Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state located in the Himalayan mountains. The state is bordered by Nepal to the west, China’s Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and east, and Bhutan to the east. The Indian state of West Bengal lies to the south.
With 610,577 inhabitants as of the 2011 census, Sikkim is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest state after Goa in total area, covering approximately 7,096 km2 (2,740 sq mi).
Sikkim is nonetheless geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas; the climate ranges from subtropical to high alpine, and Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak, is located on Sikkim’s border with Nepal. Sikkim is a popular tourist destination, owing to its culture, scenery and biodiversity. It also has the only open land border between India and China. Sikkim’s capital and largest city is Gangtok.
According to legend, the Buddhist guru Padmasambhava visited Sikkim in the 8th century AD, introduced Buddhism and foretold the era of the Sikkimese monarchy. Sikkim’s Namgyal dynasty was established in 1642. Over the next 150 years, the kingdom witnessed frequent raids and territorial losses to Nepalese invaders.
In the 19th century, it allied itself with British India, eventually becoming a British protectorate. In 1975, a referendum abolished the Sikkimese monarchy, and the territory was merged with India.
Sikkim has 11 official languages: Nepali (which is its lingua franca), Sikkimese, Lepcha, Tamang, Limbu, Newari, Rai, Gurung, Magar, Sunwar and English. English is taught in schools and used in government documents.
The predominant religions are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Sikkim’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture and tourism, and as of 2014 the state had the third-smallest GDP among Indian states,although it is also among the fastest-growing.
Bordered by China, Nepal and Bhutan, Sikkim has long been regarded as one of the last Himalayan Shangri-las. Because of its remoteness and the fact that permits are required, Sikkim isn’t the most accessible area to visit in India. However, it certainly is one of the most energetic and refreshing. There’s something very soothing to the soul about the mountainous beauty and ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture in Sikkim.
Sikkim is situated at the foot of Mount Kanchendzonga and boasts of an unexplored beauty. The lofty mountains dominate the skyline of Sikkim and invites tourists in its snow clad peaks, green emerald slopes, rushing streams, tall Rhododendrons and sparkling orchids. Hilltop monasteries emerge from the rugged terrains while multi-colored prayer flags wave in the mountain breeze.
Gangtok is the capital and the largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. It also is the headquarters of the East Sikkim district. Gangtok is located in the eastern Himalayan range, at an elevation of 1,650 m (5,410 ft). The town’s population of 100,000 belongs to different ethnicities such as Nepali, Lepchas and Bhutia. Nestled within higher peaks of the Himalaya and enjoying a year-round mild temperate climate, Gangtok is at the centre of Sikkim’s tourism industry.
Gangtok rose to prominence as a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site after the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840. In 1894, the ruling Sikkimese Chogyal, Thutob Namgyal, transferred the capital to Gangtok. In the early 20th century, Gangtok became a major stopover on the trade route between Lhasa in Tibet and cities such as Kolkata (then Calcutta) in British India. After India won its independence from Britain in 1947, Sikkim chose to remain an independent monarchy, with Gangtok as its capital.
In 1975, after the integration with the union of India, Gangtok was made India’s twenty-second state capital. The precise meaning of the name Gangtok is unclear, though the most popular meaning is “hill top”. Today, Gangtok is a centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning, with the presence of several monasteries, religious educational institutions, and centres Like the rest of Sikkim, not much is known about the early history of Gangtok. The earliest records date from the construction of the hermitic Gangtok monastery in 1716.Gangtok remained a small hamlet until the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840 made it a pilgrimage center. It became the capital of what was left of Sikkim after an English conquest in the mid 19th century in response to a hostage crisis. After the defeat of the Tibetans by the British, Gangtok became a major stopover in the trade between Tibet and British India at the end of the 19th century. Most of the roads and the telegraph in the area were built during this time.
East Sikkim – Gangtok (Places to Visit) Its strategic location, a strong Buddhist presence and heady cultural offerings make the First City of SikkimGangtok, a tempting insight into this stimulating land. Sensational views of Mt. Kanchendzonga, orchid nurseries, great shopping-sample some of its treasures before heading out of town to savor Sikkims other delights. Sign up for one of the holy- tours to catch breathtaking vistas.
