 27 degree North and longitude of 88 degree East. This small state belies its richness of culture, customs, heritage, flora and fauna. Sikkim, once a protectorate of India with a monarchy government but metamorphosed as the 22nd state of the Indian Union in the year 1975. The population of the state is only 4,20,000 as per the last census. Amidst the grandeur of the mountain peaks, lush green valleys cascading waterfalls and fast flowing rivers, beautiful monasteries and terraced hills, Sikkim offers her visitor a rare and exotic experience.
Sikkim Places of Interest
East Sikkim - Gangtok
An important seat of the Nyingmapa order, this 200 year old Enchey Monastery is built on the site blessed by Lama Drupto Karpo, a tantric master known for his power of flying.. Every year, around January, CHAAM or religious masked dance is performed with great fanfare for two days.
Flower exhibitions are organized around the year at the Flower Show Venue near the White Memorial Hall Complex, Gangtok. during the spring
The Dodrul Chorten or stupa was built by the Venerable Trullshi Rinpoche, head of the Nyimapa order of Tibetan Buddhism, in 1945. inside the Stupa, ther is a complete mandala set of Dorji Phurba ( Vajra Kilaya), a set of Kangur relics ( Holy Books ), Complete Zung ( mantras) and other religious objects. Around the chorten, which is one of the most important Stupas in Sikkim, are 108 Mani Lhakor (Prayer wheels).
Namgyal Research Institute of Tibetology (NRIT)
The most prestigious of its liking in India- this Buddhist Institute is a treasure of vast collection or rare Lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts, statues and rare Thankas and has over 200 Buddhist icons and other prized objects of art.
Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre
The Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre is the seat of the Kagyu order, one of the 4 major Tibetan Buddhist Sects. Since the late 1960's , after the arrival of His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, the centre houses some of the world's most unique religious scriptures and religious rare objects. Traditional in design, it is almost an replica of the original Kagyu Monastery in Tshurpu, in eastern Tibet. It has over 300 centres worldwide Tibet. It has over 300 centres worldwide.
Directorate of Handicraft & Handloom
Instituted with the aim of promoting and keeping alive the traditional arts and craft, the directorate of handicraft is a storehouse of hand-woven woolen carpets and traditional motifs, blanket, shawl in Lepcha weaves and exquisitely carved choktse or table and many other gifts items.
It literally means the source of the Lake in the Bhutia language. Just about 40km away from Gangtok, the capital of State. This serene lake is situated at an altitude of 3,780 mtrs. The lake is about 1 km long, oval in shape, 15mtrs deep and is considered sacred by the local people. This placid lake remains frozen during the winter months upto mid-May. Between May and August, it is possible to see a variety of flowres bloom, including the rhododendrons, various species of primulas, blue and yallow poppies, iris, etc. It is also an ideal habitat of the Red Panda and various species of birds. Open for both the foreign and Indian nationals. Foreign visitors have to be in a group of 2 or more and have to apply for the visitors permit through a registered Travel agency.
56 kms from Gangtok is the Nathula Pass at an altitude of 14,200 ft. bordering India and Tibet in the Tibetan Plateau. It is one of the highest motorable roads and richly covered by many varieties of alpine flora and fauna. A tranquil place to visit. Nathula is open only for Indian nationals on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The visitors has to get a special permit to visit the place by applying to the Tourism Department through a registered Travel Agency.
Tashi View Point
Situated along the Noth Sikkim Highway, it is only 8kms from Gangtok. From this point you get a breathtaking view of Mt. Khang-chen-Dzonga and Mt. Siniolchu, one of the most graceful peaks in the world. Ideal time to visit is early in the morning.
This was the second capital of the erstwhile Kingdom of Sikkim after Yuksom and till the year 1814 AD, the King of Sikkim had ruled the State from this place.Today, the ruins lie hidden from the main road at a walking distance from the Pemayangtse Monastery.
The Monastery, located on a hill top at an altitude of 6840 ft. commands a magnificent panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges and the surrounding hills and country- side. This is one of the oldest monastary of the Nyngmapa sect of Mahanaya Buddhism, and was but by Lhatsun Chenpo during the reign of the 3rd Chogyal, Chagdor Namgyal in the 17th century. This monastary is about 6 kms from Gyalsing, the West district headquaters.
This monastery is situated on a ridge above Pelling and the famous Pemayangtse Monastery. Built in 1697 AD, it is considered to be one of the oldest monasteries in the State. In order to reach this Monastery one has to be prepared to spend at least 40 minutes walking up the steep hilly slope which leads through rich forest covers.
Pelling is fast emarging asa most favorite tourist destination in west Sikkim. Situated at an altitude of 6,800 ft., it offers a good view of the entire mountain ranges. Pelling is just 10 kms from Gyalsing.
Khecheapairi Lake is considered to be one of the sacred lakes of this State both by the Buddhist and the Hindus. The Lake remains hidden in the rich forest cover. It is believed that birds do not permit even a single leaf to float on he Lake surface. There is a rnotorable road from Pemayangtse right up to the lake area.
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 three learned lamas. The evidence of the consecration ceremony is still intact in Norbugang Chorten in the form of stone seats and a foot prints of the Head Lama on a stone. Since the history of the State began from this place, these areas are now considered sacred by the people of Sikkim. Yuksam is served by all weather roads from Pemayangtse, which is at a distance of 32 kms from Yuksam. The trek to Dzongri and to the base camp of the famous Mt Khang- chen-Dzonga begins here. Several categories of accommodation are available in Yuksam for those desiring to spend a few days there.