During the Buddha Purnima in May, delve into the citys cultural leaning in those superlatives Sage Dawa festivities. Follow the colorful procession of venerable lamas carrying the holy books of Buddhas teaching from the Tsuklakhang Monastery in the palace to different parts of town. Namgyal Institute of Tibetology The worlds largest treasury of invaluable old Tibetan books and manuscripts on Buddhist philosophy and religion, science, medicine, astrology, etc. the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology attracts Buddhist scholars from around the world.
It also houses a wide range of Lepcha and Sanskrit manuscripts and scrolls of ancient vintage. In the appended museum are over 200 icons, old tankhas and some ritual vessels amongst various objects are on display. Take trip upstairs to observe the cataloguing and restoration of these treasures. Open: 10 am4 pm. Directorate of Handicraft and Handlooms Shoppers will find the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handlooms a most convenient place to catch up on their souvenir hunting. Craftsmen in the process of weaving, woodcarving, and paintings of typical Sikkimese designs give you an up- close and personal view of these beautiful crafts from start to finish. Take home hand-woven carpets, blankets, shawls and carved magnolia-wood tables.
Himalayan Zoological Park Just 8 km away from Gangtok is a verdant expanse of 205 hectares encapsulating the Himalayan Zoological Park. This is the natural habitat of the endangered red panda, barking deer, spotted deer and bear.
Pelling & Yuksom West
Pelling is a small town that is situated in the state of Sikkim in the West Sikkim region. The town is a laid back place and it attracts travelers from different parts of the country. Pelling is located near the foothills of Kanchenjunga and one can witness an outstanding view of the mountain from here. There are numerous scenic spots that one can visit in the area. The main attractions in the place are the monasteries that dot the countryside. Visiting these tranquil monasteries is a good way to spend time in the region. Some of the main places are Pemayansgtse Monastery and Sangachoeling Monastery. There are many sculptures and paintings that you can find in these places and they are not crowded. One can get a panoramic view from the Sangachoeling Monastery. If you are visiting during the month of January, you can see a dance called Cham in the Pemayansgtse Monastery.
Pemayangtse Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in the State. Originally established by Lhatsun Chempo, one of the revered Lamas to have performed the consecration ceremony of the first Chogyal ( Religious Monarch) of Sikkim. This ancient monastery belongs to the Nyingma Buddhism and has been considered as one of the premier monasteries in the State, having been entrusted with the task to perform all religious functions of the erstwhile monarch. 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 was the second capital of the erstwhile Kingdom of Sikkim after Yuksom and till the year 1814 AD, the Kings 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 scenic view from the top of the ruins scanning across the deep valley to the mystic heights of Khangchendzonga ranges is something to be cherished and etched in memory.
This monastery is situated on a ridge above Pelling and the famous Pemayangtse Monastery. Built in 1697 AD, it is considered to be the oldest monasteries in Sikkim. 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.
Khecheopalri Lake is considered to be one of the sacred lakes of Sikkim 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 the lake surface. There is a motorable road from Pemayangtse right up to the lake area.
For those interested in spending a night or two in the peaceful environment a trekker’s hut has been provided by the Tourism Department. The hut is presently managed by a local person and provides comfortable stay providing a taste of local Sikkimese -Nepalese cuisines.
There is also a pilgrim’s hut, managed by Tourism Department, which is meant to provide accommodation to the people who come on pilgrimage tours.
Located between Yuksom and Gerethang this highest waterfall of West Sikkim presents a magnificent scenario especially during Monsoon. A gentle gradient footpath takes one to a viewpoint for a closer view of this mighty discharge of water. A cafeteria is being constructed for the benefit of tourists and the picnickers.
Water falls is spectacular in summer that attract many falls lovers, The power station by name Karchen Power house is the oldest in west Sikkim which was made in early 70s during the last kings government which successfully supplied energy to the most villages and towns of West Sikkim including Gazing ,Tigjuck and Pelling. River is beautiful and breath taking. But it is only in the winter when river water decreases and becomes gentle the tourists with families go right inside the river bank and enjoy river and local children are found doing sweepings during . Fishing is common activity of the locals all through the year.
Sewaro Rock Garden
Sewaro rock Garden developed by the Tourism and CIvil Aviation Department of Sikkim with facilities like gardens, pools, zigzag foot path and interesting recreation amenities like swimming pool, viewpoints and cafeteria. This has now come up as one of the popular picnic spot for the locals in Sikkim where many local picnic parties arrive here in winter. On the other side is village inhabited by local people from mixed communities and schools with beautiful children.
This monastery is constructed on top of a heart shaped hill with the back drop of the sacred Mt. Khangchendzonga. According to Buddhist scriptures Guru Padmasambhava, blessed the sacred land of Sikkim in the 8th century AD from this 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-WaRang-Dol’ which literally means ‘Saviours by mere sight’. It is believed that the mere act of beholding it is supposed to wash away all the sins of the devotees. Another important feature is the sacred water festival unique to this monastery only. Every year, on 14th and 15th day of the first Lunar month, the Bhumchu Ceremony is organised with devotees coming from far and near to get the blessing of the holy water. The sacred holy water is officially sealed for safety by the lamas of the Monastery. It is taken out once a year on an auspicious occasion, only to be put back with some fresh additions.
With a span of 198 m and 220 m in depth, located in the mid-way to Uttarey from Dentam, Shingshore Bridge is the Second Highest Suspension Bridge in Asia, and the first of its kind in Sikkim as well as in the country India, which has been a unique and a new tourist destination.
Connecting Dentam to Uttarey in the distance, it connects the two beautiful villages where homestay facilities are available-
1) Bega Gurung Village Home Stay in the South with the
2) Mukrung Rai Village Home Stay in the North.
With the participation of the mass local public and the NGOs under the approval of the government, Singshore Bridge has been specified and declared as a special spot for the BUNGEE JUMPING, introducing and promoting a unique and a new discipline in the field of adventure tourism as the FIRST in the State.
Artistically cascading from the height of nearly 300m,Twin Chhangay Waterfall is one of the most beautiful water falls in West Sikkim on the way to Uttarey from Pelling. Easily approachable or located on the road bank, Chhangay fall has become one of the important tourist destinations for visitors. The fall flows down from Ranidhunga through Chhangay village. Chhangay falls is surrounded by Chhangay, Sapung and Bongten villages. The extreme white of the fall actually looks like a long white mark on the green background of forest, if seen from the distance, a breathtaking sight for the visitors.
About half an hour drive from Hee Village towards Uttarey is the attractive village and bazar of Dentam with a bird-eye view from Gurasey Danra (Rhododendron forest). The name Dentam comes from the word TEN-NEM, which means a flat terraced land in the Limboo language. This valley is located in a very unique topography. One ancient and a holy Jlpa Devi Mandir and Durga Mandir including one Shiva Mandir are there in the heart of Dentam Bazaar to guard and bless the people in the nature of a perennial source of water. This beautiful valley is famous for the Alpine Gouda Cheese Factory, a product of Indo-Swiss collaboration.
Yuksom was the first capital of Sikkim. It was consecrated in 1642 after three venerated Lamas who came from the north, west, and south to Yuksom and consecrated Phuntsog Namgyal as the first Chogyal (religious king) of Sikkim. There is a place called the Coronation Throne in Yuksom where the first King was named. Phuntsok Namgyal ruled over a vast territory that was many times the current size of Sikkim. His kingdom extended to Thang La in Tibet to the north, Tagong La near Paro in Bhutan to the east, Titalia on the borders of West Bengal and Bihar to the south and Timar Chorten on the Timar river in Nepal to the west.
True to the prophecy of Tibet’s founder of Buddhism, Guru Rimpoche, some nine centuries prior, three learned Lamas, Lhatsun Namkha Jigme, Kathok Rigzin Chenpo, Nga-Dak Sempa Chenpo, gathered at Yuksam in 1642 from various directions and enthroned Chogyal Phuntsog as the first religious king of Sikkim. A stone throne shaded by a 300 year old fir still stands here today.