This was the first monastery established soon after the consecration ceremony of the first Chogyal. The monaster is located on a hill top above Yuksam surrounded by verdant forest. It can be approached by trekking only, negotiating steep slope for something like 32 to 35 minutes. It is an ideal place for Lamas seeking meditational recluse.
This monastery is constructed on top of a heart shaped hill with the back drop of the sacred Mt. Khang-chen- Dzonga. According to Buddhist scriptures, Guru Padma Sambhava (Guru Rimpoche) blessed the sacred land of Sikkirn in the 8th century AD from the spot. The monastery, however, was built in the 18th Century AD by Ngadak Sempa Chempo, one of the three lamas who had performed the consecration ceremony of the first Chogyal. Tashiding is also famous for the most holy chorten known as 'Thong-Wa-Rang-Doi'which literally means 'Saviours by mere sight'. It is believed that the mere act of beholding it is supposed to wash away the sins of the devotees. Another important feature of Tashiding is the sacred water festival popularly known as Bhumchu. It is a religious tradition unique to Tashiding Monastery only. Every year, on the 14th and the 15th day of the luner month, the Bhumchu ceremony is celebrated with the devotees coming from far and near to get the blessing of the holy water. The sacred holy water is officially sealed for safety by t he Government and the lamas of the monastery and it is taken out once a year on the auspicious occasion, only to be put back with some freash additions. The sacred water which is taken out partly mixed with normal water to be distributed among the thousand of devotees.
It lies at an elevation of 10,000 ft and motorable road access upto Hilley. An easy 4 kms trek from there takes one upto the Varsey Rhododendrons sanctuary. The place provides a magnificent view of the mountains.
This historical pace is 17 kms from Gangtok on the North Sikkim Highway. This is where the historic treaty of blood brotherhood between the Lepcha Chief Te-Kung-Tek and the Bhutia Chief Khey-Bum-Sa was signed ritually. The spot where the ceremony took place is marked by a me- morial stone pillar amidst the cover of dense forest.
One of the six major monasteries in Sikkim, Phodong mon- astery is located in the North approximately 38 kms from Gangtok, 4 kms beyond Phodong is the recently renovated labrang Monastery unique in it architectural design
Yumthang, at an elevation of 11,800 ft and 140 kms from Gangtok is a paradise for nature lovers with a fascinating blend of flora and fauna and breathtaking scenic grandeur. The valley boasts a large variety of Rhododendrons and other alpine flowers.Yumthang 'Tsa-Chu'or the hot spring of the left bank of Lachung Chu is immensely popular for its curative properties and heal- ing power. For both foreign and domestic tourists, Yumthang Pack- age tours are organised only by the local registered travel agents. Depending upon one's convenience one can either opt for 3 days/2 nights package or 2 days/ 1 night package.
The village, spread out on either side of Lachung Chu, has managed to retain its unique culture and tradition. The Lachung Monastery on the slope opposite to the highway is a focal point of all religious function of the local inhabitants. To get a glimpse of the religious functions performed on auspicious occasions a visit to the Monastery should form a part of the tour itinerary. Lachung lies on the way to Yumthang Valley as we move from Gangtok. Yumthang is just 25 kms away.
Lachen is situated at an altitude of 2750 mtrs. and about 6 hrs. drive from Gangtok. The Lachen Monastery located on a top of the village commands a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and country side. Resorts, Hotels, and lodges are available for accomodation.
Thangu is at an altitude of 14,000 ft. (plus) and 3 hrs. drive from Lachen. A small village where the visitors usually acclimatize before they proceed to Guru-dongmar Lake or Muguthang.
Guru-dongmar Lake is considered as one of the sacred lakes of this State both by the Buddhist and the Hindus. The lake remains milky in colour through out, and it is be- lieved that Guru Padmasambhava had touched the lake whilst he visited Tibet from this area.
Namchi, meaning 'Sky High', nestled among the hills at an elevation of 5,500 ft commands panoramic view of the snow-capped mountains and vast stretches of valley. It is also the headquarters of the South District. The area is fast developing into a tourist destination with its immense potential for all round tourist activities. It is about 78 kms from Gangtok and 1 00 kms from Siliguri.
Temi Tea Garden
The one and only tea estate existing in the State produces one of the top quality teas in the international market. The tea garden is spread out on a gentle hill slope originating from the Tendong Hill and provides a magnificent view for the surrounding villages. The visit to the fact" could be an eye opener for those wanting to know more about the tea processing methods. A night spent in a old British built bungalow located just below the tea garden could be an enthralling experience of linking the past to the present. A visit to the garden, enroute to the Tendong Hill, could be a rewarding experience for those who want to cornbine nature and culture as they keep trekking.
At the base of Menam Hill is Ravangla, a small township and transit to various tourist destinations in South and West Sikkim. It is also an upcoming tourist spot, and transit point for trekkers to Menam Hill and Borong. There are accomodation facilities and numerous short nature trails. A trek down to the sacred cave 'Shar Chok Bephu', one of the four holiest caves in Sikkim, would be a memorable experience.
Phur Tsa Chu
Situated on the bank of River Rangeet is the hot spring 'Phur Tsa Chu' half an hour drive from Legship and one hour drive from Jorethang. Pilgrims of all walks of life come to dip in this hot spring during month of January to March.