A foot print in stone in front of the throne is said to belong to Lhatsun Namkha Jigme, and a nearby chorten (stupa) contains soil and water from all over Sikkim. Thus Yuksam occupies an important place in Sikkimese history as the first capital, and Norbugang as an historic cultural site maintained by the Archeological Survey of India. Norbugang is easily reached on a 15 minute walk from Yuksom.
Dubdi Monastery, one of the oldest monastery in Sikkim, is located at the top of a hill about an hour’s walk from Yuksam. Also known as the Hermit’s Cell after its reclusive founder Lhatsun Namkha Jigme, it was built by the followers of the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The trail to Dubdi winds through lush forests high above the village, offering scenic overlooks and impressive mountain views. For bird watchers, an early morning or late afternoon visit is particularly rewarding. Dubdi means ‘the retreat
Situated at a distance of 25 kms. from Pelling, it is considered to be one of the sacred lakes of the State both by the Buddhist and the Hindus. The Lake remains hidden under the rich forest cover. The birds do not permit even a single leaf to float on the lake surface.
There is motorable road from Pemayangtse right up to the lake area. For those interested in spending a night or two in the peaceful environment, a trekker’s hut is available. There is also a Pilgrim Hut.
True to the prophecy of Tibet’s founder of Buddhism, Guru Rimpoche, some nine centuries prior, three learned Lamas, Lhatsun Namkha Jigme, Kathok Rigzin Chenpo, Nga-Dak Sempa Chenpo, gathered at Yuksam in 1642 from various directions and enthroned Chogyal Phuntsog as the first religious king of Sikkim. A stone throne shaded by a 300 year old fir still stands here today. A foot print in stone in front of the throne is said to belong to Lhatsun Namkha Jigme, and a nearby chorten (stupa) contains soil and water from all over Sikkim.
Thus Yuksam occupies an important place in Sikkimese history as the first capital, and Norbugang as an historic cultural site maintained by the Archeological Survey of India. Norbugang is easily reached on a 15 minute walk from Yuksom.
Yumthang Valley is a grazing pasture surrounded by the Himalayan mountains in the North Sikkim district of Sikkim, India. It is at an elevation of 3,564 metres (11,800) above msl at a distance of 150 km from the state capital Gangtok.
It is popularly known as ‘Valley of Flowers’. It is also home to the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, and has over twenty-four species of the rhododendron, the state flower. A tributary of the river Teesta flows past the valley and the town of Lachung, the nearest inhabited centre. Yumthang is closed between December and March due to heavy snowfall.
The rugged Himalayan range at Yumthang
A forest rest house is the only permanent residence in the valley. During the spring months, the area blooms with rhododendrons, primulas, poppies, iris and other flora. During the summer months, villagers take their cattle to these heights to graze (a practice known as yaylag pastoralism). In view of increasing number of tourists, there is possibility of environmental degradation in near future.Skiing is conducted in the valley.
Lachung is a town in northeast Sikkim, India. It is located in the North Sikkim district and is near the border with Tibet. Lachung is at an elevation of about 9,600 ft or 3,000 m and at the confluence of the Lachen River and Lachung Rivers, tributaries of the River Teesta. The word Lachung means “small pass”.
The town is approximately 125 km from the capital Gangtok.
The Indian Army has a forward base in the town. Before the annexation of Tibet in 1950, Lachung was a trading post between Sikkim and Tibet, after which it was closed down. The town’s economy has been boosted by tourism in recent years as the region has been opened up by the Indian government. Tourist come from all over the world to visit the town between October and May, mostly on their way to the Yumthang Valley and the Lachung Monastery. Most of Lachung’s inhabitants are of Lepcha and Tibetan descent. Languages spoken here are Nepali, Lepcha and Bhutia. During winter the town is usually covered in snow.
Lachung is also the base camp for Rhododendron Valley Trek which starts from Yumthang Valley and ends at Lachen Valley.
Lachung has been described as the “most picturesque village of Sikkim” by British explorer Joseph Dalton Hooker in his definitive, The Himalayan Journal (1855). Skiing is conducted in Phuni near this town
Namchi Samdruptse South
Namchi is fast becoming a major tourist spot and pilgrimage centre. The Namchi monastery, Ralong monastery and Tendong Hill are important Buddhist pilgrimage centres. The world’s largest statue (at 118 feet) of the Buddhist Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim, is on the Samdruptse hill (The Wish Fulfilling well) opposite Namchi. It was completed in February 2004. It is also said that the Samdruptse hill is actually a Dormant Volcano. Myths say that the buddhist monks have been going on top of the hill and offering prayers to the volcano to keep it calm. There is also a Rock Garden just few kilometers up from the town on the way to Samdruptse.Sikkim Best Home Stay Dong Busty Home Stay just 8km away from Namchi Bazar. The Rock Garden displays a wide variety of Flora and is a local recreation and picnic spot. It offers a magnificent view of Mt. Kanchendzonga (aka Mt. Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak).
Statue of Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim. The statue in Namchi is the tallest statue of the saint in the world at 36 metres (120 ft).
Recently inaugurated (November 2011) Siddhesvara Dhaam is a unique pilgrimage tourism venture of the Sikkim Government developed as Pilgrim cum Cultural Centre having a 108 ft statue of Lord Shiva and replicas of four Dhaams of the country at one place at Solophok hilltop in Namchi. The four most revered Dhams of the Hindus Jagannath, Dwarika, Rameshawaram, Badrinath have been replicated in this fantastic complex to benefit the devotees and tourists. The dream project of Chief Minister Pawan Chamling which was conceived by him and started in the year 2005 stands promisingly amidst the breadth taking surrounding of Solophok hill, befitting the mythological setting behind the establishment of the original Dhams. For the consecration of the Dham Shri Jagadguru Sankaryacharya Swami Swarupananda Saraswati in the presence of the Chief Minister Shri Pawan Chamling and his wife Smt Tika Maya Chamling did the Pran Prastisha of the Dham. There are replicas of the Dwadash Jyotirlingas (the twelve jyothirlinga) of Somnath, Mallikarjuna, Mahakaleswar, Omkareshwar, Kedarnath, Bhimashankar, Viswanath, Triambakeshwar, Vaidyanath, Nageswar, Rameshwar at Rameswaram and Grishneshwar surrounding the statue of Lord Shiva and the Char Dhams. There is a grand statue of Kirateshvar Mahadev and a temple of Shirdi Sai Baba too. One can have a breath taking view of the Mt Kanchenjunga, Statue of Guru Padmasambhava at Samdruptse, Darjeeling and other such locations from here. The Dham has stay facility for the devotees at Yatri Niwas which can accommodate more than 90 people at a time. The Dham has won the National Tourism Awards 201011 under the category of Most Innovative/Unique Tourism Project by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
This is the statue of Lord Shiva at Siddhesvara Dhaam in Namchi, Sikkim
A helipad is located 5 km away from town at an altitude of around 5000 fts. From here one can get the most panoramic view of Mt. Kanchanzonga with the surrounding mountain a part of Darjeeling Kalimgpong and the rolling plains of Bengal. The visitors can savour the breathtaking view of temi tea garden the one and the only tea estate in the state which produces top quality tea in the international market.
Narrow Road Connecting Rangpo with Namchi
Near the town, Sikkim’s sole tea estate the Temi Tea Garden is situated. The tea carries a premium the world over and costs around Rs. 200/- a kg. The tea is marked by its exotic odour and flavour.
In the month of February, the Namchi garden hosts it annual flower show. The flower show is the largest in Sikkim with flowers in a riot of colours. The prime attraction of this show is the display of exotic and rare orchids.
One of the highlights of the town is the football stadium the Baichung Stadium built by the Sikkimese government in honour of its most famous citizen, footballer Baichung Bhutia. “The Gold Cup” football tournament is held in Bhaichung Stadium almost every year. Football teams from all over India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan vie for the honour which draws lot of crowds from all over Sikkim. Namchi is also the base of the chief minister of Sikkim, Pawan Kumar Chamling.
Historically, Namchi was the place where Pende Ongmoo, the trecherous princess who poisoned one of the Chogyals of Sikkim, was caught and killed for her deed. Legend says her spirit still haunts the foothills of Ghurpisey.